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Cornell University Library 
B823 .A21 

Idealism and the modern age, by George P 


3 1924 029 012 395 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 









TO M. W. A. 


THIS essay is intended to offer, in substance, an analysis 
of an idea which lies at the center of much modern 
thought and life. In the main, it is only the theoretical 
aspects of this modern idea which are here examined. 
The essay began to take definite shape before August, 
1 9 14. During recent months the conviction has increasingly been 
borne in upon the author's mind that it is this same idea on its 
practical side, in industry and in politics, which lies behind the 
Great War, now provisionally ended. It is this same idea which 
also lies behind innumerable sinister forces which are bending every 
effort to insure that the world shall return as speedily as possible 
to the status quo ante. "Examining the bonds of sympatiiy and 
interest which tmite the reactionary forces, we find tiiem centered 
in the arbitrary 'will to power.' " Thus wrote Mr. John A. Hobson 
but a few months ago. 

It is impossible to be profoundly dissatisfied with much of the 
main current of modern philosophy and not, at the same time, be 
radically critical of the eventuation of the modern forces in the 
established economic and social fabric. Idealism in philosophy 
should connote a wide understanding of and a generous S5mipathy 
for the forces — primarily those of common life and labor — which 
are rapidly gathering strength to challenge the "arbitrary will to 
power" lying at the root of so much within the established order. 
That challenge calls for an articulate philosophy. Many who 
vigorously repudiate the entire apparatus of idealism have made 
and are making solid contributions to the formation of such a 
philosophy. One of them — a leader since the death of William 
James — it has been the author's privilege to know for the first time 
during the last few months. Some of his views are criticized in the 
pages which follow, and there is, quite certainly, nothing here which 

[ vii ] 


would meet with his approval, should he chance to turn its leaves. 
Yet, the author likes to think it not wholly impossible to unite in 
a common undertaking all who see the imperative need for building 
up a future world order wherein genuine democracy shall be more 
than a name. 

I have to thank the editors of the Harvard Theological Review for 
their permission to use, in the third chapter, an article on "Mystery 
God and Olympian God," published in April, 191 6. 

George Pllmpton Adams. 
February 11, 1919. 

[ viii ] 


I: The Modem Problem 

II: Democracy and the Modem Economic Order 

III: The Religious Tradition 

IV: Platonism and Christianity . 

V: The Isolation of Mind and of Self . 

VI: The Mind's Participation in Reality 

VII: Idealism and the Autonomy of Values . 

VIII: Knowledge and Behavior, Mind and Body 

IX: The Self and the Community 

X: The Interpretation of Religion 






[ ix] 


THE world of modern, west European civilization has 
been fashioned by certain massive energies of life and 
of thought which, in spite of their complexity and diver- 
sity, possess a considerable degree of coherence. The 
formative forces of any age reveal themselves not 
only in the more or less formal and explicit utterances of philoso- 
phers and moralists, but in social and economic structures, in the 
settled habits of thought and the latent assumptions which underlie 
men's judgments, beliefs and ideals. The totality of these structures, 
constituting the life of an age, may be called the idea system of that 
age. Every political, economic, and social structure amidst which 
men live, as a system of human deeds and relationships, is such an 
idea system. I do not mean that it necessarily originates as the 
deliberate projection of some conscious idea. Rather does the oppo- 
site appear, normally, to be the case. The conscious philosophies 
and ideals of men seem most often to be the effect of historical 
facts which are already accomplished. But I do mean that when we 
seek to study a social structure as something which is significant 
in human life and human history, we are bound to view it from the 
side of the ideas and ideals which live within it. Every such social 
structure and settled institution is the outward and visible form 
of certain human attitudes, habits of thought, interests, in short, of 
a certain consolidated idea system. Thus, feudalism is, in the first 
instance, a political and economic organization of society, defining 
a certain scheme of land tenure, of mutual obligations, and of the 
distribution of wealth. But feudalism is also something which has 
to do with the conscious attitude of man toward his world, with the 
underlying premises of all his beliefs and value judgments. It is 
something spiritual as well as economic and political. It is both an 

[ I ] 


idea system and a structure of society. The same may be said about 
such things as imperialism, capitalism, and machine industry, 
nationalism, syndicalism, etc. It is because of this intimate and un- 
deniable continuity between idea system and social forces and 
processes that history may well be called "the biography of ideals.'" 

We are familiar with the task which physiological psychology has 
set itself and has carried through, in certain regions at least, with a 
considerable measure of success. States of consciousness are corre- 
lated with bodily and organic processes. Physiological psychology 
is the study of these correlations. But states of consciousness and 
idea systems are correlated not only with physiological processes 
but also with social processes and structures. To study the nature 
and scope of such correlations would appear to be the task of social 
psychology, an inquiry still in its infancy. Physiological psychology, 
as is well known, has been most successful in the study of sensation 
and perception and the more elementary feelings and emotions. 
It has, on the whole, comparatively little to say about the higher 
and more complex mental processes, about judgments, sentiments, 
and those pervasive attitudes and habits of mind which determine 
our beliefs and loyalties. May it not be that, in order to understand 
these regions of Uie life of the mind, we need a social psychology 
rather than a physiological psychology? There are many hopeful 
signs of the solid beginnings of such an undertaking. In any case 
we know that our thinking does not occur in the void, we know that 
there are subtle filaments which link together social institutions and 
conscious attitudes into one single life structure. 

If this is at all true, then we may expect to find that most or even 
all of the formative forces which make an age to be what it is may 
be interpreted as the expressions of a single idea system. The "unity 
of consciousness" is not merely an abstract principle which has given 
to philosophers and psychologists an opportunity for subtlety and 
dialectic. It is an organizing principle, a spiritual attitude which 
fashions not only an individual mind, but the life of a community 
and of an age as well. To understand an age is to understand that 
idea system, that organizing ideal which lies behind the mind and 
the deeds of that age and community. 

iDelisIe Bums: "Political Ideals," p. 27. 

[ 2 ] 


Now, I am persuaded that amidst all the manifold traditions 
which lie embedded within our age, there is^ through vast reaches 
of our life and our thought, a single idea system which is at work. 
And I cannot escape the conviction that, in a profoundly true sense, 
"the world war has revealed the meaning of our social system,"" and 
that the hope for the future lies, in the first place, in understanding 
the path along which we have been travelling. That many of the 
fundamental categories of our thinking and of the basic concepts 
to which the modern age has become habituated need to be over- 
hauled and reconstructed, is the unescapable lesson of the present 
world situation, which he who runs may read. This essay is an 
attempt to understand something of that idea system in the midst of 
which the present age has been living its life. There is, within the 
modern world, something distinctive and something new. It may be 
understood only when we contrast it with those idea systems which 
lie behind us. To those older structures either of thought or of social 
life we cannot return even if we would. We must go on into the 
future. What that future shall be depends in part upon how we 
estimate and interpret the nature of those energies which have been 
bearing us along throughout the modern age. 

We may profitably dwell for a moment upon this continuity 
between philosophy and life — for it is just this which we have in 
mind. Such continuity of life and philosophy has been accepted as 
a matter of course by those who have contributed most to our human 
stock of significant ideas. For them, to live has been to think and- 
to know, and to know has been to envisage the meaning of their 
life and their age. Let us say, if we will, that the instruments and 
the habits of our thinking acquire all too easily an inertia of their 
own. They may become severed from the concrete world of actual 
life. But thus severed, they dry up and they eventually die. This 
essential continuity between Ufe and thought— when thought is 
sincere and profound — ^has certain implications, two of which are 
worth mentioning in this place. It means that the temper of phi- 
losophy, like that of life itself, must be empirical, in the deeper 
meaning of that term. It is often asserted and more often implied 

2 Chas Trevelyan, in a communication to the London Nation, February 2, 1918. 

[ 3 ] 


that the process of thinking is one that is essentially different from 
every process of observing and obtaining insight through first-hand 
contact with actual facts. This latter is empirical, whereas reflection 
is somehow removed from all facts and is a mere matter of spinning 
things out of one's head. That is what philosophy is often thought 
to be, whereas science looks abroad upon a world of objective facts. 
But just to the extent to which our thinking is relevant to the pro- 
cess of living, is this contrast inaccurate and superficial. Thinking 
need not be capricious and uncontrolled by objective data. Indeed 
we may say, I believe, that all significant thinking is really a kind 
of insight, and its method is broadly empirical. All thinking is the 
reporting of some situation which the thinker observes to be what- 
ever it is; it is an exploration of some realm which is as little created 
by the capricious fancy of the thinker as the configurations of the 
earth's surface are created by the explorer. Thinking is discovery, 
exploration, insight into the constitution of some realm which pos- 
sesses being. What the nature of such a realm may be, and how it 
differs from the space world of the geographical explorer, need not 
here concern us. A geometrical or algebraic proof which one "thinks 
out" is a report of an objective situation, an objective and definite 
set of entities and relationships. It is at least this, whatever besides 
this it may be. If mathematical thinking is of this nature, no less so is 
the thinking of the philosopher. He, too, seeks to report and to inter- 
pret an objective situation. To be sure his data, unlike those with 
which mathematical thinking deals, are not ordinarily as precise; 
they are not quantitative; not to so great an extent arranged in 
orders and series so that they may be expressed in compact formulae. 
The philosopher's data are more elusive and more pervasive; 
spread out thinly in the various regions of experience, more 
common and more elemental. In philosophy the area of "facts" 
over which various men will range in order to gather their data, will 
not always coincide, and men will not always agree as to what data 
are most worth while collecting. A region which to one philosopher 
seems lit up with significance will appear dark or trivial to another. 
Science, then, differs from philosophy not as observation differs 
from spinning things out of one's head, but in the sort of facts, 
i.e., objective situations which each is interested in observing and 

[4 ] 


in reporting. Of course, neither science nor philosophy consists 
merely in reporting facts, as we ordinarily understand that expres- 
sion. Besides observation, there is explanation and interpretation. 
But the essential thing to observe is that the process of interpre- 
tation itself is a kind of yielding of the mind to an objective situa- 
tion; it is a species of insight, differing to be sure from the 
observation of tiiis or the other particular fact, but not differing 
from it as "mere speculation" differs from "the reporting of facts 
as they are." 

The continuity between life and thought means something further. 
We find it easy to think of philosophies as necessarily finished 
structures and closed systems, and we are easily led to contrast 
such finished systems with the forward-looking and open incom- 
pleteness which is characteristic of life. Many writers, feeling them- 
selves to stand in the midst of vigorous currents of life carrying them 
on into an unknown future, into realms not as yet charted on any 
philosopher's chart, bid us distrust comprehensive thVought struc- 
tures because of their supposed fixity and finality in contrast with 
the unfinished flexibility of whatever possesses life. But I think 
that this is due, not to any inherent defect in thought structures 
as such, but rather to a certain distortion in our perspective. We 
look back and call the philosophies of which we read in the his- 
tories of philosophy, systems. We approach them from without; 
it is as if only their bony, skeletal structures were accessible to us 
through the medium of text books and lectures. The warm blood 
and liie softer tissues which gave these structures life in the minds 
of their original thinkers are less permanent and all too easily 
escape us. To reconstruct them in thought requires more than an 
apprehension of inert dogmas and static systems. It requires that 
we view such thought structures not so much as systems, implying 
that they are thereby finished and dead, but rather as living, organ- 
izing concepts, both expressions of and guiding the central practical 
attitudes and interests of life. Such indeed they were. And such must 
be our philosophy if it shall serve us, as the older philosophies have 
served earlier generations. It will perhaps help us if we set out, 
then, not to formulate or to construct any "system" of metaphysics, 
but simply to gather in such significant, organizing concepts — 

[ 5 ] 


whether they be few or many, old or new, — as may best express the 
nature of our world and the needs of our life. Such an "organizing 
concept" is a significant idea, which shall mediate between our life 
and our environment. It shall be both true and pragmatic. It shall 
be flexible and living, as thinking and philosophy ever have been, 
and it shall utter the permanent and substantial interests of our life 
and our experience. It is not possible to say in advance what are 
the limits of such an imdertaking. No doubt, the more we search 
and reflect, the better fashioned and the more comprehensive will 
our organizing concepts be, nor is this anything to be afraid of. 
But even a few, or only a single idea, and one which makes no claim 
to completeness or to the finished form of any system, may be a 
precious possession of our minds, giving men something to live by, 
a token of the reasonableness of our life and the vitality of our 

We return to the modern age. I propose to stress one single but 
vastly comprehensive idea system within the modern world and to 
inquire into its foundations and its consequences. To attempt to 
bring within the reach of a single attitude and thought structure, 
however comprehensive, even a few of the varied currents within 
a complex period is, of course, to invite abstractness and content- 
ment with the obvious and the superficial. Yet, to understand any- 
thing which is varied and vital is always to run something of this 
risk. The worth of the enterprise is to be mecisured simply by our 
success in actually seeing what the continuities and analogies are 
between the various social structures, human attitudes, and reflec- 
tive theories which radiate outward from one idea system as from a 

It will serve to start us upon our way as well as to provide us 
with a rough sketch of our journey, if we state here briefly the prob- 
lem which is to occupy us. This will be, needless to say, a much over- 
simplified and a quite abstract statement. Let one, then, survey in 
a single perspective most of the outstanding things which come to 
mind when we think of the distinctive traits of modern, west 
European civilization. There was the Renaissance, with its dis- 
covery of nature and of the individual and with its enormous re- 

[ 6 ] 


lease of desires and of interests which seemingly found little outlet 
in that world which witnessed the formation and the fixation of 
the Christian idea system. There was — and is — nationalism, which 
is simply the individualism of a continent, and which signifies the 
consciousness of definite interests — economic, political, and honor- 
ific — ^which must be maintained, and whose protection and expansion 
must be provided for. This individualism and this nationalism, this 
maintenance and development of interests, covers very much in 
the modern era. "In fact, the whole political history of the last four 
centuries," remarks a recent historian, "is in essence a series of 
compromises between the conflicting results of the modern exaltation 
of the state, and the modern exaltation of the individual.'" There 
was, too, the commercial revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries, "starting Europe on her career of world conquest,"* and 
leading up to the industrial revolution of the eighteenth century with 
all the characteristic features of capitalism following in its train. 
There was the French Revolution, the first mighty upheaval motived 
by the conscious conviction that the only social order fit for man 
to live in is one which he himself has made and can control, — and 
which he can also unmake if he so desires. This conviction is but 
democracy, come to a full consciousness of its meaning and its 
power. This conviction, to some degree, is never absent from any 
of the characteristic achievements and structures of the modern 
age. And then there is science, born again with the Renaissance, 
and breathing withal a somewhat different spirit from that which 
inspired it during its brief career in Greece two thousand years 
earlier. Science, in the modern age, becomes the partner of democ- 
racy; it becomes the instrument of knowledge through which man 
wins such control as he may over the forces of his life and his 
world. Now these mighty energies which have made our present 
world, varied as they are, share in a common trait, and issue from 
a common motive and idea system. What that is will best come to 
view if we set it over against the outstanding idea systems of the 
ancient and the medieval worlds. It is easy no doubt to exaggerate 
the contrast between modern and medieval. No less an authority 

3 Hayes: "Political and Social History of Modem Europe," vol. i, p. xxi. 
* Ibid., p. 68. 

[ 7 ] 


than Mr. A. J. Carlyle assures us that "it was in the Middle 
Ages that the foundations were laid upon which the most charac- 
teristic institutions of the modern world have grown."' 

Such continuity in development between medieval and modern 
there surely is. The transition was a slow and uneven one, but 
transition there certainly was, and the order of things which 
emerged, the forces at work, and the human attitudes and interests 
which came to be uppermost were different. And the Christian 
tradition and idea system as it took shape in the structures of 
medieval life and thought were again continuous with those of the 
ancient world, in their most splendid portrayal in the philosophy of 
Plato and of Aristotle. Indeed, it may be said with confidence, I 
believe, that the thought structure and attitude of Christianity has 
much more in common with the philosophy of Plato than with those 
idea systems which are most characteristic of the modern era. But 
I venture upon these large and dubious historical generalizations 
simply in order to set over against each other two dominant human 
interests, one of which does belong chiefly to the culture of antiquity 
and Christianity, and the other to the modern age. Neither to Greek 
philosophy nor to Christianity did it appear that the vocation of 
man consisted in the rational and scientific control over life and 
over nature's energies in order to satisfy human desires. For Aris- 
totle and St. Thomas, speaking respectively for the ancient and the 
medieval worlds, man's essential vocation was contemplation, the 
possession, in thought or in feeling, of those eternal and absolute 
perfections and forms which are both the ultimately real and the 
ultimately valuable. For both Aristotle and St. Thomas, the center 
of interest lay not at all in the organization of human life and society 
in terms of the satisfaction of natural wants; it lay rather in the 
possession of a Good which was not of this world. In how many 
ways does this contrast force itself upon our attention. The Stoic 
moralists condemned slavery, but they saw no way and, one must 
confess, they had little interest in the task of organizing social life 
so as to abolish slavery. Their ethics consisted essentially in the 
acceptance of the human lot and human experience as they found 

s "Progress in the Middle Ages," in "Progress and History," p. 72. 

[8 ] 


it,® not at all in any zest for the radical control over and reconstruc- 
tion of human society. Very much the same thing must be said about 
Christianity in the form which it assumed in the ancient church, 
and in the medieval world. Both sorrow and surprise are often ex- 
pressed that this should have been so, that Christianity should not 
at once have set about the task of the organization of society in the 
light of those radical moral ideals which, in the primitive gospel, 
shine with such a simple transparency. Instead, of course, what 
happened was that the historic church accepted and justified most 
of liose institutions and structures which we think it should have 
condemned — slavery, private property, political absolutism based 
upon force, and implicit obedience to the powers that be in all that 
concerns the body and its life, the inequality and harsh injustice 
of the entire social and economic order. The church fathers, with 
a few minor exceptions, acquiesce in these things without the 
slightest idea that it is either possible or worth while to attempt 
their control and their organization in the interests of human happi- 
ness. The church fathers justified them as both a punishment for 
man's sin, and a remedy, a means of discipline, necessary to train 
the will so that it may seek and find the true values of life which 
have their locus not here but beyond.' 

There is here, it will be agreed, nothing of the spirit of democracy, 
in the modern and the radical meaning of that concept. Men do not 
seek here to make their world; they seek to participate in and to 
possess (or be possessed by) an ideal and divine order and life which 
they do not at all construct. That divine order is given to man to 
know, to contemplate, and to worship. And just this is the attitude 
which the medieval social order called for, whether it be the uni- 
versal church or the feudal fabric which men think of not as a 
structure to be controlled, made and remade, but to be accepted and 
possessed. And so, too, with the Platonic Idea, and the Aristotelian 

" The Stoic, cosmopolitan "ideal was ineffective because it was embodied in a 
sentiment and not in a programme." Bums: "Political Ideals," p. 88. 

^Cf. Troeltsch: "Die Soziallehren der Christlichen Kirchen," p. 69. "Immer aber, 
bleibt bei aller Verstandigkeit doch der modeme Gedanke fern, dass gerade der Aufbau 
einer geistig-sittlichen Welt einen entsprechended Unterbau der MaterieUen und 
sozialen Verhaltnisse erfordere. Die Ideologic des guten Willens fiihlt sich fur mehr als 
ein Jahrtausend allmachtig, vollig autonom und selbstgeniigsam." 

[9 ] 


Form, and that Unmoved Mover "which produces motion by being 
loved." Life and thought consist precisely in the knowledge and the 
possession of these ideal yet most real structures. There are differ- 
ences enough between the classical and the Christian ideals and 
attitudes which will interest us in a later place. But obviously they 
belong together in so far as they are both expressions of the mind's 
attachment to ideal structures which call for recognition, knowl- 
edge, and love, but not for control and mastery, as the modern world 
understands these terms. When we turn from these older thought 
structures and life attitudes to that which we sense as distinctively 
modem, we feel ourselves to be dealing primarily with an alteration 
in the fundamental bent of the mind's interests. It is no longer the 
attitude of acceptance, of possession, of knowledge, and of worship 
which,^xpresses the nature of our world. Our world is one to be 
controlled, to be made and to be remade, to be exploited and utilized 
in order that our active human interests and impulses shall find 
release and satisfaction. And here we have the gist of the contrast 
between medieval (and ancient) and modern. The historical transi- 
tion fLom the older to.the newer order, from feudalism to democracy, 
from the handicraft, precapitalistic scheme of industry to the era 
of cajntalism, from the ascendency of religion to the decay of reli- 
gion;— ^hese^ and more may best be conceived as incidents in the 
transition from a world defined in terms of Possession and Partici- 
pation to a world defined in terms of Activity and Control. It is 
philosophies of action, of creative evolution, of the control over 
nature and experience; philosophies of meliorism and of temporal- 
ism which voice the modern dominant temper with least hesitation. 
But, as we shall later on observe, empiricism and subjectivism are 
also modern. Not so idealism. That has come to us from Greek life 
and thought with its ideal of contemplation and possession, its 
objectivity, and its conviction that, the life of the mind participates 
in objective, significant structures. And into the tradition of idealism 
there entered, too, something profound from the genius and the 
temper of Christianity. Nor was this any merely external addition. 
For idealism, in the historical and proper sense of that term, has 
proved itself to be the philosophical framework for a certain attitude 
toward life which may fairly be called religious. How pervasive and 

[ 10] 


significant that attitude, with all that it implies, may be for us today 
is the question which we propose to study in this essay. 

We shall be dealing thus with the relation between two compre- 
hensive idea systems. One of these was the informing spirit of the 
essential contributions made both by the Greek experiment and by 
the Christian ideal to the venture of western civilization. That idea 
system is idealism. It is the spokesman for something which can 
only go by the name of religion. The varied energies of the modern 
world have exercised a constant pressure upon the idea system of 
religion and of idealism, and these modern, tendencies both of our 
practical life and of our more formal theories have brought to light 
a radically different idea system and attitude which is embedded 
within institutions and habits of thought which may seem to have 
little in common. But these varied modern structures issue from 
one fundamental human attitude and idea system. These typically 
modern structures appeal, more or less consciously, to some interest 
which lies behind and beneath them, and which exists in order that 
it may be sustained and provided with material for its growth and 
its expansion. Life and thought are everywhere a matter of the 
maintenance and the expansion of such an interest. This is the 
essence of the modern discovery of nature and of instinct, of the 
self-consciousness of individuals, of social classes, and of nations. 
The idea systems of idealism and of religion are different. Here it 
is not so much a matter-of-fact interest which is thought of as gen- 
erating the life of the mind, but, rather, certain objective, significant 
structures which life and mind were to possess and to assimilate. 
Ideas here look forward to the good, ratiier than backward to an 
interest. The vocation of man is to contemplate and to participate 
in something which is significant in itself, and not simply of value 
because it is the fruition of a desire or an interest. If life and mind 
are but the prolongation of certain interests which must expand 
and exploit their world if they are to exist as interests, then conflict 
is of the very essence of things, and peace and cooperation, yes, the 
arts of civilization themselves, are an illusion. Our problem — the 
commpn_pToblem of all who may face the future with hope rather 
San despair — is simply the problem as to whether man's life and 
h'lT mind may still be thought of as participating in objective, 



significant structures, or whether life and mind are but the expres- 
/sion and prolongation of interests. This is the radical question for 
^ any iheofy of value, and for any theory of consciousness. It is the 
theoretical form of that question which statesmen and pubUc opinion 
will sometime be called upon resolutely to face. When the time 
comes to decide what the world order of the future is to be, shall 
we go back to those structures and habits of thought which rest 
upon the maintenance and the balance of interests, or shall we go 
forward to a world in which interests are worth conserving, not 
because they happen to be our interests, but because they partici- 
pate in an objective and a sharable good? We know now as never 
before what the modern world means. Shall we go back to naturalism 
and conflict, or forward to ideaUsm and cooperation ? 

[ 12 ] 



'^DEALISM, we have said, may be viewed as the theoretical 
I framework for a certain fundamental attitude and temper in 
I which the mind looks forward to ideal yet objective, significant 
I structures in which human experience may participate. Such 
.A. an idea system with all of its theoretical and practical impli- 
cations may be set over against that idea system in which the mind 
is the spokesman of and the instrument for some vital interest which 
exists as a fact of nature, and which is bent upon its maintenance, 
its expansion, and the exploitation and the control of all which its 
world may offer. That practical attitude and organization of human 
life which eventuates in the idea system of idealism is, historically, 
bound up with certain of the more profound traits of religion. Not 
that religion, as an historical fact and institution, exhibits in 
unmixed form the substance and the texture of idealism. Yet it has 
done so sufficiently to warrant our saying that idealism is the theo- 
retical framework for religion. And those energies which have 
informed the most characteristic structures of the modern age have 
made of both religion and idealism a problem rather than a premise. 
Of these powerful undercurrents which have made our modern world 
to be what it is, there are two which may be observed somewhat 
more in detail in order to understand the idea system which charac- 
terizes our modern age. These two formative agencies are democ- 
racy and the energies which have created the modern economic and 
industrial order. If we should add to these two a third, namely 
science, I believe we should have before us the three forces which, 
more than any others, define our spiritual remoteness from the 
traditions of the past. The ideals of a radical democracy, the method 

[ 13 ] 


and temper of science, and the fundamental attitudes and interests 
correlated with the driving forces of the modern economic era, these 
sum up that revolution in our habits of thought and our judgments 
of value which distinguishes our world from that of the past. 

These three formative agencies within the modern era are not 
three isolated forces. There are intimate relations between them, 
which bind them together, and make them all, in the last analysis, 
an expression of a fundamental attitude and idea. It is safer for 
the moment not to say very much about the relation of cause 
and effect here, not to decide whether this fundamental attitude 
of the modern man toward his life and his world is the source 
or the effect of science, of democracy, and of our modern eco- 
nomic, order. It is enough for the present to know that all three 
of these peculiarly modern structures and forces are indissolubly 
correlated, either as cause or effect, with an inner attitude, a putting 
forth of mental energy in a highly characteristic and specific way. 
It is this attitude, and the idea system which it has generated, that 
has come in conflict with the idea system of religion and of idealism. 
In this chapter we propose to consider some of the effects of the 
pressure exerted upon the religious attitude by the modern energies 
of radical democracy and of machine industry. 

However, religion would appear always to have been subject to 
a process of weathering and of wearing down. The forces which 
have tended to make of religion a problem -jc^ther than a premise 
are older than the modern age. They appear to be inherent in the 
nature of religion itself and in the very processes of civilization, 
as we have come to understand them, at least in the western world. 
Let us first call to mind two of these more general characteristics of 
religion which have ever tended to make it appear problematic and 
of doubtful worth in the enterprise of civilization. There is, first, an 
inclusiveness about religion where it has flourished with greatest 
vitality. This inclusiveness of religion is accompanied by a lack of 
development and differentiation amongst all of the other major 
human interests. It is frequently observed that all of the specific 
interests and energies of life were at one time either engendered 
or nourished by religion. Religion has been well called the "Mother 

[ 14] 


of the Arts."^ But the prestige which thereby falls to religion seems 
doomed to decay as these specific interests — knowledge, the enjoy- 
ment of the beautiful, the arts of politics and war — develop, and 
come to stand upon their own feet. The process of civilization is 
marked by a process of differentiation and by the division of labor. 
As these offspring of religion grow up and attain to maturity, they 
no longer need the support of religion, and they throw off the re- 
straints of any parental authority. At best will religion awaken a 
vague feeling of piety for that which lies in the past, but the energies 
for the active work of the future will be thought to come from else- 
where. Hence, when we say that religion is the mother of the arts, 
we should add that "the history of civilization is the history of 
secularization,'" and that the future appears to belong solely with 
those interests which have grown to be wholly independent of 

There is a second general trait of religion which makes it appear 
increasingly problematic. It stands out from among the other 
interests of life with a certain uniqueness. The position which it 
claims to occupy seems, in one respect, to be utterly peculiar and 
exclusive. All of the other, the secular interests of civilized man, 
appear to issue from the responses which he makes to the require- 
ments of his natural envirormient, both physical and social. His 
science seems to be a development of what he needs to know in 
order to secure food and shelter, and to satisfy his basic needs; his 
morality appears to result from the necessity of meeting the de- 
mands of his social world; his art is perhaps an innocent and harm- 
less way of exercising his surplus energy and saves him from more 
injurious forms of activity. I do not for a moment suppose that this 
view of the matter would give any fair account of the full nature 

1 "Allow me to assert without detailed evidence that all the arts of common life 
owe their present status and vitality to some sojourn within the historic body of 
religion ; that there is Uttle in what we call culture which has not at some time been 
a purely religious function; such as dancing, legislation, ceremony, science, music, 
philosophy, moral control, . . . ReUgion, I shall say, according to this vague figure, 
is the Mother of the Arts: this is its pragmatic place in the history of mankind and 
of culture." Hocking: "The Meaning of God in Human Experience," pp. 13-14. 

Cf. also Durkheim: "De la Division du travail social," ch. J. 

2 Shotwell : "The Religious Revolution of Today," p. 10. 

[ IS ] 


of these varied interests; it is but a rough way of suggesting that 
whereas these secular interests constitute man's response to his 
world, religion appears to be his response to an over-world. Such, 
certainly, is its historic claim. Small wonder then that it should 
distrust the finality and the mature independence of all of those 
secular interests of civilization and culture, and small wonder that 
these in turn should look askance at the imiqueness and aloofness 
of religion. Religion can never admit that any one of the dominant 
cultural interests of civilized man contains its own complete justi- 
fication or goal, but these, as they develop and absorb the limited 
energies of men, are impatient of any such judgment. Religion, in 
some sense standing apart from these cultural interests, is beset 
with all the disadvantages which the unique and the discontinuous 
are ever judged to possess. To understand and explain, and hence 
to justify has come to mean to discover continuities and to banish 
the unique. We need do no more here than barely mention these two 
general sources of the distrust of the permanent significance of 
religion in the work of history. Nor do I think it necessary to cite 
detailed evidence for the statements that religion is the mother of 
the arts, and that, unlike her children, she claims to be in some 
fashion a response neither to nature nor to human society, but to 
an over-world. We may be reminded, however, that if religion is 
indeed the mother of the arts and of all secular interests, there can 
scarcely be any complete gulf between the claims of that over-world 
and the requirements of man's natural environment. Either the 
claims of religion are wholly false, in which case something of illu- 
sion and falsity will gather around the arts which are the offspring 
of religion, or else something of that over-world will penetrate the 
special arts themselves — knowledge, the love of beauty, and all the 
interests of social experience — and these will not be the complete 
and independent energies which we so often suppose them to be. 

These two general sources of distrust, making of religion some- 
thing at least problematic, are the concomitants of the entire process 
of civilization. For all civilization is marked by some increase in 
the division of labor, and some heightened sense of the claims upon 
man's life made by specific regions of his natural and social environ- 
ment. But everyone knows that, since the break-up of the Middle 

[ i6 ] 


Ages, new and mighty energies in the world of thought and of society- 
have been at work exerting a steady pressure upon the idea system 
which took shape while religion was dominant. These formative 
agencies we have said to be democracy, the new industrial order 
together with its concomitants, and science. I propose now to sketch 
briefly some of the ways in which democracy and machine industry 
have influenced the older habits of thought. Whether anything of 
permanent human significance was embedded within those older 
idea systems which found entrance in religion and in idealism, I do 
not now inquire. Our first task is to envisage the play of those 
historical forces which have made both religion and idealism appear 
to belong wholly to the past and not at all to the future. 

There are ambiguities in the concept of democracy, reflecting 
cross currents in the elemental forces which enter into its substance. 
One ambiguity, resulting in two quite divergent ideals of democracy, 
may here be noted. Does democracy stand essentially for an em- 
phasis and an idealization of the common mass life, or does it stand 
for the ascendency of the individual ? Is the central democratic idea 
that of the "active and supreme function of the imagined com- 
munity,"' of the "beloved community" (Royce), or is it embodied 
in Bentham's dictum that "each is to count for one and for no more 
than one"? Common usage will justify either meaning of the concept 
of democracy, and common usage but reflects the outcome of a 
complex historical process. The historical roots of the ideal of 
democracy, at least in one of these two meanings, lie within an idea 
system and a social structure which was religious and idealistic. Its 
roots are to be found in those ideals of social solidarity and a com- 
munity life which found partial expression in Plato's "Republic," 
in Aristotle's "Politics," and in the Stoic philosophy, but still more 
in the development of religious thinking and in the formation of 
the medieval ideal from St. Paul to St. Thomas. In this church idea 
of a Corpus Mystkum, in this ideal of an "organic Idea" (Gierke), 
which Royce has set forth as the one distinctively Christian 
idea, we have an instance, so far as the life of the individual is 
concerned, of the attitude of Possession and Participation. It is for 
the individual to appropriate and to possess an objective Grace 

sGummere: "Democracy and Poetry," p. i7- 

[ 17 ] 


which resides in the life of the whole organism. Participation in the 
living structure of this organism determines for the individual his 
status, his vocation, his dignity, and his worth. In describing the 
medieval social structure and the range of ideas to which it gave 
birth, sufficient emphasis is not always, I believe, given to this 
"organic" idea. Thus Veblen, in setting forth the ground upon which 
the rights of an individual were thought to rest in the medieval 
scheme, concludes that "customary authority was the proximate 
ground to which rights, powers and privileges were then habit- 
ually referred. It was felt that if a clear case of devolution 
from a superior could be made out, the right claimed was 
thereby established. . . . The superior from whom rights, whether 
of ownership or otherwise, devolved held his powers by a tenure 
of prowess fortified by usage; the inferior upon whom given 
rights and powers devolved held what fell to his lot by a 
tenure of service and fealty sanctioned by use and wont. ... It 
may be said that God's tenure of office in the medieval conception of 
things was a tenure by prowess, and men, of high and low degree, 
held their rights and powers of Him by a servile tenure."* This 
certainly is not the entire story. There is another aspect to the basis 
of rights in the medieval theory. Besides the principle of "devolution 
from a superior," holding his powers by a tenure of prowess, there 
was the idea of participation in an organic society held together by 
an autonomous law.° This organic idea, says Troeltsch, is the "active, 
formative, critical and, at times when occasion demands, revolution- 
ary principle of Christian sociology."' This idea implies, in principle, 
a respect and love for all individuals and groups who participate in 
this divine life which pervades and sustains the entire community. 

* Veblen : "The Theory of Business Enterprise," pp. 74 fi. 

" See the summary statement in the essay of A. J. Carlyle, "Progress in the Middle 
Ages," in Marvin's "History and Progress." See also the account given by Troeltsch: 
"Die Soziallehren der Christlichen Kirchen." "Nach innen in ihrem eigenen Wesen wird 
die Kultgemeinschaft zu einem verschiedene Stufen imd Funktionen umfassenden, aber 
doch alle am Zweck und Sinn des Ganzen solidarisch betilegenden Organismus. Die 
Geltung des Individuums, die Verbimdenheit zu einen uberindividuellen Ganzen und 
die Einverleibung verschiedener Stufen und Funktionen oder inneren Gliederungen in 
die Idee des Ganzen sind damit ausgedruckt." p. 296. 

8 Troeltsch: ibid., p. 304. 

[ 18 ] 


The individual's worth and his rights derive from what he pos- 
sesses of the common, objective structure. And since this organic 
community is defined in religious terms, since it exists, in idea at 
least, as the embodiment not of any particular political or economic 
interest, but as an expression of the religious goal of all human exist- 
ence, the individual who participates in that community and who 
comes to possess its life has a standing and has rights which tran- 
scend the actual station to which fortune has allotted him. In the 
light of the religious goal which defines the nature of this commu- 
nity, the social and economic cleavages between man and man and 
group and group are bridged over.' Here is something independent of 
the consent and the caprice of men, and independent, as well, of all 
the circumstances of historical accident and of mere matter of fact. 
It is through this possession of and this sharing in an objective whole, 
a super-individual life that, as pointed out again by Troeltsch, the 
idea of subjective individual right first emerges.^ Here then is the 
organic, community idea, and here is democracy, in one of its pro- 
found meanings. And here is a social realism, the attitude of posses- 
sion and participation, the looking forward of the mind to the 
possession of an objective structure, rather than its pointing back- 
ward to an interest which is to fashion and to utilize its world. 

We feel that something essentially democratic still clings to the 
idea of group solidarity, to the "feeling that the masses alone make 
us touch the foundation of humanity, the people have revealed to 
us the human substance, the sap of the world."^ But democracy, in 
the modern world, has acquired a different meaning. It is the con- 
comitant of the modern temper and attitude of activity. In the 
transition from the older, religious form of the democratic idea to 
the eighteenth century doctrine of natural rights there steadily falls 
away the stress upon the possession, by the individual, of that which 
he holds from an objective, organic community. The individual's 

' Cf. Troeltsch, p. 305. "Auch die sonst so stark betonten standischen Unterschiede 
werden in dieser Solidaritat und in der Beziehung auf den religiosen Endzweck. aus- 
geloscht. Die Sprache der Gesellschaftslehre kann dann fast demokratisch klingen und 
den naturrechtlich — christlichen Anspruch des Individuums auf Anteil am Ganzen und 
seinen Giitern Stark betonen." 

s Troeltsch : ibid., pp. 30S ^■ 

9 M. Barrfes, quoted by Wallace : "Lectures and Addresses," p. 140. 

[ 19 ] 


rights are now thought to reside entirely within himself and he is 
entitled actively to assert them over against every objective situation 
which confronts him. The individual no longer is what he is because 
of some system in which he shares, but he is first actively to create 
his community out of his individual rights. This concept of indi- 
vidual natural rights has both a radical and a conservative aspect. 
It is radical when compared with the medieval concept of the reli- 
gious organic community, for it bids the individual not to discover 
and possess his world, but to make it — and to make it conform to his 
rights. And yet, as Bentham so vigorously preached, there is a static, 
unyielding character about the concept of "rights" which renders 
that concept unfit to be the bearer of a thoroughgoing radicalism. 
After all, if you talk about natural rights, you are still dealing with 
something prior to the individual, something which he receives and 
possesses as a datum, and which is, in just so far, unyielding to his 
own will. Completely to replace the concepts of possession by those 
of activity, is to renounce the idea of rights altogether and to sub- 
stitute for it the idea of desire and its satisfaction, the idea of 
pleasure. Let nothing stand in the way of the activity of desire, 
moulding and transforming in the service of its own satisfaction 
(pleasure or happiness) everything which it finds. The individual 
is now significant, neither because he participates in and possesses 
the substance of a genuine organic community life, defined in super- 
natural and religious terms, nor because he possesses natural 
rights — nor indeed because he possesses anything which he derives 
from without, but solely because his own activities meet with re- 
sponse and success. The eighteenth century doctrine of natural 
rights forms a half-way station between the medieval religious con- 
ception, wholly expressing the ideal of possession, and the hedonistic, 
utilitarian conception, completely justifying the active desires of the 

But the full measure of democracy's principle does not altogether 
fit into the concept of desire and its satisfaction in terms of pleasure. 
The attitude of thoroughgoing activity means more than this, 
though modern hedonism and utilitarianism have been important 
derivatives and expressions of the democratic impulse in one of its 
forms. And we may say, I think, that the radical and revolutionary 

[ 20 ] 


attitude which democracy stands for may be summed up thus; man, 
either individual man or collective humanity, through an intelligent 
understanding of the nature of his life and of his world, may hope 
increasingly to direct and to control his own fortunes, and only that 
which is fruitful in this enterprise is fitted to endure in a democratic 
age. The ideal of democracy says to man, "Be not willing to live in 
any world, in any social order, which is presented to you merely as 
something to possess, to contemplate, to worship. Make your own 
world. Live only in the midst of such structures as you yourselves 
have constructed or have brought under your control." 

Democracy, in this its radical meaning, enters but slowly into 
the current of human attitudes and habits of thought. Nevertheless 
in some fashion, however halting and obscure, it has ever been at 
work. For is not the very essence of civilization itself the attempt 
of man to modify his world, to construct something more congenial 
to his interests, real or fictitious, out of the raw material which 
nature offers him? Invention is the gist of civilization. Each suc- 
cessive step in the long history has resulted from man's making 
over someliiing, transforming that which he but finds, into a form 
in which it does not exist by nature, but only by art or artifice. 
Every step, then, is marked by the introduction of something new, 
which is the outcome of the transforming agency of human activity, 
and which would never have come into being if man had been con- 
tent to accept and possess that which he merely finds. Consider 
briefly the two regions which exhibit such reconstructive activity, 
the physical things in outer nature, and the elements, instinct and 
what not, which man finds in human nature. The making of fire, 
of the bow and arrow, of pottery, the taming of animals, the smelt- 
ing of iron — these are the epoch-making inventions which raise man 
through the successive steps of savagery and of barbarism. Each 
is the discovery of a new art. But the discovery of an art is no mere 
appropriation or holding fast to some bit of nature; it is a recon- 
struction of that which nature offers. And in one momentous inven- 
tion or art, namely that of speech, and still more, in the use of 
graphic signs, it is the construction and the creation of something 
which nature of itself does not contain. That is, systems of ideas, 
embodied in language, made possible by speech and made perma- 

[ 21 ] 


nent by writing, depend in some sense upon human activity. 
Instinctive sounds and meaningless marks are woven together, with 
the result that something new emerges. Significant ideas and a 
permanent language are the outcome of working raw material — 
sounds and marks — into a "finished product." And this process 
spells activity. It has become an all but universal habit of 
thought among us to define the progress of civilization in terms of 
technology and of the increase in man's control over nature. These 
successive steps by which early man invented something, made over 
some bit of nature's storehouse of raw material, are no doubt utterly 
sporadic, accidental, unconscious, compared with the persistent and 
deliberate adoption of the inventor's mental attitude in modern 
culture. We expect to make over and to control our world. "The 
key to modernity is control," says Shotwell. The democratic im- 
pulse of self-government, the view of the world as plastic and in 
flux, waiting to be made over into something which we desire, this 
attitude is all but lacking in primitive life, in the ancient world, in 
all cultures permeated by religion. There were practically no inven- 
tions in the ancient world; one wonders that an art so simple and 
elementary in principle as that of printing should not have been 
discovered by the Greeks. Apart from the absence of any necessity 
for the widespread diffusion of ideas, the reason lies in the fact that 
the Greeks did not look upon the objects in their world as raw 
material for hiiman constructive and transforming activity. Their 
world was one to appropriate and to possess. 

If civilization does however depend upon the inventive and trans- 
forming agency of men in respect to physical objects, it depends 
fully as much upon doing something with, reconstructing and trans- 
forming that which main finds within himself. This reconstruction 
of human nature is of greater significance than is the reconstruction 
of outer nature. Every law, every social institution, every form of 
government, every practical idea or ideal, is something made by 
man, introduced into the world of human instincts and passions 
and motives, and doing something to these elemental forces which, 
left to themselves, they would not achieve. Something happens to 
human nature in the course of civilization just as something happens 
to trees and animals, grains and metals. We have hardly become 

[ 22 ] 


habituated fully to the belief in our own power here; we still think 
and act as if, however we may succeed in making over physical 
nature, human nature is something which must be taken as we find 
it, and left with us as a static possession. These actual transforma- 
tions and inventions in the arts of social life, the reconstruction and 
novelties in human nature, have been even more sporadic, more the 
result of blind necessity and of fortune, than those inventions which 
put us in partial control over the energies of nature. The demo- 
cratic attitude and faith have been more slowly maturing here than 
there. There has hitherto not been as much in our prevailing phi- 
losophy and habits of thought to justify the hope of controlling and 
actively making over human motives and social structures, as there 
has been in the region of technology, machine industry, and physical 
processes. Yet, it is inconceivable that the democratic attitude of 
activity and control should stop short of the world of human nature. 
It is precisely in this human region that men are sensible, as never 
before, of the imperious need for some conscious guidance and 
intelligent reconstruction, if any such thing be at all possible. The 
belief that it is within the bounds of possibility, and that it is the 
one supreme task to which enlightened men in all civilized commu- 
nities should now devote every energy — this belief and the longing 
which it expresses, will without any doubt be one spiritual deposit 
left behind by the war. More than ever before shall we need a 
philosophy which shall envisage this hope and this attitude, inter- 
pret it, and relate it to some total view of man's vocation and his 

Democracy then, as an idea and an attitude, stands for man's 
interest in mastering and in moulding his world rather than in 
participating in structures which are already real. It connotes 
activity, expansion, control, behavior, rather than possession, con- 
templation and knowledge. Democracy thus interpreted may yield 
a metaphysic as well. Hobhouse has set forth in impressive words 
the significance of such a metaphysic. "If, then, the whole course 
of history, or say, rather, of physical, biological, and social evolution, 
is to be summed up in this — that it is a process wherein mind grows 
from the humblest of beginnings to an adult vigor, in which it can — 
as in the creed of humanity it does — conceive the idea of directing 

[ 23 ] 


its own course, mastering the conditions external and internal of its 
own exercise, if this is a true account of evolution — and it is the 
account to which positive science points — then we cannot say that 
this is a mean and unimportant feature of reality which is disclosed 
to us. . . . It is, at any rate, something to learn — as, if our present 
conclusion is sound, we do learn — that this slowly wrought out domi- 
nance of mind in things is the central fact of evolution. For if this 
is true it is the germ of religion and an ethics which are as far re- 
moved from materialism as from the optimistic teleology of the . 
metaphysician, or the half naive creed of the churches. It gives a 
meaning to human effort, as neither the pawn of an overruling 
Providence nor the sport of blind force. It is a message of hope to 
the world, of suffering lessened and strife assuaged, not by fleeing 
from reason to the bosom of faith, but by the increasing rational 
control of things by that collective wisdom, the eh ^vvos Xoyos, 
which is all that we directly know of the Divine.'"" 

It may not be questioned that there is an apparent conflict and 
tension between this deeper meaning of democracy and all that 
comes to us from the idealism and the religion of the past. Are not 
the two attitudes of possession and activity wholly incompatible? 
Can it be possible that man's mind should be both the instrument 
whereby vital interests win control and mastery over the conditions 
which surround them, and also that it should participate in and 
possess significant structures which it has not created and does not 
control? "Idealism, it has been said, is not at heart sympathetic with 
the modern democratic conception of civilization."^^ Yet, we have 
observed, democracy, in one of its elemental strands at least, did 
once have its roots in religion. Something akin to religion and to 
idealism may again come to be recognized as the soil in the midst 
of which it can put forth its best efforts. 

Let us turn to another of those basic energies which have made 
the modem age, and which too may be viewed as a concomitant — 
whether cause or effect — of the transition from the older medieval 
idea system to the modern. One need be no orthodox believer in a 
materialistic or economic interpretation of history to recognize an 

1" "Morals in Evolution," pp. $96, 637. 

11 Perry : "Present Philosophical Tendencies," p. 188. 

[ 24 ] 


intimate correlation between our habits of thought and those activi- 
ties which are spent in furnishing the economic framework for the 
entire structure of life. Indeed, these industrial activities are for the 
mass of mankind so engrossing that all other interests must become 
subordinate and must be dominated by them. Hobson has scarcely- 
overstated the actual situation when he writes: "For the brutal and 
crushing pressure of the economic problem in its coarsest shape — 
how to secure a material basis of livelihood — ^has of necessity 
hitherto absorbed nearly all the energies of man, so that his powers 
of body, soul and spirit have been mainly spent on an unsatisfactory 
and precarious solution of this personal economic problem. Religion, 
politics, the disinterested pursuits of truth and beauty, have had to 
live upon the leavings of the economic life.'"^ Those economic 
structures and processes which have entered into the modern world 
have fashioned not only the outward circumstances of our lives, but 
they have inner and spiritual accompaniments as well. A consider- 
able number of students have, in recent years, paid attention to this 
aspect of the matter. Their studies leave, I believe, a vast and power- 
ful impression upon the mind. Here, one feels, are uncovered some 
of the deep and darker currents which flow within our modern 
social structures, fashioning our modern ideals and habits of thought. 
Certainly the student of philosophy, if he is to settle his accounts 
with the vital issues and the significant foundations of our thought, 
may not neglect some study of the economic environment amidst 
which our thinking and our living proceed. 

The essential economic transformation, as one goes from the pre- 
modern to the modern era, is correlated with that shifting of attitude 
and of idea system which we have already roughly outlined. It is 
the transition from the attitude in which man's life and his activity 
points ahead to and participates in a preexisting order of things, to 
that attitude in which his life and his thought are the spokesmen 
for interests which antecede them, and which are bent upon con- 
trolling and constructing the world in order to permit the expansion 
of these interests. The change from pre-capitalistic to capitalistic 
industry is the change from the sure possession, the contemplation 
and enjo}Tnent of objects and of goods, of life and of the world, 

12 J. A. Hobson: "Work and Wealth," p. 299. 

[ 25 ] 


to the interest in incessant activity and the expansion of interests 
for their own sake. In the older order, medieval and pre-capitalistic, 
man is dependent upon the presence in his world of that which he 
does not make, of laws, traditions, social structures whose recogni- 
tion and acceptance have something of the quality of religious awe 
and worship, giving stability and finality to all of his life. 

Speaking broadly, but with more direct reference to the facts of 
the industrial order, the economic transition from this older world 
to the modern world has involved the substitution of the interests 
and the point of view of the producer for those of the consumer. 
The consumer is the final possessor. When an economic object 
reaches the consumer, all activity of production is at an end. 
Economic consumption connotes stability, finality, the present, 
possession; economic production connotes restlessness, relativity, 
the future, activity. Now in a "natural" or naive economic order, 
the producer exists for the sake of the consumer, the means exist 
for the s£ike of the end. In the older order "the naive conception 
that all production was in the interests of consumption had not 
yet disappeared."" Under the pressure of the modern economic 
forces, consumption, instead of supplying the goal and the measure 
for production, comes to exist in order that the activity of produc- 
tion shall go on and shall be profitable. Wealth is produced not 
because of its utility to the consumer but in order that it may 
furnish the means for producing more wealth. Newer and wider 
markets, colonies, and spheres of influence are sought for, not in 
order that the clamorous demands of waiting consumers may be 
satisfied, but so that an outlet for the activity of production may be 

Now the relation between production and consumption furnishes 
at least an analogy — and a profound one — with the relation between 
an interest which generates an activity, and the goal in which the 
activity terminates. Viewed naively, the utility which wealth pos- 
sesses for the consumer is the goal of the economic process. Here is 
something objective, something which lies ahead of the activity of 
production and which justifies the economic process. For the eco- 
nomic processes to be set in motion and to be sustained solely, or 

i^Sombart: "The Jews and Modern Capitalism," p. 125. 

[ 26 ] 


at least so far as is humanly possible, by the interest of the pro- 
ducer — the desire for profits — is to withdraw those processes from 
all contact with and all participation in those objective and terminal 
structures which alone can justify them. It is to lodge the economic 
activities of men in the interests which initiate activity rather than 
in the objective utility and good which lie ahead. And this is the 
very essence of naturalism and of subjectivism — naturalism, because 
the activity is but the prolongation of a matter-of-fact interest; 
subjectivism, because there is no attachment to nor participation 
in an objective order. 

This steady withdrawal of the economic life from its objective 
goal, the possession of utilities by the consumer, is clearly reflected 
in the classical and hitherto prevailing economic theory. The arts 
of consumption, the final destiny and enjoyment of economic goods, 
have been, in the traditional science, obscured and neglected. "For 
though,' 'says Hobson,''there is everywhere a formal recognition that 
consumption is the end or goal of industry, there is no admission 
that the arts of consumption are equally important with the arts 
of production and are deserving of as much attention by students 
and reformers of our 'economic system.' On the contrary, so absorb- 
ing are the productive processes in their claims upon the physical 
and mental energies of mankind, that the economic system, alike 
for practitioners and theorists, has almost come to be identified with 
these processes. . . . Their (i.e., the classical economists') condem- 
nation of luxurious expenditure and waste, alike in the wealthy and 
the working-classes, was not primarily directed against the loss of 
real enjojnnent, or human well-being, or the moral degradation in- 
volved in such abuse of spending power, but against the damage 
to the further processes of making wealth by reducing the rate of 
saving or by impairing the working efficiency of the laborer."" Prac- 
tically, this subordination of the consumer to the producer shows 
itself in countless ways, — in his increasing inability "to protect 
himself against the depredations of organized groups of producers,"" 
in the fact that so much of what and of how we consume is deter- 
mined by the monetary profit of producers and their skill in adver- 

i< "Work and Wealth," pp. 4, S- 
i^Hobson: ibid., p. 258. 

[ 27 ] 


tising, rather than by our organic, genuine needs as consumers. We 
have learned the arts of stimulating unwholesome and artificial 
wants better than we have learned how to meet the legitimate and 
wholesome need of men at large — all consumers. That a large 
number of many of our most dangerous social ills, gambling, drink, 
prostitution, arise from such artificial and forced overstimulation 
of wants rather than from already existing needs seeking satisfac- 
tion, is scarcely open to doubt.^° 

The ascendency of business, pecuniary interests over the con- 
sumer's interest in utility and serviceability has many concomitants 
both of an economic and of a wider cultural order. Impersonal rela- 
tions and concepts, so far as the bulk of the world's major activities 
are now concerned, have superseded the directness and intimacy of 
personal relations. There is nothing accidental about this \mder the 
stress of modern conditions. It is not merely that the pressure of 
the machine process imposes its discipline throughout the whole 
texture of society, necessitating routine, mechanical standardization 
of goods, services, and consumption. This lies on the surface, im- 
portant and portentous as it is. But any act of consimiption, the 
possession and enjojmient of goods on the part of their final owner, 
is a personal act, inherently measurable in terms of personal values. 
It inevitably belongs to the conscious experience of a person. The 
process of economic production, on the other hand, even before the 
advent of machine technology, is a more objective and impersonal 
process. And with the rapid extension of the machine process, the 
arts of production cease almost entirely to be thought of in terms 
of personal activity and conscious initiative. It was certainly other- 
wise in the medieval and pre-capitalistic culture. Medieval feudalism 
was sustained by relations of loyalty, devotion, and allegiance — 
servility if you choose — rather than by impersonal or legal relations 
of force or of rights. The basis of the medieval social order was not, 
at least in idea, mere obedience and yielding to a rigid, external 
authority so much as it was the loose bonds of inter-personal rela- 
tions. In medieval communities, towns, cloisters, and guilds, there 
dwelt — as Troeltsch puts it — a "spirit of solidarity and of personal 
understanding and mutual help which, in spite of a certain depend- 

^' Cf. Veblen: "The Theory of Business Enterprise," ch. 3. 

[ 28 ] 


ence upon traditionalism, was utterly removed from all legal (i.e., 
abstract, impersonal) formalism, and primarily appealed to the 
affections and dispositions.'"'' 

Now it is scarcely to be questioned that this kind of a world fur- 
nishes the soil most favorable for religious ideals and habits of 
thought. Wherever one looks in such a world as this one does find 
a neighbor," one confronts persons, and one's life is made up of 
recognizing, accepting, and responding to the demands which issue 
from these personal and conscious situations. This environment of 
persons which bulks so large is not to be used as a means, it exists 
not to be controlled and reconstructed; it is there to be enjoyed 
and participated in and, one may even say, worshipped as well. The 
recognition and contemplation of God, in an order dominated by 
these habits of thought, does not appear as something irrelevant and 
out of place. The practice of religion is no such violent setting in 
motion of unused attitudes and idea systems as it is in a world 
where everything — our social as well as our physical environment — 
exists only as something to be controlled and made use of by our 
interests. Not processes awaiting control, but structures awaiting 
contemplation live in that world — remembering all the while that 
we are stressing but one aspect of the medieval order, and of that 
only as it existed in idea. 

Our world is indeed of another fabric. In countless places may 
we discern this displacement of personal by impersonal relations, 
and its concomitant spiritual effects. Simmel has called attention 
to certain of the more profound and subtle aspects of this vast 
transition. There is the fact that, due to the great complexity of the 
modern economic structure, any individual is now dependent upon 
the results of the labor of countless other persons, vastly more fian 
contributed to his support under more primitive conditions. This is, 

1' Troeltsch : ibid., p. 242. Cf. also the following statement: "Unter solchen Um- 
standen gibt es iiberhaupt kein Staatsgefiihl, keine gemeinsame und gleichartige 
Bezogenhelt auf die Zentralgewalt, keine alles beherrschende Souveranetat, kein 
gleichmassiges offentliches Biirgerrecht, keine abstrakte und formell — rechtliche Bin- 
dung." p. 242. 

18 "I might possibly treat my neighbor as myself, but in this vast modem world 
the greatest problem that confronts me is to find my neighbor and treat him at all." 
Lippman: "Drift and Mastery," p. 37. 

[ 29 ] 


of course, but calling attention to the division of labor. But, along 
with this dependence upon the labor of an increasing number of 
persons, we are more and more aloof from the individual beings 
who stand behind the work." The more specialized any individual's 
labor becomes, the more does the product issue from but a single 
and minute function of his nature. It follows that those regions 
where we meet with other individuals, so far as economic trans- 
actions are concerned, are but very partial and superficial surfaces. 
There is little in our economic intercourse to suggest the wealth of 
personality and of conscious life, which is really there, concealed 
behind the products which we buy and sell. At least, there is vastly 
less than in a social order in which the varied things which a man 
makes or does have some sort of totality, into which more of himself 
has entered. The result is that the arteries through which the social 
life now flows, that network — to change the figure— which touches 
and encompasses men, is vastly more abstract and formal than was 
once the case. These actual social relations are related to the real 
world of persons — to use Simmel's analogy — as a geometrical figure 
is related to a real, physical object, or as an abstract form or formula 
is related to some concrete, living entity or process. 

The resemblance between the economic structure of modern 
machine industry and the structure of the modern scientific idea 
system is more than superficial. The world, as conceived by the exact 
sciences, is related to the "real" world of our concrete experience 
just as the social relations created by modern machine industry are 
related to the "real" relations between conscious individuals. Both 
the scientific world view and the economic fabric are abstract when 
compared with what is really there. A similar abstractness occurs 
elsewhere in concepts and structures which are part and parcel of 
the modern age. Thus it may fairly be said that "rights" are abstract 
in that they are indifferent to individual endowments and traits. It 
is by virtue of his belonging to some more universal genus, because 
of what he has in common with all other individuals belonging to that 
genus, that an individual has rights. The concrete, the particular, the 
contingent, the unsharable does not come within the scope or the 
protection of such common rights. Thus an age which, like the 

I'Simmel: "Philosophie des Geldes," p. 293. 

[ 30 ] 


eighteenth century, did so much of its thinking in terms of universal, 
abstract rights was relatively blind to that region which is filled with 
the concrete and the individual. The medieval world, we have 
observed, was essentially different. There, the individual makes his 
claims, not because of the rights which he possesses through the uni- 
versal aspect of his nature, but because other concrete individuals 
owe him protection or submission. The consciousness of possessing 
rights can emerge only when this texture of personal qualities and 
relations is superseded by one of impersonal bonds. This same 
essential abstractness appears also, of course, in the prevalence of a 
"money economy" as against a "natural economy." All three of these 
indeed, as Simmel remarks — "rights, science (i.e., die Intellectuali- 
tat), money — are characterized by their indifference to individ- 

The term Economic Rationalism has fittingly been used to desig- 
nate that structure of life and of thought some of whose results we 
have been surveying. The modern industrial regime had to over- 
come a certain inertia before it could get under headway; economic 
traditionalism, the attitude of possession and of acquiescence had 
first to disintegrate before capitalism could emerge. We have 
already spoken of the substitution of the producer's world for 
the consumer's world. But this rejection of tradition, this breaking 
through of the impulse to activity, this expansion of the economic 
desire for pecuniary gain, why speak of these as having anything 
to do with any form of rationalism? Because all of this involves 
the formation and the carrying through of a plan, rather than the 
acceptance of a ready-made scheme. It means tiiat men now attempt 
to organize their world and their activities, instead of accepting 
the structures which God or nature may vouchsafe them. A new 
interest, and a new type of person emerges, the maker of "projects." 
"About the year 1680," writes Daniel Defoe in his "Essay on Pro- 
jects," "began the art and mystery of projecting to creep into the 
world."" A man with a project has a plan. He undertakes some- 
thing. He sets out to rearrange his world so as to make it con- 
form to his project and realize his plan. A thread of organizing activ- 

20 Simmel : ibid., p. 469. 

21 Quoted by Sombart : "Der Bourgeois," p. S4- 

[ 31 ] 


ity binds together and organizes his life. The entrepreneur comes 
into existence. Such organizing, form-giving activity, surely is a kind 
of rationalism. It connotes a marked contrast with form-receiving 
traditionalism and empiricism. 

As we go forward from the time when the medieval culture was at 
its height we find increasing indications of this ideal and attitude of 
thoroughgoing organization and control; one region where this is the 
case has a special interest for us. Max Weber has pointed out certain 
striking analogies between the ideals of Protestant ethics, especially 
in the Calvinistic sects, and the spirit of modern capitalism.^^ The 
similarity lies in their common possession of a zeal for complete 
organization and discipline. Each involves a break with nature, with 
tradition, with the spontaneous instincts and proclivities of natural 
man. There is a sternness about each of them and a ruthless exaction 
in their demand for discipline and obedience. So severe and heroic, 
so opposed to the easy acceptance of nature and impulse are both 
Puritanism and capitalism, that Weber speaks of them under the 
common rubric of "asceticism." Unlike early Christian and medieval 
asceticism, however, this modern type is an asceticism within the 
world {innerweltliche Asceticismus) . For the Calvinist, unrelenting 
devotion to one's calling, one's vocation within the social order, is 
the one sure sign of election and predestination. Work and labor 
rather than an unio mistica cum Christo, are the witness to salvation. 
Not depth of feeling, but active persistence in the pursuit of a plan is 
the mark of religion and the proof of justification. 

That the teachings of Calvin, and the dominant temper of Puri- 
tanism should furnish a soil favorable for the newer industrial forces 
is not then strange. Calvin rejected explicitly for the first time the 
canonical law against interest and usury; he thereby gave definite 
recognition to the fact that the consumption point of view of the 
earlier Christian ethics was now replaced by the interest of produc- 
tion, based upon the economic productivity of money and credit.'" 
The newer spirit of Calvinistic puritanism found expression in the 
unstinted praise of unremitting industry and thrift and the horror of 

22 Max Weber : Die Protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus. Archiv 
fur Sozialwissenschaft, 1904. 

23 Cf. Troeltsch : ibid., p. 709. 

[32 ] 


idleness and of luxury. All of which furthered the division of labor, 
the standardizing and methodizing of life, the limitation of consump- 
tion and the encouragement of production. In sum, it seems not too 
much to say that "Calvinism is the only type of Christian social 
philosophy which has unreservedly accepted the foundations of 
modern industry."" Thus does it turn out — ^paradoxical as it may 
seem — that Puritanism and Rationalism are associated together 
through an asceticism common to both. Is there not also some truth 
in the assertion that Puritanism is the father of modern military 
discipline?^^ At least we shall recognize how deeply the ideal of 
economic rationalism has entered into the tissue of our modern social 
structures and idea systems. 

Economic rationalism connotes also a certain decay of feeling, and 
an extraordinary development of intellect. The active, ascetic temper 
of which we have been speaking is always suspicious of feeling 
because feelings seem to be either quiet possessions, experiences 
which call at the moment for enjoyment and which bring calm repose 
and contentment, or they set in motion inner disturbances which 
interfere with that mastery and discipline of life which asceticism 
and activism demand. For such a severe temper, nothing exists to be 
enjoyed, but everything exists to be mastered. For Puritanism, the 
goal of life is remote; the utter majesty of God is a symbol for the 
incessant labor which falls to the share of man, before he be worthy 
to possess and to participate, through feeling, in the final perfection 
and treasures which shall be his reward. The thought of these distant 
possessions may sustain him in his toil, but now, while he labors, 
there is no present possession, no feeling which may serve as the 
representative and the pledge of his divine destiny. The whole of 
modern culture exhibits analogies to religious Puritanism in this 
absence of enjoyment and of feeling. We have so complicated our 
entire apparatus and technique, we have become so absorbed in de- 
vising means and mechanisms of all kinds, we have been so .fashion- 
ing our instruments of control, that the ends for which these means 
are constructed, and which alone justify them, become more remote. 
Again, the modern economic order gives us our best illustration. 

"* Troeltsch : ibid., p. 718. 

25 Cf. Weber: ibid., p. 29, note i. 

[ 33 ] 


Industrial processes are so intricately linked together, every eco- 
nomic process responds to changes and fluctuations in all other 
economic processes the world over, that we have here a practical 
world of total relatedness and relativity. It is a Spinozistic world 
so far, at least, as modes and attributes are concerned; nothing is 
final, and everything points beyond itself. Everything has become a 
means, a vehicle through which the economic life passes. There are 
no "end-stations," where the ceaseless flow of economic energy 
pauses, where possession and enjoyment enter, and activity ceases. 
At least such terminations are all but accidental, and, like the inter- 
ests of the consumers, do not count in the life of the whole structure. 
Compared with the refinements and mechanisms in the arts of pro- 
duction and in the elaboration of means, the enjoyment of values is 
utterly chaotic and unprovided for. "End-stations," places where we 
cease to inquire into a thing's use as a means, and enjoy and contem- 
plate it as in itself valuable, tend to disappear from our life. But it is 
just in these pauses that feeling, rather than idea, comes into play.^* 
Ideas look beyond; they point to something not themselves. Feeling 
connotes immediacy, enjoyment, present possession. 

And yet, there is another aspect of this whole world of economic 
rationalism which works out in a different way. It is true that, within 
this idea system, the individual and the personal, the attitudes of 
contemplation and possession, and the feeling of immediacy appear 
to have no foothold. It is also true that this same modern culture has 
witnessed the release of desire and of feeling, the unchaining of 
countless forces of impulse and instinct, and this has come about not 
in spite of, but because of that very impersonal and objective, that 
intellectual and casually connected world which science and eco- 
nomic rationalism have built up. By the release of desire, I mean 
something different from, even if it be only a further development of, 
the will to mastery and control which formed the common element of 
ascetic rationalism in Calvinism and capitalism. This release of 
desire is what remains, perhaps, after the religious goal of Puritan- 
ism has dropped away, and nothing is left but file will to power. It is 

^" Cf. Simmel : ibid., p. 457. "Je mehr solcher Endstationen unser praktisches Leben 
enthalt, desto starker wird sich also die Gefiihlsfunktion gegeniiber der Intellekt- 
funktion bethatigen." 

[ 34 ] 


then that the release of desire becomes the point of departure for 
ethical and economic egoism, and the interest in sheer immediacy is 
the token of the individual's discovery of himself. It is not strange 
that this self -discovery and self -consciousness of the individual 
should have steadily mounted higher as the environment of individ- 
uals more and more takes on the form of an impersonal, causal, and 
mechanical structure. For the mobiUty and freedom of the individ- 
ual can be won only as he becomes detached from his world; his 
world becomes separated from him only when organized and defined 
in objective and impersonal terms. An individual who is no longer 
embedded within a network of personal relations is thrown back 
upon himself just because his world is impersonal and no longer 
responsive to him alone. The city dweller, unwatched by neighbors, 
released from petty gossip, and living in a world of routine and mech- 
anism senses a freedom and self-consciousness which the country 
dweller lacks. The girl who prefers factory work at a relatively low 
wage to domestic work at a higher wage does so because of a freedom 
which her impersonal environment gives her. Likewise wherever 
personal obligations, such as the allegiance of the serf to his lord, is 
commuted into a money obligation, the consciousness of self and of 
freedom is enhanced. The possession of self-consciousness, in its 
more intense forms, depends not only upon the presence of an alter, 
with whom one may contrast one's own life, but it also depends upon 
an estrangement from an environment whose very impersonal, neu- 
tral and indifferent character makes the person recoil upon himself, 
seek within for that which he can no longer find in whole regions of 
his world. The very universality of intelligence and that which it 
recognizes, creates a common background, a level tableland which 
permits individuals to emerge and to be distinct. The concept of 
rights is, as we have observed, a rational concept; it defines some- 
thing common and universal within human nature. It is thus imper- 
sonal, in the sense of neglecting the accidents of individuality, of 
birth and of status. But just because it is thus common and indiffer- 
ent to the individual, it permits rather than inhibits a free expansion 
of the individual." Just so does a money economy exert a levelling 

2^ "Hier wie sonst ist es grade der Boden des gleichen Rechtes fiir alle, der die 
individuellen Unterschiede zur voUen Entwicklung und Ausnutzung bringt. . . . Darum 

[ 35 ] 


influence. Money as a common measure of all values eradicates in 
principle all inherent distinction between servile and noble. Every 
vocation becomes, in theory at least, open to everyone. But just this 
vast levelling process serves powerfully to stimulate competition and 
individualism, for the individual now confronts a world where every- 
thing is open to him. It is money, a levelling tool, impersonal and 
intellectual, which accomplishes this. Thus it is that economic ration- 
alism brings about the release of desire and of the individual. 

One further fact may be mentioned bearing on the correlation 
between the modern economic order and individualism. It is an 
obvious truth that machine industry and the division of labor drive 
in a wedge between the individual worker and the final and total 
object which eventually emerges. The individual worker sees as the 
product of his own labor something utterly fragmentary and partial; 
he becomes separated from the finished totality.^^ But it is only 
structures and objects, which are in some sense totalities, to which 
the self can be devoted and in which it may be interested. No longer 
able, then, to embody one's self in one's work, one must look within, 
there to uncover whatever dim and hidden resources of feeling, of 
longing and of desire there may be. It is no historical accident that 
the whole movement of Romanticism in life and in thought, the re- 
lease of individual desire and feeling, the expansion and self- 
consciousness of individuals and of nations should swell to mighty 
proportions as the structures of economic rationalism become fas- 
tened upon modern industry and life. 

Some general reflections such as these, then, may suffice to show 
why it is that economic rationalism and the intellectualism of science 
have carried along with them an uncompromising individualism, re- 
leasing in greater and greater measure the energies of desire. Other- 
wise the marriage of rationalism and of individualism might appear 
to be a strange union. To Plato and to the Stoics it would have been 

ist die rationalistische Weltauffassung — die, unparteiisch wie das Geld, auch die 
sozialistische Lebensbild genahrt hat — die Schule des neuzeitlichen Egoismus und des 
riicksichtslosen Durchsetzens der Individualitat geworden." Simmel: ibid., p. 465. 

28 "The whole wage-earning system is an abomination, not only because of the 
social injustice which it causes and perpetuates, but also because it separates the man 
who does the work from the purpose for which the work is done." B. Russell : "Why 
Men Fight," p. 148. 



inconceivable. Their rationalism did not release desire and did not 
spell individualism. It left the individual still confronted with an 
objective and divine order which he might appropriate and in which 
he might participate. That individualism and sense of personal 
worth which developed rapidly at the close of the ancient world, and 
which received such marked emphasis within the ethic of Chris- 
tianity was of a different order from the individualism and the sub- 
jectivism of the modern age. There is indeed a motive common to 
both ages. The individual is thrown back upon himself because some 
region of his environment which formerly was the home of significant 
structures inviting the mind's participation, falls to pieces. At the 
close of the ancient world it was the social and political structures 
which broke up, and no longer presented themselves as the objective 
counterpart of human values, as they did in the earlier religious 
institutions of antiquity, and as they had been reflected and idealized 
in the teachings of the great philosophers. In the modern age it was 
physical nature which, with the advance of science, excluded per- 
sonal values. And the economic forces of modern industry confirmed 
in practice what science seemed to teach in theory. Man's world 
becomes impersonal, and, as in the close of the ancient world, the 
individual is thrown back upon what he may discover within. Esse 
est percipi is the formula for more than an isolated current of phil- 
osophical reflection. But, in the religious thought of late antiquity 
and within Christianity, the individual, thrown back upon himself, 
discovered in his inner life the embodiment and the hope of a divine 
order. That world could still be possessed and appropriated, even if 
the world of time and of history, of empires and of governments 
should utterly fall away. In the idea system of modern individualism, 
that is not the case. The very attitudes which make possible the con- 
templation and the appropriation of significant structures have been 
subject to the disintegrating forces which we have sketched. The 
result is that more and more what the individual finds within himself 
is simply desire and feeling, impulse and instinct. He no longer finds 
himself within a significant and objective order which is to be appro- 
priated by him. His world is for him to make, and his life is to be 
one of outward expansion and achievement, bringing power, satis- 
faction and pleasure. 

[ 37 ] 


We have wished to stress those concomitants of modern economic 
rationalism which illustrate the characteristic temper and idea 
system of the modern age. The world is essentially material to be 
utilized by men's interests in order that such interests may expand 
and prosper. The mind with all its ideas, points back to these inter- 
ests whidi it is to serve. It is such interests which are to control and 
to master everything which lies ahead of or outside of them. Organi- 
zation and mastery are here the significant things. Man is to make 
the structures amidst which he is to live. Such is the radical essence 
of democracy, and such is the temper of a world fashioned by mod- 
ern industry. It is clear enough that this is a different world from one 
in which man's vocation lies in the discovery and the appropriation 
of structures which are themselves significant, and which are not 
made by his will to power and mastery. Such structures, if there be 
any such, exist not for control and exploitation, but for knowledge, 
contemplation, and worship. Here then are the two idea systems, the 
two attitudes which we desire to understand and to estimate. The 
attitude of possession and contemplation connotes religion, and its 
theoretical framework, idealism. Let us next turn from the modern 
age to inquire into the elemental nature of the religious tradition in 
the historical life of humanity. 

[ 38 ] 


"^DEALISM, we have said, is the philosophical framework for 
I that practical concern and attitude of life which men know as 
I religion. In the previous chapter we have been observing the 
I pressure exerted upon this one of life's major interests by two 
.A- of the great formative forces within the modern world, democ- 
racy and economic rationalism. But what is this interest itself and 
wherein consists the substance of the religious tradition? I am aware 
of the many pitfalls in any attempt to define some essence of reli- 
gion. It may reasonably be doubted whether any such definition 
is possible, or if possible, whether it can be of much service. Those 
two general characteristics of religion which have already claimed 
our attention — its undifferentiated quality, whereby it appears his- 
torically as the source of many varied interests which grow out of it, 
acquire definiteness and independence, and its uniqueness in that 
it responds to an over-world — these two qualities of religion make 
any definition a doubtful matter.^ There is no thought here of ex- 
tracting the common element of all religions and reducing it to a 
ready formula. Any such universal and common feature would be 
utterly vague and indefinite as well as totally inadequate to express 
the central content of a single one of the historical religions. Nor 
shall we revert exclusively to the embryology of religion and look 
to primitive culture for the clearest disclosure of the essence of 
religion. The anthropologist who studies the massive, unconscious 
and primordial attempts of early man to build for himself a religion 

1 Yet those writers who, like C. C. J. Webb and Gilbert Murray, urge that religion 
cannot be defined, have succeeded in telling some important things about religion. 
Cf . Webb : "Problems in the Relation of God and Man," pp. 3 ff., and Murray : 
"Four Stages of Greek Religion," p. 18. Leuba, in the appendix of "A Psychological 
Study of Religion," has compiled an instructive list of definitions of religion. 

[ 39 ] 


may sometimes forget what Aristotle so well knew, that the real 
nature of anything which lives in time is not at all revealed in the 
early stages of its growth. It only is that which it has in it to become. 
In all of our observation and description of historical, anthropo- 
logical, and archeological material, some idea and some estimate of 
the true worth and destiny of the forces and facts we are observing 
is present in our minds. It guides us, however unawares, in the 
selection of those data and aspects of data which we suppose to be 
pertinent to the inquiry in hand. To uncover the essence of religion 
is thus in part a normative task; along with anthropology and psy- 
chology, philosophy and metaphysics must contribute to the enter- 
prise. I propose then in this chapter to characterize the substance 
of the religious tradition. The justification for the interpretation 
here set forth will lie, not only in whatever historical or anthropo- 
logical data may be adduced, but in the validity of certain ideas and 
points of view which will emerge more fully in the further develop- 
ment of the argument. 

There are comprised within the religious tradition of humanity 
two distinguishable elements which are, nevertheless, for the religious 
tradition itself, intimately and indissolubly related. There are some 
considerations, familiar to everyone, which may at the outset serve 
to make clear how these two constituent aspects of the religious 
tradition may be analyzed. Everyone, I think, would assent to the 
belief that the historical religions, Christianity for instance, contain 
certain elements which might remain wholly untouched and un- 
harmed in a world where the prevailing habits of thought were com- 
pletely naturalistic, atheistic, and seemingly anti-religious. One need 
by no means imply that these unscathed elements would lose nothing 
through such a process of attrition, yet however much may drop out, 
we shall recognize some link, however tenuous, between that which 
remains, and that which has been lost. There is a quality almost 
pathetic in man's belief that there is that which would remain after 
the decay of all positive religion and which itself would be not 
unworthy of being called a new religion. Guyau, writing of the "non- 
religion of the future," bids us see in the worship of the family, in the 
pure love of the ideal, in the finer feelings of social solidarity, in 
scientific disinterestedness, and in the creative enjoyment of the 



beautiful, a new and "non-mystical," a wholly naturalistic religion.^ 
Dewey has bidden philosophy take notice of "a new individualism in 
art and letters, with its naturalistic method applied in a religious, 
almost mystic spirit to what is primitive, obscure, varied, inchoate, 
and growing in nature and human character.'" Thus, let God, free- 
dom, and immortality, taken with any literalness, become but the 
shibboleths of an enfeebled superstition, would not morality and 
loyalty, imaginative art, human love and sympathy remain, in some 
measure, and would they not express themselves in sentiments and 
in words to which something of the quality of religion would still 
cling ? Would not all these, indeed, become more precious, since they 
alone, and nothing remote and transcendent, would receive undivided 
and unstinted devotion? 

It is such reflections as these which let us see to how great an 
extent the historic religions have given utterance to that which would 
still exist and be cherished in a world where human life is thought 
to be hemmed in everywhere by blind fate, brute fact, or mechanical 
necessity, or any other non-God which future knowledge may chance 
to disclose. On this side religion has portrayed and given articulate 
voice, through imagination, belief, and worship, to those things 
which man most of all cares for and cherishes, to those values and 
ideals which his own experience offers him, and which would con- 
tinue to demand his allegiance whether or no anything in man's 
environment made answer to them, whether or no they elicited any- 
thing from man's world save a bare echo of themselves. On this side 
religion has been an utterance of man's desires and wishes, his 
interests and his purposes ; religion here is an imaginative portrayal 
of these very real and very human things. And if this were all, we 
could indeed ask pertinently with Santayana, "what is this whole 
phenomenon of religion but human experience interpreted by human 
imagination?" And if only "the humanistic tendencies of the Renais- 

2 Guyau : "The Non Religion of the Future," pp. 207 ff. This volume still remains, 
I believe, the most finely sympathetic and philosophical exposition of the genuine 
religious possibilities of an imaginative naturalism. 

3 J. Dewey: "The Philosophy of Maeterlinck," Bibbert Journal, July, 191 1. Cf. 
also Thomas Davidson: "American Democracy as a Religion." Int. Jour. Ethics, vol. 
10, 1899. 

[ 41 ] 


sance could have worked on unimpeded, this interpretation of 
religion might really have prevailed." The whole function of religion 
might then have been understood, "simply to lend a warm mystical 
aureole to human culture and ignorance"; religion would be in sub- 
stance an "imaginative achievement, a symbolic representation of 
moral reality."* This aspect of religion, then, in which it bodies 
forth the permanent desires and valuings of human life, thought of 
in abstraction from the real environment of man — this we shall 
speak of as the immanent, the empirical, the hither side or content 
of the religious tradition. 

But the religious mind has always concerned itself with some- 
thing over and above the hither side of experience, with something 
more than a portrayal, in imagination, of the permanent desires of 
men. It has, from primitive religion through all of the historical 
religions, laid claim to possess something of cosmic and universal 
import; it has supposed itself authorized to make some assertion 
about the environment of human life and experience, and about 
some response which reality makes to the energies of our minds. 
Religion has claimed to be true as well as relevant to the interests 
which come to light in the life of mind and of reason. It thinks of 
itself as having not only a function within the domain of experience, 
of man, and of society, but also as pointing to and disclosing quali- 
ties and existences of the real world. Of all life's interests religion has 
been the most obdurately metaphysical and realistic. Speak as you 
will of its pragmatic sanction, its utility, its character as symbolic 
of feeling and emotion, or of its function in man's struggle for exist- 
ence, if this other side of religion has escaped your analysis, then 
have you missed the heart of it. So essential in the life of religion 
has this characteristic been, that I think many misunderstandings 
and equivocations would be avoided if the word "religion" were not 
used in speaking of an organization or an idea which recognizes 
only the first aspect of religion, that which we have spoken of as 
its immanent aspect and structure. This second function of religion 
we may describe as its cognitive function. The cognitive side of the 
religious attitude will denote, then, a reference to some idea or 
knowledge of a reality or realities which, in some genuine meaning, 

^Santayana: "Winds of Doctrine," pp. 39, 46. "Reason in Religion," p. 12. 

[ 42 ] 


are other than the immanent strivings and values which are resident 
within experience. 

But we need at once to make a further statement about these two 
aspects of the religious tradition, or the religious attitude. Not 
every idea which claims metaphysical or cognitive validity is neces- 
sarily religious, any more than every utterance of some felt need or 
wish, however fundamental, need be religious. It is an essential 
characteristic of religion that these two elements should be so fused 
together that there is some mutual relevancy between the system 
of that which man values and strives for on tiie one hand, and that 
which man supposes to be the real environment of his life, on the 
other hand. This relevancy may take on the form of a direct and 
affirmative response which reality makes to the engrossing interests 
of man's life. But the relevancy may be less naive, more hidden, and 
more complex. Some interaction and mutual implication there will 
be between the "internal" and the "external" meaning of the reli- 
gious idea, between that which is possessed within the area of con- 
sciousness and of history, and that which is their background and 
environment, between the immanent and empirical, and that to 
which there is some knowledge reference. If, for instance, loyalty 
be thought of as the most significant and the central moral value 
or virtue, then loyalty can generate a religious attitude or conscious- 
ness only if, in addition to its immanent or moral and, so to speak, 
pragmatic value, it also possesses a cognitive and metaphysical 
reference in such wise that it points to and implies the reality of 
something superhuman, a universal community, or an ideal of 
transcendent worth. In sum, the religious tradition has to do essen- 
tially with, first, the discovery and utterance of man's most perma- 
nent desires, hopes, and experiences, the immanent side of the reli- 
gious attitude; secondly, with some idea which is believed to be 
genuinely true, and to yield a knowledge of the environment of 
experience, the cognitive aspect, and thirdly, with the belief in some 
solidarity and mutual intimacy of these two functions. 

It may be urged that so far we have said nothing about religion 
and the religious interest which might not equally well be said of 
other interests and attitudes. Can one indeed escape the supposition 
that, in the final analysis, every idea roots itself in some activity, 

[43 ] 


some need, some dynamic and instinctive wish, and also that it 
bodies forth some relation, however concealed and subtle, with 
some real object? Can we withhold from any idea that doubleness 
of function, that pointing in two directions which is so apparent 
and fundamental in the case of sense organs existing, as liey do, 
at the boundary between organism and environment? But itjs reli- 
gion which, from first to last, has borne witness to this fusion and 
interpenetration of the immediately practical and vital, and the 
outlying objective Real. The life of religion reaches down into the 
primitive, the instinctive, into the region, of feeling, impulse, and 
desire; it also seeks to disclose and to make known to man some 
objective order of things conceived as ultimate and inclusive. The 
other arts of life show less of this doubleness of function; they show 
a bias either in one direction or in the other, toward the internal 
and human, or toward the external and the real. Poetry and music 
give expression primarily to an idea, a mood, a possession of the 
mind and this is all we commonly ask of the fine arts. We are content 
if morality serve to organize the realm of conduct, of desire, and of 
will. And we have learned to expect science to be impersonal and 
objective. Thus here is division of labor. Art and morality — in 
various ways of course — are human, immanent; if we say that they 
are also "true," it is only that they faithfully embody our meanings 
and fancies, whereas science is really cognition. Now this is neither 
very profound nor accurate, though it is no doubt the common sense 
supposition concerning these matters. And in comparison with these 
interests religion seems the more primitive; it has yielded less to 
the process of specialization. For it, "immanent" and "cognitive" 
are not yet sundered. 

But with these two ingredients of the religious consciousness and 
their solidarity before us, we have now to face an issue which is 
important not only for the student of anthropology and the history 
of religion, but which also concerns some fundamental problems 
of psychology and of metaphysics. Our understanding of the reli- 
gious tradition will differ widely according as to which of these two 
aspects we make our point of departure, and according to the direc- 
tion, so to speak, in which we suppose the current from one to the 
other to run. And we may pause for a moment merely to indicate 

[ 44] 


certain of the larger problems of philosophy which hinge upon an 
issue wholly analogous with the one which meets us here in seeking 
to understand the origin of religion. Touching the knowledge which 
we hpive of nature and of other selves it is to be asked whether we 
start from that which is immanent within the life of consciousness 
and then proceed outward through a process of projection, piecing 
together fragments, always more certain of the internal than of the 
external, of the parts than of the whole, of the immediate than of 
the remote. Or may we be said, in any sense, to proceed in the 
opposite direction, discovering the internal, the human and the sub- 
jective within something more total and objective which we already 
possess and in some fashion know, going then from the whole to the 
parts, from the knowledge of outer and real structures to the dis- 
covery of ourselves? The traditional Cartesian assumption of the 
immediate certainty of self-consciousness and the doubt of all else 
besides implfes that it is only possible for the mind to move out- 
ward to the real from its own neai* and immediate presentations 
and perceptions. The currenfhere is entirely in the one direction. 
This is certainly the traditional manner of thinking. It is in these 
terms that the problem of knowledge is usually formulated. Indeed, 
it is because of this assumption that there is a problem of knowl- 
edge. How — so the question runs — starting with an unattached, 
isolated idea, how comes it that such an idea finds its way to a real 
object, so as to know that object? In psychology there is the question 
as to the relation between the processes of discrimination and asso- 
ciation, between the apprehension of totalities withinf which parts 
are distinguished, and the piecing together of fragments to construct 
some whole. In logic there is the question of the relation between 
induction and deduction, and in etfiics there is the problem as to 
the relation between felt interest and objective value. The concept 
of projection is applicable throughout, and it defines a certain type 
of theory, one in which the real is but a projection of the human; 
knowledge of totalities and of universals but a projection of what 
is particular; value and the good but projections of feeling and 
interest; other minds but projections of our own. These ace theories 
of nominalism and of humanism. They are theories of projection. 
Now animism, as an account of the basis and origin of. religion, 

[45 ] 


is such a projection theory. And the problem touching the adequacy 
of animism to interpret the roots of religion is one with the larger 
philosophical issue which meets us elsewhere. Let it be agreed that 
there are the two directions in which the religious consciousness 
points, within to conscious values and interests, outward to some- 
thing objective and cosmic. Religion is the spokesman for the mutual 
intimacy of these two regions. But which of these has the position 
of priority, logical or temporal? Shall we say that religion arose 
through an awareness of something which man found first within 
himself — his soul or his will — and later projected into the world? 
Or shall we say that religion takes its rise from man's awareness 
of and participation in something objective and inclusive and that 
only later does he discover himself, through a process of separation 
and analysis? This is precisely the issue as to how far the theory 
of animism will take us in understanding the beginnings of the 
religious tradition. For animism is a theory of projection from con- 
sciousness to nature, from internal to external. Dissatisfaction with 
the adequacy of animism has its deepest roots in the belief that the 
current runs in the other direction, from outer to inner, from a whole 
to the parts, from reality to consciousness. This alternative concep- 
tion has received no single name. It has been spoken of as totemism. 
It underlies the "zoism" of Mr. Cook, the "animatism" of Mr. 
Marett, the "naturism" of Mr. Clodd.' 

There are three features of the theory of animism which I shall 
here comment upon, chiefly in the light of these larger issues which 
they suggest. I shall then consider some of the more fruitful sug- 
gestions which have been offered to supplement the deficiencies of 
animism. Animism is a theory of projection from inner to outer, 
it is predominately intellectualistic, and it sees the essence of religion 
in an illusory anthropomorphism. 

It would seem to be in accordance with what we know about 
self-consciousness and its development to suppose that early man 
is but slightly introspective, scarcely, if at all, a discoverer and 
observer of his own will and soul. More specifically would it appear 
that what he first wakes up to is his group, his living, social environ- 
ment. I quote Miss Harrison's summary of the matter, which may 

«Cf. J. E. Harrison: "Themis," p. 47s, note i. 

[ 46 ] 


stand, I think, quite apart from any question concerning the value 
of many of her specific observations and hypotheses in archeology 
and anthropology. "First, primitive man, submerged in his own re- 
actions and activities, does not clearly distinguish himself as subject 
from the objects to which he reacts, and therefore he is but slightly 
conscious of his own separate soul and hence no power to project 
it into 'animated nature.' He is conscious of life, of mana, but not 
of individual spirits; . . . second, man felt himself at first not as 
a personality separate from other persons, but as the warm excited 
center of a group; language tells us what we have already learnt 
from ritual, that the 'soul' of primitive man is 'congregationalized,' 
the collective daimon is before the individual ghost, and still more 
he is before the Olympian God."° What deserves to be stressed here 
is the presence in man's consciousness of a massive totality, of a 
world of life and of force, something utterly objective, before there 
is any discovery of his own consciousness. His self and the contents 
of his own mind are discovered, when they are, upon the background 
of this "other-than-himself" which is there first. This "other-than- 
himself " is not, of course, the equivalent of any such objective nature 
as comes readily to our own minds; it quivers with life, it is that 
to which his emotions and instinctive desires and activities are 
attached, rather than the correlate of an intellectual idea. His 
thought is neither personal nor impersonal, rather is it 'social,' if 
we may divest this word of some of its acquired connotations. To 
call attention thus to the centripetal direction of early man's con- 
scious development, to start witib his instinctive awareness of that 
which is objective and outer, and to build upon that rather than 
upon what is isolated and detached affords concrete verification of 
Royce's statement that "this whole customary popular and philo- 
sophical opposition between a man's self-consciousness, as if it were 
something primitive and lonely, and his social consciousness, as if 
that were something acquired, apart from his self-consciousness, 
through intercourse with his fellows is false to human nature."^ 

Anthropologists and social psychologists, such as Marett, Miss 
Harrison, Durkheim and his followers have presented this matter 

8 "Themis," p. 47S- 

' "Studies of Good and Evil," p. 201. 

[ 47 ] 


in the light of certain empirical evidence which seems to point in 
this direction. But the question can hardly be settled wholly by an 
appeal to anthropological data. Nor is the question solely or chiefly 
one of time sequence, the question as to whether the awareness of 
something objective and real precedes or follows the apprehension 
of ideas as within one's mind and detached both from reality and 
from one's group. The available data may, perhaps, be interpreted 
either in terms of animism or of totemism, though the material which 
is presented by the critics of animism is impressive and convincing. 
But the issue can, in the end, be met only in the light of larger 
philosophical conceptions and analyses. 

A second comment upon the theory of animism is that it operates 
with categories and does its thinking with a certain intellectualistic 
bias. The theory of animism has supposed that religion could be 
viewed as essentially the outcome of a belief in ghostlike beings 
conceived and projected into nature in order to explain the myste- 
ries of sleep and dreams, of life and death. Now among the serious 
critics of the theory of animism there is, I think, no thought of deny- 
ing to early man all recognition of mystery and some attempt to 
render intelligible the strange and persistent phenomena which 
greeted him on all sides. But to say that this felt need of explaining, 
this intellectual curiosity is the sole or the chief source of early 
man's belief in supernatural beings is a different matter. There are 
some important considerations which are overlooked in such an 
account, chief of which is the undoubted fact that ideas are, in some 
manner, correlated with behavior. Practice precedes theory, invol- 
untary and instinctive behavior precedes ideational and voluntary 
behavior, ritual precedes dogma and intellectual belief. Royce 
generalizes this situation in saying that "reason, like every state of 
intelligence, is simply the coming to consciousness of some mode 
of action."^ We are to look then for something which precedes 
animism, something which is of the nature of behavior and of in- 
stinct. At least we may say that the earliest ideas which are found 
in man's religion will not be completely intelligible unless they are 
seen in their relation to these prior activities. Once having emerged 
these ideas may well take on new functions ; they may have a mean- 

8 "Studies of Good and EvU," p. 373. 

[ 48 ] 


ing which not only points back to the instinctive behavior of which 
they are the deposit, but which gropes forward as well, seeking some 
genuine object which is real. But even so, we shall expect them to 
carry along something of their early inheritance. Sense organs, we 
have observed, stand at the boundary between the organism and its 
environment, interpreting the requirements of the world to the life 
needs of the organism. May it not also be said that ideas stand at the 
boundary of past and future, pointing both to the behavior which 
lies behind and the ideal meanings which beckon from ahead? Not 
everything is told about ideas and beliefs when we conceive them 
simply as projected forth from instinctive behavior. But we may 
not forget ritual as perhaps the stuff out of which are made "those 
faded unaccomplished actions and desires which we call gods.'" 
Here is at least a capital truth which leads to some modification of 
traditional animism and of much else besides.^" 

The intellectualistic bias of animism results in another difficulty 
which is noticed by Durkheim. Even if we grant that the impulse 
to explain and to make intelligible the mysterious phenomena of life 
led early man to the idea of the double, the anima, it is not at all 
evident why this idea should have attaching to it the quality and the 
feeling tone of sacredness. It is this quality which makes the anima 
an object of fear, awe and worship. An idea which arises solely as the 
result of an intellectual necessity will not show this quality. Some 
deeper level of emotion and of desire must be tapped in order that 
the idea of the sacred, which is the dominant and the organizing 
concept of religion, shall emerge. 

But there is a third implication of the theory of animism, the most 
serious of all. If we are to see the chief root of religion in the impulse 
of man's mind to banish mystery through explaining it, and if the 
explanation in terms of phantoms and doubles be founded on illusion, 
as it surely is, the inference is obvious. Religion is essentially but 
false science, and nothing else. But religion is implicated in so very 

3 Harrison : "Ancient Art and Ritual," p. 54. 

10 "That ritual, or in other words, a routine of external forms, is historically prior 
to dogma, was proclaimed years ago by Robertson Smith and others. Yet social 
anthropology is but today beginning to appreciate the psychological implications of 
this cardinal truth." Marett: "The Birth of Humility," p. 13. 

[ 49 ] 


much of the total complex of life's interests that such a judgment 
must appear so radically over-simple as to be false. Durkheim's 
judgment is worth recording here, especially when one remembers 
that he comes to the investigation of religion from the school of 
French positivism. "It is inadmissible," he says, "that systems of 
ideas like religions, which have held so considerable a place in his- 
tory, and to which, in all times, men have come to receive the energy 
which they must have to live, should be made up of a tissue of illu- 
sions. To-day we are beginning to realize that law, morals and even 
scientific thought itself were born of religion, were for a long time 
confounded with it, and have remained penetrated with its spirit. 
How could a vain fantasy have been able to fashion the human 
consciousness so strongly and so durably?"^^ 

In these comments upon the concept of animism and its applica- 
tion to the early religion of men, we have had no thought of any 
wholesale distrust and rejection of reason and intelligence. Nor are 
we denying the actuality and the importance of the soul idea in prim- 
itive habits of thought. We have wished to say that the theory of 
animism is not able adequately to set forth the relation between the 
inner and the outer, the immanent and the cognitive aspects of the 
early stages of the religious tradition, and that much depends on our 
being able to do this. 

And, indeed, recent studies of primitive religion have evidenced 
an increasing discontent with the traditional view which sees in 
man's early religion chiefly the product of an illusory anthropo- 
morphism due either to false inductive processes or to what Max 
Miiller called a "disease of language." We may now, I think, say 
with some measure of confidence that whatever else primitive 
religion may have been, it was more and other than any simple belief 
in ghostlike beings conceived in order to explain the mysteries of life 
and of nature, the phenomena of sleep and dreams and death. 
Religion preceded such naive animism, just as it has outlived it. 
Where then shall we look for the central core of primitive religion? 
Robertson Smith's "Religion of the Semites" opened the way to a 
different interpretation. He emphasized as the fundamental concep- 
tion of ancient religion the "solidarity of the gods and of their wor- 

11 Durkheim : ibid., p. 69. 

[ so] 


shippers as part of one organic society."" This vital sense and 
emotion of social solidarity, which was also cosmic in its scope and 
intent, received its typical and supreme expression in the common 
sacrificial meal, where the community, men and gods alike, partook 
of one food, one life. More recently Durkheim and his school have 
pointed out that even such a conception as that of Smith is too indi- 
vidualistic and too animistic. There are not at the outset men and 
gods; there is rather only the social group, and the collective emo- 
tions and representations which are generated through membership 
in the group. Let us expand this main thesis of Durkheim and report 
its chief constituents. There are two fundamental things to be noted: 
First, the essential ingredient of all religious ideas and rites is to be 
found in the distinction which such ideas and rites set forth or imply; 
the distinction, namely, between the sacred and the profane. "The 
division of the world into two comprehensive domains, the one com- 
prising all that which is sacred, the other all that is profane — such 
is the distinctive trait of religious thought; beliefs, myths, dogmas, 
legends are either representations or systems of representations 
which express the nature of sacred things, the virtues and powers 
which are their attributes, their history, their relations with one 
another and with profane things." "Rites are rules of conduct which 
prescribe how man ought to behave with respect to sacred objects."^" 
There is thus an ineradicable dualism at the very birth of religion. 
Religion is man's expression of the discovery of a cleavage between 
that which is ordinary and common and that which is charged with 
mystery and sacredness. But this merely restates the problem. What 
is it in man's experience which compels him so to split up his uni- 
verse? What is the source of the concept of the sacred itself? Durk- 
heim's answer is that social experience alone can evoke the sentiment 
of the sacred. It is as a member of the mass life, when the individual 
is no longer merely himself, but lives and feels the larger emotions 
surging around and through him; it is through this social experience 
that he is transported to a level of existence which is beyond the 
common and the ordinary, which is divine. That social experience 
may intensify and transmute individual feeling is of course a famil- 

12 "The Religion of the Semites," p. 32. 

13 Durkheim : "Les Formes elementaires," pp. 50, 56. 

[ SI ] 


iar fact. "The laws of the multiplication of human power by associ- 
ation have never been worked out; but no one has failed to measure 
in frequent experiences what incredible enhancement of the value 
of any experience may occur in a single touch of endorsement from 
without,"" and it is this enhancement of individual feeling through 
social experience which enabled Carlyle to speak of society as the 
"standing wonder of our existence, a true region of the supernatural," 
in which "man has joined himself with man; soul acts and reacts on 
soul; a mystic unfathomable union establishes itself; Life in all its 
elements has become intensated, consecrated."^^ 

Durkheim applies familiar facts of our experience to the question 
concerning the origin of the idea of the sacred. The life of primitive 
man seems subject to a rhythm in which there alternate periods of 
dispersion, when his life is ordinary, monotonous, and common, and 
periods of concentration, of social excitement, of contact which 
heightens the intensity and range of feeling and generates that which 
is inspired and sacred. Here are literally two worlds which the indi- 
vidual experiences — a world of sense experience where economic and 
physical activities predominate, and a world which makes itself felt 
during those periods of social "effervescence," when one immediately 
participates in a larger and different world through his social experi- 
ences, his group, or collective consciousness. It is a qualitatively new 
experience as well as one which is more overwhelming and intense. 
Here are then two outstanding facts to be kept in mind in interpret- 
ing the religion of primitive man. There, is first the concept, or better, 
the emotion, the "collective representation" of something sacred, of 
something removed from the common, and of supreme importance 
for human weal and woe. Here is a supernaturalism which is prior to 
animism, a religion prior to objective or personal gods. And secondly, 
this representation of the sacred, this theoplasm and matrix of all 
religion, is the deposit of collective feeling, of social experience. "Not 
only does the god reflect the thoughts, social conditions, morality, 
and the like, but in its origin his substance when analyzed turns out 
to be just nothing but the representation, the utterance, the emphasis 

1* Hocking: "The Meaning of God in Human Experience," p. 222. 
i' "Characteristics," Works, vol. I, p. 340. 

[ S2 ] 


of these imaginations, these emotions, arising out of particular social 

There follow from these two fundamental facts about primitive 
religion, certain derivative characteristics which must be briefly 
noticed. Here at its source, religion is the felt participation of the 
individual in a collective consciousness which is super-individual, 
yet continuous with the individual consciousness. Here is a "reser- 
voir," to use an expression of Cornford, to which the individual has 
access through religious rites, which, as we have seen, both utter and 
in turn intensify the group emotions. The vehicle of group emotion, 
the source and stuff of that which was sacred and supernatural, was 
no personal god or spirit, but an impersonal mana, wakonda, which 
is spoken of variously as a "sympathetic continuum," a "primitive 
magical complex," a "system of sanctities which knew no Gods," a 
"social force trembling on the very verge of Godhead." Everything 
which primitive man does and thinks — the chase and the warpath, 
the social relationships of marriage and kinship, his practices con- 
cerning birth, death, and burial, his magic and his art— are all 
charged with and rendered potent and awe-inspiring by this one per- 
vasive and continuous Power, this mana. Its influence spreads every- 
where, infecting with fear and awe the entire range of his world. If 
its more positive and wholesome aspect is expressed in his religious 
rites and feelings — wholesome because under social control — its 
more negative and fearsome side is found in the darker practices of 
his magic and his taboos, where the dread power has broken away 
from the more regular and social control of the group emotions. 

But primitive religion is not merely an utterance of man's social 
experience, as we understand the term "social." This felt continuum 
of life and force which is the original stuff of all gods and the source 
of all spiritual substance, is not merely the bond which unites man to 
man in a common group life; it also unites the entire social group to 
nature so that both man and nature participate in one common life. 
It is impossible to say where the social and the human end, and where 
begins the mere awareness of natural objects. The totemic group 
includes both man and his natural environment in unbroken unity. 
Both man and nature participate in one common felt life. Here is a 

16 "Themis," p. 28. 

[ S3 ] 


whole of life and nature, which as yet is unbroken, which is not yet 
disturbed by analysis and reflection, self-consciousness and individu- 
alism. The collective representation which feels and thinks this 
entire situation is governed by what M. Levy-Bruhl has designated 
the "Law of Participation." Because of the pervasive influence of the 
supernatural Power, the feeling and representation of which gener- 
ates religion, there is a "mystic identity" between objects. Men 
actually are animals, the new-born infant actually is both the 
ancestor of the clan and the totem of the clan. According to this law, 
"objects can be at once themselves and other than themselves."" 
Experience is interpreted in the light of this prepossession; the law 
itself is "impermeable to experience" — until indeed this prelogical 
stage of human thinking gives way to the stage of a more logical and 
analytical thinking. Thus, man's social experience, his collective 
emotions and representations have at the outset a more than human 
significance; they are cosmic and metaphysical in their scope and 

There is one further fact about early religion which these writers 
emphasize. It is, they hold, a legitimate inference from the available 
facts. Religion can now be interpreted as something that in its 
essence is not illusory, precisely because man's social experience is 
not an illusion. "We are able to say, in sum, that the religious indi- 
vidual does not deceive himself when he believes in the existence of 
a moral power upon which he depends and from which he holds the 
larger portion of himself. That power exists; it is society. When the 
Australian is carried in transport beyond himself, when he feels 
within himself the surging of a life whose intensity surprises him, he 
is the dupe of no illusion; that exaltation is real, and it is really the 
product of forces that are external and superior to the individual."^* 

Such is the account of primitive religion and of the origin of the 
mystery god which Durkheim and his followers give. Miss Harrison 
summarizes the matter thus : 

"Totemism then is not so much a special social structure as a stage 
in epistemology. It is the reflection of a very primitive fashion in 
thinking, or rather feeling, the universe, a feeling the realization of 

1^ Levy-Bruhl: "Les Fonctions mentales dans les soci^tfa inferieures," p. 77. 
18 Durkheim, p. 322. 

[ 54 ] 


which is essential to any understanding of primitive religion. It is not 
a particular blunder and confusion made by certain ignorant savages, 
but a phase or stage of collective thinking through which the human 
mind is bound to pass. Its basis is group unity, aggregation, similar- 
ity, sympathy, a sense of common group-life, and this sense of 
common life, this participation, this unity, is extended to the non- 
human world in a way which our modern, individualistic reason, 
based on observed distinctions, finds almost unthinkable."^' 

But, within the religious tradition, there are motives and attitudes 
which are different from those which find utterance in the religion of 
participation and of mysticism. The primitive fusion of the human 
social group with its environment, nature, does not endure. Instead 
of solidarity and participation in one vital continuum, there is dis- 
tance and remoteness of man from his gods. The gods emerge as 
beings who live a life of their own. Man does not share that life in his 
feelings and his experience of group solidarity; instead of feeling, it 
is some articulate idea and thought which is uppermost in this other 
religious attitude. In order to set forth somewhat concretely the con- 
trast between these two motives within the religious tradition, we 
may refer to Miss Harrison's account of the relation between mystery 
god and Olympian god. It is as a study of human motives and of 
their interplay within the life of religion that "Themis" here inter- 
ests us. If one distrusts the soundness of the author's use of archeo- 
logical and anthropological material, one may be reminded that her 
main historical thesis — the development of the Olympians from 
earlier mystery gods — can always be translated back into the lan- 
guage of psychology. As such the thesis may surely be defended on 
the basis of the accepted principle that "the further we go back the 
nearer we approach to a total presentation having the character of 
one general continuum in which differences are latent."^" 

We may then pass briefly in review certains respects in which the 
Oljmoipian gods differ from the mystery gods, viewing the matter 
simply as an illustration of the relation between the motive of par- 
ticipation and what we may call the motive of contemplation. There 
is a further advantage in reporting the matter as it is presented in 

19 "Themis," p. 122. 

20 Ward : Article Psychology in "Encyclopedia Britannica." 

[ 55 ] 


Miss Harrison's "Themis." The author holds to the view that the 
development from mystery god to Olympian god was essentially 
one of loss, so far as any genuine religious value is concerned. She 
is a vigorous partisan of "participation" and of mysticism. Certain 
of the enduring problems touching the interpretation of religion are 
brought to our notice as a result of this point of view. 

First, the Oljonpians emerge only when all sacredness and divinity 
are excluded from nature. The primitive totemic unity, the "sym- 
pathetic continuum" between the social group and natural objects, 
in which, as yet, there is no external god, becomes broken. Divinity 
is now remote, not near; the immediate natural surroundings of 
men no longer are pervaded with mystery and life, but become 
common objects, the domain of scientific analysis and practical 
utilities. The direct evidence for this, according to Miss Harrison, 
is that the "Olympian sheds his plant or animal form."^^ He grad- 
ually shifts from a nature god, instinct with the life and emotions 
which pulse through nature and the social group continuous with 
her, to a human-nature god. And this process is essentially one of 
loss, so far as religious values are concerned. The characteristics of 
the Olympian human-nature god are mainly negative, the result of 
stripping off, through analysis and reflection, those vital charac- 
teristics which ever made the mystery god so near and so pregnant 
with meaning and value. The mystery gods, on the other hand, 
retain a strange beauty and charm and appeal to the very end. They 
"are never free of totemistic hauntings, never quite shed their plant 
and animal shapes. That lies in the very nature of their sacramental 
worship. They are stiU alive with the life-blood of all living things 
from which they sprang."^^ 

Second, the Olympians cease to be either the symbols or the pro- 
jections of a group soul. They no longer have, as an intimate part 
of their very substance, a community following, a thiasos; they are 
no longer a many-in-one, but solitary individuals. In the "H5min of 
the Kouretes," whose elucidation furnishes the theme of Miss 
Harrison's "Themis," the Kouros, the young Zeus, is hailed as 
coming at the head of his attendants, his daimones. Zeus then once 

21 "Themis," p. 447. 
22/6«Z., p. 450. 

[ 56 ] 


had a thiasos, a following, a social group which attended him. "When 
he grew up to be the Father, it seems, he lost his thiasos and has 
gone about unattended ever since. If we can once seize the meaning 
of this thiasos and its relation to the god, we shall have gone far to' 
understand the making of Greek mythology."^^ And the meaning 
ascribed to the thiasos by the school whose teachings we are now 
considering is, as we have seen, the fundamental thesis that religion 
is to be interpreted wholly in terms of man's social experience. The 
Kouros, the young god, is only the projection of the Kouretes; 
Dionysos is "but his thiasos incarnate." The Kouretes, a band of 
youths about to be initiated, dance an excited mimetic dance. They 
thus utter together their feelings, their delight and terror, their 
desires. And "being a collective emotion, it is necessarily felt as 
something more than the experience of the individual, as some- 
thing dominant and external. . . . They sink their own person- 
ality . . . , they become emotionally one, a true congregation, 
not a collection of individuals. The emotion they feel JoUectively, 
the thing that is more than any individual emotion, they externalize, 
project; it is the raw material of god-head. Primitive gods are to 
a large extent collective enthusiasms, uttered, formulated."" And 
just so long as the bond between the thiasos and the god remains 
intact, so long as the worshippers feel the intimacy which makes 
themselves and their god partakers of one Life, participating in a 
common substance, just so long is the god a genuine god, a true 
mystery god. But when the thiasos, the social gJfoup of worshippers, 
no longer participates in the life of the god, the god becomes a soli- 
tary individual, remote and aloof, majestic it may be, but no longer 
the incarnation of man's deepest emotions and desires. Such are the 
Olympians. They are "the last product of rationalism, of individual- 
istic thinking; the thiasos has projected them utterly. Cut off from 
the very source of their life and being, the emotion of the thiasos, 
they desiccate and die. Dionysos with his thiasos is still Comus, still 
trails behind him the glory of the old group ecstasy."^' 
Third, the Ol5mipians cease to perform the functions of the older 

23 "Themis," p. 447- 
2* Ibid., pp. 4S-46- 
25 Ibid., p. 48. 

[ 57 ] 


divinities, and demand instead that honor and service be rendered 
to them as superior personalities. The older gods, akin to the 
mystery gods, were without distinct title, ready to take on plant 
or animal shape, symbols of functions and activities performed, 
sharing in the life and labor both of man and of nature. But the 
Olympian renoimces all of this; "instead of being himself a sacra- 
ment he demands a sacrifice."^" The inherent democracy of mysti- 
cism, of participation on the part of worshipper and god alike, in 
a common life and in common tasks, is replaced by the aristocratic 
and dualistic severance between the god who receives and men who 
give him honor and service. Gift-sacrifice, externality, formalism, 
are substituted for intimacy and felt imity, remoteness for partici- 
pation. When the matter is thus presented almost every motive 
which appeals to us makes us condemn the Olympians as sterile and 
fruitless. "Sentiment, tradition, may keep up tie custom of gift- 
sacrifice for a while, but the gods to whom the worshipper's real 
heart and life goes out are the gods who work and live, not those 
who dwell at ease in Olympos.'"^ 

Fourth, one function which the mystery god performed for his 
worshippers was all-important. He not only lived and worked for 
them; he died for them as well. But the Ol3Tnpian is immortal; 
this is his chief claim to distinction and remoteness from man, and 
also it is "the crowning disability and curse of the new theological 

He gains deathlessness and immutability, and he thinks thereby 
to gain life; but the life he wins is only a "seeming immortality 
which is really the denial of life, for life is change."^' And this is 
part of a further paradox. The Olympian, we have noted, becomes 
completely himian through ceasing to be a part of nature, through 
renouncing every plant and animal form, whatever is merely natural 
and non-human. But in thus being humanized, he loses the one 
supreme characteristic of human life, its change and mortality. 
The Olympian ceases to be both human and divine, and becomes 

28 "Themis," p. 467. 
2T Ibid., p. 467. 

28 Ibid., p. 467. 

29 Ibid., p. 468. 

[ 58 ] 


divine alone. Men may now contemplate his beauty and perfection, 
but he is no longer such as men are; he no longer can sympathize 
with and participate in the human struggle. Hence the powerful 
appeal which the later mystery religions made to human need and 
feeling. It is not "to the bright Olympians who know naught of 
struggle and pain and death, but to gods who have shared these 
experiences, who have triumphed over death and risen to new life, 
that the hope of immortality attaches itself; for in their victory is 
the evidence that death can be overcome, and their example shows 
the way.'"" 

In short, we see illustrated throughout the contrast between par- 
ticipation and contemplation, feeling and idea, mysticism and 
rationalism. And yet, in spite of all this seeming diversity and con- 
flict, both the motives of participation and of contemplation must 
be counted among the energies of religion and within the tradition 
of religion. This will become clear in the next chapter. It is to be 
noted here that a third component in the life of religion, in all its 
higher forms, depends for its emergence and its existence upon this 
very tension between participation and contemplation, the imme- 
diate and the more remote. I mean that which can only be called 
the knowledge of and devotion to the Good. This is that ethical and 
moral passion which claims its rightful place alongside of partici- 
pation and contemplation within the religious tradition. And what 
we may surely say is that the very absence of the immediacy of 
participation, the remoteness of man and gods which contemplation 
signifies, are the necessary accompaniment of the long process 
whereby man learns to distinguish between what is near, close at 
hand, immediate, and what is good, what is the ideal and the goal 
of his destiny. The Olympian remoteness and contemplation are 
both an accompaniment of this moral process and they aid and 
stimulate it as well. And this is the moral process. The moral con- 
sciousness can emerge and can play its part in human life only as 
the primitive mysticism of participation breaks up, in order that 
some quality of contemplation may emerge. Perhaps at some further 
stage of religion, participation may reappear on a higher level, 
higher because of what it has learned from contemplation and the 

8" Moore : "The History of Religions," p. 444. 

[ 59 ] 


moral consciousness. The development of the Olympian tradition 
was, then, not loss chiefly, not an "intellectual backwater," but a 
necessary part of religion, contributing something of positive worth 
to the whole process. The distinction is a real one between the natu- 
ral and the ethical religions. As long as man's life blends with that 
of nature in one felt imity, as long as that social and natural mysti- 
cism prevails, which characterizes the totemism of early religion, 
man will not dream of possessing or achieving an ideal good, freed 
from the irrational limitations of feeling and caprice. Both the social 
group and the nature continuous with it must cease to satisfy before 
man can seek or find a God who is also good. 

That the Olympians came to represent and sanction moral ideals 
cannot be doubted. Imaginative playthings, objects of art, abstract 
intellectual conceptions, they may well have been, but the moral 
function is there too, and it is sufficient to save the serious and the 
religious character of the Olympians. The best proof of this is fur- 
nished by a study of the cult titles used in prayer and sacrifice. An 
exhaustive account of these is given by Mr. Farnell, in his "Cults 
of the Greek State." Social, political, and ethical designations of the 
functions of the great Olympians are found in abundance; indeed 
it is not too much to say that they predominate. The Olympians, 
when worshipped under these ethical cult titles, were no objets d'art, 
yet they were, to be sure, objects of contemplation. But to contem- 
plate a distant being or object is not of necessity mere idle play of 
the esthetic imagination, though it may become this. There is a moral 
vision of some ideal perfection, contemplated from afar, not par- 
ticipated in, and from such contemplation may come added zest 
and significance. 

Moreover, it is contemplation which becomes the spokesman and 
the vehicle of the cognitive worth and meaning of our deeper human 
experiences, and which bears witness to the presence of some total 
environment within which human life is lived. Wholly to exclude 
contemplation from the religious tradition is to fall back on the 
assumption that the immediacies of felt experience are self-sufficing, 
able to sustain and to guarantee all of the values of life; that what- 
ever is not to be thus possessed and participated in, whatever is a 
distant object of mere knowledge and contemplation, is pale and 

[ 60 ] 


shadowy, inert and fruitless. But that the rehgious consciousness 
which has uttered itself in the historical religions fits in with this 
assumption, whether true or false, cannot be admitted for a moment. 
Examine the religious consciousness and go back once more to its 
totemistic origins, as Durkheim and his followers would have us do. 
Here is, we have seen, the felt unity both of a human group and of 
some province of nature. Both "pools," as Mr. Cornford calls them, 
the human pool and the nature pool, are at the outset, continuous 
with each other, so that there is felt to be, in truth, but one group. 
Because everything belongs to the one felt group, the one "sympa- 
thetic continuum," every region of the group participates in every 
other region. 

Here, then, is no dualism, no externality, no contemplation. And 
yet that which is later to become simply the human world even now 
really has its environment, its background; and this awareness of 
the environment, of some genuine whole of things, makes this 
primitive consciousness religious in addition to being social. The 
religious moment within this primitive feelirig relates to the specifi- 
cally human group. Totemism is, in brief, religious, because the 
feeling to which the totemic system gives birth is more than mere 
feeling; it is something cognitive, it bears witness to a background 
and an enviroiunent. Now it is the function of the Olympians, as 
of all such gods who express the motive of contemplation rather 
than participation, that they keep alive this knowledge side of reli- 
gion, this reference to some background of things precisely not 
here and now experienced and participated in. They are symbols 
of a distant city of God, a Platonic Realm of Ideas, the thought of 
which, even if only in sheer imagination, can alone lend stability 
and significance. Thus can the Olympians be spoken of, in a splendid 
phrase, as "the symbols of eternity and calm in a transient and 
troubled world."" 

It is this interest in the discovery, the recognition, and the knowl- 
edge of that which is both real and also pertinent to the deepest 
values disclosed within human experience, it is this which con- 
stitutes the heart of the religious tradition. A reference to the rela- 
tion between religion and magic suggests much which confirms this 

31 J. Adam: "The Religious Teachers of Greece," p. 117. 

[ 61 ] 


thesis. Both religion and magic relate to some over- world; both deal 
with some order of things which is felt to be sacred. But they spring 
from two different attitudes and interests. Magic grows out of that 
interest which man has in seeking to control, to manipulate the 
sacred, and thereby to get something that he wants. The sacred is 
here an instrument and a means to be used in the fulfilment of 
desire. But the religious attitude is different. It comes to exist as 
something other than magic, because man discovers that there are 
structures in his world whose worth lies not in their being used and 
controlled, but in their being recognized, possessed in imagination 
and in idea, and worshipped. Whenever it was, in the development 
of human life, that these two attitudes began to diverge — the atti- 
tudes of pragmatic control and of non-pragmatic contemplation — 
at that moment religion, as an energy distinct from magic, was born. 
Marett has urged, as against Frazer, that the magical act is 
inter-personal, a transaction between wills. The spell of magic, as 
against the prayer of religion, is a "spiritual projectile" from one 
will to another. Frazer, it will be recalled, had argued that magic 
is allied with science, through the fundamental fact that both of 
them are concerned with wholly impersonal situations, that "in 
both of them the succession of events is perfectly regular and cer- 
tain, being determined by immutable laws, the operation of which 
can be foreseen and calculated precisely."'^ May it not be true that 
the magical act and the magical relation can occur within either 
a personal or an impersonal situation, and that it depends pri- 
marily upon the human attitude and interest which it serves rather 
than upon the type of situation within which it moves? No doubt 
there have been and there still are plenty of occasions in which 
"religion" attempts to utilize and to control its gods. And these very 
terms, use, control, instrument, are ambiguous. You may possess 
a "use" for me when I merely converse with you and seek to share 
your ideas, perhaps greater than when I try to "use" you as a means 
for the furtherance of my interests. But it is surely perverse to 
define religion as Leuba does, as "that part of human experience 
in which man feels himself in relation with powers of psychic 

82 Cf. the discussion in Marett: "From Spell to Prayer" in "The Threshold of Reli- 
gion,'' and in Frazer : "The Golden Bough," ch. 4. 

[ 62 ] 


nature, usually personal powers, and makes use of them."'^ This 
is not religion but magic because of the pragmatic and utilitarian 
interest and attitude which are here at work. The attitude of reli- 
gion is not this. Religion connotes man's interest in participating in, 
and in possessing, through feeling or through any of the varied 
energies of his life, structures which he neither makes nor controls, 
but which he recognizes and enjoys, loves and worships. Are there 
such structures? Or, is every interest of life a pragmatic interest? 
The answer of the religious tradition is, in any case, unambiguous. 
That tradition arises, not primarily through a projection outward 
of what man finds within himself, solitary and isolated, but through 
an appropriation of that which he finds surrounding him, of that 
within which he lives and acts. Religion is, at bottom, simply the 
spokesman for the interest and the attitude wherein man possesses 
and participates in objective and significant structures. The manner 
of such possession as well as the nature of that in which man be- 
lieves himself to participate is nothing changeless. Yet the attitude 
and the human interest remain, a permanent manifestation of the 
life of reason and the vocation of man. 

s3Leuba: "A Psychological Study of Religion," p. 52. 

[ 63 ] 


'"VN seeking to lay bare the essential thing in the religious tradi- 
I tion, we have stressed the objective reference of the mind's 
I major interests. Either through contemplation or participation 
I or indeed through his very activity, man is linked to an outer 
^- order which is real; the play of his deepest energies is cogni- 
tive as well as human. If an insight and conviction of this nature 
constitute the burden of the religious tradition, and if anything 
within that tradition has found utterance within the teachings of 
philosophical idealism, as we have supposed, then we should be 
able to understand better the way in which man's mind does possess 
an objective reference, if we examine some accredited exposition 
of idealism. To this end, I propose in this chapter to make some 
study of Platonism. Also, we should expect that in the religion best 
known to us, and which has exercised most influence upon western 
civilization, this same aspect of objective reference and possession 
would take on a form peculiarly rich and significant. Such is indeed 
the case. We shall in diis chapter study also, then, some aspects of 
Christianity, and we shall notice certain comparisons between these 
two mighty syntheses of life and of ideas. It is just the knowledge 
side of these two historical forces which will interest us here. We 
shall ask, what is it that the mind of man is really in possession of, 
to what objective structures do his conscious energies make refer- 
ence, and how is this solidarity between the mind and reality set 
forth in these two cases? Platonism and Christianity are indeed the 
two chief formative elements of men's thought and life down to the 
emergence of whatever forces we may choose to regard as dis- 
tinctively modern. And our situation and our problems are what 
they are through the interaction of these various energies. 
Within the structure of Platonism there is one dominant motive 

[ 6s ] 


and idea. It is the conviction that significant forms and structures, 
appealing to the eye, the imagination, and the reason of man, lie 
embedded within the world which surrounds him. The vocation of 
man is to uncover these forms of beauty and of intelligence, and 
to dwell among them. This constitutes for Plato, and also for Aris- 
totle, a philosophical conviction. But it is to be found as well in the 
Greek temper itself, in the attitude of the Greek mind to nature and 
to human life. Spontaneous and plastic throughout, stamping its 
mould upon all the gifts of Hellas to civilization, this attitude is 
reflectively voiced in the philosophical imagination of Plato and 
of Aristotle. 

I have used the term "significant structure" to designate those 
Forms which the mind is to discover and to possess. A significant 
structure, a Platonic Idea, is both wholly formed and articulate and 
it is also the embodiment of meaning. It is both a structure, utterly 
real, and also pertinent to the nature and interests of the mind 
whose function it is to envisage it in impassioned contemplation. 
It is these significant structures, real and eternal, which draw the 
mind to themselves and endow the mind with a divine wonder and 

Let us view some of the more concrete illustrations of this central 
Platonic insight. Consider first the literal meaning and the connota- 
tion of that term which is perhaps the master term of Greek phi- 
losophy and certainly of Plato's thought, the term idea. This word, 
derived from the root of the verb ISelv, to see, cognate with the 
Latin, video, from which comes our English vision, means literally 
that which is seen, outward appearance, form, shape. From this 
primitive and literal sense, its meaning grows in a twofold direction. 
It comes to designate that which, when seen, is the source of 
esthetic joy. It thus means not only visible shape, but beauty as 
well. In Homer, the word is already used to mean simply beauty.^ 
But it comes to mean not only that which delights llie sense of 
esthetic joy, but whatever possesses order, measure or rhythm, 
whatever is a genuine structure, of such a nature that the mind bent 
upon knowledge can delight and terminate in it. Thus, the Pythago- 
reans apply the term to those geometrical figures which they con- 

1 "Odyssey," Book 17. 

[ 66 ] 


ceive to be the ultimate elements of reality; the Empedoclean hot 
and cold, wet and dry are in orie treatise at least, spoken of as ideas 
(eiSij ),^ and the materialist, Democritus, can apply to his atoms 
the term ideas. And the Platonic, or shall we say the Socratic, Idea, 
what is it but a structure possessing the maximum of articulate 
significance, both utterly real and intelligible, and awaiting to be 
known and greeted by the mind? Whether we think of the Platonic 
intelligible Forms as existing by themselves apart, in a world of 
pure Forms, or whether we suppose them to be articulate structures 
or laws which the mind can discern within the world of nature's 
processes, makes, in this regard, little difference. The commanding 
features of the Platonic Idea are these two : first, the concept stands 
for realities apprehended and not at all for any way of apprehending 
or mode of apprehension. And secondly, the Platonic Idea is an 
object of thought, and not of sense experience, because it possesses 
true permanence and stability, and is not a process in time. These 
two more fully developed meanings of the term. Idea never, for 
Plato, completely fall asunder. Any articulate structure is, in so far, 
a thing of beauty, and that which delights the esthetic vision is also 
a tj^e of intellectual order. The business of mind it is to unveil 
these objects of esthetic and intellectual Oecopia, contemplation, 
strip them of all that blurs the clarity of their form and outline, of 
all non-being, and then to possess them in imagination and in 

Platonism is, then, the reasoned outcome of a certain objectivity 
of attitude, a constant reference of the mind to those objective 
meaningful Forms which constitute the true center of gravity of all 
that we call conscious, and that we tend to regard as belonging 
primarily to the inner life. This is the gist of that pervasive char- 
acteristic of Platonic philosophy, and of the Greek mind, which we 
must try in many ways to body forth, if we would apprehend it 
fairly, because our usual habits of thought about mind and per- 
sonality are quite different. Zeller, in characterizing this situation 
as a whole, speaks of a "plastiche Ruhe," a "reine Objektivitat," 

2 Cf. the note on p. 88, Bumet : "Greek PhUosophy," and the article Idea in Hast- 
ings' "Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics." 

[ 67 ] 


an "ungebrochenen Einheit des Geistigen und des natiirlichen.'" 
The mind of man is throughout, in his knowledge, his conduct, and 
his love, a bundle of objective activities; not his inner conscious- 
ness, but the beautiful and intelligible Forms, the orderly structures 
of nature and of the state constitute the true center of reference for 
all that the mind finds within itself.* 

This linkage of the mind to outer, significant structures may be 
thought of in more than one way. Each energy of the mind, knowl- 
edge, feeling, love, volition, affirms in its own way its allegiance to 
the Ideas. Two of these ways may here be especially noted. They 
center around the concepts of Imitation and Participation. The 
mind's ideas are to imitate the eternal objective patterns. The lan- 
guage of imitation connotes a dualism, and a copy or correspond- 
ence conception of knowledge. Ideas within the mind, if they are 
to be true, are to portray and to imitate those Forms which are the 
standards for our knowledge. This concept and vocabulary of imita- 
tion is used throughout the dialogues. But there is a more radical 
way of being in earnest with this entire motive of objectivity. We 
shall then say, not so much that the mind imitates the objective 
Forms which remain distant and remote from them, but rather that 
the mind overcomes that very distance, participates in the very being 
of that which the mind knows, and even, it may be, becomes identi- 
cal with the true objects of its knowledge. The more the objective 
and significant structure is viewed as the real center of reference 
of the mind's ideas, the less dualistic shall our theory become, and 
the more will imitation of the real object pass over into assimilation 
with the object. The language of participation, then, is more faithful 
to this objectivity of attitude than is the language of imitation. 
Plato passes freely from the one concept to the other, and he devotes 
a dialogue, the Parmenides, to a formal study of the logic of imita- 
tion and of participation, which becomes there the problem of the 

' Zeller: "Philosophie des Griechen," vol. i, p. 126. 

* It is this objectivity which Santayana has described in these words : "Perhaps the 
deepest assumption of classic philosophy is that nature and the gods on the one 
hand and man on the other, both have a fixed character; that there is consequently 
a necessary piety, a true philosophy, a standard happiness, a normal art." "The New 
Republic," August 21, 1915. 

[ 68 ] 


one and the many. In the eighth book of the "Republic," where 
Plato eloquently portrays the ideal of the true philosopher, the 
impassioned outgoing of the mind to those eternal Forms which con- 
stitute its true environment is set forth in the language of both 
these functions, and I quote it in Jowett's translation: 

"For he, Adeimantus, whose mind is fixed upon true being has 
no time to look down upon the affairs of men, or to be filled with 
jealousy and enmity in the struggle against them; his eye is ever 
directed towards fixed and immutable principles, which he sees 
neither injuring nor injured by one another, but all in order moving 
•according to reason; these he imitates, and to these he would, as 
far as he can, conform himself. Can a man help imitating that with 
which he holds reverential converse ? 


"And the philosopher also, conversing with the divine and immu- 
table, becomes a part of that divine and immutable order, as far as 
nature allows."" 

Surely the concept of imitation and its accompanying dualism is 
less radical and profound than the concept of participation and 
identity. The more the mind participates in the being of these eter- 
nal Forms, the more does it reach its goal and fulfill its function. 
That objective reference is never wholly absent in the life of ideas 
and of consciousness. To the vision of the philosopher and the lover 
of beauty, it becomes wholly explicit. Perhaps we may say that 
there is within any philosophical realism a distinct tendency for a 
dualistic, representative theory of knowledge to develop into a more 
monistic realism according to which the idea which knows is, in 
some fashion, assimilated with the reality which is known. This 
could, I believe, be shown not only in the case of Plato and of Aris- 
totle, but also in the Scholastics, in Spinoza, and in certain forms 
of contemporary realism. The language of sheer imitation is less 
adequate ttian that of participation again, in that it gives the sug- 
gestion of too great a passivity, an inert yielding to the outer Forms 
and objects. The point to stress is not so much such passivity, but 
the objectivity of the mind's ideas. There is for Plato and for Aris- 
totle an abundance of impassioned activity on the part of ideas to 

"Republic," Joo D. 

[ 69 ] 


fulfill their destiny, to go out to the Forms of true being, and par- 
ticipate in them. Such a caution is necessary, I think, in reading 
Windelband's summary of the dominant temper of the Greek atti- 
tude. "The limitations of the ancient Greek consciousness," he says, 
"lay in the fact that it thought of itself only and wholly as recep- 
tive, as a mirror before which must be presented both the highest 
and the lowest objects in the world, ideas as well as sensations."® 

As a means of understanding better what is involved in this ob- 
jective reference so essential to the entire life of consciousness, we 
may look for a moment to Aristotle's conception of mind. For 
Aristotle, mind is an assimilation and a possession of that which 
the world holds out to it, and in a twofold sense. Mind looks in two 
directions, and finds on both sides material for its knowledge and 
its contemplation. From below, mind expresses but the life of the 
body; it is continuous with the vegetative and animal fimctions of 
the organism. But from above the mind appropriates the pure Forms 
which for Aristotle no less than for Plato are permanent significant 
structures constituting the genuine fabric of reality, and furnishing 
the higher nature of the mind with all its content. It is the first of 
these two aspects which gives to Aristotle's theory of the soul some- 
thing more than the semblance of a naturalism which sounds modern 
and points straight in the direction of behaviorism. Consciousness 
is, viewed thus from below, but a voice and language in which the 
life of the body utters itself, bespeaks its own nature and its own 
interests. The mind echoes the thrills of the living body. The mind 
is the body's entelechy, a mirror in which are reflected physiological 
events, mechanisms of brain and of muscle. The mind shall be the 
spokesman for those organic and external structures which condition 
it, the screen upon which are projected the interests of just those 
structures. If, in Aristotle, the naturalistic consequences of this 
point of view are in abeyance, it is because Aristotle still thinks of 
the bodily organism in terms of teleology, as the achievement of a 
significant Form, rather than in terms of a mechanical physiology. 
But, more important, for Aristotle, the mind is not only the expres- 
sion of the form of the body; in its rational capacity it appropriates 

6 Windelband : "Kulturphilosophie und Transcendentaler Idealismus," Logos, vol. 
I, p. 194. 

[ 70 ] 


and expresses the intelligible nature of reality itself. The structures 
which enter into its own being are borrowed from "above" as well 
as from "below." It is through the contemplation of these Forms 
which in the end are still the Ideas of Plato, though realized within 
matter, that the mind is divine and is active. But in this very 
activity, the mind is still made up wholly of what it has received; 
the mind is identical with the objects and forms which it possesses 
so that the activity seems really to belong on the side of the objects 
apprehended, the significant structures which are real, rather than 
on the side of any "active" spiritual substance.'' The result is, then, 
that both in the case of the mind's utterance of bodily functions 
from below, and of the Platonic intelligible structures from above, 
mind tends to become identical with the objects which it expresses. 
In such a world mind is itself a Form or rather it is potentially all 
Forms; its life and interests are assimilated to the significant 
structures which are the true objects of its knowledge. "And thought 
thinks itself because it shares the nature of the object of thought; 
for it becomes an object of thought in coming into contact with and 
thinking its objects, so that thought and object of thought are the 
same."* In a philosophy such as that of Plato and of Aristotle, 
thought can afford to be identical with its objects vastly better than 
in a philosophy of naturalism in which the objects of thought, the 
entities found by mind as real, are no longer significant structures, 
forms embodjdng meaning, but facts drawn from the lower levels 
of experience, sensation and perception, and held together solely 
by the play of mechanical forces. There is no occasion to minimize 

' Cf . the following passages in Ch. Werner : "Aristote et L'idealisme Platoni- 
cien," p. i6s: "On doit reconnaitre, tout d'abord, qu'Aristote semble refuser a la 
pensee le caractfere qui est par excellence le caract^re distinctif de I'esprit: I'activite. 
Le pensee, selon lui, exprime I'activite de I'objet, bien plutot que I'activite du sujet. 
Ou, du moins — car nous verrons qu'Aristote entend faire une place k I'activite du 
sujet — la pensee resulte d'une action exercee par I'objet sur le sujet." Also, p. igo: 
"Nous Savons maintenant dans quel sens il faut entendre la comparison instituee par 
Aristote entre I'activite de I'esprit et le mouvement. Si I'activite de I'esprit s'oppose au 
mouvement comme I'energie achevee s'oppose a I'energie inachevee; si, d'autre part, le 
mouvement n'est une energie inachevee que parce qu'il est une forme inachevee, quelle 
conclusion tirer, sinon que I'activite de I'esprit est identique avec la forme? Le mouve- 
ment est la forme inachevee. L'activite de I'esprit est la forme achevee." 

8 Aristotle: "Metaphysics," translated by W. D. Ross, A 1072 b. 

[ 71 ] 


the vast difference between Greek realism and that modern realism 
which is the outcome of natural science. For both realisms, mind 
is to be the possessor of that which it finds in its world. But the 
Greek genius believed itself everywhere to discover significant 
structures, divine forms; the reason and order which the mind 
sought were already real, awaiting appropriation and possession by 
the soul of man. 

Here in this objectivity of attitude is the source of that difference 
between the sense of those earliest of all arguments for theism, in 
the Philebus, the Phaedo and the tenth book of the Laws, and the 
sense of such modern arguments as use the same language. To say, 
as Plato does, that the universe is not left to the guidance of an 
irrational and random chance, but is "ordered and governed by a 
marvellous intelligence and wisdom" is, for the Greeks, not so much 
to emphasize a mind that actively orders, but rather the presence 
within the world of rhythm and of order instead of caprice and of 
chance. Mr. Webb has reminded us that among the ancients it was 
the scientists who were the theists.° They are the discoverers and 
explorers of orderly structures, and the reason and intelligence 
manifested by nature are identified with objective orderliness and 
significant structures, rather than with a consciousness which is 
formative and creative. 

This pervasive reference of the mind to objective structures 
occasions perhaps little surprise in the case of the mind's ideas, and 
with respect to the function of knowledge. For knowledge, of course, 
is just that interest in which the mind is, in intention, most com- 
pletely self-forgetful and assimilated to something not itself. But 
what of the feelings and emotions, love and goodness? In these 
regions, too, does the central Platonic insight and conviction obtain, 
and we may turn briefly to the Platonic doctrine of love, and the 
Socratic-Platonic thesis concerning the nature of goodness. We may 
say, I think, that Plato's conception of love is essentially an assimi- 
lation of love to knowledge. And this is true not only because love 
is a passionate movement of the mind in which it is attracted by the 
perfect Forms, the significant structures, the utterly objective and 
real Ideas, but also, and chiefly, because of one diaracteristic of 

" C. C. J. Webb : "Studies in the History of Natural Theology." 

[ 72 ] 


these outer structures. They are universals and not individuals. So 
much we may at least say. How much more this involves may be 
doubtful, but that for Plato and for Aristotle, the true object of 
all adequate knowledge is a t5rpe, a law, an Idea, a universal and 
nothing individual or particular, admits of no doubt. The mind's 
interest in genuine knowledge leads it away from the individual, 
the contingent, the here and now, and compels it to find lodgment 
elsewhere. The individual is at best an instance and an illustration 
of something essential and universal. Now this is not only, for 
Plato, a description of the interest of knowledge, but also of the 
activity of love, and that in a profound sense. Both the philosopher 
and the lover of beauty will pierce through the individual and will 
"hold converse with the true beauty, divine and simple." In that 
wonderful speech in the "Sjmiposium" which is put into the mouth 
of Diotima, a discourse at once impassioned and restrained, the love 
of beauty and its pilgrim's progress is described in language which 
surely is the language of science, of knowledge, and of philosophy. 
I think no apology is needed for quoting the passage at some length. 

"I will do my utmost to inform you, and do you follow if you 
can. For he who would proceed rightly in this matter should begin 
in youth to turn to beautiful forms; and first, if his instructor guide 
him rightly, he should learn to love one such form only — out of 
that he should create fair thoughts; and soon he will himself per- 
ceive that the beauty of one form is truly related to the beauty of 
another; and then if beauty in general is his pursuit, how foolish 
would he be not to recognize that the beauty in every form is one 
and the same! And when he perceives this he will abate his violent 
love of the one, which he will despise and deem a small thing, and 
will become a lover of all beautiful forms; this will lead him on to 
consider that the beauty of the mind is more honorable than the 
beauty of the outward form. So that if a virtuous soul have but a 
little comeliness, he will be content to love and tend him and will 
search out and bring to the birth thoughts which may improve the 
young, until his beloved is compelled to contemplate and see the 
beauty of institutions and laws, and understand that all is of one 
kindred, and that personal beauty is only a trifle; and after laws 

[ 73 ] 


and institutions he will lead him on to the sciences, that he may see 
their beauty, being not like a servant in love with the beauty of 
one youth or man or institution, himself a slave mean and calcu- 
lating, but looking at the abundance of beauty and drawing towards 
the sea of beauty, and creating and beholding many fair and noble 
thoughts and notions in boundless love of wisdom; until at length 
he grows and waxes strong, and at last the vision is revealed to him 
of a single science, which is the science of beauty everywhere. . . . 
And the true order of going or being led by another to the things 
of love, is to use the beauties of earth as steps along which he mounts 
upwards for the sake of that other beauty, going from one to two, 
and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair actions, 
and from fair actions to fair notions, until from fair notions he 
arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the 
essence of beauty is."^" 

What, we may well ask, is really being set forth here? Whoever 
reads this must be struck by the vocabulary of knowledge, of 
science. Is it not with some astonishment that one comes upon the 
climax, one of the earlier climaxes, "until at length he grows and 
waxes strong, and at last the vision is revealed to him of a single 
science, eVioT7f/u,T7, which is the science of beauty everywhere"? Not 
only is the language here that of the knowledge process and the 
knowledge interest, but the substance and the thought as well. This 
is certainly not the same thing as saying that every esthetic interest 
is here to be dissolved away, and that absolute" Beauty is but a 
transparent cloak for scientific law, for the very concept of scien- 
tific law itself, for "die Gesetzesordnung," "das Gesetz der Gesetz- 
lichkeit" as they are spoken of by Natorp, who, I think, falls into 
this error throughout.^^ The "Symposium" is a dialogue which treats 
really of love and not of the logic of scientific method. But love is a 
passionate outgoing of the mind, an utter devotion to universal and 
essential Forms. It is the theme of knowledge set forth in the lan- 

1° "Symposiuin," p. 210. 

11 Natorp: "Platos Ideenlehre," p. 117. Natorp regards Plato merely as a precursor 
of Kant's critical philosophy, or rather, of certain logical and methodological doc- 
trines of that philosophy. 

[ 74 ] 


guage of the emotions, but this is withal a new language and no color- 
less medium. Here are, then, two interests of the mind in which it 
confirms the promise of its nature and yields willingly to those 
universal significant structures which communicate their substance 
to the mind which knows and loves them. 

But there is still a third function and interest which is also assim- 
ilated to knowledge. It is virtue, goodness. If Plato describes love in 
the language of knowledge, he avows openly that goodness is knowl- 
edge. We largely miss the purport of this Socratic thesis if we 
suppose that we have refuted it in pointing to the all too frequent 
failure of the will to conform to the better insight of our knowledge 
of good and of evil. To affirm that virtue is knowledge is a striking 
way of saying that the excellence and vocation of man's mind lies in 
the mind's appropriation and possession of those Forms, of that order 
and beauty which constitute the true being of the universe. Not free 
striving or creative activity but the appropriation of and participation 
in the eternal significant structures of reality: 

There let me gaze, till I become 
In soul with what I gaze on, wed. 

This is the office of the mind. This is what the Socratic-Platonic iden- 
tification of goodness and knowledge mean. Goodness consists in the 
fact "that, by a happy infection or infusion, more of the essence of 
the universe has got into them, i.e., into good men, than into others; 
that the magnetic wires from the fount of real ideas pass the currents 
of the fair and good with peculiar intensity through them, and evolve 
within them the responsive and miniature god. What is praised in 
them is thus only a margin or local extension of the outer ground of 
the universe." To use these words, which are Martineau's,^^ may be 
to overemphasize somewhat the passivity of the mind in its relations 
to the objects which it knows. This relation is one of participation on 
the side of the mind, no less than one of "extension" on the side of 
its objects. But the important thing is that the energy of will is 
throughout conceived as linked to and assimilated with objective 
significant structures. 

Before leaving this account of the way in which, for Plato as for 

12 J. Martineau: "Types of Ethical Theory," vol. i, p. ii. 

[ 75 ] 


Greek thought at large, the mind's ideas are linked to an objective 
order, I would make two remarks. There is, first, an analogy between 
this objectivity of mind and its ideas, and that stage in the develop- 
ment of the religious tradition which lies behind animism, and which 
occupied our attention in the last chapter. In that earlier stage, 
"Totemism" if you will, men's consciousness is conceived as partici- 
pating in somediing social and cosmic. It is only subsequently that 
consciousness finds itself, and withdraws from its world. So that in 
the development of the religious tradition what comes first is not 
projection from within outwards, from ideas to spirits and gods, but 
possession of something objective, and participation in it precedes 
any isolation of mind and of consciousness. What occurs in the way 
of anthropomorphic projection can occur only after man has first 
sundered himself from structures which he originally supposes him- 
self to possess. So it is here with Platonism. Ideas are not yet so 
sharply separated from objective structures as they are later on to 
become. They do not as yet live a free life of their own. They are the 
Forms, the entelechies of objective structures, inseparably linked to 
the cosmic Forms which serve as their patterns and their objects. 
This is why, for Plato, every function and interest of the mind must, 
in the end, be set forth as a cognitive function. For, it is knowledge 
which affirms most decisively this linkage of ideas to objects. For the 
knowledge interest, the idea in the mind ought to be quite transpar- 
ent, so that not it, but the object which it envisages occupies the 
focus of attention. Platonism, in sum, stands for that stage in the 
development of reflective thought in which possession and partici- 
pation, the awareness of totalities and significant structures, are dom- 
inant, rather than self-conscious, isolation of ideas from their objects, 
and projection outwards of what at first belongs only to the inner 
life. Did it not sound bizarre, and if Durkheim's and Miss Harrison's 
sense of the word "Totemism" were more prevalent, we could indeed 
say that Platonism corresponds in philosophy to "Totemism" in 

But it is needful to add at once a certain caution, and this is our 
second remark. From what we have been saying about the Platonic 
and Greek objectivity of attitude it does not follow that, for Plato, 
the idea of personality, of conscious individuality was wholly in 

[ 76 ] 


abeyance, that "Plato has no concept of Personality, as a subject 
capable of will."^' It is one thing to say that, for Plato, ideas and 
self-conscious personality are habitually conceived of as linked to 
significant structures in which they participate; it is quite another 
thing to say that such concepts are altogether lacking. Plato surely 
has heard of the soul; he knows about feelings and volitions and 
ideas. But this entire life of consciousness has its center of gravity 
outside itself in those objective significant structures to which is 
linked every content of consciousness — feelings and volitions no 
less than ideas. We may say, if we like, that thus to view the matter 
is of necessity to compromise the autonomy and the integrity of self- 
consciousness. It requires effort, indeed, for us to recover in imagi- 
nation this objectivity of attitude and of reference. But, having 
done this we may be reminded that something akin to this, rather 
than any subjectivism is the historical fountain head of idealism in 
European philosophy. 

If now we agree to say that the outstanding philosophical idea in 
Platonism is the attachment of ideas to, or even their identity with, 
the significant structures which they know, we may describe the 
transition from Platonism to Christianity thus. Ideas, and I mean 
now not Forms, but contents of consciousness, lose that implicit 
objectivity of reference to significant structures which they know. 
Ideas begin rather to live a free life of their own. They migrate, so 
to speak, from the outer structures of the cosmos to the inner life of 
persons. Instead of being primarily linked to outer objects, they now 
become attached to selves. They become, or they are on the way of 
becoming, modes or modifications of the conscious activity of per- 
sons. And from now on, as long as religious interests and concepts 
are dominant, as they are till the close of the Middle Ages, souls or 
selves are thought of as constituting the inner essence of the whole 
cosmic drama. They are the stuff of which reality is made, and the 
inner life of conscious selves is the true home of mind and of ideas. 

This transformation, not only of philosophical ideas, but of the 
entire cultural situation as we go from Plato and Aristotle to Augus- 
tine, Anselm, and Descartes is not seldom described as the literal 

13 Quoted from K. Hildenbrand by Kistiakowski : "Gesellschaft und Einzelwesen," 
p. 7. 

[ 77 ] 


emergence of the sense of personality. It is perhaps safer to speak of 
a deepening of that idea and a change in the habitual way in which 
mind was thought of. In the experience and thought of later antiquity 
and of the early Christian era (I quote from Mr. Webb), "a develop- 
ment had taken place in the sense or consciousness of individual 
personality, as a result of which individual personality had come to 
be regarded as a fundamental characteristic of spiritual being in a 
way in which it had not been so regarded in classical antiquity.'"* 
Many forces contributed to this freeing of ideas from their attach- 
ment to objects. The teachings of the sophists, the political fortunes 
of a world in which traditional structures were going to pieces, and 
in which the individual was turned back upon the resources of his 
inner life, and chiefly, the positive influence of the new religious 
teachings and experience, all of these forces aided in dissolving ideas 
away from their solidarity with known objects, and in enriching the 
kingdom of the mind. It was through the reflections and criticisms 
of the sophists that men began to doubt the indubitable power of 
ideas to reveal objective realities and values. But these men who 
surmised the natural forces which could generate ideas from below 
are, we feel, essentially modern. They sense the naturalistic roots of 
all ideas, the dependence of all our ideas and valuings upon bodily 
and social matter-of-fact forces. But their work was essentially 
critical. Like the social and political forces then in the ascendent, 
they contributed to the dissolution of those bonds which united ideas 
to intelligible structures in reaUty. They had less concern with the 
discovery or the creation of new structures which might serve as 
objective points of reference for the mind's interests and ideas. But 
the most potent of those historical forces which drive ideas, as it 

1* C. C. J. Webb: "Studies in the History of Natural Theology," p. 141. The fol- 
lowing may also be quoted from Gierke: "Moreover, a fugitive glance at Medieval 
doctrine suffices to perceive how throughout it all, in sharp contrast to the theories 
of antiquity, runs the thought of the absolute and imperishable value of the indi- 
vidual; a thought revealed by Christianity." "Political Theories of the Middle Ages," 
translated by Maitland, p. 81. Also from TeichmiiUer: "Neue Studien zur Geschichte 
der Begriffe III," p. 385: "Durch die Anerkennung des IndividueUen und der Person 
hat das Christentum ein der ganzen alten Philosophie fremdes Princip geltend gemacht, 
und dadurch bekommen aUe sonst scheinbar gleichen Ideen eine neue Bedeutung." 
Cf. also Teichmiiller: "Ueber das Wesen der Liebe," p. 78. 

[ 78 ] 


were, from outer intelligible structures to the inner life of persons 
are those religious energies which culminate in Christianity. Here, 
at any rate, it would seem, is an instance of a religious motive and 
sentiment effecting a widespread rearrangement of men's habitual 
ideas. It is this sort of thing which might well make one pause in 
accepting Professor Dewey's dictum that "there is not an instance 
of any large idea about the world being independently generated by 
religion."" It is just this deepening appreciation of the kingdom of 
the mind, so abundantly testified to, and which surely has given birth 
to certain "large ideas about the world," that is due in great measure 
to the impact of religious experiences and motives. 

I shall mention several aspects of this shifting of emphasis from 
the significant structures to which, for Plato, ideas were linked, to 
the activities of conscious beings. In the first place, once this linkage 
of ideas to outer Forms becomes less secure, the more free ideas 
become, the less do knowledge and contemplation express the whole 
nature of man's vocation. The life and thought of men grow now out 
of attitudes and experiences in which not contemplation, but ac- 
tivity; not intellect, but will and feeling; not esthetic and philosophic 
theoria, but ethical striving and emotional aspiration express men's 
dominant interests. This is, of course, a commonplace. We shall 
presently note an important qualification to which the statement is 
subject, but I shall here dismiss this transition from the life of 
knowledge to that of will and feeling with the following quotation 
from Mr. Percy Gardner: "It may fairly be said that the essentially 
active nature of man, the place of will in the constitution of the 
world, is a truth which has gradually been growing upon humanity 
during all the ages of its thought. Little was made of the will in the 
philosophy of Greece, though it was better appreciated by Aristotle 
than by Plato, and better by the Stoics and Neo-Platonists than by 
Aristotle, and modern philosophy has made far more of the will than 

IB Dewey: "The Influence of Darwin upon Philosophy," p. 3. Cf. also the following 
quotation from Toy: "Introduction to the History of Religion," p. 8. "But, as a 
matter of fact, the religious sentiment, coexisting with these ideas, has always entered 
into alUance with them, creating nothing, but appropriating everything." 

IB Percy Gardner : "The Sub-conscious and the Super-conscious." The Hibbert 
Journal, April, 1911, p. 490. 

[ 79 ] 


But in the second place, what we shall need to observe with great 
care is that although there is this undoubted migration of ideas from 
outer intelligible Forms to the inner life, and although there is the 
accompanjdng emergence of will and of feeUng, nevertheless there is 
still an objective reference which attaches to the life of the mind. 
The inner Hfe, within the ethos of Christianity as within that of 
Platonism, is still conceived as participating in an objective, yes, a 
cosmic order. But this element of objective reference, of possession 
and of participation has undergone a change. And I propose to 
describe what that change was by reverting first of all to the differ- 
ent conceptions of love which were provided for by Platonism and 
Christianity respectively. In the Platonic conception of love, we have 
said, love is essentially assimilated to knowledge, and that, because 
the true object of love is universal. In the thought and life of Chris- 
tianity we must say, I think, that knowledge is essentially assimi- 
lated to love. The reasons for saying this strike deep, and will 
presently appear. But first we may refer to another characteristic of 
Platonic love which shows its kinship with the life of knowledge. If 
we think of the knowledge relationship, of anj^ knower and that 
which is to be known, we may say that the relationship is not, as the 
logicians put it, S3mimetrical. The current runs, so to speak, only in 
one direction. The knower seeks the object to be known, he must 
conform to it. He is active; it, the object, is fixed and unmoved. It 
does not go out to meet the knower. Such, in any case, is the prima 
jade account of the knowledge relationship. And just so does Plato 
describe the relation between the lover and the object which is or 
which is to be loved. For Plato and for Aristotle as well, love is the 
seeking of the lower for the higher, the incomplete for the complete, 
the empty for the full, appearance for reality. And just as, in the 
knowledge relation, the object to be known is the standard for and 
the source of whatever value (truth value, that is,) the knowing 
idea may possess, so here. The object of love it is which confers 
value and meaning upon the act of loving. The beloved object is the 
standard, the norm, and the source both of the activity of loving, and 
of its significance. Whatever value the act of loving possesses is not 

[ 80 ] 


inherent in the act as such, but is derived from the worth which 
belongs to the object of love.^' 

The differences between this conception and the characteristic 
utterances and attitudes of Christianity are both familiar and 
important. We may compress the matter into brief compass by say- 
ing that for Christianity, the worth of the act of loving does not 
depend upon the inherent completeness and perfection of the object 
of love, but is itself and in its own nature, intrinsically worthful. So 
that it, the loving act and deed, confers value and significance upon 
its object. For Platonism, the activity of loving is worthful only as 
its object is antecedently of worth; for Christianity, objects alone 
possess worth in so far as they are loved. It is the act of loving itself 
which now becomes of supreme value, and the source of all other 
value. Hence, no longer is the relationship of love essentially unsym- 
metrical arising from the desire of the incomplete and the lower for 
the complete and the higher. Since the act of loving possesses intrin- 
sic worth in itself, and the highest worth, the relationship between 
the lover and the beloved is reciprocal. The object of love, if it is 
worthy of love, must be a being capable of the act of love.^* And 
thus, whereas a permanent significant structure, the beauty and 
order of the cosmos, may be lie object of our intellectual longing 
and of our contemplation, only a conscious being, of the order of a 
self, can be the object of our love. How profoundly this entire change 
must have affected men's habits of thought, especially their concep- 
tions of human persons and of God, is obvious. God is not now so 
much the Idea of the Good, as the being who loves and who thereby 
confers worth upon the objects of love. Our interest here lies in 
observing two things : First, this change in the conception and status 
of love is a concomitant of that severance of ideas from the fixed 
order of objective structures which they know, and in whose 
substance they participate, and their lodgment instead in the 
conscious activities of selves. But secondly, and more important, 

1^ This account of Platonic love, though I think it to be substantially correct, 
would need certain qualifications in a more complete analysis. But those qualifications 
would concern just those elements in which Plato was essentially non-Greek. 

18 Cf. the admirable discussion in the essay of Max Scheler, Das Ressentiment im 
Aufbau der moralen, in "Abhandlungen und Aufsatze," vol. i, pp. ii8ff. 

[ 8i ] 


this inner conscious activity, set free as it is from the intelligible 
Forms of reality, does not yet exist unattached; it is still linked 
to and it still participates in something real and objective. But the 
object of its possession is no longer merely a significant structure, 
an intelligible Form, it is something concrete, historical, and indi- 
vidual. Esthetic and intellectual theoria, contemplation of universal 
structures, gives way to passionate loyalty to and love for an indi- 
vidual, either an historical Person, or an historical community, with 
a concrete life and purpose of its own. It is in that community and 
in that life that the individual is now to participate, through will 
and feeling, loyalty and love, rather than in a Platonic Form, 
through contemplation. Or, in order not to violate too much the 
real historical continuity here between Plato and Christianity, let 
us say that the Platonic Idea now becomes an historical life — that 
of a self and a community, and accordingly the means through 
which the mind possesses and participates in that Idea undergoes 
the change which we have indicated. 

This is not the place to discuss, or to seek to verify for its own 
sake the thesis that we discover and respond to universal structures 
and laws on the one hand, and to genuinely individual beings on the 
other hand by two essentially different attitudes and interests. We 
are hardly too venturesome if we speak of this as one of the assured 
results of philosophical reflection, that whereas universals are the 
objects of dispassionate contemplation, of science, in order that 
individuals other than mere passing instances of types shall be dis- 
closed, some activity akin to selective interest, appreciation, feeling, 
and love must be called into play. It is Royce who, more than others, 
has brought this home to our convictions and our imagination. 
Thought, through definition, reaches no true individual being, nor 
is an individual presentable in some immediate, here-and-now expe- 
rience. It is "that which has sometimes been called Will and some- 
times Love" which individuates our world.^° 

We begin now to see something of the interrelations of these 
various aspects of that vast historical transition from Platonism 
to Christianity. Ideas which for Plato are linked to Forms, to signifi- 
cant structures, come rather to center in the life of selves. This 

18 See especially Royce's supplementary essay in "The Conception of God." 

[ 82 ] 


releases those energies of the mind which are less concerned with 
sheer participation in or coalescence with objective Forms. But 
these energies, will and feeling, are the very ones which seek out 
individuals, and which terminate in them rather than in universal 
structures and t5^es. And we come upon here something in the 
light of which many of the central characteristics of the religious 
tradition, in its higher reaches, may be best understood. There is, 
namely, a certain sensitiveness and devotion to something local, 
embodied within a concrete tradition, which is one of the marked 
traits of the religious attitude. Such possession, in feeling, in love, 
and in imagination of that which has an individual and historical 
life, with this we are most familiar in the religious tradition at its 
best. All that men say of the inherent conservatism of religion, the 
sensitiveness to the past and to tradition which the very name of 
piety connotes, is indeed true. Hitherto, in the life of men, this 
function of appropriating and possessing and carrying on the life 
of an historical and individual institution, idea, or community, — 
hitherto this function has largely been absorbed by religion. Herein 
lies, I take it, the profound insight and justice of Royce's interpreta- 
tion of religion as essentially loyalty, loyalty to a community, which 
is indeed superhuman, but definitely individual. The sacred is in 
truth ever enshrined within something which is concrete, unique and 
which lives throughout time. Such an individual being alone can be 
the object of love, of piety, and of worship. Any attempt such as that 
of deism to strip entirely away such devotion to an historical and 
institutional community in the hope of leaving a "natural" religion 
shows a failure to sense the very thing which differentiates religion 
from, say, mathematics or metaphysics. An age such as the eight- 
eenth century which responded with enthusiasm and interest only 
to the universal and the common, the natural and the rational, and 
which failed to have sympathy for the historical and the individual 
must of necessity view religion with distrust, or seek to assimilate 
it with universal morality or knowledge. Although present within 
the religious attitude from the start, this sense of possessing and 
participating in the very life of a being at once individual and his- 
torical increases as we follow the long road of religious development. 
We must surely assent to the statement of Mr. Webb that "a reli- 

[ 83 ] 


gion which involves as part of its essence a sacred history is, in this 
way, at a higher level than one which, while setting forth certain 
universal principles, moral or metaphysical, is ready to symbolize 
them by anything that comes to hand as it were, and is compara- 
tively indifferent to the particular sjTnbol chosen. Thus a religion 
which, having developed a theology, regards the narratives which 
are associated with it as mere illustrative stories, ranks below one 
which regards them as the actual form which the universal principles 
have taken."^° 

And if the object which the mind appropriates and possesses 
through love is something which is at least individual, a world in 
which there is any purposive activity must also be a world which 
contains individual objects and situations. A realm of universal 
meanings and timeless Forms is a fit object for contemplation, but 
only an historical community or life can be a fit object of the will's 
interest. Interest and devotion are individualizing and exclusive; 
one master alone can be served, whereas all causes and purposes may 
be contemplated dispassionately. "Out of time and history is, in the 
long run, out of meaning and use.'"^ This is, no doubt, one reason 
why mysticism, stressing the inclusive and universal nature of that 
to which the mind goes out tends to quietism, and has often been 
instinctively distrusted by the religious mind, devoted to the purpose 
and the spirit of an individual community.^^ 

Any religious life then in which participation and purposive 
activity have played a decisive part is one in which there is an appre- 
hension and appropriation of genuinely individual and historical 
structures. It is such structures, possessing individuality, which 
within the tradition of Christianity play a part analogous to that 

20 Webb : op. cit., p. 30. I may quote ako the following from an article by Mr. 
H. A. L. Fisher on French Nationalism in the Hibbert Journal, January, 1917, p. 216: 
"The spirit of Catholicism is a spirit of submission to the local pieties, inherited in- 
stincts, and particularizing forces of history. The doctrine of Catholicism has its 
universal church; but the spirit of Catholicism, so far from being cosmopolitan, is 
intertwined with an unconscious tangle of exclusion and preferences accumulated in 
the passage of centuries and transmitted from a distant past." 

2iMarett: "Anthropology," p. 137. 

22 Cf. the statement of Rickert, in "Die Grenzen der NaturwissenschaftUchen 
Begriffsbildung," p. 527 : "In einer voUkommen rationalen Welt kann niemand wirken." 

[ 84 ] 


played by intelligible Forms, universal and timeless Ideas, in 
Platonism. Both Platonism and Christianity are the outgrowth of 
attitudes and interests of appropriation and of possession, the one 
of universal, the other of individual structures. 

In a very stimulating essay on the "Middle Ages, the Renaissance 
and the Modern Mind,"^^ Professor Norman K. Smith has made the 
suggestion that what is inadequately named "the romantic move- 
ment" at the close of the eighteenth century is the "channel through 
which the modern mind resumed contact with its medieval" sources, 
and that means the tradition of Christianity. And those outstanding 
characteristics of romanticism — the imaginative appeal made by 
the life of earlier historical epochs, its "reverence for organic pro- 
cesses which transcend the scope of the designing intelligence" and 
which must be understood if at all through S5mipathetic apprecia- 
tion — through love — its sense for the unique and tiie individual, and 
its scorn for what is but universal and rational, all these motives 
are indeed close to that which is most central in the life of the reli- 
gious tradition. A study either of Christianity or of romanticism 
discloses countless instances of what is really an assimilation of 
knowledge to love, and which may be contrasted with the burden 
of the classical, or Platonic tradition, the assimilation of love to 

But after all, we are still in the presence of problems and not of 
solutions. We might point out the defects of each of these two tradi- 
tions — the Platonic or classical and the Christian or "romantic," 
when allowed to go its own way unmodified by the other. The ex- 
cesses of too exclusive a preoccupation with the unique and the 
individual lead but too easily to a contempt for every binding and 
universal law which shall warp and constrain the individual into 
some organized order and discipline. But who would wish to ignore 
all the fruits of a discovery and devotion to individual historical 
structures whose content is wealthier than what might be deduced 
from any universal rational knowledge, and which give so much 
the appearance then of being contingent and irrational? Our tradi- 
tional philosophies are still, in a way, overwhelmingly Platonic. They 
reflect the attitude of contemplation, and the interest in the dis- 

28 The Hibbert Journal, April, 1914. 

[ 8S ] 


covery and possession of universal significant structures. In them 
only haltingly and half-heartedly, if at all, are the interests which 
terminate in genuine individual structures reckoned with. This is 
true both of all forms of naturalism and of very much within ideal- 
ism. It is true of the new realism, and, contrary to general belief, it 
is true, I am sure, of some aspects of pragmatic instrumentalism. It 
is only the philosophies of romanticism which have broken com- 
pletely with Platonism, and they have done so in ways which chal- 
lenge doubt and criticism — and so we may say with Professor Smith 
in the article already referred to, that our task is that of reformu- 
lating and fusing together the "two great traditions upon which our 
civilization historically rests." 

But there is, too, another problem, and that a deeper and more 
perplexing one. After all we must never forget that both of these 
traditions, Platonism and Christianity, profoundly agree in one 
important respect. They both give utterance to attitudes of Posses- 
sion, and the possession of structures which are intrinsically signifi- 
cant and divine. For Platonism and Christianity man's life and 
vocation are definable only in terms of a recognition of and partici- 
pation in these significant structures. They differ in the nature of 
these, their respective objects of appropriation and of possession, 
and they differ in the attitude and type of mental energy pertinent 
to these two structures. For both Platonism and Christianity nature 
and the world of sense constitute a message with a meaning; man's 
task it is to pierce through to that meaning, to contemplate and to 
appropriate it, and not to create it through his activity. For Pla- 
tonism, once more, such meanings are intelligible Forms, things of 
beauty and of reason, universal and timeless. They are to be partici- 
pated in and possessed through contemplation, through art and 
philosophy. For Christianity, these meanings are divine purposes, 
informing the concrete and individual fife of historical processes, 
selves and communities. They are then to be participated in and to 
be greeted by love and by loyalty. 

But the common heritage of both Platonism and Christianity, 
their common insistence upon the mind's discovery of something 
antecedently and inherently good is best seen when we measure them 
together against those characteristic energies which have fashioned 

[ 86 ] 


our modern habits of life and of thought. Democracy, economic 
rationalism, science have accustomed our minds to distrust any- 
thing offered to it for appropriation and possession. They bid us 
incessantly create, make our world and all the objects of value 
which it shall contain. They reveal the forces which from below, 
from nature, and from life, from instinct and impulse generate ideas 
and activities. Mind becomes the instrument and the fruition of 
success in maintaining an interest against an indifferent environ- 
ment, and we are in an altogether different world from that of either 
Plato or Christianity. So that our deepest concern is hardly that of 
reconciling the two traditions of Platonism and Christianity, classi- 
cism and romanticism with each other, but of deciding what place, 
if any, either or both of these two systems of ideas may rightfully 
claim recognition in a world in which not possession, but creative 
activity, democracy, and the liberation of intelligence in the service 
of human desires seem to utter our dearest wants. Shall we say with 
Dewey that "the philosophic tradition that comes to us from classic 
Greek thought and that was reinforced by Christian philosophy in 
the middle ages . . . now tends to be an ingenious dialectic exer- 
cised in professional corners by a few who have retained ancient 
premises while rejecting their application to the conduct of life"?^* 
and shall we say with Santayana that "the shell of Christendom is 
broken. The unconquerable mind of the East, the pagan past, the 
industrial sociaUstic future confront it with their equal authority. 
Our whole life and mind is saturated with the slow upward filtration 
of a new spirit — that of an emancipated, atheistic, international 
democracy" ?^° Surely this last seems to us now^° vastly more remote 
than it seemed when these lines were written. May it not be that we 
shall find something continuous with these older traditions, however 
altered in form and language, which shall contribute to the rebuild- 
ing of that civilization whose shattering seems, at least, to coincide 
with the fullest development of what men had formerly prized as 
most modern. 

24 "Creative Intelligence," p. 53. 

25 "Winds of Doctrine," p. i. 

26 Written before the European revolutions. 

[ 87 ] 



SUBSEQUENT to both Platonism and Christianity, there 
are the forces which have made the modern world. Two of 
. those forces, centering around the changed attitude signified 
^by democracy, and around the fundamental economic and 
industrial conditions of modern life, have already come 
to our notice. With these in mind we turned to the religious tradition, 
its beginnings, and its expression within Platonism and Christianity. 
What specially concerned us in the study of these two life forces 
was the way in which, for each of them, the mind of man was be- 
lieved to be in possession of significant structures, objects either of 
intellectual contemplation or of ethical loyalty. The life of the mind 
terminated in and also participated in these significant structures; 
it believed itself thus to possess a knowledge of them. That knowl- 
edge and that sharing, either through contemplation or through 
love, illumined and organized the entire range of man's interests 
and his deeds. We are now once more to come back to the modern 
age, to our world, and observe the nature and the effects of what 
is essentially a single process, the process, namely, whereby the 
mind's ideas are conceived far more as the projection of natural 
forces which lie behind them, than as participating in significant 
structures which they know. This profound alteration in the status 
and connotation of mind and the problems which thereby emerge, 
constitute the abiding center of interest in the whole of modern 

Before describing this process we may observe one large way of 
analyzing and formulating the central problem about mind. It con- 
sists in noticing the main classes of objects or entities to which our 

[ 89 ] 


minds are related. These different regions of objects exist, and these 
relations there are, no matter what final theory about the mind, its 
nature and status, one may accept. We have to do here, then, merely 
with the common data of our problem. There are four such regions 
of our world to which our min ds sustain some definite relation. 
There is, first, the class of objects which are, or which may be, 
known by our minds. Such are not only physical objects but, of 
course, numerous other kinds as well. Past and futiure events, the 
minds of our fellow men, the abstract entities and relations of logic 
and of mathematics, laws of natiure, probabilities and Jissiunptions, 
all belong here within this first region. Even a thoroughgoing intel- 
lectual scepticism, if there be any such, will not escape the necessity 
of recognizing some situation, however poverty-stricken, which is 
the true and the known object of some idea. For there is existent 
even in such case, the situation that knowledge is difficult to obtain, 
is precarious, doubtful, is even impossible, and that situation wiU 
sustain just this first relationship to the mind. But, coming to the 
second class, among the objects which the mind knows, there is one 
which sustains to it a different relation than that of merely being 
known. I refer to the body, or if you choose, the brain. The mind 
may of course know the body, but it is related to its body in a way 
in which it is not related to any other object. Now obviously, any 
adequate theory of mind must not only interpret the mind's knowl- 
edge of whatever it may know, but it must also meet the facts con- 
cerning the mind's relation to the biological organism to which it 
bears so intimate and imique a relation. No theory of knowledge 
wiU, of itself, account for and render intelligible this body-mind 
situation. The third region with which mind is concerned has a 
certain analogy with the brain. The actual course of our ideas and 
our sentiments seems to depend not only upon biological organisms, 
but upon the social "body" as well, the social environment and the 
"Folkways" amidst which the mind lives and carries on its think- 
ing. No one now would doubt that here is some actual contact and 
influence which would need to be reckoned with in any theory of 
mind. There is at least a place for social psychology alongside of 
physiological psychology, though it seems to exist as yet chiefly in 

[ 90 ] 


The fourth and last region to which in some fashion our minds 
are related may for the present be spoken of as the class of "practi- 
cal objects." Instead of speaking of "mind," or of "our minds" let us 
now use the personal pronoun, and say that besides supposing our- 
selves to know various things, and besides being bound up with the 
fortunes of our bodies and of the social tissue which surrounds us, 
we also seek to act, to fashion, and to control some of the things 
which our world contains. We are not wholly indifferent spectators 
of our world; we have interests and preferences and ideals, and we 
try to fulfill them. Any object involved in these active interests and 
attitudes, in which our will or our affections thus terminate, we may 
speak of as a practical object. Our fellow men with whom we co- 
operate, or against whom we struggle and compete are such "prac- 
tical objects." They are also, it may be, beings who comprise part 
of the social environment which is constantly exerting pressure upon 
us and influencing the content of our minds, just as they are also 
beings who may be known by us. The traits peculiar to the class 
of "practical objects" are not adequately dealt with when we con- 
sider them only with reference to the fact that they may be known, 
or the fact that, like the body, they stimulate and mould our minds. 
There is in each of these regions then a typical relation which the 
mind sustains to the objects comprising that region. Yet it will be 
noted that these four regions fall into two groups. My body or brain, 
and my social environment influence my ideas, determine me to 
think and feel as I do; they furnish stimuli to the mind. On the 
other hand, the objects which I know and the practical objects 
which I choose and which guide my activity provide my mind with 
"objects" in which ideas and feelings terminate. The first group 
provides termini a quo; the second group provides termini ad 
quem. We may think and speak both of the body and of 
the social tissue of heredity and of environment as exerting 
pressure from below or from behind, while the objects which we 
know and desire beckon us on from above or from in front. Now 
this is for us here nothing but a frankly empirical and descriptive 
account of certain situations which require explanation and inter- 
pretation. We shall later on be interested in the success or failure 
of certain theories of consciousness to keep in view this entire circle 

[91 ] 


of regions which sustain these various relationships to the life of 
mind. At present we wish to call attention to that historical process 
in which the forces and objects which lie behind the mind, the 
termini a quo, have come into view so as profoundly to alter and 
even to make precarious the status of all the objects of our knowl- 
edge and our will, the termini ad quern of our ideas. It is a large 
process coincident with the emergence and the sustained operation 
of all of those energies which characterize the modern age. It is a 
process in which ideas retreat from the objective and significant 
structures which they know and come to be viewed instead as the 
projection, of nature's forces and vital interests. This withdrawal 
of the mind from Platonic Forms and from changeless objects of 
contemplation and devotion is, in some measure surely, a process 
of the increasing isolation of ideas, isolation, that is, from such 
objects as formerly constituted the true center of reference for all 
of the mind's interests. The consciousness of this increasing isolation 
of ideas from outer significant Forms generates the problem of 
knowledge. That problem persists throughout the entire period of 
modem thought. Its persistence signifies that the isolation of ideas, 
their withdrawal from significant structures, their linkage solely 
to the natural forces and interests which generate them character- 
izes the whole of the modern age. The preoccupation of modern 
thinkers with the question concerning the possibility and the validity 
of knowledge, witi the intricacies and subtleties of epistemology, 
is no accident nor is it due to any perverse fondness of philosophers 
for problems which are merely verbal and artificial. That pre- 
occupation reflects one aspect of the entire cultural situation within 
the modern age. With the withdrawal of ideas from participation 
in the life of significant structures there results the problem of 
values, not merely the problem as to the theoretical value of our 
ideas for the purposes of knowledge, but the question as to the 
value of every one of our major human interests as well. The prob- 
lem of knowledge is but one part of the much larger problem of 

How can ideas genuinely be linked to real objects if they but 
reveal the particular body and interests which lie behind them? 
How can they serve two masters, and, Janus-like, face in two oppo- 

[ 92 ] 


site directions? This problem becomes more insistent and more 
imperious as region after region of nature, life, and history are 
revealed, each disclosing some fresh claim which is made, from 
below, upon the beliefs and sentiments of men. We have discovered 
how very much of the idea's function and nature is absorbed in 
expressing those life interests which push up from below so that we 
wonder how much, if any, energy in the idea is left over, as it were, 
to envisage and really to know whatever may lie in front of the 
mind. Hence even though it is quite true that there is "something 
preposterous in the notion that one can attain to anything like a 
complete insight into the nature of reality by a scrutiny of the 
processes of knowledge, while actual living is such a different 
affair,"^ yet for us to inquire into the possibility and nature of 
knowledge is really to examine the status and function of mind in 
which alone, of course, knowledge exists. And it is just that status 
which is so perplexing because of the double claim made upon our 
ideas. Ideas do know something — so we are accustomed to say — 
and ideas also utter the life and the interests of some particular 
organism. This is, indeed, our problem not only of the possibility 
of knowledge itself, but of the relation between knowledge and 
behavior, possession and activity, the good and desire^ theory and 
practice. It is, we shall also see, the problem of the relation between 
mind and body. We miss the piuport and the insistence of the prob- 
lem of knowledge unless we recognize that it is an instance of the 
problem of values at large. A true idea, one which does really convey 
knowledge, is one which is, in so far, valuable, valuable that is for 
the purposes of knowledge. To define knowledge and to say some- 
thing significant about the situation which makes it possible and 
real, is to throw some light upon all of the other values, ethical, 
religious, and social, around which so many of our perplexities and 
problems center. 

We are then to describe some aspects of that shifting of emphasis 
from significant structures awaiting the mind's appropriation and 
possession, to the matter-of-fact processes of nature and of society, 
whose forward urge finds a voice in the mind's ideas. And we shall 

1 Woodbridge : "The Problem of Consciousness," in "Amherst Studies in Philosophy 
and Psychology," p. 146. 

[ 93 ] 


direct our attention to that one of the moving and formative forces 
within the modem world which has had, perhaps, most to do with 
the direct fashioning of our habits of thought and of our more 
explicit theories of life and of mind. It is science, its methods and 
some of its results, which will here interest us. One should not forget 
that modern science has been a concomitant of the other powerful 
agencies in fashioning our age of democracy and economic ration- 
alism. Because of this mutual relationship modern science has been 
something different from Greek science, in its outlook, its methods, 
and the impact of its influence upon men's minds. We shaU, in this 
chapter, observe first something of the general character of modem 
science as a whole. We shall then consider certain results of biology 
with reference to the life and status of ideas. And thirdly, we shall 
see parallel results in the field of the modern historical and social 
sciences with reference to the nature, and the status of values. 
Throughout, we shaU be observing different aspects of one process, 
the retreat and the isolation of mind. 

There is, now, in the very form of question with which modern 
science emerges, something more than a suggestion of the shifting 
of emphasis from significant structures awaiting apprehension to 
natural processes calling merely for adequate description. It is a 
commonplace to observe that Galileo's experiments upon moving 
bodies mark the true begiiming of modern science. Science, coming 
now to its second birth in European civilization, differs in important 
respects from Greek physical science which had reached its culmi- 
nation in the work of Democritus, two thousand years before 
Galileo. Now, in its renaissance, science was to ally itself with those 
ideals and hopes, those attitudes and forces which were to make 
the new world, however late it might be that men should become 
explicitly aware of them. And what we may say is that, whereas 
Greek science had asked typically the question why, the new science 
asks everywhere only the question how. Just this is involved in 
studying motion as a process, instead of regarding it as a quality 
of a substance. The actual how of the process can be observed and 
described; even to ask the question why, if it connotes anything 
other than how, is to impute to the object in question some hidden 
quality, which shall both explain and justify the process. It is readily 

[ 94 ] 


observable how all of the essential qualities of modern science hinge 
upon this transition from the question why to the question how. 
Experiment is substituted for definition. For the Greeks, if one knew 
the definition of a substance, one would also know its behavior, 
and there is, in principle, no access to its behavior except through 
a prior knowledge of its nature, its form, its essence. Its behavior 
is but the subsequent actualization and realization of this, its hidden 
nature. Knowing the nature of fire, one knew it to be a substance 
which necessarily moved upward. Since motion is a quality of a 
substance, the more substance there is, and, accordingly, the heavier 
a body is, the more motion will there be and the faster will it fall. 
Now, in setting about merely to observe behavior as a process, 
Galileo cut loose from prior definitions which of themselves, through 
implication or deduction, would yield a knowledge of the body's 
behavior. He sets out to observe the process itself. That process 
stands upon its own feet, as it were, and is logically independent of 
all prior definitions. Now, — and this it is which especially concerns 
us — this procedure is but an illustration of that vanishing of signifi- 
cant structures, viewed realistically, as entities awaiting apprehen- 
sion and definition, and the discovery of nature's factual processes 
which furnish the observed basis for whatever hypotheses may ten- 
tatively be suggested. For the Aristotelian definition terminates at 
once in the significant and substantial source of all those charac- 
teristics and processes of an object which perception and experience 
shall reveal. "Substance" and "cause," both of them "significant 
structures," are on the point of vanishing, or have already done so, 
in idea, the moment when Galileo's method becomes generalized and 
accepted as the normal procedure of science. "Matter" which figures 
in the physical and mathematical equations describing the results 
of Galileo's observations, is no intelligible and explaining substance; 
it is the invariant which correlates specific observable moments of 
time with specific observable points of space. Nothing "inheres" in 
such a substance; nor does it render intelligible any processes or 
qualities which flow from it. In the light of this development the 
verdict seems to be a just one that "since science has made utterly 
worthless the concept of substance, a period of thought lasting more 
than a thousand years draws definitely to a close. . . . The history 

[ 95 ] 


of philosophy, in the old sense, is at an end, for this is preeminently 
the history of the idea of substance, the history of metaphysics."^ 

This older substance concept, and the older "bead theory'" of 
causation which was its concomitant, whose definition 'explained' 
some process, contains also the ground of a teleological view of 
science and of nature. Thus, when motion is regarded as the out- 
come of a definable quality of substance or matter, then, an object, 
in falling, realizes its nature and its destiny and achieves -Ihe pur- 
pose of its being. Significant structures not only explain, but they 
justify as well. The processes of nature are, once more, viewed as 
realizing and as participating in intelligible forms, significant struc- 
tures. Nature is the visible domain and the transparent illustration 
of that whose primary characteristic lies in the fact that it possesses 
meaning, that it is good, and that it is in its full sense, a significant 
structure. To discard teleology is to substitute the question how for 
the question why; it is to describe processes which themselves are, 
as processes, autonomous, rather than the witness and the actual- 
izing of prior intelligible structures. 

These consequences of the new science may be viewed in still 
another light. Their deeper meaning may perhaps be said to lie in 
the way in which they utter and in turn stimulate the motive of 
democracy and of individualism. They typify that vast reorgani- 
zation in society and in men's outlook which we have expressed in 
terms of the contrast between Possession and Activity, — the pos- 
session of already existing significant structures which but await 
appropriation, and the consciousness of everything significant as 
but the fruition of prior, natural processes and desires. The novelty 
of Galileo's method lies, we may obviously say, in his appeal to 
immediate experience, rather than to objects already known through 
definition, and immediate experience belongs to the. individual. One 
discards, thus, all that is authoritative and prior, and one appeals 
only to that which actual experience shall disclose. The object of 
knowledge itself must be laboriously and tentatively constructed 
out of the growing material of the individual's experiences and 

^Petzoldt: "Das Weltproblem von positivistischem Standpunkte aus," p. 151. 
3 Cf. Holt: "The Freudian Wish," p. 157. 

[ 96 ] 


experiments. Of course, one may be thinking as yet* of no magical 
creative power whereby something really new accrues to the texture 
of reality; it is the idea of the object as known, which is to be con- 
structed, and which is accordingly no prior possession. But this is 
enough. It utters and generates as well the profound difference in 
idea and in attitude, between possessing your world, and making 
it, between absolutism and democracy, between feudalism and 
individualism, between status and contract. 

So much for the general background and method of modern 
science, and the way in which science accords with the other large 
formative agencies in the modern era. Ours is the question about 
mind and its ideas. We have noted that shifting of emphasis from 
the Platonic participation of ideas in real meaningful structures to 
the later lodgment of ideas in the inner life of conscious selves. 
Ideas, although they are still thought to be in possession of signifi- 
cant structures, individual and historical rather than universal and 
timeless, connote now life and activity, purpose and achievement. 
But this, their status and function within the circle of ideas and 
motives habitual to Christianity, could not but be profoundly 
altered by those new questions and discoveries of modern science, 
which we have just described. That ideas should in some deep sense 
now come to be viewed as dependent on natural processes rather 
than as in rightful and inherent possession of significant structures, 
so much will be clear. But the precise form in which this large con- 
ception gradually took shape, will repay our more careful consid- 
eration. Any philosophy which, in a large sense, is 'naturalistic' is 
the outcome of a whole-hearted dependence upon and a preoccupa- 
tion with some body of natural science. "By naturalism," remarks 
Perry, "is meant the philosophical generalization of science." But 
there are differences in outlook and in temper according as to which 
group of natural sciences it is which furnishes one with his point 
of departure. Thus it is obvious that physics and mechanics when 
projected into a philosophical "Weltanschauung" become materialism. 
And such a philosophy, in spite of sharing certain common traits 

* I say "as yet," in the light of the later emergence of the more magical sort of 
creativity — to wit, that of Schiller and of James, and the now popular idea of a world 
"in the making." 

[ 97 ] 


with other species of naturalism, will yet differ notably from an 
outlook in philosophy which grows out of a devotion to and a pre- 
occupation with the concerns of biology. Pragmatism and instru- 
mentalism are, in this sense, naturalistic, and they are assuredly no 
mere continuation of historical materialism. Though I think that 
pragmatism can hardly lay claim to be the sole and exclusive in- 
heritor of the new insight and stimulus which modern biology has 
furnished, yet, certainly with respect to the problem of mind, 
materialism and its way of analyzing the problem seems now to most 
of us old-fashioned and belated. What I mean here is not only 
to report the judgment of a scientist who knows what the problem 
of mind really is, that "the fact remains that science, like philosophy, 
cannot regard thought as the activities of material systems.'" This 
may perhaps still be held to be a debatable matter. But the theories 
of conscious automatism and of parallelism, even the issue between 
parallelism and interactionism have lost some of their interest, 
because they result from a way of envisaging the problem of con- 
sciousness solely from the point of view of a mechanical system. 
They are the outcome of asking what place, in a world which is 
essentially one of physical push and pull and energy transforma- 
tions, what place in such a world mind can have. This is as true of 
traditional interactionism and of panpsychism as of epiphenome- 
nalism. Indeed, what J. S. Haldane has said of vitalism in biology 
may be said of interactionism in philosophy, that it "is nothing but 
the shadow cast by the mechanistic theory itself — a shadow which 
haj5 only become and could only become deeper the longer the 
mechanistic theory has lasted.'" The xmiverse of discourse within 
which the philosophical discussion of consciousness now takes place 
has shifted. And it is the results and the methods of biology which 
from the side of science are chiefly responsible. It is the discovery 
of living processes, of incessant adjustment and adaptation, rather 
than of sequences purely mathematical or mechanical which has, 
in recent years, been the source of a vigorous philosophical reaction. 
It is in speaking of this reaction that Professor Woodbridge remarks, 

>> Lawrence J. Henderson: "The Order of Nature," p. 99. 

* J. S. Haldane : "Organism and Environment as Illustrated by the Physiology of 
Breathing." Quoted by the Reviewer in the Nation for June 28, 1917, p. 764. 

[ 98 ] 


"all that is distinctive, valuable and promising in current philosophy- 
is — I think it may justly be said — largely the outcome of this 

But, long prior to nineteenth century biology, there were current 
certain observations of the body and of its structures which are not 
without their significance here. Some distrust of all of our natural 
knowledge and of our metaphysics, some suspicion that our sensa- 
tions and perceptions cannot yield us trustworthy knowledge was 
an early result of reflection upon the nature and origin of all sensa- 
tions. Sense organs were observed to stand between ourselves and 
the outer world, and sense organs did observably possess a structure. 
They were not luminous and transparent. We obtained only such 
reports of real existences as might come to us through our sense 
organs; we could but conjecture to what extent the true images of 
objects were distorted before finally reaching us. Now, just as long 
as it is expected of our sensations and ideas that they shall be ade- 
quate representations or copies of external objects, there are only 
two possible consequences of such biological observation of our 
sense organs as we have just noted. Scepticism, a thoroughgoing dis- 
trust of the value of sensations for all purposes of knowledge, is one 
result. Or, one might set about to find another vehicle of knowledge 
not subject to this defect. Such was the course taken by most of 
the great names in Greek philosophy, Herakleitus and the Eleatics, 
Democritus and Plato. Reason, nous, is not subject to any such 
limitation as are sensations. But, one may pertinently ask, what 
would have resulted if the initial assumption which led to scepti- 
cism had been called in question, the assumption, namely, that it is 
the function of the bearers of knowledge to resemble their objects ? 
What if the proper concern of sensation is some other task which 
it can well perform without being at all hampered by the structure 
of sense organs, likely to distort the images entering from without? 
It might well be the case that our sensations and even our ideas 
ought not to be judged by their ability to convey unspoiled the exact 
images of some outer world; their purpose and their function might 
be to yield power rather than knowledge (in any naive sense), to 
maintain the life and interests of the organism rather than to furnish 

' Journal of Philosophy, etc., vol. 14, p. 378. 

[ 99 ] 


stable and 'true' possessions of the mind. In principle, the entire 
copy theory of knowledge and all its works is discarded once it is 
avowed that sensations and ideas are instruments of power and of 
control, and both scepticism and Platonism are, it would appear, 
outflanked. It was Francis Bacon who, with more enthusiasm than 
profundity no doubt, saw clearly and made others see the possibility 
of a new kind of "knowledge," radically different from the tradi- 
tional learning of the schools and the church. Knowledge simply is 
power, and "the relief of man's Estate."* This Baconian ideal of 
knowledge went hand in hand with the struggling forces slowly at 
work in the economic and social order, the dim discernment of the 
possibilities of a free development of men's activities, guided by 
intelligence and knowledge. And, too, this Baconian ideal falls in 
naturally with the interest of the new science in describing pro- 
cesses, rather than in revealing the rational and teleological "why" 
of things. For, if you know how a process occurs, you may be able 
to intercede in that process and divert it to your own aims. "Human 
knowledge and human power coincide because ignorance of the 
cause hinders production of the effect," as Bacon phrases it. 

But for anything at all like a complete development and verifica- 
tion of this profoundly modern conception of the very nature of 
knowledge, one must turn to the results of modern biology. There 
are two theses which, if admitted, lead rapidly and inevitably to 
certain large philosophical conceptions, which are both relatively 
novel and stimulating. Indeed it is only fairly recently that the 
implication of these theses has come home to the philosophical 
imagination. It is the first thesis that the central nervous system, 
including of course the brain, is first and last an instrument of be- 
havior and of survival, and not of knowledge, in any traditional 
sense of that term. The second thesis would maintain that, whatever 
in the long run you will hold to be true about the nervous system, 
you must also hold to be true about the mind and its fimction, so 
compelling is the intimacy between mind and brain. But since this 
second assumption is not so clearly a matter of biological concern, 
since it is a philosophical assimiption and hence debatable, we may 

8 1 have used here a few sentences taken from a Phi Beta Kappa address, printed 
in the University of Calijornia Chronicle, vol. i6. 

[ 100 ] 


for the present neglect it, and turn our attention to the more empiri- 
cal matter, the view, namely, that the central nervous system is an 
instrument solely of action and of behavior. This belief itself is 
the outcome of two large considerations of central biological im- 
portance, and of equal interest to philosophy, the "reflex arc" con- 
cept, and Darwinian, evolutionary ideas. The reflex arc concept 
refers to that mechanism which connects sense organs and muscles. 
The nervous system is a conveyer of impulses from receptors to 
muscles. It is for the sake of the appropriate muscular response that 
the systems of reflex arcs exist. The life of any organism simply is its 
continued adaptation through its behavior to the demands made 
upon it by its environment. These demands must be recognized; 
that is, there must be the appropriate sensitiveness and irritability 
to whatever in the environment is of moment to the interests and 
fortunes of the organism in question. In the second place, this 
irritability, this impression, must be transmitted and discharged 
eventually into the proper motor channel. The apparatus which has 
thus to do with receiving the stimulus, transmitting it, and convert- 
ing it into response is the reflex arc. It is the basic functional unit 
of the life activities of the organism. Now this is utterly common- 
place and familiar. Nevertheless it is radical and far-reaching. The 
full realization of this situation is wholesome for our thinking, not 
so much because of the inferences most frequently drawn from this 
situation, inferences leading directly to instrumentalism and be- 
haviorism, but because ultimately it defines for us certain alter- 
natives, the possibility of which is not always kept in mind by those 
who suppose that all of this has only one possible outcome for our 
philosophy and for our life. 

Now, psychology and physiology have ceased to discuss seriously, 
I take it, whether the spinal cord, admittedly composed of nothing 
but the transmitting fibers of reflex arcs, together with certain of 
their nerve cells, is the seat of consciousness. It transmits stimuli 
from sense organs to muscles, and that is its entire function. What- 
ever is present in the way of conscious feelings and sensations over 
and above behavior, was, some time ago, relegated to the brain, 
and more particularly to the surface nerve cells of one region of the 
brain, the cortex of the cerebral hemispheres. It was there that 

[ loi ] 


consciousness, i.e., sensations, perceptions, and feelings were 
"located." But what earlier was seen to be true of the spinal cord is 
now recognized to be true of the entire brain structure. It is built 
on the same plan as the spinal cord. The brain, like the cord, is 
a complex aggregate of reflex arc structures, of transmitting fibers 
(together with cell-bodies), of sensory nerves, motor nerves, and 
transmitting nerve fibers connecting with the reflex arcs lower down 
in the system. In the words of McDougall, "the incessant labors of 
a multitude of workers has revealed the fact that not only the spinal 
cord, but the whole of the brain, also, is built upon the reflex plan, 
that the whole of the brain may properly be regarded as made up 
of a multitude of nervous loops, interlacing and communicating wifi 
one another, it is true, in wonderfully complex fashion, yet still 
being essentially loops or long bye-paths; each of these diverges 
from the afferent limb of some spinal reflex arc to ascend to the 
brain, and, after traversing the brain, descends to join the efferent 
or motor limb of some spinal reflex arc. . . . Again, there is good 
reason to believe, though here we are on less firm ground, that all 
the processes of the brain, even those that accompany the most 
abstruse thought, conform to the same fimdamental reflex type.'" 
The evidence of anatomy is supported by the evidence of embry- 
ology. The brain is but the anterior region of the cord, which has 
undergone certain quantitative and spatial changes, an enormous 
differential thickening of the walls, and a bending back and forth 
of its main axis. Structurally it is wholly continuous with the cord. 
What now can it mean to say that consciousness — feelings and 
sensations — are actually localized within the brain, except to say that 
there is some correspondence between the transmission of nervous 
energy in the brain and the presence in consciousness of certain 
thoughts and feelings? But that the brain literally has some other 
function than that of guiding, under certain circumstances, the 
muscular response of the organism to the stimuli of the environ- 
ment would appear to be incredible in view of the basic struc- 
ture of the brain. We may, if we like, continue to talk in terms of 
parallelism. But parallelism adds no other function to the brain than 
that of guiding behavior; what it does is to accompany that func- 
' McDougall : "Mind and Body," p. 107. 

[ 102 ] 


tion of the brain by another function, which either occurs as an 
unsubstantial process or as the function of a mind. And is it not 
fair to say that the issue of parallelism and interactionism seems to 
us now old-fashioned; this issue hardly succeeds in stating for us 
our problems and our interests. Instead of talking about any mys- 
terious doubling of brain processes, any repetition of cortical 
occurrences in another radically contrasted dimension, it is vastly 
simpler to conceive of the mind, of consciousness, as literally identi- 
cal with certain kinds of bodily behavior, those in which the higher 
nervous arcs are implicated. Such is a radically motor or behavior 
theory of mind. It results from the impressive discovery everywhere 
within the nervous system of nothing but instruments of active 
response and of behavior. And then, being assured of this biological 
principle, it is supposed that whatever large assertions you make 
about the nervous system you will make about the mind. The mind 
can have no other essential function than that which characterizes 
the nervous system. 

In addition to the reflex-arc concept and all that it connotes, there 
is the steady impact of Darwinian, evolutionary ideas. These ideas 
impel us to think of all that any organism has or does as a contribu- 
tion to the survival of the organism and its kind in the struggle 
for existence. To be sure we no longer, for the most part, view tiie 
conditions and qualities which make for survival with as much 
simplicity and crudeness as formerly. We are not so likely to set 
over against each other in such sharp opposition the cosmic process 
and the moral process as did, for instance, Huxley. Nevertheless, 
from any biological and evolutionary standpoint, it is not what mind 
is, but what it does, what results from mind in the form of be- 
havior, that alone counts. Nature can care for nothing else. We 
may even depart as far from traditional biological naturalism as 
Hobhouse has done and say that although mind may have come into 
existence simply as an instrument of biological survival, neverthe- 
less it "ceases to be limited by the conditions of its genesis."^" Its 
destiny is to secure mastery and control over all of the conditions 
of life; it is the means whereby Humanity shall organize its own 
life and world. Even so, from this larger and far more liberal evolu- 

1° Hobhouse: "Development and Purpose," p. ii. 

[ 103 ] 


tionary concept of Hobhouse, the important thing about mind — 
yes, the only thing that counts — ^is the behavior, the correlations 
and syntheses which mind is responsible for. One may, of course, 
still say that in order that the organism may adapt its behavior suc- 
cessfully to the requirements imposed upon it, whether conceived 
in terms of sheer struggle or in broader terms, the organism must 
possess some knowledge of the situation and the needs which con- 
front it. Only if the information, the real knowledge conveyed by 
sensation, for instance, is fairly adequate, can there be any likeli- 
hood of effective adaptation and hence survival. Yet it is not difficult 
to suppose some possibility of divergence between sensations which 
are adequate to reveal and to know the outer world and those sensa- 
tions which but serve successfully to initiate the response of the 
organism. Nor is it difficult to imagine here some real clash of in- 
terests and, so to speak, a divided purpose in the life of sensations. 
Shall sensation set about to reveal the entire situation, or just those 
elements which are of immediate "practical" import? Shall it survey 
its world with impartiality, or shall it serve the master who first 
called it into being, and who, with the increasing complexity of 
struggle and of life, more and more claims its undivided allegiance ? 
And if it be but the instrument .of the organism, whether of the 
single biological unit or of the social whole of humanity, shall we 
"trust all that it tells us ? How early, in the evolutionary series, does 
special pleading arise? And if such queries as these are pertinent in 
the case of sensations, they are much more so in the case of ideas. 
For, ideas lie further along in the process of transition from sensa- 
tion sto response. They arise when overt behavior is delayed, or 
is only incipient. Ideas are more remote from the environment, and 
from its literal impressions; they are nearer the vital source of that 
which calls sensations into being, namely, the necessities of action 
and the desire for survival. Ideas would, then, be less "true" than 
sensations in any meaning of the word "true" except the instru- 
mental meaning. 

Whatever may be our final reckoning with these motives which 
originate in the study of modern biology, they inspire us with a 
cumulative doubt concerning the inherent validity of our mind's 
ideas. They have operated steadily to convert supposedly stable and 

[ 104 ] 


objective possessions of the mind into natural processes, instru- 
ments and deposits of vital life histories. They have made us hesitant 
and sceptical about whatever may lie "in front of" our ideas, possible 
material for the mind's genuine appropriation and possession. They 
lead us to stress only those relations in which the mind and all its 
contents are viewed as the utterance and the instrument of the 
matter-of-fact energies of nature and of life. And we are led con- 
fidently to say of an idea, not that it participates in and embodies 
a significant structure, resident within reality, but that it is "the 
projected shadow of an unaccomplished action.'"^ 

The chapter in Santayana's "Life of Reason" on How Thought 
is Practical is an eloquent statement and summary of this conception 
of the life of mind. "Nothing is more natural," so he writes, "or 
more congruous with all the analogies of experience than that ani- 
mals should feel and think. The relation of mind to body, of reason 
to nature, seems to be actually this: when bodies have reached a 
certain complexity and vital equilibrium, a sense begins to inhabit 
them which is focussed upon the preservation of that body and 
on its reproduction. This sense, aS it becomes reflective and expres- 
sive of physical welfare, points more and more to its own persist- 
ence and harmony, and generates the Life of Reason. Nature is 
reason's basis and theme; reason is nature's consciousness; and, 
from the point of view of that consciousness when it has arisen, 
reason is also nature's justification and goal. . . . Now the body is 
an instrument, the mind its function, the witness and reward of its 
operation. Mind is the body's entelechy, a value which accrues to 
the body when it has reached a certain perfection, of which it would 
be a pity, so to speak, that it should remain unconscious; so that 
while the body feeds the mind the mind perfects the body, lifting 
it and all its natural relations and impulses into the moral world, 
into the sphere of interests and ideas."^^ Shall we wonder that, if 
men are convinced that this is the whole story about mind, and if 
they are also sensible of its implications, they should raise the prob- 
lem of truth and of knowledge? Can an idea which "is a private 
echo and response to ambient motions," which is but "the voice of 

"Jane Harrison: "Ancient Art and Ritual,"" p. 53. 
12 "Reason in Common Sense," pp. 205-206. 

[ xos ] 


the bociy's interests," can such an idea possess any outgoing refer- 
ence, or participate in any structure which it shall really know? And 
how far such incipient doubt may eat into all our philosophical 
conceptions and even our scientific theories may be worth inquiring 
into. Darwin seems to have sensed the situation with his accustomed 
penetration. Speaking of the gradual decline in his mind of a belief 
in a First Cause, he remarks upon his doubt, "can the mind of man 
which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as 
that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such 
general conclusions?'"^ I cite this, of course, not because of the 
particular idea to which it makes reference, but because of the 
larger doubt which is here uttered. Granted, — so maV" we expand 
the latent doubt — that mind and ideas originated in the life service 
of humble organisms. Granted that, throughout their long history, 
they have always been bound up with the needs, the adaptations of 
organisms existing always in a local and particular environment. 
Ideas, then, can be relevant only to the particular organism and the 
local situation within which they have arisen. They utter the life 
needs of such struggling organisms. How can they also be expected 
to "draw general conclusions," to encompass anything of universal 
import, to participate in anything absolute or eternal ? Indeed, hqw 
do they know anything whatever? 

But besides biology, there are the historical and the social 
sciences. These have steadily exerted a pressure upon our beliefs 
and our sentiments, our habits of thought and our Judgments of 
value analogous to that which has been due to biology. Just as the 
influence of biology has operated to withdraw mind and ideas from 
participation in or identity with significant structures and to make 
them a prolongation of organic processes, so the historical and social 
sciences have likewise contributed to a retreat and an isolation of 
mind. It is with the status and the meaning of values and what we 
earlier spoke of as "practical objects," that historical studies have 
been more particularly concerned. Just as biology leads us to view 
every idea as a function of an organic brain process, so historical 
insight and social psychology lead us to regard the 'mores' of a 
group, their preferences, loyalties, and conscious ideals as functions 

13 Quoted by Henderson : "The Order of Nature," p. 207. 

[ 106 ] 


of specific life conditions. These specific interests lie behind our 
judgments of value and our loyalties. The apprehension of values 
ceases to be, then, any possession of or participation in an objective 
good by the mind; it becomes rather the utterance and projection 
of the basic exigences of our existence. Values become intelligible 
only from below. Devotion to an object comes to signify no appre- 
hension of any inherent worth residing in the object, in that which 
the desire faces and which it may hope to possess. If we still think 
that our desires, our loyalties, and our devotions look ahead to their 
objects whose worth shall justify them, we suffer from the old 
illusion. In truth, we are told, these activities and propensities, the 
objects of all our strivings are but mirrors in which, are reflected 
the real forces, the brute and basic necessities of our existence which 
lie behind them. In the words of a recent exponent of such ethical 
naturalism "of course it is a fact that devotion may breed the illu- 
sion that the object of devotion is intrinsically precious; but it is 
perverse to explain the devotion by the illusion rather than the 
illusion by the devotion."^* Now it is obvious that in relinquishing 
thle thought of any influence flowing from the intrinsic worth of the 
object of devotion, that devotion becomes an utterly matter-of-fact 
and contingent event. It becomes a natural process and, like all 
natural events, one has said all that is to be said about it, one has 
explained it, when the causal series of which it forms an element 
becomes unravelled. And who has not felt some shock when he has 
first come to realize that all of his own cherished ideals and prefer- 
ences are the outcome of his own interests, equipment, and tradi- 
tions, and that every opposing ideal and loyalty has also its 
generating circumstances which explain and justify it as well? For, 
having denied any objective worth to the objects of our loyalties 
(other than that which reflects our matter-of-fact desires) whatever 
explains our practical ideals will now "justify" them. And how acci- 
dental, how capricious and contingent do our loyalties seem when 
viewed solely from the point of view of the energies which precede 
them and of which they are but the utterance. Do I express a prefer- 
ence for one cause rather than another, for one nation, one religion, 

i*E. M. M'Gilvary: "The Warfare of Moral Ideals," Hibbert Journal, October, 
191S, p. 46- 

[ 107 ] 


one philosophy, one race? Do I long for the victory and the dortii- 
nance of these the objects. of my devoted loyalty? Then consider 
that the real reason for this my preference and my loyalty lies not 
at all in any inherent superiority which these ideals of mine may 
possess, but solely in the circumstance that I happened to be born 
where and when I was, and have been subjected to the pressure of 
a particular group of "mores" and of local interests and exigencies. 
It is of this situation and the illusion that it is supposed to breed 
that Sir Henry Maine writes: "Party has many strong affinities 
with religion. Its devotees, like those of a religious creed, are apt 
to substitute the fiction that they have adopted it upon mature 
deliberation for the fact that they were born into it, or stumbled 
into it."^' And William James, too, has uttered substantially the 
same judgment in words which may be placed beside those which 
we have just quoted. "Everyone," says James, "is prone to claim 
that his conclusions are the only logical ones, that they are neces- 
sities of universal reason, they being all the while, at bottom, acci- 
dents more or less of personal vision which had far better be avowed 
as such."^° In short, under the influence of both biology and of the 
historical and social sciences, we are led to interpret every value 
judgment as, in truth, affirming the existence of what, in a large 
sense, may be called an interest. The judgment X is valuable, i.e., 
good or right, is but a language form in which an actual interest 
which desires, wants or requires X, finds utterance. The value which 
the judgment seemingly ascribes to the object which is declared 
to be worthful is but the projection of the interest, the conatus, the 
striving and the activity of some living structure. Sumner compares 
all of our value judgments to clouds driven here and there by the 
winds. "So it is," he says, "with the folkways and the attendant 
philosophy and ethics. They conform to the interests which arise 
in the existing conjuncture, and that is all the sense they have."^^ 
Now this is the real "ego-centric" perplexity, that our judgments 

'^^ "The Nature of Democracy," p. loo. 

le "A Pluralistic Universe," p. lo. A. J. Balfour has expressed the essence of all 
these considerations in the phrase, "Scratch an argument, and you find a cause." Cf. 
the entire passage in "Humanism and Theism," p. 6i. 

1' Quoted by Keller : "Societal Evolution," p. 248. 

[ 108 ] 


should seek to envisage some inherent quality or aspect of the real 
world and yet should but succeed in giving expression to an interest 
which exclusively belongs to the vital interest whose judgment it is. 
Such naturalism, which is the generalization of the results of science, 
turns out to be the real subjectivism. And let us not forget that what 
is here said about our value judgments must also apply to our theo- 
retical judgments. For they, too, are in essence judgments concern- 
ing the knowledge value of our theoretical ideas. If the judgment 
of value is really the affirmation of an existing interest, the judg- 
ment of reality is but the affirmation of an existing belief, or pro- 
pensity to believe. Just as the actual interest is the foundation and 
the standard to which the value must conform, so the reality believed 
in is measured by the belief, and not the belief by the reality. All 
this is surely far removed from anything at all realistic; it is the 
confession of remoteness and of isolation. The mind's ideas and 
judgments really summarize that which lies behind them. What the 
mind may suppose itself to know, what ideas seem to terminate in 
as their objects are but the projected shadows of the body and of 
the life interests of some social group. 

That this tendency to view ideas simply as prolongations of prior 
natural processes does result in subjectivism may be seen in an- 
other way. Subjective idealism, of the Berkeleyan type, is the result 
of a far-reaching confusion between the object of a perception or 
of an idea, and its stimulus. It is no doubt true that, if we speak of 
nature at large, we may say that "nature is at once the system of 
objects that we perceive and the system of stimuli whereby we per- 
ceive them." But it does not follow that a particular stimulus and 
object coincide. In fact, as we shall see in a later place, it is prob- 
ably never the case that one and the same entity is both stimulus 
and object at the same time. The author from whom I have just 
quoted is right when he goes on to say that, "we are always wrong 
in identifying any object of sensation or perception with the stimulus 
that produces it."" The train of ideas which leads to subjective 
idealism would appear to be essentially as follows. The only access 
which I have to the objects in my environment is through sense 
organ, nerve structures, and brain. The avenue from the pencil 

18 Mitchell: "Structure and Growth of the Mind," p. 156. 

[ 109 ] 


before me to my perception of the pencil leads from the stimulation 
of the retina by light waves reflected from the pencil through sen- 
sory nerve and optic lobes in the brain. The disturbance in the optic 
center is then thought of as the "cause" of my perception. But since 
it and not the pencil is the immediate cause of the perception and 
since the effect can never exceed the cause or contain more than 
the cause, what is actually perceived is no real pencil, but only 
some modification of myself, my brain (or my consciousness). What 
Professor Kemp Smith has said is literally true and is of the utmost 
importance. "The belief that sensations are mechanically generated 
through brain processes is the sole originating cause of subjective 

Now such an approach to the mind and its perceptions may fairly 
be spoken of as a back-door approach. What seems to be a knowl- 
edge of an object which lies in front of the mind is shown to be but 
the resultant of a brain activity arousing the idea from behind. The 
significance of ideas comes then to lie in the vital processes which 
generate them. The meaning of value lies in the existing "interest" 
of which it is the spokesman and the echo. Every ideal derives its 
significance from the solid foundation of life's actual processes, the 
matter-of-fact desires and interests of the organisms, individuals 
and groups, who live and struggle, compete and conquer. These 
existing interests and desires, providing only they are victorious 
and come to prevail, justify the ideals and values which they gene- 
rate. Might does make right. The Is does determine the Ought. 
Accepted ideals are always but abstractions from accomplished fact. 
I quote again from an article which has set forth this in one sense 
utterly realistic doctrine of ideals and of values in its most plausible 
form: "The adjustments of sentiments and emotions to what has 
become the established order is one of the most powerful factors 
in moral history. Mohammedanism fought its way into Africa by 
the sword. In a few generations it flourished there by the devoted 

^^Philosophical Review, 1908, p. 144. Note also the following from Sellars: "Criti- 
■cal Realism," p. 9. "We begin with the belief that the physical object seen is outside 
the body and we end with the proof if not the conviction that what we do actually 
perceive immediately is the brain as it is affected by the outside world through the 
sense organs themselvfs." 

[ iio ] 


acceptance of those who sprang from its deadliest enemies. Tradi- 
tion as well as trade follows the flag. This is what gives extreme 
significance to the world's greatest battles. Had the Persians won 
at Marathon or the Turks at Lepanto and Vienna, and had they 
followed up their victory, the moral history of Europe, with its 
accompanying ideals, would have been incalculably different. Might 
long enough continued wins recognition as right, until overthrown 
by a greater might meanwhile gathering strength. If we, looking 
back upon the course of history, decline to acknowledge that in any 
particular case might was right, it is because another might has 
meanwhile arisen and brought our sentiments into accord with its 
sway; and from the point of view of the new ideals that have thus 
triumphed we condemn what was once victorious. Naturally we use 
our own ideals in our judgments; but we are likely to forget that 
these ideals are in great measure the outcome of just the kind of 
victory which in the case we condemn we deplore as the triumph 
of might over right. Such a judgment is nothing but the shadow of 
a new might cast back over what formerly stood bathed in the light 
of another ideal."^" 

I do not now raise the large question as to the validity of this 
interpretation of our ideals and our value judgments. It is certainly 
not to be dismissed lightly. We shall accord to it a large measure 
of truth and of significance. What especially deserves notice here is 
that, however "realistic" this account of our values may appear to 
be, however much it seeks to base the mind's ideals upon real facts 
(it is indeed a supreme instjmce of Real-Politik and Real-Ethik) 
nevertheless it is in truth a form of subjectivism, precisely upon a 
par with subjectivism in the theory of knowledge. It places the 
meaning and the worth of ideas not in objects, but in lite stimuli 
which produce them. Or, perhaps more accurately, it views the 
object, the terminus ad quern simply as the "shadow" or the mere 
name of what is in truth the generating stimulus, the real force, the 
natural process, the Interest which lies behind and which is the 
terminus a quo. We are dealing throughout with a retreat of mind 
and of ideas from significant structures which they possess or in 

20 E. B. M'Gflvary: "The Warfare of Moral Ideals." Hibbert Journal, vol. 14, pp. 


[ "I ] 


which they may participate. Ideas become the utterances and the 
instruments of organic and of social Interests, the symbols of de- 
sires and of activities striving for existence and for supremacy. All 
of the philosophies which view the matter thus — behaviorism and 
pragmatic instrumentalism — are philosophies of an age which no 
longer has significant structures to possess, to contemplate and to 
enjoy, an age which devotes its energies to activity, the release of 
desire, to struggle and to war. Pragmatism is the intellectual form 
of modern capitalism. 

There is a modern philosopher who lives and writes at a time 
when these formative forces of the modern age are beginning dis- 
tinctly to reveal themselves. His philosophy is the first profound 
formulation of the vast problem which everywhere results from the 
historical transformation from the idea systems of Platonism and 
of Christianity to those of modern industry and democracy, issuing 
in the release of desire and the discovery of nature. That vast prob- 
lem concerns the status of significant structures. What function they 
performed in the older world of Platonism and Christianity we have 
seen. They were simply and utterly real, awaiting the mind's appro- 
priation, and informing the mind with truth. The world which is 
reflected in the philosophical analysis of Hume is a vastly different 
world. It is one in which all of the structures which confront the 
mind, which the mind's ideas may appropriate and possess, are 
wholly lacking in significance. They are only bare "impressions." 
They are both incoherent, discontinuous, hence lacking in theoretical 
meaning, and they are also unfit for any practical activity whatever. 
The mind can neither know nor act witiiin the world of impressions, 
yet impressions are all that are given to the mind. Impressions must 
be transformed and must be added to before they become significant 
and livable. It is some activity of mind — in the last analysis custom 
and imagination — which make over impressions into psissably signifi- 
cant structures. The permanence in things, the regular sequences 
and causal relations in nature upon which we depend in our practical 
dealings with her, the continuity in purposes whereby a relatively 
stable self and society are built up, all these bearers of significance 
and meaning are read into impressions by 'custom and imagination.' 
They are really fictions, existing only through convention and arti- 

[ "2 ] 


fice, not in nature. But the central, persistent problem thereby 
comes into full light. The real world, that which is given to man 
to possess and to know, is without significance and coherence, and 
unfit for him to live in. Within the world of impressions, he cannot 
act because there are no coherent continuities and no significant 
structures. Man must make his world. He must reconstruct and 
transform the Given, the world of impressions. But the world which 
results is unreal and fictitious. In becoming significant it becomes 
artificial. The disease of subjectivity is the price which we pay for 
meaning, coherence, and significance. Here, then, is our dilemma: 
the real world is impossible to live in and the world which alone is 
livable is a fictitious and unreal one. No wonder does Hume say, "I 
dine, and play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry 
with my friends; and when after three or four hours' amusement, 
I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold and 
strain'd, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into 
them farther." This is hardly any ordinary scepticism; it is an 
honest and penetrating confession of the problem which emerges 
when ideas no longer participate in significant structures, but are 
viewed solely as the projections of the matter-of-fact processes of 

In the social philosophy of Hume's contemporary, across the 
channel, we find essentially the same utterance and the same con- 
fession, though the inference which is drawn is different. Certainly 
in his earlier and more radical essays Rousseau regards the struc- 
tures of civilization as both superficial and artificial, overlaid upon 
something real and primitive, and alone worthy of man's legitimate 
possession and devotion. Man has contrived, consciously or other- 
wise, most of the structures of his political and social life. Just in so 
far as he has thus made them, do they diverge from that which nature 
offers man. Just as Hume sees that the world which man actively 
inhabits is not the world of impressions which he finds, but the 
world created by custom and imagination, so Rousseau sees the vast 
difference between these primitive and unspoiled things which man 
finds in nature, and the elaborate artefacts which he imposes upon 
nature. Let man strip away these additions due to sheer conven- 
tion — custom and imagination — and return to nature. But there is 

[ "3 ] 


a large difference between Hume and Rousseau. Hume sees that 
what man literally finds in his world, prior to all which he imputes 
to it, is no world fit for him to live in. Although all that imagination 
adds to impressions is fictitious, yet they alone provide us with 
significance and a basis for all of our undertakings, theoretical and 
practical. Rousseau, in his more extreme moods surely, thinks it 
quite possible to content ourselves with what we find, to enjoy that, 
unspoiled by artifice. Hume is here the more discerning and the 
more profound. He is the better spokesman of the modern spirit. 
Platonic and historical significant structures, objects of knowledge 
and of loyalty have, under the stress of the forces which have made 
the modern world, tended to be replaced by natural processes and 
vital activities. These activities fashion and refashion our world. 
Our world is indeed an age of democracy and of science. What is 
the status of significant structures in our world? Are they indeed 
subjective and fictitious, or are there any which await our appro- 
priation and possession, inviting the mind's contemplation and 
participation? If there are any such they will need to be defined and 
to be interpreted in the light of all these energies and habits of 
thought which have made the modem age. What possession of 
significant structures will make possible the success of the enter- 
prise of modern life — such must be our problem. But not until sub- 
jectivism be completely overcome, both in theory and in practice, 
both in the form of subjective idealism and of naturalism, can we 
hope really to know any significant structures or to participate in 

[ 114 ] 



THE gradual detachment of mind from significant 
structures which may be appropriated and possessed, 
the increasing disclosure of the mind's dependence upon 
matter-of-fact processes of nature which generate, from 
below, mind and all significant structures, — this has 
been our theme thus far. This large historical process, this migra- 
tion of ideas, has sustained an intimate relation, we have seen, with 
those forces which together have created the civilization, the temper 
and the problems of our own world, the energies of democracy, of 
economic rationalism and of science. But this retreat of mind from 
its participation in objective significant structures, either Platonic 
or historical, universal or individual, is familiar to us not only in 
the range of our practical problems and anxieties, but in our thought 
and our philosophy as well. The resulting situation, the isolation of 
mind from reality, has strangely enough been called the "cardinal 
principle of idealism." For we are here dealing with what Caird, 
and no doubt many others, have called "the disease of subjectivity 
which has infected the modern world," and it has become very fre- 
quent, in England and America at least, to regard subjectivism and 
idealism as essentially synonymous terms. There is little profit in 
objecting to a usage of language which has, in some measure, become 
current. Yet the particular usage here in question may conceal and 
may foster certain erroneous judgments not only concerning the 
meaning of historical doctrines and systems, but concerning some 
important issues of philosophy as well. Thus, idealism is presumably 
a doctrine of "ideas." But what are "ideas"? Ideas have frequently 
in modern thought been conceived as essentially and solely, psy- 
chical existences, states of consciousness. As such they are not real 

[ "5 ] 


and not objective. To make such entities the very stuff and texture 
of reality is one thing. It is a very different thing to conceive ideas 
as participating in or as identical with real Forms, permanent, 
significant structures, as did the father of idealism. Now the Pla- 
tonic Idea has its legitimate and well-attested descendents through- 
out the whole development of European philosophy, ' and perhaps 
it is still worth while trying to save the name "idealism" for such as 
these, and to use the perfectly good term "subjectivism" for the other 
thing. What the relation may be, historically and logically, between 
these two meanings of idea and of idealism, is, of course, a wholly 
legitimate and quite important problem. It is with some aspects of 
this problem that this chapter will be concerned. For, one must defi- 
nitely settle his accounts with that motive and movement in modern 
thought which runs from Descartes to Berkeley and beyond, from 
cogito, ergo sum to esse est percipi. But we shall quite fail to see the 
problem in anything like its entirety if we limit the field of our 
inquiry to the definite philosophical movement which receives its 
final expression in the Berkeleyan formula. That is indeed 'subjec- 
tivism,' and it is certainly worthy of careful and sympathetic study 
and appraisal. But we need also to remember that that other large 
movement, some of whose aspects we surveyed in the last chapter, 
is also a kind of subjectivism. It culminates, we have seen, in a with- 
drawal of ideas from significant structures and in their consequent 
isolation. It is worth while setting these two historical movements 
side by side and seeing how they issue in a common situation and a 
common perplexity. The problem which runs from Descartes through 
Hume and beyond is of course this: if ideas alone are the vehicles 
and the objects of knowledge, what of the knowability and the nature 
of the real world? At the outset of this process ideas are contrasted 
with real, independent entities. The latter can all be doubted away, 
but not so ideas. Ideas, which alone are certain and indubitable, 
lack the objectivity and permanence of real objects, whereas 
these latter, although possessing much more inherent solidity and 
worth, are remote and may be possessed by the mind only indirectly 
and circuitously. Unquestionably, for Descartes, ideas have a certain 
taint and incapacity. They are not themselves real objects, though 
they may become the means whereby we know real objects. But with 

[ "6 ] 


Berkeley and Hume, the real world is more and more assimilated 
and identified with ideas, perceptions, and impressions. It is as if, 
reconciled to necessity, one renounced the more significant, but inac- 
cessible structures, and contented himself with what he actually did 
possess, his own ideas, and then renamed these "reality." And this is 
subjectivism, isolation, renunciation. But while this process has been 
going on in philosophy, something essentially analogous to it has 
been going on in the world of life. And that is the impassioned 
discovery of nature and of life itself, of impulse, instinct, and desire. 
These are vital energies which spring up from below. Mind, reason, 
and ideas are the fruition of these activities, perhaps their instru- 
ment. Individualism, democracy, the new learning, the new com- 
merce and industry of adventure and of production, all alike spell 
the liberation of the mind from objective structures which are merely 
to be apprehended and possessed. The mind with all its deeds and its 
ideas is intelligible only as the outcome and the expression of some 
, vital interest of the body, or of some social class or group. Only 
vaguely and imperfectly does this actual modern situation find an 
articulate voice in philosophy. By and large, no doubt, empiricism 
has represented something of this sense of freshness, of activity, of 
contact with the soil of nature. It has been the spokesman for individ- 
ualism and progress, for the freedom of man's achievement and his 
control over his world.^ But a problem emerges, not essentially 
different from the problem as to the status of the real world, if Berke- 
ley's formula be regarded as true. If the entire life of mind depends 
upon and points back to some particular structure and interest which 
has engendered it and which nourishes it, how can an idea be "true," 
i.e., point forward to, and disclose something of universal, indepen- 
dent, and intrinsic worth? Any whole-hearted biological or social 
theory of mind is really a variety of "subjectivism," as much as is the 
outcome of the Descartes-to-Berkeley movement. Such a biological 
theory lodges the significance and the function of mind wholly within 
the life interests of the here-and-now particular organism or interest 
which it serves. It interprets the entire life and function of mind — 

^This larger social and cultural significance of modem empiricism is most clearly 
brought to light in the article of Dewey : "The Significance of the Problem of Knowl- 
edge." University of Chicago Contributions to Philosophy, No. 3. 

[ 117 ] 


including the knowledge function — in terms of the mind's relation 
to some structure, economic interest, or bodily brain, upon which 
the mind depends. The result is that we may fittingly survey in one 
group certain common characteristics of subjectivism (Berkeleyan 
"idealism") and naturalism. Otherwise expressed, the relation be- 
tween the subjectivism which is latent in Descartes and explicit in 
Berkeley, and naturalism would appear to be this. Both are the result 
of a severance of mind and its ideas from objective structures in 
which they participate. But where subjectivism represents the stage 
in which ideas and perceptions live, so to speak, an unattached life 
of their own, natiu-alism views ideas as attached to matter-of-fact 
structures and processes of nature. These structures lie on the 
opposite side of ideas from that on which the intelligible Platonic 
Forms were thought to dwell. The mind really knew such Forms, 
and participated in them; for naturalism the mind depends upon and 
is the utterance of nature's processes, and that is essentially the 
whole story. At least, as for instrumentalism, it is the clew to the 
whole story. We shall keep in mind, then, both forms of subjectivism, 
the philosophical movement initiated by Descartes, and also the 
pressure of all those modern energies which have, seemingly, put 
Platonism and Christianity forever behind us, and which have sub- 
stituted for them the motives of activity and of experiment, democ- 
racy and control. 

We shall examine first the more familiar meaning of subjectivism. 
It has become more or less of a commonplace to view much of 
the whole philosophical development from Descartes on, till one 
comes to the recent radical philosophical reforms of pragmatism and 
of realism, as the outcome of a single controlling conception which 
functions almost as an axiom and which sets in motion the entire 
machinery of modern "idealism." This fundamental, organizing idea 
Professor Woodbridge has fittingly called the "end-term" conception 
of the mind. The mind, according to this basic assumption, was con- 
ceived "as an original capacity or receptacle, endowed with certain 
constitutional powers, and needing the operation of some alien or 
resident factor to arouse it to activity. It was the end term of a rela- 
tion, the other term of which might be the external world, another 
mind, the divine being, or some unknown source of excitation. The 

[ ii8 ] 


important end-term was the mind. . . . This basal conception of 
the mind as an original end-term was expressed in various forms and 
different words, but in them all are discoverable the essential origi- 
nality, isolation, independence, and exclusiveness of that plastic and 
impressionable thing which through experience of some sort comes 
to possess consciousness or knowledge, or to be itself the conscious- 
ness of the world.'" 

Now unquestionably something very like this "end-term" concep- 
tion plays an important role throughout the entire development of 
modern philosophy from Descartes to Hegel, and after Hegel. Our 
confusions, our difficulties — and our "idealism" — are the conse- 
quences of this fruitful concept and motive. It is not strange that 
reform and revolt should strike first and hardest at this "end-term" 
conception, and should seek to interpret consciousness in terms of a 
relation, or a process, a response, an activity. Such concepts strive to 
connote integrity, a real and total situation, complex indeed because 
the situation contains two "ends" and a middle, and not merely a 
single term at the end looking out into a seeming void. We shall find 
much to welcome and to make our own in the purpose of this criti- 
cism of any purely "end-term" situation. Meanwhile a preliminary 
remark would appear worth making. The "end-term" situation and 
concept certainly does not furnish an important or an impelling 
motive within the idea systems of Platonism and of Christianity. 
Within these, stress is laid upon significant structures or Forms, in 
which mind and consciousness are to participate, and with which 
they are even conceived as identical. And this holds true whether the 
significant structures are universal and intelligible Forms, as in Pla- 
tonism, or a concrete, historical life and community as in Chris- 
tianity. So much was the upshot of our earlier discussion of these 
two syntheses of life and of thought. These are both in so far utterly 
realistic in at least one proper and important meaning of that term. 
Within these idea systems there is offered to the mind something to 
possess, to contemplate, to love, and to worship, and the mind's 
proper function lies in such possession and such solidarity. Here are 
then motives and concepts which connote anything but "isolation, 

2 "The Problem of Consciousness," in "Amherst Studies in Philosophy and Psychol- 
ogy." P- 140. 

[ "9 ] 


independence and exclusiveness." And just to the extent to which 
any of these elements enter into the structures of modern idealism, 
are the very genuine and serious defects of an "end-term" conception 
already in some measure provided for. In other words, these short- 
comings of the "end-term" conception might conceivably be reme- 
died through some return to a philosophy and a culture based upon 
the mind's solidarity with objective structures such as, in principle, 
both Platonism and Christianity were. Such might yield a valid pro- 
gram for the "recovery of philosophy." The problem is of course 
more than any purely theoretical issue. It touches tHe very roots of, 
the organization of life and of society, of industry, of property and 
of nations. 

Where shall we look for the emergence of the "end-term" concept 
of consciousness and hence of this so dominant modern idea system? 
Of course the concept exercises a powerful influence upon the char- 
acteristic doctrines of Descartes, and we shall presently examine 
some of them. But before Descartes there is another thinker and an 
idea which has been well said to mark the "very turning point of 
western speculation." It is Anselm and his ontological argument that 
are here referred to.' What Anselm's ontological argument really 
expresses is first, the emergence of mind, of self-consciousness, as 
something conceivably isolated and non-cognitive, as something 
which is a potential "end-term," not linked of necessity to a real 
world in which it participates. But the argument instantly rejects 
this possibility. It affirms that thought is necessarily linked to real 
structures, and is not, in its essential capacity, any mere floating 
image. The argimient expresses, as Mr. Webb puts it, both "an incip- 
ient doubt" and also the instant settlement of the doubt by adhering 
faithfully to that "objectivity of attitude inherited by the middle 
ages from antiquity." Ideas have just begun to slip away from 
objective significant structures, but only enough, as yet, to formulate 
with deliberate self-consciousness the argument that thought cannot 
live a self-centered, free life of its own. Wherever there is a total 
thought, there is to be fovmd also, the knowledge, and the genuine 
possession of reality. 

s The expression is used by Mr. C. C. J. Webb in his "Studies in the History of 
Natural Theology,'' p. 151. 

[ 120 ] 


With Descartes, as compared with Anselm, the gap between ideas 
and the objects with which they are linked has widened; doubt and 
isolation come much more to the front, and endure longer. Indeed, 
for Descartes, such persistent isolation is itself essential in order to 
disclose the nature and the foundations of our certain knowledge. 
We do well frequently to turn back to the Cartesian situation and 
problem and reflect upon it. Here is to be found the main source of 
the whole "end-term" conception of mind, of the incessant preoccu- 
pation with the problem of knowledge, of subjectivism and of dual- 
ism. I turn to some aspects of the Cartesian argument. It is not, I 
think, the usual reading which shall here be given of the Cogito, ergo 
sum. We shall see here rather a motive for a very genuine form of 
realism — if we must use the term — at any rate, for rejecting heart- 
ily most of those motives which culminate in the Berkeleyan Esse est 
percipi. Here is the situation then. We are, at the outset, to banish 
from our universe of discourse everything which may possibly be 
doubted. Nothing shall remain except the instrument of doubt itself, 
which, of course, is an idea. But it is an idea which knows no real 
object other than itself, for everything other than itself is by hypoth- 
esis, not idea, not a literal possession of the mind, and hence subject 
to doubt and erasure. One says then that no matter what outer, real 
structures may be doubted away, at least the doubt itself remains, 
and the doubt is an idea, a conscious act of the self. That idea, yes, 
the self-doubting, at least is real. But this "at least" betrays us. For it 
suggests irretrievably that what is still left is not quite as valuable 
for the purposes of knowledge as that which one would like to 
possess, and the fable of the fox and the grapes might be cited to 
advantage. Moreover, in the logical experiment now being carried 
out, our universe of discourse contains nothing but ideas, nothing 
but the self-conscious self, aware of its own doubt. But if this is all 
that exists after doubt has removed, in our experiment, every real 
object, then it is to be observed that there is simply no point at all 
in calling that which is left, the doubt itself, an "idea," a "state of 
consciousness." The concept of an idea has been reached only be- 
cause we first contrasted idea (which we at least did possess) with 
real objects which we did not possess. The significance of the adjec- 
tive "conscious," or of the noun "idea" can remain only as long as 

[ 121 ] 


that contrast exists. But in a universe of discourse where doubt has 
done its work, and which consequently contains no "real" objects, 
that which remains simply is, and is real, if you choose, but it is no 
longer "idea" and can no longer be qualified as "conscious." A single 
fact, alone present to the mind, as sensation, or as idea, could never 
possibly be the object of doubt. Its reality and objectivity would 
never be called in question. And so the epithet "conscious," implying 
that it is at least within my experience even if it isn't a real object, 
would never come to be appHed to it. This, as a theorem in psy- 
chology, was clearly seen and stated by James, and earlier by Spinoza 
from whom James quotes.* The interest in the question which here 
occupies James is not quite our interest though it is wholly pertinent. 
He is discussing the psychology of belief, and what he points out is 
that "the sense that anything we think of as unreal can only come, 
then, when that thing is contradicted by some other thing of which 
we think." That is, the whole discussion here refers to the world of 
beliefs. Within that universe there must be contrast and opposition 
in order that doubt may emerge. We are here interested in the uni- 
verse of existences. What we point out is that there is no sense in 
calling anything within that universe a subjective existence, an idea, 
unless it is really contrasted with that which is not subjective but 
which is real.'^ If we turn to an analogous situation, the point may 
become clearer. Would it be possible, let us ask, for one in a dream 
to say about his experience that the only thing of which he is certain 
is that he is dreaming? Obviously not. For, if literally everything 
which he possesses is a dream consciousness, there is no meaning in 
degrading it by characterizing it as dreaming. Some other present 
possession of his mind there must be which he knows and which 
serves as a standard with reference to which he may judge that all 

* "Psychology," vol. 2, p. 288. James refers to the passage of Spinoza in Book 2 
of the "Ethics." Cf. also the following sentence from the essay "On the Improvement 
of ,the Understanding" : "If there were only one idea in the mind, whether that idea 
were true or false, there would be no doubt or certainty present, only a certain 

^ One of the earlier articles of Perry may be referred to as an interesting elaboration 
of this thesis, in so far sound, I believe, though we shall not assent to Perry's infer- 
ences from this situation. "Conceptions and Misconceptions of Consciousness," Psy- 
chological Review, 1905. 

.[ 122 ] 


of his other experiences are but dreams. Again take this case. Sup- 
pose, in the light of the instability of our knowledge, of the constant 
modification of theories and assumptions which the history of 
science and of philosophy exhibits, suppose one is led to infer that 
every judgment which claims to be true is only at best probable. The 
probability may range from a sheer unwarranted guess to the highly 
probable laws of mechanics. All knowledge is probable then. But if 
all that we possess is probability, again it must be asked, what could 
the very concept of probability mean? It acquires a definite meaning 
only through contrast with certainty. It is because some things are 
known and are certain, that other judgments and beliefs can be but 
probable. Now in each of these situations it is to be observed that our 
universe of discourse is really richer and more complex than it 
appears at the outset to be. It is a universe of discourse in which 
doubt has not purged away everything real, leaving only bare ideas, 
nor one in which only the dream self remains after the real self has 
utterly vanished, nor can it be a universe in which all truths are but 

To say this is not to dispute either the truth or the significance 
of the initial premise of self-consciousness. It is, rather, to augment 
that premise by another. It is to insist that consciousness of reality 
is as much inalienable and elemental as is consciousness of self. 
Such consciousness of reality is an awareness of an Other, of a back- 
ground and environment, recognition of which can alone make it 
logically possible to describe the nearer and more immediate pos- 
sessions of the self in terms of ideas and states of consciousness. 
This is our way, then, of accepting so far at least, the soundness of 
those criticisms of the "end-term" concept of consciousness. Con- 
sciousness is not a single end-term, trying in vain to reach out to 
the other end-term so as to know it. Consciousness originally spreads 
over both ends; it is not exclusively self-conscious, nor is it essen- 
tially isolated and remote. 

We may turn immediately to that motive and doctrine in which 
the Cartesian impulse' terminates, the thesis of Berkeley. We have 
to settle our accounts with Berkeleyan "idealism," and to dwell for 
a nioment upon the situation which generates the Berkeleyan thesis. 
We, are, in order to understand and accept that thesis, asked to 

[ 123 ] 


reflect upon the meaning of our natural belief that we immediately 
know and experience real objects. We see, touch, and hear directly 
the things of our world. Berkeley merely asks that we be in earnest 
with this conviction, that we be willing resolutely to identify in all 
literalness the real objects of our environment, with that which we 
do immediately experience. That which each one of us has in his 
experience, what is it but sensations, perceptions, feelings, contents 
of consciousness, subject-matter of psychology, throughout ideal 
and mental? To experience, to think of, to know anj^ing whatever, 
is inevitably to bring the object known or thought of into the 
texture of my experience, my ideas, and it thereby becomes some- 
thing utterly mental. This, in principle, is the substance of that 
radical insight which Berkeley in such eloquent and earnest lan- 
guage gave to the world, and which by so many inspiring and earnest 
teadiers has been set forth as at least the beginning and the sure 
foundation of a worthyidealism. Once assent to the cogency of this 
insight, and at a stroke, it would seem, is the entire position of 
idealism achieved. At once it follows that all experience, all knowl- 
edge, all science and philosophy can only disclose to us that which 
is really a part of ourselves, our ideas, our minds; — if not belonging 
to our momentary selves, it is at least the possession of that com- 
plete and total self which is continuous with our partial selves. Are 
not all of man's moral and spiritual interests vindicated beyond all 
possible doubt and once for all, merely by this overwhelming insight 
that nothing about my world which I can ever discover and know 
will be revealed as foreign to my mind, independent of my conscious 
life, hostile or indifferent to my real self? But must we not say that 
even were we content with the theoretical soundness of this Berke- 
leyan thesis, which a constantly increasing number of us are not, 
we might well hesitate over the manner in which this insight is to 
furnish us with the guiding principle of idealism. The insight is 
won far too easily, one feels; it is obtained not through patient 
search for the specific values and purposes which men have at heart, 
and for the conditions which shall attend their fruition and their 
enjoyment. It is so utterly sweeping in its scope that it often seems 
to be only a re-naming of the total universe of knowable objects, 
considered wholesale and en bloc, and a relabelling which tells lis 

[ 124 ] 


nothing further about any of the specific items or relations which 
characterize the particular things within our world. However this 
may be, and we shall return to some consideration of this matter 
later, we may now deal with certain aspects of the Berkeleyan doc- 
trine which call for comment and for criticism. The criticism may 
be prefaced by the remark that we believe Berkeley's statement to 
imply certain truths which aire genuinely idealistic and important, 
but that until we have first seen some of the errors to which his 
thesis easily gives rise we are not in a position properly to under- 
stand either idealism, or the deeper elements of truth within the 
theses of Berkeley. 

There are two respects in which we shall at this place examine 
the assumptions and the implications of Berkeley's argument. For, 
be it noted, there is an assumption here, of a very far-reaching 
nature, but one which is certainly problematic to say the least. We 
may speak of it as the axiom or assumption of sheer immediacy. It 
coincides with the belief that knowledge must mean simply reading 
off the immediately given possessions and experiences of the mind. 
To know anything is, in the last analysis, to tell what is literally 
present to or within the mind. There is, for such an assumption, 
nothing whatever akin to venture, nothing distant and outlying, 
nothing implicit and deep-lying, about the knowledge situation. To 
know an object is to have and to be aware of actual sensations and 
perceptions. So that there is complete coalescence of the object and 
the knowledge of it. All distance is overcome, and presence, imme- 
diacy, literalness, characterize the basis of the knowledge situation. 
One might fairly call it the 'swallowing' or 'digestive' concept of 
knowledge. That is to say, the process and achievement of knowl- 
edge are conceived as essentially akin to the process and achieve- 
ment of digestion. Just as the stomach can digest only such objects 
as come to reside within it, so the mind can know only such entities 
as literally dwell within the mind, and are thus through and through 
of mental stuff and texture. And this preconception as to the nature 
of our knowledge has its roots in something deeper. It springs from 
a blindness, natural yet utterly confusing, to certain fundamental 
characteristics of the entire life of consciousness. I shall touch upon 

[ 125 ] 


these here briefly and only in so far as their neglect is one capital 
source of subjectivism. 

In the study of psychology, as traditionally understood, there are 
certain motives which lead us to view all contents of consciousness, 
all of the immediate experiences of the self, as spread out upon one 
plane of being. There are, of course, feelings, sensations, ideas, per- 
ceptions, and the various other states of consciousness; and in so 
far as these constitute the proper objects of psychological study, 
they are all comprised within the same area. Now this inclusion of 
all states of consciousness within a single field has led to the neglect 
of a capital distinction within that field, the insistence upon which 
constitutes one of the solid achievements of recent psychology. Let 
us first take a concrete instance. Consider side by side a feeling of 
pain and an intention to start for Paris on the following day. Both 
the feeling and the intention are states of consciousness. They are 
both immediately experienced. They are items in the inner life of 
their owner. Psychology tries to analyze and to describe them. Yet 
there is one contrast between them which deserves to be stressed. 
We speak, of course, of the feeling of pain, and of the intention to 
go to Paris. But while the pain is an actual and literal possession of 
the person, the going to Paris is not his present possession. That is 
in the future and the intention but refers to it, and means it. There 
is, in the case of the intention to go to Paris, a certain distance 
between the idea and that of which it is an idea, whereas the pain 
and the feeling coalesce together. The intention means something 
it does not possess; the feeling means the pain which it does possess, 
and with which it is substantially identical. There is a tension and 
a duality in the one case which is virtually lacking in the other case. 
The result is that if you set about to describe the intention in the 
same fashion, and with the same preconceptions as those with which 
you describe the feeling, you will miss just that characteristic of the 
intention whereby it differs from the feeling. You will be likely to 
notice only the literally present possessions, the immediate expe- 
riences which constitute the pain in the one case, but which are not 
identical with the object of the intention in the other case. General- 
izing from this illustration, what we may say is that there are 
moments of consciousness which are only experienced items and 

[ 126 ] 


events immediately present, and that there are also "intentional 
acts" — to use the expression of Husserl — acts which mean and 
intend something not now literally experienced or possessed. Now 
something of this same fundamental difference which exists between 
a feeling of pain and an intention to go to Paris is to be found in 
the distinction between sensation and thought. Yet, it by no means 
follows that sensations, or feelings either, are entirely lacking in 
the "act" character, in the intention to refer to something other than 
themselves. It is quite possible, and I believe it to be true that some- 
thing of the nature and function of thought permeates every state 
of consciousness, though in varying degree. We had perhaps best 
keep the term "thought" to designate those states or acts of con- 
sciousness which mean or think objects wholly other than those 
present modifications of consciousness which constitute the mind's 
literal possessions. Thought is the bearer and vehicle of those con- 
scious acts whereby that which is not experienced and possessed, 
and which constitutes no literal modification of the stream of con- 
sciousness can nevertheless be intended. The thought or intended 
object is always other than and different from a content of con- 

I may briefly refer to certain writers and doctrines in recent 
psychology which support the validity of this contention. It has 
many implications and it is worth being clear about. It cuts at the 
roots of Berkeleyan subjectivism and "idealism"; yet it does not, 
as we shall see later on, play into the hands of either naive realism 
or of neo-realism. Among English psychologists. Stout deserves 
especial mention for his clear emphasis upon this matter. We may 
quote him at some length. Let us consider, he says, the case in which 
we think of a sensation as such. "If it is under any conditions pos- 
sible for the object of thought to be present in the consciousness of 
the thinker when he thinks of it, it ought to be possible in this case. 
If it is not possible in this case, it is difficult to see how it can be 
possible at all. If introspective knowledge is not immediate, then 
no knowledge is immediate. Now it will be found on examination 
that whenever we try to think of an immediate experience of our 
own, we can do so only by investing it with attributes and relations 
which are not themselves immediately experienced at the moment. 

[ 127 ] 


For example, I may think of a momentary appearance in consciQUS- 
ness as an occurrence in niy mental history, an incident in my expe- 
rience. But neither my experience as a whole, nor the position and 
relations of any part within that whole, can be given as the content 
of momentary consciousness. The momentary consciousness is only 
one link in the series which constitutes my experience. We are able 
to 'look before and after, and sigh for what is not,' only because 
thought can refer to an object which is not present in consciousness. 
Again I may think of the content present in consciousness, ab- 
stracted from the fact of its presentation. In this case also I am 
obviously not thinking of the momentary experience as such at the 
moment at which it is experienced. The presented content is re- 
garded as something which remains identical through the fleeting 
moments of its appearance."" And again. Stout asks us to consider 
the case in which we refer to the non-existence of an object. There 
is here an added argument. "If an object is to be identified with the 
special modification of consciousness whereby we think it^ we could 
never think of what does not actually exist; for the specific modi- 
fication of our consciousness, whereby we think of the non-existent, 
as such, must always itself have existence. Similarly with objects 
which are recognised, not merely as fictitious, but as absurd; I 
can think of a round square, and in so doing recognise that I am 
thinking of an absurdity. But what is it that is absurd? Not the 
thought itself, as a modification of my. consciousness: for this 
actually exists, and cannot therefore possess the internal absurdity 
which excludes existence. What is regarded as absurd and non- 
existent is the object. The felt failure to combine round and square 
in one image is itself part of that content of consciousness through 
which the absurdity of the object is presented.'" 

Now all of this has a very definite bearing upon the situation 
which has been so well characterized by Perry as the "ego-centric" 
situation. Any object or meaning whatever, it is implied, which is 
thought of, intended, referred to by any 'intentional act' of the mind 
with its characteristic tension, thereby becomes inevitably a part 
of the mind which knows it. It is swept into the area of the mind's 

' G. F. Stout: "Analytic Psychology," vol. i, p. 44. 
' Ibid., p. 45. 

[ 128 ] 


contents and actual possessions through the very fact that it is 
known. But the distinction which we have been describing becomes 
here of the first importance. An object which is intended, meant, 
aimed at, by an intentional act is not a modification of the stream 
of consciousness as is a feeling which the mind has. To say that 
both the feeling and the intended object are experienced or are 
present to the mind, is at once to run the risk of using the word 
"experience" ambiguously, and to blur the distinction here in ques- 
tion. Thus, to take a typical instance, Rashdall remarks that "when 
we are clear that by 'object' or 'thing' we only mean that which the 
mind thinks or feels, and that no independence or self-existence can 
be attributed to the thing, the distinction between 'mind' and 'thing' 
becomes merely a distinction within the mind."' What the mind 
"thinks" is here viewed as belonging to the same class and as having 
the same characteristics as that which the mind "feels." Yet is it 
not clear that what the mind feels is a modification of the mind, an 
event within the stream of consciousness, in a sense in which that 
which the mind thinks is not a mode of consciousness, and conse- 
quently is not a part of the mind? The ego-centric dilemma applies 
to feelings in a literal sense; it does not apply to the objects of our 
'intentional acts' in any so literal and factual a manner. In what 
sense it does apply to objects of thought we shall have later to 

This distinction holds not only between feeling and thought, but 
between feeling and sensation. This latter distinction has much to 
do with the way in which the difference between self and not-self 
grows up in our experience. Certainly feelings attach to the self 
more intimately than do sensations. As Oesterreich, who has dwelt 
at length upon this contrast, has it, I will readily say, when a feeling 
of joy is present to my mind, that I feel myself to be joyful. But I 
do not say, when a sensation of red is present to my mind, that I 
feel myself to be red.' 

A surer and more adequate psychological analysis has had to 
emancipate itself from the psychological tradition which puts sensa- 
tions, feelings, thoughts, and conations into the one class of ideas, 

sin The tJltimate Basis of Theism, "Contentio Veritatis," p. ij. 

9 K. Oesterreich : "Die Phanomenologie des Ich in ihren Grundproblemen," p. 34. 

[ 129 ] 


perceptions, or presentations within the mind, items within the 
stream of consciousness, literal and almost spatial portions of imme- 
diate experience. Within that tradition, which coincides with the 
"end-term" conception of mind, there is the reduction of all of the 
mind's presentations to one common level, and the all but total 
failure to discover that imique quality of tension, of meaning an 
object, which is the essential characteristic of thought. Hume has 
set forth the outcome of this utterly democratic and levelling im- 
pulse in a classical passage as follows: "It has been observed that 
nothing is ever present to the mind but its perceptions ; and that all 
the actions of seeing, hearing, judging, loving, hating, and thinking, 
fall imder this denomination. The mind can never exert itself in 
any action, which we may not comprehend under the term of per- 
ception; and consequently that term is no less applicable to those 
judgments, by which we distinguish moral good and evil, than to 
every other operation of the mind. To approve of one character, 
to condemn another, are only so many different perceptions."^" 
This emancipation has been due to the labor of a large group of 
psychologists who, in one form or another, recognize the unique and 
autonomous nature of thought, of "intentional acts," of Gegenstands- 
bewusstsein, of attitudes and of meaning.^^ It is this autonomy 
of reason which is lost sight of when such terms as idea, perception, 

1" "Treatise of Human Nature," Book 3, of Morals, Part i, Section i. 

" Oesterreich, ch. s, gives a summary of this most significant chapter in recent 
psychology, citing the important names among German writers. I quote here a state- 
ment of the contrast between sheer factual contents of consciousness and intentional 
acts from one of the clearest of these recent German writers: "Wir haben nunmehr 
an dem Ausdruck 'Empfindung* eine zusammenfassende Bezeichnimg fiir Erlebnisse 
und Erlebnisbestandteile nicht-intentionaler Art, also fiir samtliche Inhalte, sofem 
sie als ein quaUtativ und intensiv bestimmbares Etwas einfach im Bewusstsein da 
sind, wahrend wir alle diejenigen Momente vermoge deren diese Elemente eine Gegen- 
standliche Deutung erhalten — sei es, das sie auf physische Dinge bezogen oder selbst 
als psychische Gegenstande gefasst werden — zu einer anderen Klasse von Bewusstsein- 
selementen, eben den 'Akten' oder 'Intentionen' rechnen, die gerade das Eigentiimliche 
haben, das sie nicht einfach im Bewusstsein da sind, sodem das wir in ihnen etwas 
'meinen,' auf etwas 'gerichtet' sind." Messer: "Empfindung und Denken," p. 42. 

Special reference should also be made to the short essay by Pfander: Zur Psychol- 
ogic der Gesinnungen, in Husserl's "Jahrbuch fiir Philosophie und Phanomenologische 
Forschung," vol. I, part i, 1913. 

[ 130 ] 


or presentation are applied indiscriminately to all of the mind's 
immediate data. And Berkeley's esse est percipi is one expression 
of this inclusion of all data of experience within the class 'idea' and 
then viewing all ideas merely as factual biographical items in some 
center of consciousness.^^ If this were a valid procedure every 
science would reduce to psychology, and introspection would be the 
sole avenue of knowledge about everything of which the mind may 
have a perception or idea. 

We have been observing the error in psychology which results 
from viewing all contents of consciousness merely as presentations, 
ideas, in one dimension and upon one level. Let us turn next to a 
difficulty of another sort which inheres in such a procedure. Such 
a radically levelling process brings us face to face with what is 
really the problem of truth and error, and the larger problem of 
values. Here we are concerned with that problem in so far as it is 
involved in a critique of subjectivism, whether the subjectivism of 
Berkeley's esse est percipi, or of naturalism. Let us first recall the 
way in which each of these doctrines does exercise a levelling in- 
fluence upon a wide area of facts. This is obvious in the case of the 
Esse est percipi thesis. Here, whatever is real is made an item, a 
content of consciousness. And it is upon the common characteristics 
of all possessions of consciousness, upon their existence as "ideas," 
that attention is now concentrated. It is implied that the most 
important feature of any object or idea is just this universal char- 
acteristic which all contents of consciousness share in common. It 
is tempting to speculate on the possible relation between this phi- 
losophy of Ideas which, clearly formulated by Locke, persists 
throughout all subsequent English thought, and that Individualism 
which in England more than elsewhere in the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries was influenced by the economic and industrial 
regime of handicraft. Certainly the prevailing state of the indus- 

12 Cf . the following from Webb : "Studies in the History of Natural Theology," p. 
152 : "Now a tendency towards subjectivism is always apt to connect itself with a 
tendency to lose sight of such essential differences as that between knowledge and 
opinion which is so prominent in Plato; or that between 'think' or 'reasoning' on 
the one hand and 'imagining' on the other. The objective reference which distinguishes 
Reason from other mental processes is blurred when attention is concentrated on the 
common character of mental process which it shares with them." 

[ 131 ] 


trial arts did induce in the English people "an animus of democratic 
equity and non-interference, self-help and local autonomy.'"^ Now 
any such Individualism brings it about that the individual thinks 
of all his possessions, his circumstances, his ideas no less than his 
real property as his own and as all of it belonging within a single 
universe of discourse. This quality of belonging to himself may 
become then the most important characteristic of everything which 
the individual has. It may become so pervasive and dominant as 
to obliterate or at least render innocuous any cleavages within this 
class of what belongs to him. At least the distinctions and dis- 
criminations within this class are insignificant in the light of the 
one common characteristic of everything within the class, the char- 
acteristic, namely, that they all belong to him. Is this mention of the 
motives and idea systems of individualism, economic self-reliance 
and self-consciousness irrelevant in observing the psychological 
doctrine that everything before the mind is just a perception, an 
idea? I think not. Bergson has made the observation, both acute 
and profound, that the "germ of English idealism (by which he 
means subjectivism) lies in its inability to see any ^difference, other 
than that of mere degree of intensity, between the reality of a per- 
ceived object and the ideality of a conceived object. And the theory 
that we somehow erect our interior states of consciousness into 
matter, that perception is only a true hallucination, arises from the 
same source."^* It is through breaking with this tradition, by calling 
our attention to the utterly quaUtative distinction between percep- 
tion and memory that Bergson has made, I believe, his most distinct 
contribution to philosophy. 

But if the psychological tradition of English philosophy is asso- 
ciated with the tendency to sweep all objects and ideas into the 
one large class of "things immediately experienced," and if, in 
consequence, certain important distinctions within that class were 
blurred or ignored, precisely the same is true of naturalism. We need 
but recall the way in which, for naturalism, every idea, every value 

15 Veblen : "Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution," p. 96. 

1* "Matifere et Memoire,'' p. 267. Taine also had called perception an "halluzination 
vraie." Cf . the penetrating comments of Scheler : Die Hole der Selbsterkenntniss, in 
"Abhandlungen und Aufsatze," vol. 2, pp. 78 ff. 

[ 132 ] 


judgment, every devotion and loyalty is viewed as the outcome and 
the utterance of some quite matter-of-fact process. These prior 
factual conditions of all ideas and judgments are brain processes, 
or the behavior of the organism whatever it is, or some actual 
desire and interest. And what is here to be observed is that since 
this pointing back to prior conditions and interests characterizes 
every idea, true or false, and every value judgment, good or evil, 
all theoretical ideas and all practical loyalties are at once placed 
upon a single level, brought within a single comprehensive class, in 
respect to the most important characteristic of ideas and loyalties. 
For, as we have seen, the very essence of naturalism lies in with- 
drawing ideas and loyalties from objective significant structures in 
which they may participate, and in viewing them as the fruition 
of natural life processes and interests. There was, in the earlier idea 
systems, always the possibility of discrimination, of making a dis- 
tinction between true ideas and false, good and evil loyalties. Either 
some ideas might not reach their goal and consequently might fail 
to possess and to participate in the objective structures embodying 
meaning and goodness. Or it might be that there were cleavages and 
conflicts between the objective structures themselves, some being 
good and others evil. The former was, on the whole, the solution 
of Platonism; the latter was that of Christianity. But when we 
leave all of this behind, when we cease to regard ideas as pointing 
forward to significant structures in which they may participate, 
and when we view them simply as pointing back to the interest 
which they utter and of which they are the deposit, then all possi- 
bility of making any radical discrimination has left us. We are in 
the world of facts, of causes, the world of democracy and science. 
Is not something of all this present to the mind of that thinker who 
early in modern philosophy saw most deeply into this consequence 
of science and of such large naturalism? There is, of course, very 
much else which shapes the structure of Spinoza's philosophy, but 
his uncompromising rejection of teleology, his insistence that all 
value judgments and discriminations are left far behind when one 
attains to an adequate knowledge of the true cause of things, this 
is a profound reading and anticipation of many of the forces defi- 
nitely setting in to fashion the modern world. For Spinoza, indeed, 

[ 133 ] 


such relativism is, in the end, held in check. Something absolute 
and objective, if ineffable, is accessible to the mind, when purged of 
its emotions. For full-fledged relativism, i.e., refusal to acknowl- 
edge any distinction between the objective and intrinsic value of our 
ideas, one turns to later thinkers who come more directly and more 
pervasively under the influence of biology and of history. Renan is 
one such. Renan fails to discover any possibility of uniting together 
an undivided allegiance to a single cause, and a comprehensive 
understanding of all causes and ideals. Really to understand any 
ideal and any loyalty is to see that it, like every other ideal, does 
spring from some actual interest and desire which sustains it. Any 
ideal is thus completely imderstood and justified when viewed from 
the interest which has engendered it. One may, to be sure, be blind 
and not see the dependence of loyalties and preferences, other than 
one's own, upon interests and desires equally real with his own. 
But history and psychology correct such blindness. And with the 
insight which results from our knowledge there is, it would seem, 
a decreasing confidence in the inherent and absolute worth of one's 
own preferences and ideals. "On the whole," says Veblen, "the 
number and variety of things that are fundamentally and eternally 
true and good increases as one goes outward from the modern west- 
European cultural centers into the earlier barbarian past or into 
the remoter barbarian present."^' And might it not seem as if there 
were some deep-seated antagonism between the life of knowledge, 
of insight, and of whole-hearted devotion? Is the universality of 
the knowledge interest incompatible with the discriminating choice 
and exclusiveness of practical loyalty and of social action? Not 
infrequently has voluntarism and irrationalism supposed this to be 
the case, and, with James, has disclaimed against intellectualism, 
because it leads so inevitably and quickly to inaction and quietism, 
justifpng everything, and paralyzing the will. "Formerly," says 
Renan — a noble example of such relativism — "every man had a 
system; he lived and died by it; now we pass successively through 
all systems, or better still, understand them all at once."^° I may 
cite again, too, from the thinker who has done so much to let us 

15 "The Theory of Business Enterprise,'' p. 321, note. 

1' Quoted by Babbitt: "The Masters of Modem French Criticism," p. 258. 

[ 134 ] 


see the intimate relation between democracy and modern science. 
Professor Dewey, speaking of Maeterlinck's philosophy of life, has 
written as follows: "It has long been said that all men are equal in 
the presence of death; it was perhaps reserved for Emerson and 
for Maeterlinck to perceive that all men and all experiences are 
equal in the presence of life, and because of the presence in that life 
of nature that is uniform and equable in all its diversities. When 
one has transmuted the abstract ideas of science into working senti- 
ments, the distinctions of higher and lower, of transcendental and 
empirical, of the great and the little, the heroic and the ordinary 
remain, as Maeterlinck has said, the only extraordinary and miracu- 
lous things — that is, the only infantile and foolish things."^' This 
must meet with sympathetic response on the part of everyone who 
is in any touch whatever with the enthusiasm of modern democ- 
racy. And yet, too, even the lover of democracy must ask whether 
the distinction between the true and the false, extraordinary and 
miraculous as it no doubt is, is also "infantile and foolish." Let 
him be single-mindedly devoted to the ideal of democracy itself 
and he will not regard the distinction between democracy and aris- 
tocracy, between what is true and significant and what is false and 
outworn as a trivial and meaningless distinction. Wherein the mean- 
ing of this contrast between the true and the false does really lie, 
I do not now ask. I urge merely that if the distinction is to remain, 
we cannot pursue the levelling process to its ultimate limit. We 
cannot remain content with a subjectivism which tends to sweep all 
mental contents and processes into the one class of things imme- 
diately experienced, nor can we remain content with a naturalism 
which regards all ideas and all judgments equally as the outcome 
of brain processes or of life interests. If the whole story about the 
life of mind is thought to be told, in principle, when one observes 
that mind is the fruition and the expression of the living body, that 
"the soul is the voice of the body's interests," if every idea is what 
it is wholly because of what the body or the brain is doing, then 
indeed does the distinction between true and false ideas simply 
cease to exist. For in that case, a "false" idea is just as much the 
function of a brain process as is a "true" idea. 

1' "Maeterlinck's Philosophy of Life," Hibbert Journal, vol. 9, p. 777. 

[ I3S ] 


We are in a position here, I believe, to see something of the real 
meaning of an argument which is likely either to escape us or to irri- 
tate us unless it can be set forth as the discovery of a very concrete 
situation which characterizes the life of the mind. The argument 
is the familiar one that there are some truths which may not be 
doubted or denied, for the doubt or the denial simply reaffirms those 
very truths. Professor Royce has urged that this is the only type of 
truth upon which we may safely build in our philosophical reflection. 
We know that there is absolute truth, for you cannot deny it without 
implying that your denial itself really conveys truth, and so on. But 
this argument seems to us, I think, empty and formal until we see 
that it, indeed, touches closely upon the relation between the mind's 
ideas and prior natural process on the one hand, and the mind's 
relation to objective significant structures, on the other hand. The 
argument does in truth point out that ideas, however related they 
may be to the brain, and to social, economic interests, are also linked 
indissolubly to objective significant structures which they know and 
in which they literally participate. The argument in question, 
seemingly so barren and formal, is really an insight into the real 
situation in which ideas exist. It yields as it were a picture of the 
solidarity between the mind and those objective Forms and struc- 
tures which are not the brain and are not the desires and interests 
which enter into the manifold folkways of men. The argument is 
really an observation of one highly significant aspect of the relation 
between the mind and the body. For, whoever says that the mind 
is the utterance of the body's interests and behavior says then that 
this theory itself is not true, but is only the utterance of some par- 
ticular, contingent brain process or behavior. But whoever says 
this intends to impart at least to just this idea some universal mean- 
ing and validity. Such universality of meaning looks far beyond 
and it points in a different direction from the here-and-now, local 
and particular organic structure and behavior from which the idea 
is thought to emerge. Consider, as a concrete illustration of this 
whole situation, the "economic interpretation of history." This is 
the theory that all the ideas and ideals of any age do but reflect 
the prevailing economic and industrial processes of that period. 
Now, unquestionably, this theory does reflect the economic life and 

[ 136 ] 


interests of a particular age. It could hardly have arisen in the 
medieval world. It is itself the spokesman of an era in which men's 
lives and habits of thought are, more than ever before, determined 
directly or indirectly by the routine of machine industry and the 
economic structure of capitalism. But, if what the theory asserts 
be really true, then that which is revealed by the theory is just the 
state of the industrial arts in the second third of the nineteenth 
century in western Europe. Yet the theory intends to reveal a uni- 
versal situation, a truth valid for the entire life of mind at all times 
and in all places. And herein lies the contradiction. We would by 
no means deny that intimate bonds of some sort there are between 
mind and body, ideas and bodily behavior, values and matter-of- 
fact interests. We shall later on ask how that intimate relationship 
had best be formulated. 

Consider, again, the most elementary features of the situation in 
which an instrumental theory of knowledge is set forth. Such a 
theory stresses not only the way in which ideas and thoughts emerge 
from the life activities and needs of organisms but also the way in 
which they reenter the life processes as instruments in the furlJier- 
ance of those activities. The successful functioning of ideas in this 
manner constitutes their truth. Ideas point backward to needs and 
problems, forward to satisfactions and to solutions. This scheme is 
to supplant any reference whatever of ideas to "reality," in, let us 
say, the traditional and the Platonic sense. When, however, we 
inquire into the assumptions and the foundations of instrumentalism 
we shall discover, I believe, that it rests primarily upon accepting 
as true — in the traditional and Platonic sense — certain premises 
and results of modern biology. Instrumentalism is true, in other 
words, because really and "absolutely" the nervous system is, like 
any other organ, an engine of behavior and of adaptation. There 
really exist, then, reflex arc systems whose functioning enables the 
organism to meet the requirements of its life and of its environment. 
And ideas, mind, and consciousness are just the fruition, or, perhaps 
the instrument of such functioning. It is only because some ideas, 
those which set forth this biological situation, are true in the literal 
and Platonic sense that 'all ideas can be true in the pragmatic and 

I 137 ] 


iastrnmental sense. The piagmatic flKOcy of truth is a true theory 
cmlv if certain biological kkas are trae in a non-pragmatic sense. 

What results frran oar anal\-sis thus far is this: the dependence 
of the mind vpcm the bodfy^ cannot be fliou^t of as exduding the 
paitk^iation of tiie mind in univeisal significant structures. Ideas 
stand indeed in this doobfe rdatioi^h^ They point to the natural 
and vital forces whidi seon to engender th«n. and also to si gnific a nt 
si ni ctures niiidi they know. Ideas stand in a ''between'" rdationsh^ 
with reforeoce to two ordets or ftim CTisinns of being. mattCT-of-fact 
jHDocesses, and Katcmic meanii^s, partiailars and univnsals. Ideas, 
we mav sav. interpret tire one c»rd«r of edstaice to the oth». We 
mav in the esdstins state of our knowledge, I think, be even more 
coi^dait of ttK mind's knowie^^ of r^lity, in the idea's participa- 
tion in imivasal significant structures and meanings than we are 
of the scfiposed ccHnmonj^ces of physkdogical psydKtlogy and of 
the economic interpretation of histor\-. Whatever else we may be 
in ignorance of, we may know that ideas are not con^etely isolated 
from reah^, they are not ego-caatric They are, by r^te, in pos- 
session of r^ity, and they posess and participate in a real O&et, 
in something imivasal and utterh' objective. Neither sobjectivBm, 
nor naturalism, nor behaNitHism can possibly be the last word, if 
it is intoided that they shall be true tiieories. 

Four groonds for rejecting the isolation of mind and of ideas 
from objective significant structures have been set forth in this 
chapter. We cannot assoit to the Cartesian Cogito, ergo svm if it B 
intended to imply that tiie starting point for all our reflectitni is 
conscrousnes of self but not at aU omscioasness of realit}'. One 
cannot str^ away from hfe ideas all objective reference, all aqf^ire- 
hension of an Other and yet say, significantly, that he stiU possesses 
at least his own ideas. He does not know them as hfe own ideas 
unles he is able to contrast than with idiat is real, with what & 
not merely his self or a modification of his self. We considered nest 
some implications of the thesis of Berkeley that knowledge consists 
wholly in reading off the literally present oontoats of mind whidi 
are modifications of the knower s consciousness. To do this, is, we 
saw, to ignore the radical psydiolf^cal distinction between "inten- 
tional acts" and presentations. The knowledge situation is ne\-er a 



single item, a one-dimensional fact, merely a sensation, perception, 
or idea which is but a mode of the knower's mind as the quality of 
hardness is a mode of the table upon which I am writing. There is, 
in the knowledge situation, a quality of distance and of tension, 
of an intention to mean something which is not a literal possession, 
in the sense in which a pain or a felt sensation is a presentation 
immediately before or within the mind. Ideas are not self-contained, 
they are not, in truth,' isolated, nor are they merely "end-terms." 
They are linked to structures not themselves. They are the vehicles 
of meanings with which they are not identical. Thirdly, we observed 
a logical consequence of placing all contents of the mind upon one 
level, within one class, and viewing them all as ideas of the mind. 
This is the Lockian tradition. When allowed to work itself out, it 
obliterates any distinctions of value between the various possessions 
of the mind. It is a levelling motive. The distinction between true 
and false, which is a value distinction, disappears just in proportion 
as the complete meaning of each perception and idea comes to lie 
in the fact of its being a presentation, something before the mind. 
For false ideas as well as true ideas are before the mind. But natu- 
ralism also, and more profoundly, is the outcome of a similar 
process. All ideas and loyalties are observed to depend upon and 
to voice natural matter-of-fact processes. In the light of this common 
equality of everything within the life of the mind, how may we 
still hold that there is some real and inherent distinction between 
the true and the false, the good and the evil ? Nevertheless, to oblit- 
erate these distinctions is suicidal. Some power of reveahng the 
intrinsic structure of reality must belong to ideas. Most clearly does 
this come to light when we reflect upon the manifest contradiction 
which is implied in any naturalistic theory of the mind. These con- 
tradictions disclose to us that, after all, ideas are not exclusively the 
projection and the utterance of particular and contingent natural 
events. Ideas have the capacity of revealing the truth, because the 
mind is not isolated from objective significant structures. Ideas, 
by right, participate in reality. Ideas also are, to be sure, linked to 
the vital needs and activities of particular organisms and interests. 
Once more do we come upon our problem. How is it that ideas can, 
at once, carry on these two functions, point in these two directions? 

[ 139 ] 


This is but another way of asking how we may today fuse into one 
coherent idea system, one plan of life, both the heritage of Platonism 
and Christianity, and also the deep-lying requirements of the modern 
age. One confusion, at least, we may learn to avoid. Idealism con- 
tains too much of the tradition of Platonism and of Christianity to 
identify it with a theory of the self-containedness and isolation of 
ideas. Subjectivism and naturalism, in aU of their various forms, 
these are the philosophies of ideas isolated from significant struc- 
tures. Idealism is the philosophy of solidarity, of possession, of the 
mind's knowledge of, and participation in. Reality. 



THE question as to the existence of objective significant 
structures, of real values, in which the mind of man may 
participate, is our central problem. The naturalism and 
subjectivism of modern thought have expressed»jn tlie 
language of theory those formative and prafctical forces 
which have fashioned the characteristic institutions and habits of 
life in modern, west-European and American culture. Through the 
cumulative impact of these moving forces the direction of men's 
interests and attitudes has profoundly altered. The mind looks back- 
ward to needs, interests, and desires rather than forward to "The 
Idea of the Good." Ideas are servants of the will to live; science 
and knowledge exist in order to yield power, to be useful instru- 
ments in the satisfaction of human wants. Not contemplation and 
possession of Ideas, values, or significant structures for their own 
sake, but creative activity, control, the fruition of impulse and of 
instinct, express our interests and our world. The last chapter con- 
sidered some reasons for being dissatisfied with any philosophical 
theories which reject the possibility of the mind's appropriation and 
knowledge of objective significant structures. We are henceforth 
committed to a philosophy which does provide for such a possibility 
and which is, for that reason if one chooses, utterly "realistic." We 
are, in the present chapter, to inquire further and more construc- 
tively into the meaning of the assertion that significant structures 
are objectively real. But we must also attempt to interpret this 
thesis in such a manner as to provide a rightful place for all of those 
important motives and attitudes which do characterize the modern 
age. We cannot and we would not go back to Platonism or to the 

[ MI ] 


medieval idea systems, discrediting completely the modern ideals. 
Our task, both theoretical and practical, both that of the organiza- 
tion of ideas and the organization of Ufe, is to knit together into one 
coherent and living structure the attitudes and the philosophies of 
possession and of activity, of participation in significant structures 
and the achievement of desire. I know of no other term in philosophy 
which may express more adequately the resulting sjmthesis than 
the term "idealism." This chapter will seek to set forth, then, the 
fundamental principles of constructive idealism. 

It is the problem of values, once more, with which we begin. There 
are two regions in particular which offer an opportunity to observe 
the fact and significance of what shall here be spoken of as the 
autonomy of values. They are Ethics, and the problem of knowl- 
edge. In each of these regions certain values are at stake, and we 
shall observe throughout a common interest which some familiar 
and important concepts have in maintaining the autonomy of values. 
We shall also observe that we cannot pause with the autonomy of 
values, but are confronted at once with problems of reality and of 
mind. What is meant, then, by the "autonomy of values"? An auton- 
omous value is one whose validity or whose worthfulness does not 
depend upon the mere existence of any fact or situation whatever. 
No matter what the real world may contain, irrespective of the 
fortune of events in space and time, certain ideals shall remain 
significant and valid. Whoever says this is viewing such ideals as 
if they stood entirely upon their own feet, so far at least as their 
value is concerned. They are autonomous ideals. Their worth is 
intrinsic, their own possession, and is not borrowed from any prior 
existing situation. Now there have been weighty doctrines and 
theories of Ethics in which the Good and the Right have in no way 
been thought of as autonomous. In such theories, the content and 
meaning of the Good and the rightfulness of that whijch ought to 
be done is the resultant of some actual fact. Thus, the Good and 
the Right have been thought of as dependent upon the matter-of- 
fact decrees and dictates of an actual sovereign, of God, or of the 
civil power. One would then be unable to know what is good or 
right, what he ought to do, without first beinginfo-^med as to what is. 
Or, the prior reality which determines the worth of ideals and values 

[ 142 ] 


could be viewed simply as nature, or as the tendencies of the evolu- 
tionary process, or as the wishes of the majority. Mr. G. E. Moore, 
who has set forth with such thoroughness the various forms of 
ethical heteronomy, i.e., the refusal to regard the Good as autono- 
mous, has spoken of the metaphysical and the naturalistic fallacies. 
The Stoic ethics is an instance of the metaphysical fallacy. Goodness, 
for the Stoic, lies in conformity and willing obedience to nature or 
the world-reason which dwells within Nature. One may seriously 
question, I believe, the complete absence of idealism, of the auton- 
omy of the Good, in the Stoic doctrines. Something of the Platonic 
teaching entered into the texture of Stoicism. This would become 
quite clear if we should turn to the place which the autonomy of 
values and of the Good has within political thought and the influence 
of Stoicism there. The most obvious example of the naturalistic fal- 
lacy is to be found in certain teachings of evolutionary ethics, such, 
for instance, as define goodness in terms of the ability and the fact of 
survival in the struggle for existence. In both types of fallacy, if we 
may speak from the point of view which would regard them as falla- 
cies, some existing reality is the determinant of the content of the 
Good, and of the worth of all our ideals and values. The belief that 
these are indeed fallacies, I share, and for reasons which shall pres- 
ently be set forth. But first, I would call attention to another type. of 
ethical theory which might seem to provide for the autonomy of the 
Good, but which will prove, upon analysis, to involve essentially the 
same type of fallacy. It is fairly obvious, namely, that there is no 
autonomy in defining my Good merely as obedience to the decrees 
of God, whatever they may be, or as conformity with the course of 
nature, or the laws of some great Leviathan, some absolutistic state. 
And this is obvious because of the evident possibility of conflict 
between all of these existing facts and forces and my own desires and 
interests. I may not desire to do what nature or God or the State has 
decreed. One is, then, easily led to suppose that if the Good were only 
defined as the object of my desires, such a Good would be wholly 
autonomous because it is freed from dependence upon outer fact. It 
appears, indeed, almost axiomatic that, in the words of Hobbes, 
"whatsoever is the object of any man's Desire, that it is which he for 
his part calleth Good, and the object of his aversion. Evil." The good 

[ 143 ] 


is the desired, and desire measures the content and the meaning of 
the Good. Or, if the Good is defined as the pleasurable, as that which 
yields satisfaction, we have a statement which may seem to provide 
for the autonomy of the Good. Yet reflection may easily uncover 
doubts and problems. Certainly in one important respect it makes 
little difference whether the good is defined as that which conforms 
to an external command, or whether it is defined as that which is the 
object of desire and which yields feelings of satisfaction. Both desire 
and pleasure and also the arbitrary decrees of an external sovereign 
are utterly matter of fact. They are whatever they happen to be; 
they are existential, particular and contingent. They might, per- 
chance, be otherwise, and this, their contingency, infects the content 
and meaning of the Good, if the Good is to be thus defined. There 
can be nothing inherently compelling nor intrinsically valid in a 
good which borrows its content either from external arbitrary com- 
mands, or from psychological events. The same comment is to be 
made with reference to the definition proffered by the Moral Sense 
theory, the definition of the Good as the approved. Approval and 
blame, like desire and pleasure, are also particular psychological 
events. They are contingent and factual. A good, a value whidhi is 
literally identical with such matter-of-fact items is not an autono- 
mous value. 

So far, it has been largely a matter of definition and negative defi- 
nition at that. We are to understand by an objective good, an 
autonomous value, something which is coincident neither with any 
external matter-of-fact situation or decree, nor with psychological 
matter of fact, such as desire, pleasure, or feelings of approval. 
Before giving any reasons for holding that there are genuinely 
autonomous and objective values, it will not be out of place to indi- 
cate briefly something of the larger purport and background of the 
argument. The life of mind, the contents of our individual minds, 
point in two directions. Like our sense organs, our minds stand 
between ourselves and a real environment. Consciousness is the fru- 
ition and the instrument of bodily activities and structures, and 
consciousness also participates in reality. This objective and cogni- 
tive reference to and participation in reality characterizes not only 
our knowledge, but our willing and our loving, our feeling and our 

[ M4 ] 


valuing as well. Throughout this chapter we shall have in mind the 
criticism of the familiar and perhaps prevalent thesis that the value 
of anything depends entirely upon tie fact that it is needed and 
desired by a living organism. We shall not assent to the statement 
that the basic situation in our value judgments is either interest or 
feeling.^ We shall urge that we discover values much as we discover 
truths, that the values do not depend upon the organization and 
structure of our matter-of-fact interests, but that they are objective. 
We wish, in a way, to assimilate our value judgments, the world of 
morality and of ethics, to our theoretical and our cognitive judg- 
ments. So far we shall be, if one chooses, perversely realistic and 
intellectualistic. Yet we shall also seek to find a place for the (at 
least) partial truths which the advocates of interest and of desire 
have so insistently urged upon us. 

Let us, then, turn to some questions of Ethics and to the central 
ethical concept of the Good. And first we may refer to a thesis that 
is by no means novel, though it has been set forth in a striking way 
by a number of important recent writers. It is the thesis that one 
must inevitably, in one's reflection, reach a concept which is ultimate 
and indefinable in the sense that it endows all subsidiary concepts 
with their meaning, but that its own meaning is unborrowed and 
original. Such an ultimate idea is indefinable because we must con- 
stantly make use of it in defining derivative and analogous ideas. To 
"define" this last — or first — idea would thus involve the use of that 
selfsame idea. Now ever since the teachings of Plato, it has been a 
recurrent and profound doctrine that the good is such an ultimate 
and unique concept. This belief in the intrinsic content of the Good, 
in its unborrowed capacity to endow other concepts with their ethical 
meaning, is by no means the whole of the Platonic teaching. We shall 
before long see how this thesis is to be supplemented by another. 
That the meaning of the good is different from the meaning of the 
desired or of pleasure is really implied in the statement of the hedon- 
ist who desires to equate these concepts. For such a statement as this, 
that man's happiness and the satisfaction of his desires are man's 

1 Thus Perry : "Assuming that value is a function of what may broadly be termed 
'interest,'" etc., "Monist," vol. 27, p. 352. See also his article on "The Definition of 
Value," Journal of Philosophy, etc., vol. 11, pp. 141 ff. 

[ I4S ] 


good, is certainly regarded even by the hedonist as a significant 
proposition. It is not intended to be tautologous nor to be a diction- 
ary definition of a mere term. In the words of Russell, "when we are 
told that the good is the desired, we feel at once that we are being 
told something of philosophical importance, something which has 
ethical consequences, something which it is quite beyond the scope 
of a dictionary to tell us. The reason of this is that we already know 
what we mean by the good, and what we mean by the desired; and 
if these two meanings always applied to the same objects, that would 
not be a verbal definition, but an important truth.'" Of recent 
writers in Ethics, it is Sidgwick who has impressively revived this 
doctrine of the inherent wealth of meaning whichthe good possesses, 
and which is not simply the equivalent of other concepts drawn from 
our psychological feeling of pleasure, desire, and interest. And this 
thesis has been accepted and elaborated by Moore, Rashdall, and 
Russell. An essentially similar thesis forms the starting point of a 
monograph of the first importance by Scheler.' 

But, suppose it is to be admitted that the good has some residue of 
meaning over and above the meaning which the desired, the ap- 
proved, the pleasant, or any other term may possess, and that, in 
consequence, at least that residual core of meaning is indefinable 
and unanalyzable. Does this have any bearing upon the theory that 
the good is something objective, something real which the mind dis- 
covers and which the intelligence may apprehend ? In the first place, 
it may be pointed out that the possibility, at least, of such an objec- 
tive good or value, is thereby provided for. If the good were merely 
another name for the desired or for feelings of pleasure and satis- 
faction, then obviously the situation would be altogether one-sided. 
Desire and feeling, psychological and bodily processes occurring in 
the organism would alone generate value and the good. These would 
be but names for such vital or mental processes, and for whatever 
might exist as their projection or shadow. If, on the other hand, value 
and the good mean something other than the content of such psy- 
chological processes, the entire situation may be more complex. It 

2B. Russell: "The Elements of Ethics," in "Philosophical Essays," p. 8. 
s Max Scheler : "Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Werthethik," in 
Husserl's "Jahrbuch fur Philosophie," 1913. 

[ 146 ] 


may be a polar situation in which the good is objective, lodged in the 
environment, and at a distance from the feelings which are the 
immediate possessions of the organism. Is this, now, more than a 
possibility? For the beginning of an answer, we may turn to the 
empirical consideration of the manner in which values enter into our 
experience. There are, of course, many familiar situations in which 
an object seems to be valuable solely because someone desires it, 
strives for it, demands it. The worth of the object appears to be 
entirely a function, an index, of the intensity of the felt want. Thus 
we say that pleasure is a good, because men desire it, that economic 
goods are humanly valuable, because there is a demand and desire 
for them. But this situation certainly does not exhaust all the possi- 
bilities. There are values which we apprehend without desiring them 
or striving for them, and this t5rpe of situation is of the first impor- 
tance in letting us see what the objectivity of certain values, at least, 
may mean. In the first place, it may be pointed out that even in the 
case of objects whose value seems to be a function of their being 
desired, there is no exact correspondence between the worth we 
inipute to them, and the intensity with which we desire them. We 
may even cease to desire them and still apprehend them as good. 
Sidgwick has called attention to this obvious possibility. "A prudent 
man is accustomed to suppress, with more or less success, desires 
for what he regards as out of his power to attain by voluntary 
action — -as fine weather, perfect health, great wealth or fame, etc., 
but any success he may have in diminishing the actual intensity of 
such desires has no effect in leading him to judge the objects desired 
less 'good.' "* But, of course, such objects are, as a class and in some 
measure, desired by all men. Consider, then, a much more significant 
instance. One large class of values there is, whose relation to con- 
scious desire and striving is certainly inuch less intimate. I refer to 
esthetic values. And there are here, at least, two remarks to make 
with reference to the relation between the beautiful and human 
desires and felt activities. The first is that esthetic values may 
announce themselves to our experience and may be welcomed and 
enjoyed as if they entered from without and not as the satisfaction 
and completion of a previous desire. "When a beautiful landscape 

« "The Methods of Ethics," p. no. 

[ 147 ] 


bursts upon us unexpectedly, the enjojTnent of it is not diminished 
by the fact that we were not craving for it beforehand.'" In such a 
case we literally discover an objective value. But, one may urge here 
that men do as a fact normally desire beauty, and that is why the 
beautiful is good. This desire, so it may be said, exists as a constant 
demand of our nature even when we are not fully conscious of it. All 
of which may well be the case, but there is something here akin to a 
fallacy which will come to light when we turn to our second remark 
about esthetic values. It is that the central aspect of the esthetic 
experience is precisely the absence or temporary suspension of desire, 
of purposive striving, of interest. This has been frequently set forth 
in its classical form by Kant and by Schopenhauer, and we need not 
here dwell upon it. The psychological basis of this doctrine lies in a 
certain contrast and seeming incompatibility between contemplation 
and desire, clear insight and emotional activity. It is this tension 
which Spinoza seizes upon so profoundly in his doctrine of the 
manner in which man is to obtain freedom from the bondage of the 
emotions. It is another aspect of this same tension which Buddhism 
has used in its doctrine of the way to salvation from desire and the 
sorrows which inevitably accompany the vain striving of desire to 
find satisfaction. Now these motives and teachings are familiar ones. 
They are deep-seated and persistent in the history of ideas. Their 
evident purport is to stress a region of human experience which is 
other than tJiat of desire and interest, different from the craving and 
demand rooted in bodily and mental tensions and activities. Yet this 
region, although so sharply contrasted with all desire, is one where 
certain values are believed to make their appearance. Such values 
are thought to be quite inaccessible as long as the striving and activ- 
ity of desire dominate the field of consciousness. But there is a seem- 
ing difficulty and paradox here. Kant asserts that the esthetic judg- 
ment is one which is entirely lacking in "interest." One may then ask 
Kant whether there is any "interest" in the beauty which the esthetic 
judgment pronounces an object to possess. Or, still clearer, Schopen- 
hauer certainly holds that in the esthetic contemplation of beauty, 
all desires are, for the time, in abeyance. One may then ask 
Schopenhauer whether, knowing the evil of all desire, and knowing 

^RashdaU: "The Theory of Good and Evil," vol. i, p. i8. 

[ 148 ] 


the possibility of release from desire which contemplation yields, 
one will not desire %o contemplate beauty, and desire not to have any 
desires. Just so, one may ask the Buddhist how he can desire to 
uproot all desires, if all desires are sources of sorrow. Does not the 
paradox reveal after all the truth of the insight that one cannot 
escape desire and activity, and that the value of that which seems so 
to be opposed to desire lies in the fact that it, too, is desired,^de- 
sired, it may be, by a craving of a different order? I do not think that 
this is the lesson of the paradox. For, it is agreed that, at the very 
least, there are two levels or grades of "desire" which are here in 
question. There is the desire for wealth and fame, let us say, and 
then there is the desire for the possession of that beauty which will 
suspend the desires for wealth and fame. But does not the difference 
between these two types of "desire" lie just in this, that in the one 
case the valued object is only or chiefly a projection of the felt de- 
sire, whereas in the other case the "desire" is aroused by a belief in 
the intrinsic and objective value of the object? Only some such 
account of the difference can justify, it seems to me, that profound 
and persistent tendency to observe a deep distinction, a radical ten- 
sion, between the energies of desire and activity, and the contem- 
plative insight and apprehension which yield the possession of some 
objective and intrinsic good. 

Not only does the contemplation of the beautiful yield an appre- 
hension and possession of a good which is not founded upon desire, 
but the same thing is to be pointed out in another region. I refer to 
the contrast between desire or striving, and Ipve, and to the 
undoubted existence of an attitude of loving in which striving and 
desire are not present. There is a disinterested and contemplative 
aspect of loving which places it within another psychological cate- 
gory than that of desire. Devotion, loyalty, worship are, on the whole, 
non-pragmatic attitudes. They are experiences and attitudes in 
which the object of devotion is not viewed as any instrument to be 
used in the furtherance of life activities, or in the adjustment of the 
organism to its environment. In love, it is the environment, the per- 
son loved, the ideal object in which the attitude of affection and 
loyalty terminates, that constitutes, as it were, the center of gravity 
of the act of loving. The environment does not exist in order that 

[ 149 ] 


that desire may be satisfied and interest fulfilled.. Once more, the 
situation is a polar one; there is a realm of objective values, a real 
order in which dwell the objects, significant structures, which are 
worthy of affection and of loyalty, and it is toward this objective 
focus that the energies of the lover's mind and interests are concen- 

Thus are we justified in stressing the objective status of values 
whose prior existence and whose nature make them worthy objects 
of recognition, knowledge, and love. Here is, indeed, a region and an 
experience not easily to be subsumed under the pragmatic rubric 
of adaptation, of behavior, of instrumental efficiency, and of the 
outgoing striving of an organism to maintain its existence against 
an environment which it seeks to master and to control. We shall 
not at this place develop the theme any further. The full measure 
of its significance comes to light only when we undertake to scruti- 
nize and to appraise the true nature of our human social interests, 
the life of reUgion, and the central doctrines of idealism. 

But the thesis that values are objective, that they are fit objects 
of discovery, of contemplation, and of worship and love comes into 
sharper relief if we compare it with another doctrine with which 
it is not seldom confused. That such terms as pleasure and satis- 
faction are abstract, and that there exist in reality various concrete 
pleasures, rather than a single blanket pleasure, is something of a 
commonplace of ethical criticism. It is possible to arrange pleasures 
in various series. One such series is deserving of notice here. Con- 
sider, then, a series of types of pleasure where one starts, let us say, 

' Cf . the following quotation from Laberthonniere : "Essais de Philosophie Reli- 
gieuse," p. 68. "Mais I'amour, on ne le remarque pas assez, n'a rien de commuA avec 
le d&ir. Par le deslr on cherche a transformer ce qu'on desire en soi-meme. Par I'amour 
on se transforme en ce qu'on aime. L'amour n'est pas une prise de possession, c'est le 
don de soi. . . . Ce qu'on desire on le traite comme une chose, on le considere comme 
un moyen; se qu'on aime on le traite comme un etre, on le considere comme ime fin." 
The essays of Pfander: Zur Psychologie der Gesinnungen, and of Scheler: Der For- 
malismus in der Ethik imd die materiale Wertethik, in Husserl's "Jahrbuch fur Phi- 
losophie" are particularly worthy of mention. Cf. the following from Pfander: "Aber 
dieses Streben, dieses Moment des unbefriedigten Drangens kann allmahlich versch- 
winden, und trotzdem kann dann die aktuelle Gesinnung der Liebe unvermindet 
vorhanden bleiben : Es gibt eben strebungslose, in ihrem Gegenstand befriedigt ruhende 
Liebe, Zuneigung und Freundlichkeit." p. 351. 

[ ISO ] 


with a very brief, momentary thrill of pleasure feeling. The animal 
order, no doubt, far lower than man, exhibits such fleeting moments 
of enjoyment. They may leave behind them little or nothing in the 
way of altered disposition or memory. Now, from this as a lower 
limit, one may ascend through types of pleasure which exhibit an 
increasing stability, permanence, and coherent solidity. "Happiness," 
no doubt, belongs further along in such a series than does "pleasure." 
Happiness certainly connotes greater stability and permanence than 
pleasure does; it signifies an enduring disposition or attitude rather 
than a momentary, felt experience. And there are, of course, varying 
degrees of permanence and of solidity in concrete instances of 
happiness and of satisfaction. Some are more enduring than others, 
some bring into play deeper or more ideal levels and interests of the 
self than do others. All of this is, of course, perfectly familiar and 
commonplace. But here is surely a problem. What, we may inquire, 
is the upper limit of this series? Is the series simply one in which 
nothing is involved save differences in the duration, in the depth, 
in the solidity of what is restricted wholly to the self? Is the series 
one in which the dominant theme is the overcoming of the isolation 
and particularity of impulse, through the emergence of self- 
consciousness, and the idea of a self which is different from any 
mere sum of its feelings and its experiences? It is thus, for instance, 
that Green has so impressively set forth the relation and the con- 
trast between the pleasure which constitutes the satisfaction of an 
impulse, and the well-being which is the satisfaction of the entire 
self. "The objects of a man's various desires," says Green, "form a 
system, connected by memory and anticipation, in which each is 
qualified by the rest; and just as the object of what we reckon a 
single desire derives its unity from the unity of the self-presenting 
consciousness in and for which alone it exists, so the system of a 
man's desires has its bond of union in the single subject, which 
always carries with it the consciousness of objects that have been 
and may be desired into the consciousness of the object which at 
present is being desired. ... It is thus equally important to bear 
in' mind that there is a real unity in all a man's desires, a common 
ground of them all, and that this real unity or common ground is 
simply the man's self, as conscious of itself and consciously seeking 

[ iSi ] 


in the satisfaction of desires the satisfaction of self.'" In this inter- 
pretation of the series in question, the upper limit is the complete 
realization of those desires and capacities which belong to the real 
and the eternal self, to that spiritual principle which is the source 
of all order, coherence, and stabihty. But, let it be noted, the ulti- 
mate good is here defined entirely in terms of the self and its activi- 
ties. Throughout, "the common characteristic of the good is that 
it satisfies some desire."* The position of any particular pleasure 
or satisfaction in the series depends solely upon the area and the 
coherence of the activities of the self which finds satisfaction. There 
is another interpretation of such a series which offers, at least, a 
possible hypothesis, and which is worth considering. It is the 
hypothesis that as one approaches the upper limit of this series of 
satisfactions, the self is more and more participating in an objective 
order, an environing reality which constitutes the good. To expe- 
rience satisfactions which belong to the upper reaches of our series 
is to explore and to discover wider ranges of values which reside 
within tibiat real, objective order. The series runs not merely from 
momentary thrill of pleasure to enduring satisfaction, but from 
happiness and satisfaction as immediate experiences of the self to 
the knowledge and possession of the good, to participation in the 
life and the interests of a real community. Here also does the self 
live in an environment; it is linked to reality and it participates in 
a world of reality. And here, too, is seen once more the necessity of 
recognizing the possibility of apprehending and possessing values, 
as an experience which is not simply an outgrowth of the realization 
of conation and desire." 

Did we accept this hjrpothesis, we could then interpret the life of 
goodnese and morality as the recognition of the objective values 
which the real world contains. The good man is he who lives within 

' "Prolegomena to Ethics," pp. 150-151. 

^ Ibid., p. 201. 

» Cf. the following sentence from Scheler, p. 498 : "Gerade im ruhigen Fiihlen und 
dem vollen gefiihlsmassigen Besitzen eines positiv wertvollen Gutes ist sogar der 
reinste FaU der 'Befriedigung' gegeben, d. h. da, wo alles 'Streben' schweight; auch 
muss nicht notwendig ein Streben vorhergegangen sein damit Befriedigung eintrete." 
Mention may also be made of RashdaU's, "Is Conscience an Emotion," especially the 
£nal chapter entitled Value or Satisfaction. 

[ IS2 ] 


a larger world; he participates in wider ranges of reality, he has 
discovered and appropriated values which simply do not enter into 
the life and experience of those who are less "good." This is the 
Socratic thesis that virtue is insight, knowledge. No doubt there are 
varying degrees of the warmth and intimacy with which real values 
may be apprehended, and it is only when the mind's participation 
in the Good is intimate and vivid that the will is set in motion. 
Nevertheless the response of the will is to significant structures 
and to an objective good in which the mind does participate. Speak- 
ing of lago and the idea that he is a man "of supreme intellect who 
is at the same time supremely wicked," Professor Bradley bids us 
"perceive how miserably close is his intellectual horizon; that such 
a thing as a thought beyond the reaches of his soul has never come 
near him; that he is prosaic through and through, deaf and blind 
to all but a tiny fragment of the meaning of things."^" 

But we have still, I believe, to set forth the most convincing and 
the most significant reason for viewing the objects of our value 
judgments as, in a real sense, objective, and not merely as reflec- 
tions and projections of our own desires and interests. And this 
consideration will also bring to light the actual function which feel- 
ing and conation do play in our recognition of values and in our 
value judgments. For there can, of course, be no doubt that feelings 
of satisfaction or of pleasure or of outgoing conations are always 
in evidence whenever we pronounce an object to be good. We have 
been urging that such an apprehension of worth and, in consequence, 
the good life itself, is cognitive in its innermost nature. We partici- 
pate in objective, significant structures, when we discover and 
appropriate something which is really of value. Such an experience 
of recognizing and of participating in something objective may be 
akin to desire and striving or contemplation and love. But in any 
entrance of values into our experience, feeling of some sort is 
aroused. There is, then, this difference between our theoretical judg- 
ments and our value judgments. Both are, or may be, cognitive. 
But whereas in a theoretical judgment feelings need not be impli- 
cated, in our value judgments something in the way of feeling always 
is involved. It is the detailed analysis of the feelings and emotions 

1° A. C. Bradley : "Shakespearean Tragedy," p. 236. 

[ 153 ] 


which are invariably present whenever we approve and disapprove, 
which constitutes the distinctive achievement of recent social 
psychology and of anthropology, of the work of McDougall and 
of Westermarck. It is pointed out that not only of our approvals 
and disapprovals but of all our activity as well, is some feeling, some 
emotion, the stimulus and the source. For feeling and emotion, when 
used in a large sense, are thought of as concomitants and functions 
of instinct. Instinctive behavior and a distinct complex of feelings 
and emotions are invariably linked together. These lie at the basis 
not only of our value judgments but of our entire practical be- 
havior. "Take away these instinctive dispositions with their power- 
ful impulses, and the organism would become incapable of activity 
of any kind; it would lie inert and motionless like a wonderful 
clock work whose main spring had been removed or a steam-engine 
whose fires had been drawn. These impulses are the mental forces 
that maintain and shape all the life of individuals and societies, 
and in them we are confronted with the central mystery of life and 
mind and will."" 

We yield a hearty assent to the thesis that emotion and feeling, 
desire and interest, play an indispensable role in our value judg- 
ments. We shall, however, bring to bear upon this thesis the dis- 
tinction which has already met our attention and which will here 
prove to be of decisive importance. It is the distinction between 
stimulus and object. And what we shall proceed to maintain is that 
feeling is both the necessary stimulus and the vehicle of our value 
judgments, but neither their object nor, in a certain sense, their 
source. In order to set forth the larger implications and backgroxmd 
of this thesis, we may correlate it with another thesis, which is to be 
dealt with in the following chapter. We shall there maintain the view 
that, with reference to the relation between knowledge and behavior, 
the mind and the brain, our knowledge is not an instrument of our 
behavior, nor is it generated by behavior, but that there is never- 
theless a functional correspondence between knowledge and be- 
havior. Or, if we are to speak of mind and brain, we shall point 
out that here, too, processes occurring within the brain (a matter 
of bodily behavior) have a great deal to do with the contents of 

11 McDougall : "Sodal Psychology," p. 44. 

[ 154 ] 


our consciousness (a matter of knowledge). But it by no means 
follows that brain processes generate consciousness, or that bodily 
behavior is literally identical with what we have traditionally 
spoken of as consciousness. The mutual correlation between brain 
processes and states of consciousness, or between behavior and 
knowledge, is equally compatible with another hypothesis, the 
hypothesis, namely, that the brain is an organ of selection and not 
of creation (of consciousness), that there is no access to my mind 
save though my brain, and that what my brain is now doing and 
how my body is now behaving determine what is going on in my 
mind and what I am now attentive to and what I know. But these 
latter are determined only in the sense that they are selected, not 
in the sense that they are thus generated. Brain process and bodily 
behavior are the necessary vehicle through which the stimulus 
must pass, but they are not thereby the proper objects of the mind's 
knowledge or attention. Likewise, here, we shall agree that the only 
avenue through which the good may enter into our experience is the 
avenue of feeling and desire, but here also it by no means follows 
that feeling and desire create the idea of the good, nor does it follow 
that our value judgments have no true object other than the feeling 
which generates them or that which is tie shadowy projection of 
our own desires. 

A passage from Hume will furnish us here with our point of 
departure. "But can there be any difficulty in proving, that vice and 
virtue are not matters of fact (i.e., objective) whose existence we 
can infer by reason? Take any action allow'd to be vicious: Willful 
murder, for instance. Examine it in all lights, and see if you can 
find that matter of fact, or real existence, which you call vice. 
In whichever way you take it, you find only certain passions, 
motives, volitions and thoughts. There is no other matter of fact in 
the case. The vice entirely escapes you, as long as you consider the 
object. You never can find it, till you turn your reflection into your 
own breast, and find a sentiment of disapprobation, which arises 
in you, towards this action. Here is a matter of fact; but 'tis the 
object of feeling, not of reason. It lies in yourself, not in the object. 
So that when you pronounce any action or character to be vicious, 
you mean nothing, but that from the constitution of your nature, 

[ iSS ] 


you have a feeling or sentiment of blame from the contemplation 
of it. Vice and virtue, therefore, may be compar'd to sounds, 
colours, heat and cold, which, according to modern philosophy, are 
not qualities in objects, but perceptions in the mind.'"^ 

Is it not clear that this passage exhibits a failure to discriminate 
between the object of our moral disapproval, and the stimulus, i.e., 
the moving force, the emotion, which does excite the moral judg- 
ment? And is it not also clear that this is quite on a par with the 
similar confusion in our theoretical judgments, in the region of 
sense perception and our knowledge of reality, which leads there 
to immediacy and to subjective idealism? Let us briefly review the 
nature of that confusion, and observe the analogy between the two 
situations. I perceive yonder tree. Obviously the reason which leads 
me to make this judgment, and the inciting cause of my knowledge 
is the fact that I actually have in my conscious experience a complex 
of sensations and feelings of attention, etc., which in their totality 
the psychologist calls a perception. Or, if we chose to describe the 
inciting cause, the stimulus, of my knowledge that yonder is a tree, 
in physical and physiological terms, we point, of course, to the 
excitement of the retina by light waves and the propagation of that 
excitement along sensory nerves to the brain. But neither the con- 
scious perception, nor the brain process, is the object of our knowl- 
edge, the thing perceived. They are, rather, the stimulus, the 
vehicle, of our knowledge. Yet it is unquestionably true that the 
persistent confusion between object and stimulus is, in the last 
analysis, the chief source of subjectivism. If it be asked by what 
right we insist upon distinguishing them, the answer, I conceive, 
might be somewhat as follows. There are certainly some instances 
of knowledge in which object and stimulus cannot possibly coincide. 
They cannot coincide whenever something inert, abstract, remote, 
or non-existent is the object of our knowledge. Whoever makes an 
assertion about a past event is speaking of something which simply 
cannot be the inciting cause, the stimulus of his assertion and his 
knowledge. A past event no longer exists, it has lost its efficacious- 
ness and its capacity to act as a stimulus. A "pure" instrumentalist 
or behaviorist will care nothing for the past, because the past as 

12 "Treatise," Book 3, Part i, Section i. 

[ 156 ] 


such can never be a stimulus to which the behavior of the organism 
must respond. It accords wholly with this when Dewey remarks 
that "to isolate the past, dwelling upon it for its own sake and 
giving it the eulogistic name of knowledge, is to substitute the 
reminiscence of old age for effective intelligence."" But if the past 
is in no way "practically" efficacious, unable to act as a stimulus, 
no more so, it would appear, can the future be. At the present 
moment the future seems to be as non-existent as the past and of 
course whatever literally incites and calls into existence knowledge 
must itself exist. And the same must hold good of abstract and ideal 
objects, of assumptions, of non-physical relationships, of universals, 
unless indeed we are willing to ally ourselves unreservedly with the 
extreme tradition of nominalism and affirm that all such supposed 
objects of knowledge are mere names, mere "sounds of the voice." 
And yet, that all of these are mere names is itself something of an 
abstract, ideal and universal proposition which can hardly be as 
efficacious a stimulus to bodily behavior as, say, a blow upon the 
head. And certainly the non-existent, the class which contains no 
members, is an important object of our knowledge. Negative propo- 
sitions, and indeed universal propositions, affirming as they do the 
non-existence of some portion of the universe of discourse, enter 
into every region of our knowledge. They are inescapable. To doubt 
and question them and to deny them is not possible save as we 
affirm and imply at least some universal and ideal relations which 
cannot possibly coalesce with items which are fit to serve as literal 
stimuli. The conclusion is inevitable, then, that there are at least 
some objects of knowledge which are not stimuli inciting in our 
minds the existence of that knowledge. This conclusion would, I 
think, lead one to wonder whether in the case of present physical 
objects which do act as a stimulus to our sense organs and our reflex 
arc structures, that aspect of the thing which is the stimulus is also 
the object of our knowledge. It is demonstrable, I believe, that the 
object of knowledge is always something more complex and more 
ideal tha,n any mere hererand-now item, which is the stimulus either 
of our behavior or of our knowledge. Plato's "Theaetetus," 

18 In "Creative Intelligence," p. 14. 

[. 157 ] 


Spinoza's "Ethics" and Hegel's "Phenomenology" furnish a sufficient 
demonstration of this thesis. 

Let us come back now to our value judgments, our approvals and 
disapprovals, our desires and our strivings. There is that within 
our experience which is ultimately rooted in our instincts, some- 
thing of the nature of feeling and emotion, which is indeed invariably 
present in all such practical attitudes. The Moral Sense theories of 
the eighteenth century, best represented by Hume, were utterly 
right in insisting as against the rigid intellectuals, upon this out- 
standing circumstance. The social and the anthropological, above 
all, the evolutionary aspect of the moral sense, of the emotional 
feelings of blame and praise, liking and disliking, desire and aver- 
sion, they could, of course, not adequately have seen. But having 
discovered this region of feeling, they err in supposing that it is the 
real object of our moral praise and blame, in inferring that "when 
you pronounce any action or character to be vicious, you mean 
nothing, but that from the constitution of your natvu-e you have a 
feeling or sentiment of blame from the contemplation of it." They 
commit essentially the same fallacy as those who infer that the 
pleasure, the felt satisfaction, through which the object of desire, 
the good, announces itself to our experience, is itself the object of 
our interest and our desire. The Moral Sense writers had succeeded, 
for the most part, in breaking with the fallacy of psychological 
hedonism. They confused, however, the feeling of approval with the 
object of approval. They had not been schooled in the Platonic — 
and idealistic— tradition which bids us see in the felt immediacies 
of experience, the vehicles and the illustrations of the true objects 
of our knowledge and our love, the realm of Ideas culminating in 
the Idea of the Good. 

Our conclusion, then, is that the feelings of 'moral sense' are the 
representatives wittin experience of those moral qualities which 
constitute the objects of our ethical judgments. Such feelings are 
also the inciting stimuli of these judgments. These feelings have 
very much the same relations to the objective region of the good, 
that our perceptions, as conscious contents, have to the objects 
which they intend and mean. Such feelings, when they are the 
stimuli of our judgments, possess just that act character, that 

[ iS8 ] 


quality of intending something other than themselves upon which 
an earlier chapter has laid stress. Feeling, as such, is not neces- 
sarily debarred from being cognitive in its nature; it too may and 
does, in certain of its reaches, participate in that which is real. 

Thus far we have been concerned with setting forth some reasons 
for holding that values possess objectivity, and that they need not 
be shadowy projections of, or mere names for, feeling and desires. 
But, to halt the argument here would be to leave values suspended 
in a void. One comes away, I think, from the study of many writers 
who defend the undefinable and objective nature of the good, with 
a feeling that it is all abstract and remote. After all, the hedonists 
and the nominalists and the Moral Sense writers have had before 
them the actual stuff of experience as it is lived. Better that, one 
says, than a ghostly and shadowy good, a realm of values distinct 
from the felt immediacies of life. But is it a fair and an exhaustive 
alternative, to bid us choose between the definition of the good in 
terms of pleasure or of desire, and the realism of Russell and of 
Moore? I shall contend that it is not, and that there is still another 
possibility. That possibility I shall now outline briefly, leaving to 
our later chapters the task of filling it in and giving it thickness 
and concreteness. What we are now to set forth, together with its 
implications, constitutes as well the heart of idealism in the proper 
sense of that term. We shall here state two theses which supplement 
each other and which are, in principle, applicable to the entire range 
of the mind's recognition of values. We shall be dealing then not 
only with the values which accrue to goodness but to knowledge 
as well. 

The first thesis is a statement of what lies at the basis of the views 
which we have been criticizing throughout, and especially in this 
chapter. Experience is indeed through and through pervaded by 
activity, by choice and discrimination, desire and striving. Expe- 
rience is no mere presence in the mind of certain contents of con- 
sciousness; it everywhere exhibits conation and activity. We wish 
then to lay stress upon this aspect of our life and our experience 
which theories of voluntarism and instrumentalism seize upon in 
varying fashion and make central in their psychology, ethics, and 

[ IS9 ] 


metaphysics. Let us at once observe how many provinces of our life 
there are which exhibit such activity and conation, the unwillingness 
merely to accept our world as a given data, but the desire to fashion 
it and control it to some purpose. Let us view these varjdng prov- 
inces as illustrations of lie following thesis: The mind endlessly 
strives to reconstruct its world, so that its world may be greeted as, 
in some sense, a reflection of itself, an answer to its questions, an 
expression of its meanings and purposes. Only in an order which 
does thus respond to its own requirements is the mind willing to 

First, then, there is democracy, not as a bare form of government, 
but as a spiritual impulse bidding man not to content himself with 
any political order imposed upon him, but actively to construct that 
order so that it does respond to his own nature. Only such an order 
is one fit for man to live in. But, secondly, may we not see in the 
very nature of our social experience and our recognition of our 
fellow men an illustration and a confirmation of this thesis? Our 
social environment is no bare complex of facts, of neutral entities 
thrust upon us willy-nilly, for our compulsory acceptance. Recog- 
nition, s)mipathy, mutual response and understanding, these are 
none of them terms which can apply merely to what we find, to 
what confronts us, with complete indifference as to its inner nature. 
We learn, indeed, the meaning of these terms in our social experience 
where soul greets soul and recognizes a genuine Other, sharing with 
himself common interests and a common nature. 

And, thirdly, what of external nature? Are we willing to avow 
that really to know her is merely to classify our perceptual expe- 
riences and to describe the regularity of their sequences? If so, we 
completely shut ourselves off from two significant interests, and it 
is well that we should realize the possibility of such loss. We would, 
in the first place, cut ourselves off from all those deeper experiences 
of our race, expressed in its art and its poetry, its mythology and its 
religion, and which find in nature that which responds to some of 
the persistent needs of the human spirit, and which lets us view 
our relations to nature in essentially social terms. And we would, 
in the second place, remove from us the exact sciences which seek 
to discover in nature the embodiment and the illustration of law 

[ i6o ] 


and order, of reason and thought. For, be it noted, neither the hidden 
meaning which nature reveals to the poet's imagination and insight, 
nor the precise mathematical relationships which she reveals to the 
physicist are facts which confront us and which we literally find. 
We search for them, and finding them, we acquiesce and delight 
in them, we recognize them as real because, in the last analysis, they 
greet us as the embodiments of our own meanings, and with them 
and with the nature which is built up around them, we may and we 
do have fellowship. 

Fourthly, there may be cited the wide range of facts and situa- 
tions which arise from the basic principle that wherever there is a 
living structure, there is an interest which seeks to sustain itself 
over against its world. Introduce an organism into any world and 
at once the objects in that world are dichotomized. Some objects 
there are which belong to the animal's actual environment and 
which are reckoned with and responded to by the organism. All 
other objects simply do not enter into the real environment of the 
organism. And, too, out of the objects which are practically recog- 
nized and reckoned with, the organism is constantly discriminating 
some which are particularly important, as food, enemies, etc. These 
are commonplaces of biology and, since James at any rate, of 
psychology. For the mind selects and discriminates no less than does 
the bodily organism. And in its very selection, its attention, it makes 
over the raw material of sensations into the more or less coherent 
and familiar objects of perception. Again, of course, these are 
commonplaces of psychology. They deserve, however, to find a place 
here in the summary list of ways in which the active and transform- 
ing life of the mind manifests itself. It is but an extension of this 
basic biological fact that any living structure has, or better, is, an 
organized mass of interests which it strives to assert and to sustain, 
and it is only a development of this fact which leads to the theories 
which have been before us throughout our discussion. Impulse, 
instinct, and desire are but so many channels through which the 
interests and the life of organisms do maintain themselves. Why 
not, then, say that value everywhere is but the satisfaction which 
accrues to the organism in the maintenance of its interests and in 

[ i6i ] 


the successful pursuit of its desires? Our second thesis will complete 
our reply to this question. 

Meanwhile, and finally, there is that in the philosophy of Kant 
which I would cite here and place alongside of these various in- 
stances of the activity of the mind or the self. Kant is the first 
philosopher definitely to break with the "copy theory" of knowl- 
edge. What this signifies is that, for Kant, knowledge is something 
profoundly different from that which it was in the entire previous 
tradition of philosophy, going back to Plato and Aristotle. For Kant, 
the mind is no longer a mirror of reality; it is rather a region in 
which there occurs an endless activity, a process of reconstruction 
and arrangement in which certain data are ordered in accordance 
with certain norms or standards. The object of knowledge, for 
science and for practical life, is the rule or principle which deter- 
mines how the manifold of sensation ought to be set in order.^* 

When you generalize this insight you will have nothing less than 
a philosophical statement of what the modern man, vastly more 
than the medieval or the Greek, has actually undertaken to do. He 
has been unwilling to accept his world as something given. He seeks 
everywhere to organize, control, and fashion it. This is autonomy, 
and this is democracy as well. This is why Kant is so preeminently 
the philosopher of the modern age. Because he happens not to use 
the language of biology, because he is dealing not with the behavior 
of the physical organism as it seeks to use its environment in the 
maintenance of its interests, but with the activity of the self, as it 
seeks to fashion its world, in knowledge, in history and society, in 
art and in religion, — all of this is no reason for counting him old- 
fashioned and reactionary or a mere bj^ath in the development of 
modern thought. I propose to call this entire motive, some of whose 
forms we have been so hastily viewing, the Kantian element in our 
experience. The thesis that the self seeks to order and to interpret 
its world so as to find therein that which responds to its own nature 
and interests, we shall call the Kantian thesis in the structure of 
idealism. It is this insight which is indeed hinted at, but falsified 
and blurred in the Berkeleyan doctrine that "to be real mearis to be 

i*The briefest and most convincing statement of this interpretation of the signifi- 
cance of Kant's theory of knowledge is the Essay on Kant in Windelband's "Praludien." 

[ 162 ] 


perceived." But there is another insight which enters into the fabric 
of idealism. It is an insight which, in our life and our practice, our 
social structures and our interests, seems almost forgotten. I shall 
call it the Platonic insight and thesis. If the Kantian insight sums 
up a world of activity and of democracy, that of Plato connotes 
stability, possession, certainty. Let us here state the thesis simply 
as an hypothesis, and as an hypothesis which is to interpret and to 
render intelligible what we have just been describing, i.e., the 
mind's activity upon and reconstruction of the data presented by 
experience. This activity, whether stated in terms of democracy, or 
of the exact sciences, of individual and national expansion and self- 
consciousness, of voluntarism and behaviorism, of release of desire 
and instinct or of the primacy of the will, — in whatever language it 
is set forth, it is the outstanding characteristic of the modern age 
when compared with the medieval world or with antiquity. Let us 
frankly accept it, but let us ask the question, what makes if possible, 
what shall interpret it, what shall make it intelligible? And, in asking 
this question, let us by all means keep in mind the very wide range of 
activity which is here in question. It is not only the behavior of the 
bodily organism, but the deeds of active selves and communities in 
history and in civilization which furnish us with our problem; most 
of the deposits left behind by the mind's activity are such as wholly 
to escape the observations of the biologist and the behaviorist. The 
h3^othesis, then, is this: Unless the mind were really in possession 
of something final and real, unless the knowledge of that which might 
serve it as a norm and a reality belonged intrinsically to its own 
nature, nothing of that persistent activity of the mind and of selves 
which the life of reason exhibits, would, as a matter of fact and of 
history, exist. Were there no unoriginated knowledge, the possession 
of which is a function of intelligence itself, the "mind" would be 
solely the deposit and the echo of prior matter-of-fact processes; 
there would be no knowledge at all, and no autonomous values. And 
there would be no such striving of the mind to build up, to verify and 
to greet, in experience and in nature, an order which responds to its 
own life and its own interests. This, then, is our hypothesis. We have 
called it the Platonic insight, and it is certainly a half of the tradition 
of idealism, if this term is to be used with any historic justice. 

[ 163 ] 


We may conclude this chapter by presentmg, in outline, a very 
formal argument which may indicate something of the meaning of 
this Platonic thesis, and which shall" relate it to our question of the 
objectivity of values. An earUer chapter, in criticizing the Berkeleyan 
thesis, set forth a number of grounds for asserting that there is a 
difference between being immediately experienced and being known 
to be real. It follows that the mind which knows that something is 
real or, in other words, the mind which really knows, must possess 
some knowledge of reality, must know what "to be real" means, and 
that this knowledge cannot itself be derived from experience. Or, 
stating it in other words, experienced objects announce themselves 
to the mind. They need no introduction and no credentials in order 
to pass for experienced entities. Not so with real entities. They can- 
not simply announce themselves precisely because only some "I am 
here" of present experience can announce itself, and present experi- 
ence simply is not the same as object known to be real. And once 
more, this judgment which has reality for its object, this acquaintance 
with the nature of reality, cannot by any possible device, be regarded 
as the fruit of experience. For just that experience must have been 
trusted as something real, or capable of yielding a knowledge 
of reality, and this in turn implies a prior knowledge of what "to be 
real" means. As an illustration of this situation I shall cite what 
Royce has called the Religious Paradox, or the Paradox of Revela- 
tion. It has, however, as he well insists, a very universal meaning for 
the life of reason and of knowledge everywhere. One of the early 
problems which theology had to face was that of the relation between 
knowledge given by revelation, and such other knowledge,, if any, 
which the human mind possessed in its own right, or at least inde- 
pendently of any revelation. The problem is one which is analogous 
to the problem concerning the relation between knowledge conveyed 
by experience, and such other knowledge, if any, which the mind 
may possess in its own right, or at least independently of experience. 
Now in the case of revelation it became apparent to the clearest 
minded of the Christian theologians that revelation is not, by itself, 
sufficient to account for, or to justify such knowledge as was com- 
monly ascribed to it. I do not refer to the fact that these theologians 
recognized that experience and reason, could, of themselves, furnish 

[ 164 ] 


the mind with some truths, and hence admitted them alongside of 
revelation as sources of real knowledge. The problem lies deeper than 
that. It lies in the fact that merely having a revelation, as so much 
present experience, is not identical with the knowledge that that reve- 
lation is from God, and is therefore valid. Of any supposed revela- 
tion, I can always ask, by wjiat marks do I recognize that this is a 
valid revelation, that it is genuinely from God? I must know what a 
valid revelation, i.e., one from God, would be like, before I can know 
that any actual experience really is a valid revelation, and that 
knowledge cannot possibly have been gained through revelation, 
because the same question would recur concerning its validity, and so 
on for each prior revelation. No, in the language of Professor Royce, 
the mind must first know God's autograph, before it can know that a 
revelation is valid, and that knowledge cannot have been gained 
through revelation. "Every acceptance of a revelation depends upon 
something that, in the individual's mind, must be prior to this accept- 
ance."^° One sees here that the whole point lies in observing the differ- 
ence between having a revelation, as so much content of conscious- 
ness in one's mind, and knowing that it is a true, a valid, revelation. 
Substitute in this illustration the word "experience," for the word 
"revelation," and you have precisely the situation which genuine 
idealism has seen and whose lesson it has sought to learn. 

A precisely analogous statement is to be made in the region of 
Ethics, and in relation to the mind's knowledge of the good. In the 
world of conduct, that which corresponds to immediacy, to experi- 
ence in the world of knowledge, is desire. Desire, felt activity, want, 
these are all experienced feelings. Is there any difference between 
that which is good, and that which is desired? Or, to call anything 
good, is not that simply a name for the experienced fact that I, either 
my apparent or my true self, desire something? Now idealism in 
Ethics, or what is often called the self-realization theory, has usually 
beeA supposed to say just this, to say with Hume, that actions are 
good because we approve of them, and we do not approve of them 
because they are good. Only, idealism has insisted that it must be the 
real, the standard self which does the approving. If such idealism 
had only said that it must be the good self which does the approving, 

15 "The Sources of Religious Insight," p. 23. 

[ 16S ] 


it would have seen the circularity of its statement. The fact is, once 
more, there is a difference between psychological, experienced desire, 
and the recognition that the object of desire is good. And, imless the 
mind knows what "good" means, independently of desire, it cannot 
say that an experienced desire is or is not good, just as the mind can- 
not say that an experience is real unless it first knows what reality 
is, and just as no revelation can be a real revelation, tmless the mind 
first knows the essential characteristics of a valid revelation. 

This Platonic insight, then, claims for the life of Reason an ulti- 
mate and indisputable metaphysical possession. There is here, I am 
convinced, a veritable ontological argument for the mind's knowledge 
of reality which no criticism can dislodge. For criticism of arguments, 
like the criticism of experience as real or unreal, itself presupposes 
something on which it stands, some prior acquaintance with Reality. 
The Platonic principle thus expresses a sense of givenness, of living 
and knowing in a world not empty, not devoid of all but our own 
activity. There is a greeting of Reality in our knowledge and our 
living, our desiring and our striving, not any mere acquiescence in 
the data of experience. This Platonic insight is to be seized upon, 
made concrete, and put to work in our modern thought and life. For, 
in the end, we must learn that a reality defined wholly in terms of 
creative activity, in terms of the release of impulse and the satisfac- 
tion of desire, is empty and hollow. A world which is only the setting 
for our own activity, whether wayward and capricious as conceived 
by romanticism, or stern and heroic such as a Fichte demanded, is 
no real world. All significant activity presupposes a real world to 
seize upon, to interpret, to participate in and to make one's own. Yet, 
if we only retain such a Platonic motive, imcorrected by the cumula- 
tive experiences and needs of the modern world, how inadequately 
will we define that reality, the contemplation and knowledge of 
which is the inherent nature of intelligence. If we neglect our first 
thesis, we will do as the more reflective and profound realisms have 
done, define reality not in terms of experience, but in terms of uni- 
versals, having being or validity, and wholly independent of our 
activity and our knowing. Such realisms have sprung up as an inevi- 
table and salutary correction of the romanticisms, tiie pseudo-ideal- 
isms and the philosophies of sheer activity, which modern thought, 

[ i66 ] 


especially in the last century, has witnessed. Our first thesis, the 
Kantian ingredient of idealism, tells us that neither reality nor 
experience is merely enjoyed and contemplated from a distance. 
It tells us that reason, that mind, is not an empty spectator of truths 
and entities, the locus in which things happen to get known together. 
It points out that experience is not merely a possession, but is an 
activity, a searching for self-completion and self-possession. It points 
out that if the world of history, of the partial achievement of knowl- 
edge, of justice, of social, moral, and religious ends, — that if this 
world is real and significant, it can only be because these various 
things fulfill the wants and express the interests of minds. Minds do 
not merely survey the on-goings of history; they make history, and 
in so doing they live their own lives. 

Thus it is that each of these two principles is necessary. The real 
world is both that which we find and appropriate, which environs us 
and our activity, but the real world is also, not something whose 
nature it is just to be independent of our activity and our experience. 
It is continuous with our ways of knowing, it expresses meanings 
which we understand because they are ours. Not otherwise could 
our world possess meaning, or intelligibility, or reality. But this is 
all, as yet, utterly formal and abstract. It need not remain so, how- 
ever, and our remaining chapters will be devoted to a study of certain 
regions in which the fusion of these two insights and " doctrines is 
definite and concrete. 

[ 167 ] 



TIE view, briefly stated in the preceding chapter, that 
the mind does possess in its own right a knowledge of 
reality, that such participation in an objective, signifi- 
cant order is a function of its own nature, this view is 
not as strange as may at first appear. One reason why 
it may strike us as paradoxical is that we have accustomed ourselves 
to accept uncritically a certain assumption. Whenever we confront 
anything complex, anything which exists "high up" or far along in 
an evolutionary series, we tend to suppose that all of the properties 
and functions which attach to the complex structure as a whole must 
be themselves derivative, compounded of the properties and func- 
tions of more elementary units, and, in a sense, artificial and unreal. 
Thus it is that we say, since the sense of duty and obligation is some- 
thing which does manifestly have a history, since it is built up on the 
basis of a more elementary susceptibility to pleasure and pain, that 
therefore all of its characteristics, over and above its pleasure-pain 
aspects, are problematic and derived. None of the distinctive quali- 
ties of conscience as such, so we suppose, can be unique, belonging 
to conscience itself rather than to tiie earlier and more elementary 
things which preceded conscience. It is as if one should say that 
since calculus must be preceded by algebra and analytic geometry 
or some more elementary mathematics, therefore calculus cannot 
possess any characteristics which belong uniquely to it and are 
not merely further prolongations and elaborations of the concepts 
and truths which belong to arithmetic. We might speak of the fallacy 
here in question as the fallacy of undue simplification. And this 
fallacy has one consequence to which attention may here be called. 

[ 169 ] 


Under the influence of this fallacy, we are constantly led to suppose 
that exercise of the characteristic functions of any entity is the prob- 
lem to be explained, while a lapse from or a cessation of such normal 
functions is the expected thing and requires no explanation. An illus- 
tration from another field will make this clearer, and I take the illus- 
tration from a scientist who surely suffers from no bias in the direc- 
tion of mysticism or idealism. We constantly tend to think and to 
speak as if the life of organisms were the mysterious thing, the thing 
requiring explanation, and as if the death of organisms were the 
natural and the expected thing. It is with reference to this prejudice 
that Loeb writes (and I quote the passage at some length) : "The 
idea that the body cells are naturally immortal and die only if 
exposed to extreme injuries such as prolonged lack of oxygen or too 
high a temperature helps to make our problem more intelligible. The 
medical student, who for the first time realizes that life depends upon 
that one organ, the heart, doing its duty incessantly for the seventy 
years or so allotted to man, is amazed at the precariousness of our 
existence. It seems indeed uncanny that so delicate a mechanism 
should function so regularly for so many years. The mysticism con- 
nected with this and other phenomena of adaptation would tend to 
disappear if we could be certain that all cells are really immortal and 
that the fact which demands an explanation is not the continued 
activity but the cessation of activity in death. Thus we see that the 
idea of the immortality of the body cell, if it can be generalized, may 
be destined to become one of the main supports for a complete 
physico-chemical analysis of life phenomena since it makes the dura- 
bility of organisms intelligible."^ 

Many questions arise as to the significance of the conception which 
is here set forth. Of interest to us here are the possibilities which it 
suggests when carried over from the conception of life to the concep- 
tion of mind. Seen in this light, the problematic and mysterious thing 
is not that knowledge should exist, but that the mind should exhibit 
the limitations and restrictions which experience shows it to possess. 
Such a general conception of the life and function of consciousness 
receives an added significance when we come to realize that the life 
of the mind cannot be thought of simply as a prolongation of the life 

iLoeb: "The Organism as a Whole," p. 32. 

[ 170 ] 


and interests of the body. For, when we bring home to our reflection 
and our imagination the undoubted truth that the brain is solely an 
instrument of action and of behavior, of the adaptation of response 
to stimulus, we see that, in the last analysis, but two alternatives con- 
front us. Either "knowledge" is merely an incident in the processes 
of behavior and adaptation, or else the brain does not generate, in 
any real sense whatever, the life of mind and of knowledge. The brain 
and the bodily behavior which it controls will be (in the latter case) 
but a principle of selection and of limitation, not creating the fact 
that knowledge exists, but determining, in part, which, among all the 
real objects of knowledge, are the ones which shall at the moment 
come before the mind. Readers of Bergson will see the similarity 
between the thesis here set forth and the course of the argument in 
"Matiere et Memoire."^ 

But the question persists, are we confident that the first of the two 
alternatives is really to be excluded? Is not knowledge, in the end, to 
be assimilated to behavior and to adaptation, so that all the inter- 
ests of life which are really pertinent to our world and to our needs, 
are such as have to do with the control of our environment for the 
satisfaction of our desires? I propose in this chapter to consider this 
question by turning to some of life's major interests and seeing the 
part there played by behavior or adaptation on the one hand, and 
by knowledge, contemplation, or possession on the other. We shall 
observe certain limitations upon those attitudes and interests which 

2 Professor N. K. Smith has done a service in reminding us of the kinship between 
Bergson and Avenarius in holding that "the brain is in no sense the seat or organ of 
conscious life, that its function is purely motor and never cognitive." Nevertheless, 
there is for Avenarius a fundamental parallelism between the vital, organic series and 
the conscious series. And this parallelism tends to be stressed not only in respect to 
the structure of the two series, but in respect to their function as well. The result is 
that Avenarius approximates to the first of the two alternative views above mentioned. 
What you can say about the brain, that you can also say, substantially, about con- 
sciousness. One has only to give up the artificial and puzzling parallelism of Avenarius 
to reach the full-fledged realism and behaviorism of Mach and the others. Speaking 
further of Bergson, Professor Smith continues: "Bergson's problem isn't to account 
for consciousness. By right it is knowledge of true, independent reality, really it is 
limited, permeated with illusion, and largely personal. True knowledge consists in 
emancipation from the tyranny of practical needs." "Subjectivism and Realism in 
Modem Philosophy," Philosophical Review, 1908. 

[ 171 ] 


may be called pragmatic, and which the philosophies which are the 
outgrowth of biological concepts have so insistently stressed. There 
will pass before us in review a number of regions in our experience 
which simply cannot be interpreted in terms of stimulus and re- 
sponse, activity and control. This chapter will be just to this extent 
a critique of instrumentalism. 

I shall cite first an aspect of our world which is utterly pervasive 
and which has ever impressed itself upon men's imaginations. I mean 
the tragic aspect of experience and of life. Now, wherever there is 
tragedy there is always one salient feature of the situation which we 
do well to reflect upon in trpng to estimate the comprehensiveness 
and the adequacy of the pragmatic concepts. In any situation which 
is tragic there are forces at work over which man has no control 
whatever, and no possibility of any control. The spectator — and for 
that matter the participant also — is provided with no clew, no stimu- 
lus, which is able to initiate a response, a behavior series, able to 
relieve the situation and solve the problems. This is of course not the 
whole of the tragic situation, but it is one aspect of it. In the words 
of Bradley, "That men may start a course of events but can neither 
calculate nor control it, is a tragic fact."* It is the inevitable yet 
uncontrollable consequences of men's free deeds, of their initiative 
and their behavior itself which is here in question.* Now the tragic 
fact conceals what may appear to be a paradox. It presents us with 
suffering, with conflict, with baffling circumstances. In most, perhaps 
all, other instances where we find such things, they come to us as 
stimuli calling for some adaptive behavior. We seek to remove the 
difficulty, to heal the suffering, and to restore the untroubled func- 
tioning of life's interests once again. But this is precisely what cannot 
be done in the presence of tragedy. Here we are helpless ; there is no 
transition from the stimulus to the particular response which will 
"adapt the organism to the requirements of its environment." Prag- 
matism has here nothing whatever to say. And yet — this is the para- 

8 "Shakespearean Tragedy," p. 15. 

* Cf. Simmel: "Moralwissenschaft," vol. 2, p. 183. "Unserer Freiheit entfesselt Krafte 
iiber die sie nicht mehr Herr ist, sie ruft Geister die sie nicht mehr los ist." T. H. 
Green also speaks of "the tragic conflict between the creative will of man and the 
hidden wisdom of the world." "Works," vol. 3, p. 278. 

[ 172 ] 


dox — ^we certainly do not, in the best and deepest moments of our 
experience, judge the tragic situation to be merely a baffling and 
unknown x, a world of forces which is quite beyond all apprehension 
and which is wholly without significance. We do not say, since all 
adaptive and useful behavior is here out of the question that there- 
fore there is nothing to do save to turn our faces away in sheer des- 
peration. This is what we ought to do if the significance which objects 
possess were merely a function of their ability to satisfy our needs, 
solve our particular problems, initiate a useful adaptation. It is far 
more true to say, again with Bradley, that "the representation of 
(tragedy) does not leave us crushed, rebellious or desperate." We 
find in the total tragic complex a source of meaning; we may even 
say that not willingly would we lose from our world just this wealth 
of meaning which inheres in the tragic situation. In the routine of 
experience as pictured by the instrumentalist and behaviorist, in 
the cycle leading from the problem yielding the stimulus to the 
response furnishing the solution of the problem, there is no place for 
tragedy. Here is a non-pragmatic interest and attitude, because it 
falls completely outside of those concepts in terms of which instru- 
mentalism, following the lead of biology, does its thinking. 

I turn abruptly to another field. The metaphysical problem of 
time, it has often been pointed out, exhibits certain analogies with 
certain problems arising from the analysis of typical attitudes within 
our experience. We observed something of this in the preceding 
chapter when we were pointing out how small is the range of possible 
stimuli to behavior when compared with the range of possible 
objects of knowledge. The past cannot interest us practically as, say, 
either the present or the future. Just as the past can never be a genu- 
ine stimulus because it is no longer "real," so it is not subject to any 
"control." It is irrevocable and unalterable. In this respect it is 
similar to the tragic fact, and like tragedy it quite escapes the accred- 
ited rubric and sanction of pragmatism. But it is not so much this 
aspect of the time order which I wish to stress here. It is rather the 
relation in which customarily and certainly under the influence of 
pragmatic habits of thought we view the relation between past, 
present, and future. Considered exclusively in its pragmatic and 

[ 173 ] 


instrumental significance, every object in the environment which is 
perceived and attended to is a signal for some appropriate response. 
It is but the beginning of a reflex arc. Knowledge and reflection are 
instruments of action and behavior. Now it is not at all strange that 
this relationship between stimulus and behavior should be carried 
over to the relationship between succeeding intervals of time, in such 
fashion that any moment or period of time may be said to be simply 
a signal and a preparation for some following moment of time. Of 
any such definite period of time, then, it will be said that its value 
lies not at all in itself, but wholly in that for which it is but a prepa- 
ration and, as it were, a stimulus. Let us see the way in which this 
works out in certain familiar regions and concepts. It enters, for 
instance, into the meaning of the concept "progress." We tend to 
think of the past as inevitably preparing the way for the present, and 
so we suppose that the present is a solution of the problems and 
difficulties which the past contained, and that the future will solve 
our problems. Just so, the response which follows the stimulus is 
thought of as a solution of the problem offered by the situation 
implied by the stimulus. But the response proves, in its turn, to 
develop into another problem just as the present which follows upon 
the past is in turn followed by the future. There is no resting place 
and there is no intrinsic meaning or value possessed by any one 
period of time in its own right. And consequently there is some- 
thing problematic and perhaps hollow about the very notion of 
progress. If each moment of history is merely a preparation for 
what follows then no moment of history has any intrinsic value. 
But in this case there is no progress; every moment of time is pre- 
cisely on a level with every other moment, always leading on to a 
next moment and never coming into possession of any inherent and 
final value. All of this is obviously correlated with the most central 
characteristics of the modern industrial order in which the economic 
cycle does not terminate in the consumption of the goods which 
have been produced, but such consumption is, in its turn, merely a 
stimulus for further production. There is a pregnant saying of 
Ranke, the historian, which is often quoted, and which contains, I 
believe, the clew to the proper estimate and interpretation of this 

[ 174 ] 


whole motive. "Jede Epoche ist unmittelbar zu Gott."" In some 
fashion are we to view every age, every moment of time as possess- 
ing an inherent worth and significance of its own. Its entire meaning 
is not exhausted in its existence as a preparation for and a means 
to some future moment. This is, I think, one way of expressing the 
real sense of eternity and of setting forth the limitations which 
inhere in a time order conceived solely in terms of mere succession. 
Every fragment of time, every pulse of the flux of experience par- 
ticipates in eternity; it is in possession of some significant structure 
which is, in some determinate sense, final and inclusive. This insight 
has, too, practical implications for various human interests. It means 
in education, for instance, that the education of the child is not 
merely a process of training the child to live in the future. Child- 
hood is not only a precursor and a means to the attainment of adult 
life. Childhood has its own interests; it too participates in inherent 
values. Education is not exclusively, perhaps not even primarily, a 
preparation for life; it is life. The interests of childhood have their 
own worth and their own justification apart from their being the 
stimuli whereby the more mature interests of the adult are prepared 
for in advance. 

There is a third region which offers an excellent opportunity to 
try out the adequacy of the interests of use and of control. It is the 
region of our social life and our social interests, and this includes 
very much indeed. I shall touch only upon such matters as may best 
illustrate the contrast between the categories of behavior and of 
knowledge, action and thought, control and possession. And first, 
there is the very pervasive belief that the whole province of our 
social life and interests presents us primarily with situations which 
are first to be understood through a scientific analysis, and are then 
to be mastered and controlled. It is the ideal of Bacon, of the 

5 The entire passage is worth quoting : "Eine solche gleichsam medlatisierte Genera- 
tion wiirde an und fUr sich eine Bedeutung nicht haben; sie wiirde nur insofern etwas 
bedeuten als sie Stufe der nachfolgenden Generation ware, and wiirde nicht im un- 
mittelbaren Bezug zum GottUchen stehen. Ich aber behaupte: Jede Epoche ist un- 
mittelbar Eu Gott, und ihr Wert beruht gar nicht auf dem, was aus ihr hervorgeht, 
sondem in ihr Existenz selbst, in ihrem eigenen Selbst." "Ueber die Epochen der 
neueren Geschichte," i Vortrag. 

[ 175 ] 


Encyclopedists, of Comte and, reinforced by the teachings of nine- 
teenth century biology, it is the ideal of contemporary instrumen- 
talism. Knowledge is for the sake of power. Science — which means 
all precise and verifiable knowledge — shall yield to man an instru- 
ment for fashioning his Uf e and his world, for controlling phenomena 
through an understanding of their causes. This essentially modern 
ideal of knowledge is, we have seen, the intellectual counterpart 
both of democracy and of the forces which have made the modern 
industrial order. The world exists to be mastered and used. But it 
has not been sufficiently observed, I think, how real and how deep 
are the relations existing between the "Enlightenment" utilitarianism 
of the eighteenth century and the "Esse est percipi" of Berkeley. 
Subjectivism is, in reality, but a variety of utilitarianism. Each of 
these does but utter a common motive and a common attitude. For, 
let anyone say of an object that he is interested in it only to the 
extent that he can control it, i.e., only to the extent, say, to which it 
contains nothing tragic and does not lie in the past, then he is view- 
ing that object exclusively from the contribution which it makes to 
his own life. He is indeed ego-centric. The object is envisaged en- 
tirely as his own immediate possession. And what does it mean to 
say that the world is my idea, if not this ? That which belongs to an 
object in itself, that which exceeds the limits of perception, has for 
us no practical significance. The imperceptible, the being of an 
object other than its percipi, is in this respect like the past. It cannot 
serve as a stimulus to behavior. Berkeley is undoubtedly very much 
under the influence of the pragmatic attitude. It shows itself, for 
instance, in his belief that the sole significance of mathematics lies 
in its being "subservient to practice" and in promoting "the benefit 
of life." "Hence we may see," he concludes, "how entirely the 
science of numbers is subordinate to practice, and how jejune and 
trifling it becomes when considered as a matter of mere specula- 
tion."^ It is only when one's interest terminates in some object 
itself, when it is indeed a real object and not merely a stimulus, it 

* "Prindples of Human Knowledge," S iig and 120. My attention was called to 
this connection between the utilitarian interest and the Berkeleyan doctrine by remarks 
of Mr. Clement C. J. Webb in his "Problems in the Relations of God and Man," p. 
29, where specific reference is made to the above passages from Berkeley. 

[ 176 ] 


is only through a non-utilitarian and non-pragmatic interest that 
subjectivism and the ego-centric difficulty are overcome. 

How is it, then, we ask, with the social order and with the life 
of our fellow men? Is the interest which we rightfully have in the 
knowledge of other minds, of all the varied wealth which the social 
order offers to us, of the world of history and of the past, — is this 
all to be subsumed under the pragmatic interest or does it contain 
at least certain reaches and aspects which can be understood only 
in the light of interests and attitudes which are non-pragmatic? Is 
the social order an object to be apprehended and appreciated be- 
cause of its own inherent wealth of meaning, or is it a stimulus, 
significant because we need to reckon with it as a kind of thing 
which our environment contains? Let us state the question some- 
what more concretely thus: The world of society and of human life 
is full of problems, conflicts and difficulties. The enormous success 
of modern science in winning control and mastery over the energies 
of the physical order leads irresistibly to the hope of extending this 
success to the world of human society. An adequate sociology, 
psychology, etc., will accomplish here what an adequate physics 
and mechanics have accomplished for industry and inventions, and 
what an adequate chemistry, physiology and pathology have accom- 
plished for medicine. Nothing is needed in principle, save sciences 
which are wholly positive and empirical. It is this ideal and this hope 
which, first clearly formulated by Bacon, enters profoundly into the 
thought of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through the 
labors of Locke and the Encyclopedists, and is continued in the 
utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill, and furnishes the dominant 
inspiration to contemporary instrumentalism. Is this hope well 
founded? No one will wisely set limits to man's control, through 
knowledge, over his social environment. Yet doubts insistently 
present themselves as to the adequacy of this idea. For, it must be 
asked, after all, whether our most pressing and our most tragic 
problems in the social and political life of men exist because we do 
not as yet possess the scientific, i.e., the causal knowledge which 
would enable us to solve these problems. Such is unquestionably the 
source of our failure thus far to control, say, certain diseases. We do 
not know, in their entirety, certain causal sequences. Until such 

[ 177 ] 


knowledge is gained, we are helpless. We possess, indeed, very little, 
if any, sure and certain knowledge of causal sequences in history and 
in any of the larger social processes, but is this lack, great though 
it be, responsible for the baffling social confusions amidst which 
we live? Would a positive science of society give us, in principle, 
the clew to the solution of our problems? I cannot believe that it 
would. The true source of our problems lies elsewhere, in a situation 
which has no counterpart in the physical order. A disease is baffling 
because we are ignorant of certain causal sequences; a social or 
political situation is baffling and problematic because it contains 
a conflict of wills, of interests and of loyalties. No amoimt of posi- 
tive science, of knowledge of bare facts and of causal sequences 
will enable us to control a social situation, to heal the mortal con- 
flicts and to bind up the wounds of the social body. This distinction 
and this general principle, which I believe to be of fundamental 
importance as a matter of methodology in dealing with all the prac- 
tical problems touching the organization of life, need not here be 
further developed. What it points to is just the difficulty which 
inheres in any attempt to view the social order merely as material 
to be manipulated and controlled by means of an applied science 
resting upon a theoretical science.^ 

The consciousness of this difficulty lies at the basis of a distinction 
which students of society have found it necessary to make use of, 
the distinction, namely, between society and community, Gesell- 
schajt and Gemeinschaft. The distinction is an important one and 
bears directly upon this question as to how far our interest in our 
fellow men is fairly to be called a pragmatic interest, describable 
in terms of behavior, of stimulus, and response. There are, indeed, 
social relationships governed predominantly by interest and by 
the division of labor. Such are, above all, the economic relations 
and the logic of such a type of social organization is best set forth 
in the writings of the classical English economists. I associate myself 
with my fellow men — or am driven so to do — because I need their 
cooperation in the satisfaction of my desires. A society in which 

'' The best statement of the view here combated known to me is that of Ldvy- 
Bruhl: "La Morale et la Science des Moeurs," and Dewey's monograph on "Logical 
Conditions of a Scientific Treatment of Morality." 

[ 178 ] 


each makes use of the labor of his fellow men, in which, namely, 
division of labor is practiced, will produce more, and will be further 
advanced in the industrial arts, than one in which division of labor 
is but slightly developed. But such a bond of social and economic 
organization need be based on nothing other than self-interest. My 
fellow men will be useful to me, if I in turn will be of use to them. 
Exchange, contract, division of labor are here the primary facts 
and interests. Now we must, in theory at any rate, contrast with 
this another type of bond which may unite me to my fellow men. 
I may be interested in my fellow men, not primarily because through 
exchange we can supply one another's wants, but because I dis- 
cover that they and I really have something in common. I delight 
in sharing with him some mutual interest. He and I are linked 
together through membership in some more than individual life, 
in a true community. When I thus discover my fellow man as a 
member of a community, he becomes for me something other than 
a stimulus. My interest now terminates in him as an integral member 
of the community. I will not use him, but will enjoy him, sympathize 
with him, and love him. We come across again the profound differ- 
ence, so often lost sight of, between the categories of desire and of 
love. Desire or interest is pragmatic and utilitarian. It asks, how 
can I use my world, what behavior of mine is most advantageous 
by way of response to such and such stimuli? Love is utterly non- 
pragmatic. It is "disinterested." It terminates in an object which is 
itself of inherent worth. It asks not, how can I use my world, but 
how may I appropriate all the wealth, the significant structures 
which my world contains, and how, perchance, may I contribute to 
the object of my devotion and love? Now we have, I take it, certain 
forms of community life which exhibit something of these non- 
pragmatic traits. Most elemental is, of course, the family. But, a 
bare mention of the family shows how complexly interrelated are, 
as a matter of fact, these two types of social structure and two atti- 
tudes which they exemplify. The family is, primitively, a biological 
and economic necessity. It is, like primitive barter, a device for 
supplying the elemental needs of protection, food, etc. And this 
economic aspect persists throughout. But a time undoubtedly 
arrives — and it must have arrived early, at least as early as religion 

[ 179 ] 


and law — ^when the family becomes not only a "society" but a "com- 
munity," not only something to use, but something to possess and 
to participate in. And then again, very much later, with the rise 
of individualism, the economic and contractual side of marriage and 
of the family receives attention, in ways which are the source of 
problems which we have not yet learned adequately to solve.* 

The reason, then, why we take an interest in the life of our fellow 
men is twofold. There is a biological and utilitarian interest, and 
there is also a contemplative and non-pragmatic interest. We desire 
their aid in the satisfaction of our wants, and we delight in the 
discovery of an Other with whom we may communicate. That there 
is about sympathy something which is not wholly resolvable into 
the mechanism of association, it is the merit of Shaftsbury, Hume, 
and Smith in the eighteenth century to have shown. But the imique- 
ness of sjTTipathy, its distinction from behavior, which is socially 
useful and necessary, was called in question by the evolutionary 
theory and the work of Darwin in the nineteenth century. For 
there is the gregarious instinct which, among the higher animals 
and man, has certainly a biological utility. It possesses survival 
value in the struggle for existence. It is, then, natural enough to 
view sympathy merely as the mental accompaniment and reflex 
of instinctive gregarious behavior whose significance lies in its 
utility. Sympathy is thus the s)miptom and the outcome of the 
sociability, the living together of men, their cooperation and division 
of labor. But whatever may be the fact about the evolutionary and 
temporal series here involved, it is still possible and necessary to 
insist upon the qualitative ("phenomenological") distinction be- 
tween useful social behavior and genuine sympathy. The former 
is all that "nature" cares about. As long as a group acts as a unit, 
coheres together with solidarity, nature has no concern with the 
way in which it feels in the conscious experience of the members of 
the group. But in that inner life a new dimension of values makes its 
appearance, the non-utilitarian value of sharing our ideas with an- 

8 Although the contrast between Gesellschaft and Gemeinschaft receives special 
emphasis at the hands of the German philosophers, it is by no means confined to 
German philosophies of society. An excellent though brief resume of the contrast is 
given by Richard: "La Sodologie Generale," pp. 164 ff. 

[ 180 ] 


other, of discovering and participating in the life of other minds. And, 
once we apprehend this distinction, we are entitled to say that such 
mutual understanding it is which makes social life, i.e., the historical 
life of communities possible, rather than that such sympathy 
is, as Darwin and Spencer supposed, the mere reflex of an already 
existing social order. I may quote a passage from Stout by way of 
emphasizing and confirming the psychological uniqueness of sym- 
patiiy and its non-pragmatic nature. "Society," he says, "supplies the 
needs of the individual in a twofold manner. In the first place, each 
man depends upon the cooperation of others for the satisfaction of 
his practical needs, for the maintenance of his existence and of his 
material well-being. Without the aid of others he cannot mould and 
adapt his material environment to his own use. Perhaps the child's 
interest in the persons who surround him, and his desire to commu- 
nicate with them, are at the outset mainly of this practical char- 
acter. But at a very early stage in lie development of the 
individual, the desire for sympathy and mutual understanding 
becomes itself a primary end. The mental life of man in society is 
as immediately dependent on interchange of ideas with his fellow 
men as it is on the use of his senses. The first strong development 
of pure curiosity arises in connection with social relations. It con- 
sists in the felt need to know what those around us are doing or 
thinking. The greater part of all ordinary conversation, both among 
the civilized and the uncivilized, illustrates this primary social im- 
pulse. Even the interest of human beings in nature, apart from their 
immediate practical needs, was at the outset an interest in personi- 
fied natural objects. Another aspect of this desire for communion 
with our fellows, and of aversion for that mutilation of mental 
existence which social isolation involves, is found in what may be 
broadly termed the tendency to imitation, — the tendency to assimi- 
late ourselves to the society in which we live, so that we may under- 
stand and sympathize with it, and it may understand and sympathize 
with us."' McDougall likewise distinguishes between active and 

9 "Analytic Psychology," vol. 2, p. 100. The most thoroughgoing psychological 
analysis of sympathy of which I know, entirely hearing out what I have spoken of 
as its non-pragmatic nature, is that of Scheler: "Zur Phanomenologie und Theorie der 
Sympathiegefiihle und von Liehe und Hass." 

[ 181 ] 


passive sympathy. By active S5mipathy is meant "that tendency to 
seek to share our emotions and feelings with others." And although 
this "is rooted in primitive or passive sympathy and in the grega- 
rious instinct," it is set forth as attaining a significance decidedly 
different from any which instinctive behavior can possess. "The 
person in whom this tendency is strong cannot bear to suffer his 
various affective experiences in isolation; his joys are no joys, his 
pains are doubly painful, so long as they are not shared by others; 
his anger or his moral indignation, his vengeful emotion, his pity, his 
elation, his admiration, if they are confined to his own bosom, 
cannot long endure without giving rise to a painful desire for 

Consider, once again, as an illustration of the mind's interest in 
apprehending and in participating in the life of a community, our 
attitude to the past and the meaning which history has for us. The 
life of every community is in time; the past is carried along into 
the present through custom, tradition, and piety. To enter fully into 
the life of any historical community is to apprehend the past. One 
discovers in the past a genuine Other just as much as one discovers 
in the minds of his fellow men common interests and sharable 
ideas. One may sympathize with the past then, just as one does with 
the minds which live in the present. Now, I submit that this interest 
in the life of the past and in the study of history is significant, that 
it is certainly different from a utilitarian interest in the past, a 
desire to use the experiences of the past in the solution of present 
difficulties, and that it may conceivably outweigh the 'scientific' 
and pragmatic value of history. Mr. Balfour has spoken of this as 
the 'aesthetic' value which history possesses. He means, I take it, 

1° "Social Psychology," p. 200. Cf. also the following quotation from Hocking: 
"The Meaning of God in Human Experience," p. 222. "The laws of the multiplication 
of human power by association have never been worked out; but no one has failed 
to measure in frequent experiences what incredible enhancement of the value of any 
experience may occur in a single touch of endorsement from without. Worth of all 
sorts begins to acquire another dimension as it enters a career of actual universality, 
such as the merest nod of assent from an Other may convey. Association is a prin- 
ciple which stands outside of and includes whatever may become content of indi- 
vidual experience; there is some possibility that in association a sufficient mastery of 
evil may be found." 

[ 182 ] 


the value which accrues to our sympathetic apprehension of more 
life and mind, which enlarges our world and in which we may take 
delight. I quote the paragraph. "That history has aesthetic value 
is evident. An age which is both scientific and utilitarian occasion- 
ally pretends to see in it no more than the raw material of a science 
called sociology, and a storehouse of precedents from which states- 
men may draw maxims for the guidance of mankind. It may be all 
this, but it is certainly more. What has in the main caused history 
to be written, and when written to be eagerly read, is neither its 
scientific value nor its practical utility, but its aesthetic interest. 
Men love to contemplate the performances of their fellows, and 
whatever enables them to do so, whether we belittle it as gossip, 
or exalt it as history, will find admirers in abundance."^^ It is only 
when seen in this light, as a domain of non-utilitarian interests, that 
justice can be done to that conception of history which is associated 
with the names of Rickert and Windelband. For this school of 
writers, history is always a matter of individual happenings, of 
unique men, deeds, and nations. The other sciences, physics, psy- 
chology, sociology, are concerned primarily not with the unique and 
the individual, but with the typical, with laws and universals, func- 
tional relationships. History is "idiographic" ; these other sciences 
are "nomothetic." History seeks to envisage with insight and sym- 
pathy the individual. Its interest terminates in the individual, the 
other sciences are interested in individuals only as instances of types 
and laws. I mention here this far-reaching conception of history not 
in order' to discuss it for its own sake, but to point out its real basis 
in our experience. We shall presently observe the important prin- 
ciple that it is only non-pragmatic interests and attitudes which 
terminate in individuals at all. To insist, then, that the objects of 
our historical interest are really individuals and not universal laws 
or t3^es is at the same time to emphasize the non-behavior and 
non-pragmatic character of the mind's interest in other minds, in 
the past, and in the historical life of communities. Viewing this whole 
matter by and large, it presents us with an impressive clew as to 
what the life and the interests of the mind really are. What the 
brain is, at least what it is for, of that we may have little doubt. 

11 "Theism and Humanism," p. 91. 

[ 183 ] 


We observe nature building up in the animal world more and more 
complexly inter-related systems of tropisms and reflex arcs. The 
significance of these structures, built up by nature and inherited 
by the individual, lies in their contribution to action and response, 
behavior and survival. Then what we are accustomed to call the 
life of mind emerges and what of it? Of course, it knits itself into 
the reflex and instinctive structures which are instruments of 
behavior and activity. But shall we say that the sole function of 
mind is instrumental and that the interests of behavior and of 
action remain forever supreme? Or, shall we discover in the life of 
reason a new interest, best illustrated in our social experience, in 
our apprehension and contemplation of the mind of an other and 
of the life of a community? It is in man's social experience and what 
grows out of it, that the mind's participation in objective significant 
structures takes on its most concrete form. 

As a final illustration of the difference between the interests of 
control and of knowledge, I would refer to religion and more espe- 
cially to the emergence of the distinction between magic and reli- 
gion. Something of this has already come to our notice in speaking 
of the roots of the religious tradition. Here we may be reminded of 
the two criteria which are most commonly used to separate the 
province of magic from that of religion. Religion, it is said, is 
primarily and fundamentally a matter of men's social experience 
and their community interests, whereas magic is practiced by the 
individual for his own profit, or for the individual advantage of 
another. The priest is ever the spokesman for some community, 
family, city, state, or church. The medicine man carries on his arts 
in secret and as a solitary individual. The second difference between 
magic and religion is found in the different motives and attitudes 
which each fosters and nourishes. Magic is utilitarian and pragmatic. 
The magician is the earliest man deliberately to seek control over 
his world, to reconstruct his environment and the events it contains, 
so as to satisfy his own desires. He is the first instrumentalist. On 
the other hand, the moving force of religion is different. The primary 
interest of religion, as something distinct from magic, is in partici- 
pating in, or in contemplating an energy, a life, a spiritual order 
which is not to be controlled but rather "enjoyed," lived, partici- 

[ 184 ] 


pated in, and which is — to use a distinction employed by Hocking — 
fertile rather than useful. Religion belongs to the category of mutual 
understanding and of our social experience. This, of course, does 
not mean that it is easy to say what belongs to magic and what to 
religion in any concrete historical instance of religion. Some ele- 
ments of magic have no doubt persisted in every historical religion 
and many cults which seek the shelter of religion are really but 
refined and subtle forms of magic. But, in principle and in outline, 
the cleavage is a clear one. Where religion is concerned, in the 
words of Marett quoted in our earlier chapter, "The will and per- 
sonality in the worshippers are in need not so much of implements 
as of more will and personality. They get this from a spiritual kind 
of religion; which in one way or another always suggests a society, 
a communion, as at once the means and the end of vital better- 
ment." These two criteria of the distinction between religion and 
magic, taken together, but emphasize once again the insight that 
the province of man's social experience simply cannot be subsumed 
under the concepts of behaviorism and instrumentalism. 

We have been surveying in this chapter, in a cursory fashion, to 
be sure, certain provinces of our life and our interests for the pur- 
pose of bringing into clear relief how much more our experience 
and our world contain than that which may readily be interpreted 
in terms of behavior and control. Tragedy, the world of the past, 
indeed the entire time aspect of experience, our social experience, 
the apprehensions of other minds, participation in the life of a 
community, the world of history and the interests of religion are 
all non-pragmatic. Not behavior and control, but knowledge and 
possession are, in all these regions, the outstanding interests and 
attitudes. These show us what the life of the mind in truth is. Here 
is the life of reason. Idealism has been the theoretical spokesman 
and the interpreter of these interests, and religion, for the masses 
of men, has sheltered something of the enduring worth of this life 
of the mind. 

But we have spoken as if thought and action, knowledge and 
behavior, the non-pragmatic interests of the mind, and the utili- 
tarian interest in control were wholly antithetic to each other. Yet 
we know that such cannot quite be the case. The problem is really 

[ i8s ] 


that of the relation between mind and body, knowledge and be- 
havior. To be a mind is to possess a knowledge of reality. These 
various concrete interests which we have been commenting upon 
are but concrete examples of what the mind's knowledge of reality 
means. It is in these several interests that the mind does claim to be, 
not an instrument of behavior, but a possessor of the real, a par- 
ticipant in significant structures. What in the last chapter we spoke 
of as the Platonic insight of idealism, takes on concreteness in 
these various interests, above all in man's social experience and in 
his religion. The thesis which seems to me to hold out most hope 
of doing justice both to behavior and control, and to the life of 
knowledge and possession is this. Every behavior interest is sur- 
rounded by a cognitive fringe. The awareness of some total situation 
is a matrix within which, at a focal point, the response of the or- 
ganism to some particular stimulus occurs. It is this cognitive appre- 
hension, this fringe, and not the behavior, the response to the 
stimulus, which is the source of all the meaning which attaches to 
an object attended and responded to. Let us now expand and illus- 
trate this principle. I sit down at my desk to write. I see my pen, 
take it up, and commence to use it. At the moment it is my pen to 
which I adjust my behavior and which exists at or near the focus 
of my consciousness. But, while my hand is attending to my pen, 
both hand and pen fall within my field of vision which includes, 
too, very much else besides, my desk, books, my room, etc. Now 
the point of this very simple illustration is that a very much larger 
area comes within my conscious grasp than the specific objects to 
which my hand, or even my body as a whole is responding. My 
consciousness overlaps both my body and the environment which 
acts as a stimulus to the adaptive responses of the organism. The 
stimulus is embedded within a more inclusive and more total object. 
If one chooses to say, then, that I am "responding" to and "behav- 
ing" towards my entire, inclusive object, and not merely to the 
specific, focal stimuli, well and good. But let it then be understood 
that the manner of my response to my residual environment, my 
fringe, is not the same as the manner of my response to the stimulus. 
I literally behave towards, do something with my pen; I am aware 
of a total situation, an inclusive purpose, which makes it necessary 

[ i86 ] 


and meaningful that I should take up my pen. The stimulus re- 
sponded to is a focal center within a larger area, which is appre- 
hended and contemplated. How is this encircling fringe apprehended 
and what part does it play in our experience and our activity? For 
answer, we may turn to the chapters in Stout's "Analytic Psy- 
chology" entitled "The Apprehension of Form," and "Implicit 
Apprehension." To James, of course, belongs the credit of setting 
forth how pervasive and fundamental in the entire stream of con- 
sciousness is the focus-fringe situation. The analysis which Stout 
gives contains an abundance of suggestions as to the philosophical 
implications of this focus-fringe situation. We are concerned here 
with the relation between the apprehension of a whole, a total and 
inclusive situation, and our attention (response) to a specific con- 
stituent (stimulus) within that whole. The relation, then, of the 
awareness of whole and parts interests us. Now the first thing to 
observe is that, although the form of a whole cannot be apprehended 
without any awareness of the parts, yet "a whole with its character- 
istic unity may be apprehended without definitely distinguishing its 
several constituents from each other. It is certainly possible to think 
of a whole in its unity and distinctness without discerning all or even 
any of its component details."^^ As, perhaps, the most striking and 
familiar illustration of this principle. Stout discusses the manner 
in which we apprehend the meaning of words. Such recognition of 
meaning occurs through an "imageless apprehension" of a distinct 
and characteristic totality. I am aware of the complexities and 
difficulties which attach to the problem of imageless thought. 
Nevertheless, Stout's description and analysis of the matter seems 
to me not to go beyond the verifiable features of the situation. The 
testimony is indeed unequivocal that "the flow of words is for the 
most part unattended by a parallel flow of mental imagery." We 
probably go too far, however, if we speak of all specific images as 
quite unnecessary and irrelevant. The apprehension of the whole, 
which is analogous to a surrounding fringe, has somewhere a focal 
point. It is to this focal center that the response and activity of 
accommodation, necessary for attention, are directed. The printed 
word is seen, is attended to; the activity of attending to it is the 

12 "Analytic Psychology,'' vol. i, pp. 76, 78. 

[ 187 ] 


bearer and the vehicle of the mind's apprehension of meaning. The 
specific stimulus probably does give rise to an image, but both 
stimulus and image are but partial, surrounded by fiie fringe of 
meaning which is apprehended as a whole. 

It is not difficult to adduce further instances of situations in 
which the presence of meaning arises from the implicit apprehen- 
sion of a whole rather than from any specific response of the 
organism to a stimulus. Meaning is a matter not primarily of be- 
havior, but of knowledge. I quote again from Stout. "When I look 
at a house, what is actually seen, together with what is mentally 
pictured, constitutes only a small part of the object as it is perceived. 
The actual sensations and the attendant mental imagery do not 
by their limitation limit the objective reference. This is possible 
only because an imageless representation of the whole is conjoined 
with the sensible appearance as its 'psychic fringe.' At the most, 
only the last two or three notes of a melody are perceived at its 
close, and yet the musically gifted are aware of it as a whole. Simi- 
larly, I may be keenly aware of the unity of a sonnet in respect of 
metrical form while I am reading the last lines, although the words 
of the preceding lines are no longer present to my mind. All per- 
ception of a series of changes as forming a whole, involves imageless 
apprehension. ... In every train of thought, strictly so called, a 
single, central topic — a permanent object — is throughout kept in 
view. The orderly sequence of special apprehensions is due to the 
controlling influence of the persistent and central thought. . . . 
We have cognisance of this topic as a whole during the entire 
process; but its special parts or aspects are apprehended only piece- 
meal."^' Essentially the same statement applies to the life of pur- 
pose and conation. Every partial present purpose is surrounded by a 
more inclusive purpose. The desire for food is really the desire for 
health and strength and life, and from this larger fringe of interests 
there streams in upon the momentary partial interest its meaning 
and its justification. Again in our entire social life: the economic 
activities of men are embedded within a more comprehensive and 
concrete network of relations, legal, social and moral, though they 
may for the most part remain quite implicit, and we have often been 

1^ stout: "Analytic Psychology," vol. i, pp. 93 ff. 

[ 188. ] 


led to forget the fringe of these other motives and interests. What 
we have sought to make clear by these various examples then, 
is this. Something akin to the focus-fringe relationship in psychology, 
as set forth by James and others, also exists wherever there is any 
apprehension of meaning and an overt response to a specific stim- 
ulus. The organism's behavior in the presence of the stimulus does 
not comprise the entire situation as it really exists. A consciousness 
of meaning, an awareness of some total object surrounds every 
specific instance of behavior except, it may be, a pure tropism 
or instinct which is entirely a matter of biology. Behavior and mean- 
ing are never commensurate. They are related as stimulus and object. 
The categories of behaviorism and instrumentalism become less 
and less adequate as one moves from biology to psychology, from 
brain structures and reflex arcs to the life of mind and of conscious- 
ness. Throughout our experience these two, meaning and behavior, 
are in some fashion wedded together. We may say (with Stout) that 
"though mental process as it advances in complexity becomes less 
and less capable of adequate expression in terms of motor process, 
yet some motor process is always involved in it.'"* Consciousness 
is neither a picture gallery in flux, a succession of images, nor is it 
a series of behavior processes. It lives through its possession 
of wholes, through its apprehension of meanings, its participation 
in significant structures, its understanding of an Other. Conation 
itself is to be interpreted not merely as the attempt of an organism 
whose equilibrium is upset through the reception of a stimulus, 
to regain its equilibrium, not merely in terms of the satisfaction 
of a "vital series" (cf. Avenarius and all voluntarism) but also as 
a voyage of discovery, an exploration of self and of the world, 
an attainment of knowledge and a possession of reality. See, for a 
moment, what an interpretation of conation such as this would 
imply. Ask the question as to when, and under what circumstances 
the mind comes into contact with an environment, with reality. 
Hume answers, only at the very outset of its career, only in the 
process whereby the mind is furnished with "impressions." Impres- 
sions are the bearers of valid knowledge; they are a pledge of the 
continuity and contact of mind and world. But they constitute, 

1* "Analytic Psychology," vol. a, p. 103. 

[ 189 ] 


in addition, a stimulus to the elaboration of "ideas." And the further 
you go on the journey from "impressions" to "ideas," the further do 
you become separated from reality. Ideas are not cognitive at all. 
So much of the fabric of "custom and imagination" have entered 
into the substance of ideas, that they are separated by a long interval 
from impressions, and have ceased to participate in an objective 
order. They belong only to the mind as a witness to the manner 
in which the mind responds to the stimuli of impressions. One sees 
the analogy between Hume's thought on these matters and the way 
in which the conation, the conscious striving of any organism, is 
often pictured. It is assumed that the environment, through a stim- 
ulus which presents a problem to the organism, upsets its equilib- 
rium and sets in motion a conation, a vital series, a striving which 
is pictured essentially as a process occurring within the organism. 
Mental striving tends to realize itself, to recover the equilibrium 
of the vital series. Now, in this way of viewing the matter we are, 
I think, in danger of falling into the same error in which Hume and 
all subjectivism fall. We are likely to forget that the mind is in con- 
tact with reality throughout, and not only at the initial moment of 
a conation series when a stimulus upsets the organism's equilibriimi. 
The journey from stimulus to a final response is to be described not 
merely as something occurring entirely within the mind, or within 
the organism. Both processes constitute indeed a voyage of explora- 
tion and discovery. There is no conation without some continuous 
objective reference, some knowledge, some participation in reality, 
however unquiet it may be. There is a persistent confusion in psy- 
chology and in much of our thinking about the nature of conscious- 
ness, which is here to be mentioned. There lurk many ambiguities 
in the concept of mental activity, ambiguities which occasioned the 
well-known remark of Bradley that the very concept of mental 
activity was a scandal in metaphysics. The chief source of these 
perplexities lies in our failure to distinguish causal efficacy and the 
apprehension of meaning. In a sustained review of the work of Stout 
to which we have been referring, Royce has a telling criticism of just 
this confusion which Stout himself has not always escaped. We tend 
to confuse "meaning with abstract efficacy, good sense with causal 
power, rationality with capacity to accomplish the causal production 

[ 190 ] 


of deeds, and sustained significance with self-sustaining process."^^ 
The radical difficulty with all extreme voluntarism and behavior- 
ism lies just here. At bottom we suffer from a failure to free ourselves 
sufficiently from the dominance of biology and its categories. 

One final matter as to the relation between thought and action 
remains to be mentioned. In the preceding chapter we made use 
of a hypothesis concerning the relation between stimulus and object 
so far as the status of values is involved. We there gave a ready 
assent to an intimate correlation between feeling or interest, and 
value, without regarding value merely as a projection or a creation 
of interest. In making use here of the focus-fringe situation and all 
that it implies, we are ready to say the same thing concerning the 
relation of behavior and meaning, body and mind. The brain does 
not generate the mind, the response of the organism to the stimulus 
is not identical with consciousness nor with the apprehension of 
meanings. And yet these two are intimately correlated with one 
another. How? I answer, the necessities of behavior and the brain 
processes which control that behavior select but do not generate 
the meanings which come before my mind. What I am now doing 
is the vehicle through which some whole, some significant structure 
becomes known to me. Just as the muscular accommodation of sense 
organs is unquestionably not identical with the meaning of that 
which is perceived, but only the channel through which an object 
is presented to my consciousness, so behavior as a whole deter- 
mines my ideas only in the sense that it is the vehicle and not the 
creator of those meanings. In speaking of what he rightly calls "the 
most important part of consciousness," the essential thought activity, 
the apprehension of meanings and the "reference of consciousness 
to an object," McDougall speaks thus of the sensory and motor 
elements of consciousness here involved: "All the sensory feelings 
are but the medium which brings this thought-activity into play 
and determines its direction from moment to moment; they are 
but solicitations to thought or to thinking."^° Just so, the entire 
motor and behavior processes of the body with which the brain has 

15 "Mind," 1897, p. 393. 
18 "Psychology," p. SS- 

[ 191 ] 


to do, is the medium, the solicitation, the selection of the meanings 
which come before the mind at any moment. 

For, we are never to lose sight of the fact that the brain is an 
instrimient not of knowledge, but of muscular response and of 
behavior. It is but the connecting hnk between sense organs and 
muscles. Why there should be any consciousness at all over and 
above the brain and the behavior of the body may and does remain 
a mystery, at least in the sense that it is an ultimate fact about the 
nature of things. The two facts of which we may be wholly certain 
respecting this mystery are first, that knowledge, like every ultimate 
value, is autonomous: it reveals an objective significant structure, 
and to be a mind is precisely equivalent to possessing a knowledge 
of reality; and secondly, what, of all the mind's possessions, come 
at any moment into the explicit light of consciousness depends, in 
some degree at least, upon what the brain, i.e., the body is doing. 
The brain has to do only with some stimulus; a stimulus is a gath- 
ering place, a focal center for a fringe of meanings, whose organized 
totality is the true object of the mind and, in the last analysis, is 
reality itself. 

We have throughout been discussing the contrast and the relation 
between man's interest in exploiting and controlling his world, and 
his interest in apprehending the wealth of meaning which reality 
offers him. There is one final thesis, in respect to these two attitudes, 
which I would here set forth. It is the thesis that only non-prag- 
matic attitudes and interests disclose individuals. Let anyone view 
his world solely in the light of the categories of behavior and con- 
trol, then everything specific and individual is envisaged as one 
instance of a type, a law. An illustration will bring the matter before 
us at once. I find myself in a strange city, and in order to reach my 
destination I make inquiries of a uniformed individual whom I see 
standing on the street corner. It is an individual policeman whom 
I address, but I have an eye to nothing save his uniform which I take 
to be the sign of a class of men likely to have authoritative informa- 
tion about that which I need to know. I use my policeman in order 
effectively to adapt my behavior to my environment, in order to 
solve a practical problem. He is to me no individual object; he, or 
rather his uniform, is but a stimulus. On the other hand, in order 

[ 192 ] 


that I may discover something individual about the policeman I 
must cease to regard him simply as an instrument. My interest and 
attention must terminate in him as an end, and not pass through 
him as a means. I must seek to understand him, share his ideas 
and feelings, sjrmpathize with him.^^ 

Now, the insight that only those interests and attitudes which are 
non-instrumental, i.e., love, sympathy, loyalty, appreciation, knowl- 
edge, terminate in individuals is all the more worth emphasizing, 
because so often is it supposed that the merit of pragmatism lies in 
its capacity to deal with what is specific and individual. The instru- 
mentalists from Bacon to Dewey have spoken slightingly of tradi- 
tional knowledge precisely because it seems to them something 
wholesale and absolute rather than a description of specific sequences 
such as will be useful in guiding our conduct. It is in order that the 
concrete, the specific, the individual, may be liberated that all 
Platonism is mistrusted and abhorred and replaced by instrument- 
alism. In Dewey's words, "democracy is an absurdity where faith 
in the individual as individual is impossible; and this faith is impos- 
sible when intelligence is regarded as a cosmic power, not an 
adjustment and application of individual tendencies.'"^ But, the 
historical sources of nineteenth century pragmatism suggest some- 
thing different. What I mean is that the utilitarianism of Mill, the 
positivism of Comte and the pragmatism of our own day in this 
country are all offshoots of the same intellectual tradition. These 
are the inheritors of the Enlightenment ideals of the eighteenth 
century. Those ideals become, in the nineteenth century, more flexi- 
ble, less mechanical and dogmatic, profoundly influenced by the 
newer social, historical, and biological interests, but withal the 
same.^® Now it is a commonplace but nevertheless a truth that the 
rationalism of the eighteenth century was a philosophy and an 
attitude which did not succeed in caring very much for, or even in 

" This illustration was suggested to me by the little book of Gudmundur Finn- 
bogason : "LTntelligence Sympathique," pp. S ff. This book is an admirable psycho- 
logical study of the contrast between the two interests we are discussing. 

18 "The Influence of Darwin upon Philosophy," etc., p. 59. 

18 Cf . the following from Benn : "English Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century," 
vol. I, p. 29s. "The Utilitarian School was the chief underground channel by which 
the rationalism of the eighteenth flowed into the nineteenth century." 

[ 193 ] 


discovering the individual. The eighteenth century was, indeed, 
individualistic and atomistic. But, as Simmel has pointed out, with 
characteristic cogency and profundity, the individual as he appeared 
to the mind of the eighteenth century, was utterly isolated from 
everything historical, positive, and contingent. It is only through 
such a release of the individual from everything "individual" that 
the universal humanity, the reason, within each person comes to be 
the all-important thing. All individuals are equal just because no 
individual is unique, is really an individual.^" This is, of course, why 
the eighteenth century did not possess, with a few notable excep- 
tions, what the following century called the historical spirit. Its ideal 
of knowledge was, rather, that of the physical and the mechanical 
sciences. The Laplacean formula exemplifies its hope and its typical 
habits of thought. This surely need be urged no further. But what 
does not always receive its due notice is the relation between all 
of this and that other characteristic temper of the eighteenth century 
mind, its optimism, its belief in the perfectibility of the race, in uni- 
versal progress, in the imlimited scope of man's control over his 
world, in short, in its utilitarianism. The relation is here close and 
deep-lying. As Windelband has put it, "the knowledge of universal 
laws has everywhere the practical value of making it possible for 
man to control his world, and deliberately to interfere in the processes 
of things."^^ And the converse of this statement is also true. If you 
want above all to control your world, to exploit it, then your 
interest will terminate, not in individuals, but universals, laws, and 
types. And this is as true of contemporary instrumentalism as of an 
order utilitarianism. But this interest which we have in the intel- 
ligent control of our world and of the fortunes of our life, powerful 
and significant as it is, is subsidiary to the enduring interests of 
himian life. If the very structure of our civilization threatens to give 
to these deep-seated and passionate ideals of the life of reason 

2" Simmel: "Kant," pp. 172 fi. Cf. especially the following sentence: "Diese En- 
tleerung des blossen Ich von aUem individuellen und tatsachlich gegebnen Inhalt ist 
die geeignete Grundlage fiir die Gleichheit aUer Ichs, denn nur durch sie lasst sich der 
'Allgemeine Mensch' hersteUen; jede bestimmte Qualitat wvirde unvermeidlich die 
Allgemeinheit aufheben," p. 173. 

21 "Geschichte und Naturwissenschaft," p. ig. 

[ 194 ] 


little opportunity to come to full fruition, the lesson is that our 
world must be reconstructed. So far is the teaching and the spirit 
of instrumentalism sound. We are not content with our world as we 
find it. We wish to control and to reconstruct many regions of our 
social, economic, and national life. But we wish to do this in order 
to set free the life of mind and of reason, the more complete partici- 
pation of our ideas and our interests in objective, significant struc- 
tures, a deeper enjoyment of the life of communities — of the Great 
Community that is to be. It is to something essentially individual 
that this deeper interest and attitude of the mind goes out. Our next 
chapter will concern itself with some of the problems about individ- 
uals, about self, and about selves. 

[ I9S ] 


THE concept of an objective, significant structure has 
met us more than once in the course of our discussion. 
It is in affirming the possibility of the mind's participa- 
tion in and knowledge of such structures that we have 
thought the genius of idealism to lie. We have seen how 
the religious tradition takes its rise in some such attitude of posses- 
sion, some experience and feeling of continuity between man and his 
world, rather than in a sheer process of animistic projection of ideas 
and of personality into nature. We have studied the way in which 
the participation of man in objective significant structures consti- 
tutes the essence of Platonism and of Christianity. We have observed 
the impact of certain forces within modern life upon this conception, 
an impact which, in many reaches of our experience, has resulted 
in an isolation of ideas, a dissolution of the mind's integrity and its 
possession of reality. We then turned to some of these questions for 
their own sake and, if our report of the facts is at all adequate and 
secure, we are justified once more in making use, both for our think- 
ing and our practice, of the concept of significant objective struc- 
tures in which the mind of man may and does participate. But this 
concept, as it has thus far come to light, is abstract, and we have 
purposely kept it abstract in order that its wide universality might 
be the more apparent. All of the basic problems of ethics and of 
knowledge and of social organization touch somewhere upon the 
Platonic concept of participation in an "Idea," in a structure which 
is at once meaningful and also real. We have postponed till now the 
question, as to what extent, if any, we are justified in filling out the 
concept of objective, significant structure with a meaning more con- 
crete, how far we may draw upon the deeper reaches of our experi- 
ence for suggestions and hypoUieses as to what some, at least, of the 

[ 197 ] 


meaningful objective structures in which we participate, in truth are. 
Two such provinces of our experience there are where we must look 
and probe and see what they may have to tell us. These two prov- 
inces are not unrelated; they are~^ our social experience, our recog- 
nition of selves and of communities, and religion. This chapter will 
be devoted to a study of the concept of self and other selves. 

At the close of an earlier chapter we stated two theses which we 
called the Platonic and the Kantian principles. Both of these enter 
into the historical tradition of constructive idealism. The Platonic 
insight stands for the attitude and motive of possession, of partici- 
pation in an objective order of real and meaningful structures. The 
Kantian insight is the spokesman for the mind's constant interest 
in making over its world, in organizing its life and its experience 
so that these shall embody meanings which are the self's own pur- 
poses and interests. These two motives carry along with them certain 
implications for the way in which the self shall be thought of and 
interpreted. The Platonic principle, when applied to the concept of 
the self, results in a definite type of theory which will, to be sure, 
have various forms but which, as a type, we shall speak of as a theory 
of appropriation. According to any such theory of appropriation, 
the really important things about a self are those of its possessions 
which it has appropriated from some real order of being. The center 
of gravity, so to speak, of any self is, according to such theories, 
yonder in those significant structures — ^whatever they may 
be — ^which the self knows, acknowledges, acquiesces in, but does not 
create. The task which is then imposed upon selves, the vocation of 
man, viewed in this light, is the task of appropriating that which is 
real, independently of himself. The Kantian principle seems quite 
the contrary. According to it, the most important things about a 
self are its own meanings, its own purposes, its own activities ; that 
only which it can assimilate to its own life is it willing or able to 
acknowledge as real. Its center of gravity lies quite within itself. 
It is self-active and not recipient, measuring what it finds in terms 
of what it is seeking and doing, and not measuring itself in terms 
of such objective structures as it may acknowledge and appropriate. 
We shall call such theories as build upon this principle, theories of 

[ 198 ] 


It is with some of the questions suggested by the relation between 
appropriation from without and activity from within that we shall 
here be chiefly concerned. These two concepts, activity and appro- 
priation, represent, we have said, but two large types of theory; 
within each type there are variations and subdivisions. One such 
important line of cleavage which cuts across each of these two large 
tj^es may be mentioned here. The concept of activity, as we ob- 
served in the last chapter, may connote a crass and literal ability 
of the organism to initiate changes, to make differences in an envi- 
ronment otherwise neutral or mechanical. Such activity is causal 
efficacy. Or, the concept may relate to such matters as logical 
activity, i.e., the activity of the mind in developing a mathematical 
proposition, or the activity which is required to understand and to 
S3mipathize with the life of our fellow men. Or it may be thought 
of as the activity not of our empirical self, but of some deeper, 
noumenal self which is responsible for the meaningful organization 
of our experience. However set forth, all of these ways of under- 
standing the concept of activity have to do with the apprehension 
and the development of meanings rather than with causal efficacy. 
We may say that the first concept of activity, just mentioned, falls 
in with the various theories of animism, interactionism, vitalism, of 
what James called "piecemeal supernaturalism." They represent, 
perhaps, the more common and familiar ways of understanding 
what the activity of a self must mean. We may designate the two 
sorts of activity here in question as psychological or causal, and 
logical or significant. While it is not easy to disentangle the two 
meanings of activity in many individual writers, yet no one familiar 
with the development of philosophy since Kant will question the 
importance of trying, in principle, to be clear in respect to the 
boundary between these two meanings. 

The theories of appropriation are also subject to a line of cleavage 
with reference to the source from which the material for the building 
and the moulding of selves is derived. Such a source may be thought 
of as nature, as experience in its simpler and more primitive 
ranges, as sensations, or impressions. The body itself, wilii its be- 
havior and its responses to its environment, may be viewed as the 
chief storehouse from which the mind or the self derives its sub- 

[ 199 ] 


stance. It is obvious that the theory of Hume, biological and 
behaviorist theories, and the relational theories of contemporary 
realism, would all come under this general tj^e. These theories are 
naturalistic, because it is nature from which the self derives that 
which it is and has. On the other hand the source from which selves 
appropriate their substance may be thought of not as nature, but as 
"spirit," the region of man's social experience, the world of history, 
or some Platonic world of ideas, of norms, of significant structures, 
which possess an inherent and autonomous worth. There are, it will 
be evident, various possibilities here, as indeed in each of these four 
types of theory. These are, to be sure, but types; they stand for 
tendencies rather than for accomplished and specific individual 
theories. It is admitted that there are many furlier divisions and 
many intervening positions. Yet the central and the ultimate phil- 
osophical issues about the self are, I think, involved in the classi- 
fication here suggested. The self is to be interpreted from within, 
in terms of autonomous self-activity, either causal or significant, 
or it is to be thought of as appropriating objective structures, either 
those of nature or of spirit. Any significant philosophical theory of 
the self will probably fall within such a classification as that here 
proposed, and I mention it only for that reason, and not because 
each of these four possible types of theory will be here analyzed in 
turn. We have, indeed, already had some things to say about some 
of the matters which are involved here. Oiu: last chapter was a 
discussion of the two types of activity suggested by pragmatic 
control, and by knowledge. We have seen reasons for rejecting the 
view that the only activity which is worth considering is that of 
the intelUgent manipulation of the environment in the interests of 
economical and efficient behavior. Our environment contains 
objects to be imderstood and to be loved, as well as stimuli to be 
responded to pragmatically. Again, in setting forth something of 
the relations between body and mind, we have rejected the view that 
the life of the mind is but a projection of the behavior of the body. 
It is just this insight which is forced upon us as we attempt to think 
through the difference between responding to a stimulus and 
understanding an object. The brain is concerned with the former 
and the mind with the latter interest. Any further inquiries and 

[ 200 ] 


reflections as to the relation between mind and brain must be based 
upon this as a starting point. And what this means is that, however 
intimate this relation be thought of, the mind caimot be wholly, nor 
even essentially, a name for certain structures or functions appro- 
priated from the body, or from nature. By nature is meant the 
totality of physical structures and energies, including the bodies 
of living organisms, the environment which literally impinges upon 
the body, and the physical commerce and behavior which tran- 
spires at such points of contact. We shall see in this chapter further 
reasons for rejecting nature, thus understood, as the sole source 
from which selves appropriate their substance and their life. The 
larger questions of activity and appropriation are, then, before us. 

We may begin by observing certain motives which have led men 
to define the self essentially in terms of activity. There is first the 
appeal to immediate, felt experience. Each person has, it is said, 
an immediate experience of his own self, as a center of conscious 
activity. Let the world of outer nature, of other selves, of external 
experience be dark and full of mystery, even let it be doubted and 
denied, yet my experience of my own inner self-activity and self- 
consciousness still remains as the rock of certainty and assurance. 
The immediately experienced self need be no separate entity felt 
in isolation from all else, or something over and above all of our 
specific perceptions and experiences. It is as against such a view 
that the fire of Hume's famous criticism was directed. "When I 
enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on 
some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, 
love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any 
time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the 
perception." But it may still be the case that the self is directly 
experienced, not apart from specific contents of consciousness, but 
as an indissoluble aspect of every content and act of consciousness.^ 
It is evident that any such emphasis as that which this view places 
upon the irreducible immediacy of the self is more compatible with 

J-A most comprehensive study of modem theories of the self in psychology is 
Oesterreich: "Phanomenologie des Ich." Cf. also the various writings of Professor 
Mary W. Calkins, specially "The Self in Scientific Psychology," American Journal of 
Psychology, October, iQiS- 

[ 201 ] 


the activity theories than with the appropriation theories of the self. 
For, from Berkeley on, the most transparent and certain of the 
immediately experienced qualities of the self has been thought to 
be just its activity. Indeed, one may here appeal to an older theory 
than that of Berkeley, to primitive animism, in which power and 
causal efficacy, so obvious in the self, were read into all the processes 
of nature. And the influence of the tradition of animism probably 
tends to emphasize the literal, quasi-physical, and causal aspect of 
the self's activity and thus to ally the theory of immediacy with 
animism and interactionism. 

A second motive which leads to a definition of the self in terms 
of empirical activity from within is as follows. Only that is real 
which makes a difference, whose action produces specific changes 
in a world which would be different without just that activity. This 
may well be called, one will agree, the pragmatic motive. Is the self 
real? If so, the self must be the source of deeds and activities which 
are inserted into an environment of local and specific places, which 
originate new series of changes, and which effect alterations in an 
otherwise selfless, neutral, or mechanical world. A self which does 
this, if it be more than a mere name, must be a center of energy 
acting from within, not any depository or medium for what is merely 
appropriated from without. There is likely to be a more or less 
explicit assumption here as to the contrast between the inert 
mechanical environment of the self, and the self's own spontaneous 
activity. The relation between the environment and the self, or 
between body and mind, is here conceived as an external one, such 
that the addition of a self-active mind to an otherwise material 
world alters that world only in spots, only in those places where 
life and mind can insert their peculiar activity into a world where, 
in general, life and mind are strangers. Vitalism and interactionism 
are content to leave most of reality in the full grip of mechanism. 

Perhaps the most persistent motive which has led to a belief in 
the empirical activity of the self is the conviction that only thus 
can the claims of moral freedom and responsibility be fully met. 
Only if the self is active from within, the genuine initiator of deeds, 
can responsibility attach to the self. And this activity must be 
empirical, specific, the source of definite consequences observable 

[ 202 ] 


in time and space, if responsibility also is to be definite and specific. 
The appeal here is to lie world of common moral sense, of moral 
agents, to what Bosanquet calls the "world of claim and counter 
claim." Indeed, it is not too much to say that this entire interpreta- 
tion of the self in terms of empirical, psychological activity rests 
upon an appeal both to immediate experience and to common sense, 
to categories of thought and of life, which age-long habit and famil- 
iarity have fastened upon the race. 

These three motives have one common implication which should 
be mentioned here. An individualism and radical separateness of 
selves is the usual, and certainly the logical accompaniment of 
stressing either the immediacy of felt activity, the efficacy of mind 
and of will, or the demands of freedom and responsibility. My 
experience of my own conscious activity is, in its immediacy, its 
"warmth and intimacy," something exclusively mine and unshar- 
able. Also, the separateness of selves is reinforced by the biological 
bias of pragmatism and the picture, ever present to our eyes, of 
separate bodily organisms, each acting as a distinct unity, as a 
compact organization of interests and of behavior. 

Let us look at some of the questions touching the meaning and 
the validity of these motives. The many pitfalls which surround the 
notion of immediate experience should at least put us on our guard 
when we are confronted by the thesis that every content of our 
conscious experience has a self aspect, in which its ownership by 
a self is an integral and ultimate characteristic. 

It is this thesis which we wish to examine rather than the view, 
opposed by Hume, that introspection reveals a unique and distinct 
entity known as the self. What is more obvious and more certain 
than that there is an immediate experience of one's self perceiving, 
attending, hoping, feeling, and acting ? We shall not wish to quarrel 
with this statement after we have made sure that certain wrong 
meanings and implications have been excluded. And there is an 
important issue about the self, and, indeed, about the concept of 
consciousness itself, which is involved here. Is it not often supposed 
that the reason why one has an immediate and indubitable knowl- 
edge of one's self lies in the fact that one is one's self, that the object 
of one's knowledge is here coincident with the knower, so that there 

[ 203 ] 


is no possibility of duplicity or error in the perception and knowledge 
of one's self? The presupposition here, persistent throughout so 
much of modern philosophy, is that the total existence and reality 
of an5^ing mental is exhausted by its being experienced. Whatever 
may be the case with existences other than one's own states of 
consciousness, of these at any rate it must be said that their esse 
is identical with their percipi. This is for Berkeley simply a truism. 
It is because he first defines material objects in terms of sensations 
and perceptions that he can affirm their esse to be literally identical 
with their percipi. An unperceived physical object, i.e., the interior 
of the earth, is not for common sense an absurdity; but an unper- 
ceived perception, an unfelt pain certainly is, to Berkeley and to 
common sense, a meaningless contradiction. The presupposition here 
in question is, then, that in the case of all mental existences, their 
whole reality is identical with their being experienced. They are 
wholly transparent and immediate; there is no distance or separa- 
tion between the knower and the known, the perceiver and the thing 
perceived. One consequence of this assumption, it is very necessary 
to observe. If this be the case, then all possibility of error, of illusion, 
of incomplete and inadequate knowledge of the life of conscious- 
ness, is to be, in principle, excluded. How can there be any mis- 
taking the nature of something mental, all of whose existences 
coincide with what is felt and known, with what is completely present 
and immediate? "For since all actions and sensations of the mind, 
says Hume,'''^re known to us by consciousness, they must necessarily 
appear in every particular what they are, and be what they appear. 
Everything that enters the mind, being in reality as the perception, 
'tis impossible anything shou'd to feeling appear different. This were 
to suppose, that even where we are most intimately conscious, we 
might be mistaken."^ And Hume is here but the spokesman for the 
entire Cartesian, "end-term" tradition. Contemporary neo-realism, 
which is so close to subjectivism in many ways, also here identifies 
its fortunes with this Humean assumption. Hume speaks not only 
for himself, but for the new realist when he says "there is only a 
single existence, which I shall call indifferently object or perception, 
according as it shall seem best to suit my purpose, understanding 

2 "Treatise,'' Book i, Part 4, p. 190, Selby-Bigge edition. 

[ 204 ] 


by both of them what any common man understands by a hat, or 
shoe, or stone, or any other impression, convey'd to him by his 
senses.'" Modern realism is also, like subjectivism, a philosophy 
of immediacy. The only difference is that whereas subjectivism 
regards the object as identical with the idea, realism views the idea 
as identical with the object. In each case the possibility of error 
and illusion seems quite remote because of the coincidence, the 
numerical identity, of the knower and the known. But leaving the 
neo-realists, let us inquire into this belief that, in the case of all 
mental existences, their esse is their percipi, and that, accordingly, 
all possibility of illusion and mistake in the knowledge of our con- 
tents of consciousness and of the self is to be excluded. This assump- 
tion must, I believe, be discarded, and in so doing, our interpretation 
of the self will be radically influenced. The belief, too, that the self 
is immediately experienced, will require a careful interpretation 
before it is allowed to stand. 

Let us see whether, after all, it is absurd to suppose that in the 
case of mental existences and of the self, there is a difference between 
their esse and their percipi. Is the concept of a stable and permanent 
mental structure, a totality of which immediate experience reveals 
but a fragment, — is such a concept useful and is it legitimate? I 
believe that it is, and for the following reasons. First, we are ob- 
viously quite unable to neglect the discrepancy between an apparent, 
experienced self, and a real self. Who does not remember the 
exclamation of James in the chapter on the Self? "Everyone must 
have known some specimen of our mortal dust so intoxicated with 
the thought of his own person and the sound of his own voice as 
never to be able even to liink the truth when his own autobiography 
was in question. Amiable, harmless, radiant J. V. Mayst thou ne'er 
wake to the difference between thy real and thy fondly-imagined 
Self." How, we ask, can any such difference be maintained unless 
more of the self be real than is momentarily experienced, unless 
indeed the self has a being other than its being experienced and felt? 
And do we not say, of our motives, that we thought we were acting 
from such and such motives but now we see that we were mistaken? 
Our real motives were quite different from those which we supposed 

3 "Treatise," p. 202. Cf. with this the essay of James, "Does 'Consciousness' Exist?" 

[ 20s ] 


them to be, i.e., from such as were experienced. If Hume could say 
of our perceptions that we must proceed upon the assumption that 
they "are our only objects, and continue to exist even when they 
are not perceived" (page 213) — to Hume a false though necessary 
assumption — ^how much more must we affirm of our motives and of 
om- selves, that they have an existence over and above their being 
felt. Psychology is not able wholly to forego the concept of enduring 
mental structures and systems, however puzzled it may be about 
the compatibility of this assumption with the traditional Cartesian- 
Humean view. As an illustration of an enduring mental structure 
whose being is not exhausted by its being experienced, consider the 
concept of sentiment. A sentiment — as that term is used by such 
careful writers as Shand, Stout, and McDougall — is not the same 
thing as an emotion, and the difference is instructive. An emotion, 
like a sensation or a pain, falls much more easily within the 
Berkeleyan formula. If an imfelt toothache, i.e., the pain, is absurd, 
so is an unfelt fear or anger. There is something immediate, momen- 
tary, and intense about an emotion. Its existence coincides with its 
being experienced. But not so in the case of sentiments. A sentiment 
is a more permanent, a more enduring mental structure, it has more 
the characteristics of a system and a totality than has an emotion. 
And it has a reality which exceeds that of any momentary pulse of 
consciousness. "A sentiment, as we have defined it, cannot be 
actually felt at any one moment, as emotions can be felt. . . . They 
are complex mental dispositions, and may, as divers occasions arise, 
give birth to the whole gamut of the emotions."* There are other 
differences between an emotion and a sentiment, but this alone 
interests us here. It shows us that the psychologist must fashion 
the concept of a mental existence whose reality is not coincident 
with its immediacy. A number of further illustrations of the same 
thing, drawn from psychology, may be noticed. Consider, for 
example, the difference between pleasure and happiness. It is 

^ stout: "Groundwork of Psychology," p. 223 S. The most extended psychological 
analysis of sentiments (in English) is that of A. F. Shand: "The Foundations of 
Character." Reference should be made to the chapter on Sentiments in McDougall's 
"Social Psychology," and to the important essay of Pfailder: "Zur Psychologie der 
Gesinnungen" (of which mention was earlier made) in Husserl's "Jahrbuch." 

[ 206 ] 


analogous with the difference between emotion and sentiment. 
Happiness has a duration, it has a dimension, as it were, which 
pleasure does not possess. Pleasure has less structure, less 'form' to 
it; it is momentary, as feeling and immediacy are momentary. 
Happiness connotes something more total; it is an enduring dis- 
position, of course mental, but having an esse which extends beyond 
its percipi. Another instance, trespassing somewhat upon the subject- 
matter of our next chapter, touches upon the difference between the 
category of 'experience' and that of 'attitude' in interpreting the 
psychology of religion. In comparison with an attitude, an expe- 
rience is transient, vivid, warm with immediacy. It is just what it 
is experienced as being. Now the fact is sometimes overlooked that 
many religious persons never have any religious experiences, of 
the kind, for instance, to which James devoted the greater part 
of his discussion in "The Varieties of Religious Experience." But 
such persons may possess certain attitudes, which can only be ade- 
quately characterized as religious. They may not think of them- 
selves as religious at all, any more than a happy child at play, or 
a person happily absorbed in his work thinks of himself as happy. 
An attitude, then, has a persistence, a structure, the form of a 
totality, which makes it like a sentiment, and which makes it differ 
from an immediate experience just as a sentiment differs from an 
emotion. Now such observations and reflections as these, and many 
others similar to them, can lead to but one conclusion touching the 
matter which here interests us. We simply cannot say that the very 
nature of anything mental, such as the self, precludes its possessing 
a reality over and above what is literally felt and experienced. The 
distinction between appearance and reality holds also within the 
province of contents of consciousness, wiliin the life of the self. 
Observe, now, what bearing this has on the way in which we shall 
think of the self. There is a t}^e of theory about the self, nowhere 
more attractively set forth than in James' "Psychology," which we 
may call a "transverse" theory. It conceives of the stream of con- 
sciousness, flowing along in time, as cut across transversely at the 
junctions, wherever we place them, of present and past. This is 
utterly crude, but it may answer the purpose. Each present self, 
through memory and knowledge, becomes the inheritor of the just 

[ 207 ] 


preceding self, and, consequently, of all the preceding selves, each 
one of which was at some time actually real. The only self which is 
real is one which is telescoped within the limits of the present mo- 
ment. There is a "never lapsing ownership." Can we not suppose, 
says James, that the "thought, the present judging thought, instead of 
being in any way substantially or transcendentally identical with the 
former owner of the past self, merely inherited his 'title,' and thxis 
stood as his legal representative now? . . . Each pulse of cognitive 
consciousness, each thought, dies away and is replaced by another.'" 
And why, let us ask, are we driven to think of the self as a succes- 
sion of momentary "specious presents," as perhaps a title which 
passes from one to the other? Does not the answer lie in the fact 
that we are really committed to the assumption we have been dis- 
cussing, the assimiption that the whole reality of anjrthing mental 
must be crowded within the very brief and momentary span of 
what is, at any present moment, immediately experienced? And if, 
with those who seriously discuss mental attitudes and sentiments, 
we renounce this assumption, are we not entitled, yes, driven, to 
replace such a transverse theory by what we may call a "longitudi- 
nal" theory? By this awkward phrase we mean any theory of the 
self which is not bound by the very narrow limitations which mark 
the boimdaries of the present moment; we mean a theory which 
ascribes to the self a perdurance and continuity along or through 
the intervals of time. Momentary experience, emotion, pleasxu-e, 
are "transverse" categories; attitude, sentiment, happiness, are 
"longitudinal" categories. They stand for mental structiures which 
endure through time, and whose reality vastly exceeds their being 
experienced. In passing, we may note that a distinction between 
transverse and longitudinal interpretations of society may also be 
observed. Sumner's "Folkways" interpretation is a transverse 
theory, like James' account of the self. The folkways of today 
inherit from the past and transmit to the future; they do not per- 
dure. They constitute no stable social structure, such as an insti- 
tution or a community which has some life of its own, bridging the 
gaps between successive generations and folkways." 

5 'Tsychology," vol. i, p. 339. 

8 This contrast is set forth impressively in the monograph of Dilthey : "Der Aufbau 

[ 208 ] 


To say, now, that the self is something of a total, enduring struc- 
ture is but to carry one step further the insight which results from 
the very necessary distinction between emotion and sentiment, 
experience and attitude. A self is, at least, an organized totality of 
sentiments and attitudes, which no experience of ours succeeds in 
exhausting. We may say more. We may again use the focus-fringe 
situation. Just as, in the last chapter, we observed that, in compari- 
son with knowledge, behavior is always focal and local, so we may 
say here that what is immediately experienced is but a focal center 
in comparison with the totality which is apprehended implicitly. 
Such a background or fringe is that system with which we expe- 
rience, rather than itself an object of experience. To look for the 
self as something experienced may indeed be similar to looking for 
one's spectacles while one is wearing them. This total structure, 
the self, is not pieced together hypothetically out of momentary 
fragments. It is rather the constant background, or fringe, which 
encompasses the present moment and links the present to the past.'' 
This concept of a stable mental structure, which we have brought 
to bear upon the problem of the self, has many points of contact 
with some familiar problems of metaphysics. I dwell for a moment 
upon one such. It is the problem of time itself. This quite empirical 
use of the concept of enduring mental structures, such as liiat of 
sentiments and attitudes, suggests what we might call the converse 
of the metaphysical doctrine that, in some sense, the temporal series 
is not the ultimate category under which reality is to be subsumed. 
In the empirical time series the coming of the present does annihilate 
the past. And the very type of this incessant flux seems to be the 
stream of consciousness itself. Yet we know that the "present 
moment" of the stream of thought is more than an ideal meeting 
place of past and future. It is a "saddle back" and not a "razor edge." 

der Geschichtlichen Welt in der Geisteswissenschaften," Berlin Academy Proceedings, 

' I cannot refrain from making reference once more to a really fruitful essay by 
Max Scheler: Die Idole der Selbsterkenntnis, in "Abhandlungen und Aufsatze," vol. 
2. Cf. the following quotation: "Was mir so gegeben ist, erscheint dabei stets auf 
einem undeutlichen Hintergrund des gonzen ungeteilten 'Ich.' Das in der inneren 
Wahmehmung erscheinende Ich ist also stets als Totalitat gegenwartig, auf der sich 
z. B. das Gegenwartsich nur als ein besonders helleuchtender Gipfel heraushebt." p. 118. 

[ 209 ] 


The time flux is, then, in principle, overcome in the experience of 
the present moment where past, present, and even future are grasped 
together in one conscious span. How much more is the time flux 
overcome through the building up of stable and enduring mental 
structures, sentiments, attitudes, selves, institutions and traditions 
in society. In these structures, immediate experience, the present 
moment, does not cover the entire reality, the total structure. Their 
esse is not equivalent to their percipi. 

We return to our views of the self. We started out by observing 
the plausibility of those theories of the self which lay stress upon 
the immediate experience which each person has of himself as per- 
ceiving, attending, feeling, willing, etc., as, in brief, a center of 
conscious activity. Our conclusion so far is that the self may more 
adequately be conceived as a relatively stable and enduring total 
structure which persists 'longitudinally,' as it were, through the 
time series rather than a succession of 'transverse' momentary selves, 
each one passing on its title to its heir. But this has a direct bearing 
upon the issue between theories of activity and theories of appro- 
priation. For, the more the self is conceived under the form of a 
total structure, the more is there for immediate experience to draw 
upon, to appropriate, and to possess. The immediately felt, outgoing 
energy and activity of the mind may not, in such a case, tell the 
whole story. The total self will be thought of, not as a memory 
image projected into the past from the present, but as a real 
structure. We shall have won the right to speak of a whole self. 
Moreover, it will be kept in mind that neither nature nor history 
builds up total structures, organisms, selves, or communities, in a 
vacuum, and in isolation. Some environment these structures all 
have, and their life is one of constant appropriation from that which 
the environment offers. We may remember all the reasons why the 
isolation of mind, why subjectivism is an untenable hj^othesis. 
The mind's very knowledge of reality is a form of appropriation, a 
disavowal of sheer projection, of animism, of the fabrication of 
total structures which we know to be but fictions. It is the extension 
of the present moment, of the immediately experienced self, into 
the past which has so far come to our notice. There are organized 
mental structures psychologically continuous with the experienced 

[ 210 ] 


activity of the present, from which the self of the moment appro- 
priates some of its content and its meanings. But there is now, so 
to speak, another dimension in which the present moment is to be 
extended, another type of structure from which the present moment 
draws some of its substance. In setting forth the nature of this other 
source from which selves appropriate their possessions, we may 
recall the general analysis of the concept of experience outlined in 
an earlier chapter, and what was there said about the deeper, Pla- 
tonic motives which are to aid us in interpreting the life of the 
mind. Knowledge of reality, it was held, is never simply a reading 
off of the facts of experience. There are possessions of the mind 
which are logically prior to the data of experience, and of which 
experience may be said to furnish an illustration and a vehicle. 
This, which we spoke of as the Platonic principle in idealism, takes 
on a wealth of concrete meaning when we apply it to the concept 
of the self. For this Platonic insight applies also to the nature and 
the knowledge of the self. We do not deny that there are 'expe- 
riences' both of nature, and of the self. We do deny that they are 
our sole possessions. This may, perhaps, be made clearer by the 
following considerations. Were the self nothing more or other than 
what we actually experience, the self could not possess some of the 
things which, short of utter scepticism, we believe it actually to 
possess. A wholly empirical self could not possess those things, 
knowledge and goodness, the possession of which is our best 
treasure. Were the self composed of nothing but experience-stuff, 
were it wholly temporal, it could not furnish the seat for that which 
we mean by knowledge. The existence of valid knowledge is never 
merely a matter of biographical interest. Experiences, events, are 
all biographical items; they may be dated. My acquiring of the 
knowledge of calculus and my forgetting it may be dated, and these 
events might prove to be of interest in my biography, but to say 
that I really do know something is different from merely reporting 
a biographical item. It is to say that certain ideas, beliefs, which 
are a part of my stream of thought and which are to that extent 
events, also possess a certain value; it is to say that they are also 
true. And in being true, an idea participates in an order of things, 
i.e., in reality, which is something over and above its membership 

[ 211 ] 


in the series of thoughts and feelings which constitute my stream 
of consciousness or even the whole of my experience. What we may 
say, then, is that every true idea is the meeting point of two different 
series, of two dimensions or orders of being. A true idea belongs 
to the experiences of a self. It is owned by some stream of conscious- 
ness, as a belief, a judgment. As such, it is an event which may be 
dated and is, in so far, a biographical item. But in so far as it is a 
true idea, it belongs to another series, and we ought not to say that 
the fact of its belonging to that other series is simply a further 
matter of experience. For, false beliefs and erroneous judgments 
have their accredited place in the biographical experience series. 
Or, consider this same matter in the light of the following. There 
is a distinction which goes deep into the heart of both the Pla- 
tonic and the Kantian philosophies, between that which is con- 
tingent, matter of fact, and that which is inherently necessary and 
significant. We can best catch the force of this distinction from one 
or two concrete illustrations. Why did the Deists in England, the 
leaders of eighteenth century thought in France (excepting Rous- 
seau), why did the mind of the enlightenment, distrust everything 
which was "positive," i.e., historical, relative to a particular time and 
place? Why did it seek everywhere for that whidi is "natural" and 
universal, common to all men, and evident to the light of reason? 
Because this contrast between the mere matter of fact and the 
inherently necessary was vividly present to the imagination of this 
age. These men saw the limitations which everywhere hedge about 
what is only a particular, contingent fact, what is purely relative 
to some local here-and-now situation. There is ever an element of 
caprice, of chance, there is always the possibility of a thing having 
been or being other than it is, had only some accidental set of cir- 
cumstances been altered. Of such matter-of-fact existences one will 
say, they happen to be thus and thus. But of rational and necessary 
realities and truths, one will say they must be as they are. The three 
angles of a triangle do not merely happen to equal two right angles; 
there is a quality of necessity and rationality about this relation- 
ship. It could not be otherwise. Of contingent fact we say something 
else. It happens that my watch is on the table. It might be other- 
wise; there is no inherent necessity about it. The belief that there 

[ 212 ] 


is an ultimate necessary principle behind all law, independent of 
the consent of man and of all historic, contingent fact, constitutes 
the belief in a Law of Nature, in the political and juristic sense. 
And this is the meaning of equity whose "claim to authority is 
grounded, not on the prerogative of any external person or body, 
not even on that of the magistrate who enunciates it, but on the 
special nature of its principles, to which it is alleged that all law 
ought to conform." Equity "pretends to a paramount sacredness" 
without any "concurrence of prince or parliamentary assembly."* 
We meet here once more with autonomous values. They, alone, save 
us both from caprice and from absolutism, i.e., the subjection of 
men to the matter-of-fact will and power of a particular and local 
authority. We see the truth of Lord Acton's judgment that "it is 
the Stoics who emancipated mankind from its subjection to despotic 
rule, and whose enlightened and elevated views of life bridged the 
chasm that separates the ancient from the Christian state, and led 
the way to freedom."' The Stoics did this through holding fast to 
just this distinction between the merely matter of fact, and that 
which is rational and normative. But the Stoics built upon an earlier 
philosophical tradition and insight, which we owe to the Greek 
thinkers, and above all to the genius of Plato. And so we come back 
to the Platonic ingredient in idealism, and our problem of the self. 
For it is Plato who undertakes, both in science and in political life, 
to overcome the limitations of the purely matter of fact and con- 
tingent by linking it to an inherently rational, significant structure. 
We, in the late modern world, are most familiar with and at home 
in this Platonic tradition, in the province of natural science, spe- 
cially such sciences as make the largest use of mathematics. For 
it is a just remark which is made by Troeltsch when he says that 
the essence of modern science at the hands of its greatest founders, 
Kepler and Galileo, Descartes and Newton, is precisely the dis- 
covery of rational necessity in the factual processes of nature (die 
Aufweisung einer rationalen Notwendigkeit im Naturgeschehen).^" 

8 Maine: "Ancient Law," p. 28. 
9 "Essays on Liberty," p. 24. 

w Empirismus und Platonismus in der Religions philosophie, "Schriften,'' vol. 2, 
p. 367. My earlier statement is virtually a translation of this from Troeltsch: "Aber 

[ 213 ] 


I say that it is in science that we best understand this Platonic 
insight, because the nineteenth century came so markedly under 
the influence of biological and historical tendencies and it is espe- 
cially in politics and social matters that we are for the most part 
content with being the servants and the instruments of matter-of- 
fact forces. Even in the physical sciences, this Platonic insight was 
for awhile threatened through the influence of pragmatism, which 
is merely a deliberate rejection of everything Platonic, and hence 
of the foundations upon which the greatest successes of modern 
science were laid. What has this to do with the question about the 
self? The answer is that selves are the places where these two 
orders of being meet and join. There is nothing recondite about the 
saying of this unless squarely to face the central mystery about 
the life of selves be recondite. The situation is wholly aboveboard 
and stares us in the face. Every true idea that any self possesses 
belongs to two series. It is, once more, an item in that self's biog- 
raphy, and it also belongs to a structure whose autonomous ration- 
ality is self-contained. It is the difference between a cause and a 
reason. My belief in the Pj^agorean proposition has, as a mental 
occurrence, a set of causes upon which it depends, certain preced- 
ing beliefs and sensations, or if you choose, certain physical events 
transpiring in my brain. But my belief is also based upon certain 
reasons. I can prove the proposition. My idea thus mediates between 
a very local, contingent, temporal aggregate of particles which I 
call my bodily organism, and an ideally significant and logical 
system of eternally true propositions. My idea, if it be true, "inter- 
prets" the one system to the other. And my self possesses, then, not 
only its particular, contingent experiences, its here-and-now char- 
acter, but it also participates in these significant structures, these 
autonomous, Platonic ideas. It is the self's possession of these which 
confers validity upon any particular biographical event, whether 
idea or deed. We may say more than this. A self is characterized by 
the fusion, most intimate, of a contingent, matter-of-fact, causal 
series, and an inherently significant structure. That is just what we 

er (Plato) will uberall zugleich die Ueberwindung des bloss Tatsachlichen durch den 
Aufweis eines in ihm waltenden und sich entfaltenden rational — notwendigen Be- 
griffselementes sein." p. 367. 

[ 214 ] 


mean by a self. The central fact about a self is the participation of 
something natural and organic, empirical and factual, in that which 
is really of value. Again in the language of Troeltsch, a self exists 
through the "Aufnahme absoluter Werte in das naturhafte Seelen- 
leben."^^ It is the claim which the self makes that its ideas shall not 
only be its ideas, but shall also be true, which furnishes the model 
for the procedure of the sciences which seek to overcome the merely 
factual through interpreting it in the light of a logical, mathematical 
system. Mechanics and physical science are in this sense anthropo- 
morphic and human, but the self they pattern after is one in which, 
in principle, the limitations of the factual have already been over- 

Let us summarize our results thus far. We have held that the self 
includes more than the literal feelings and experiences, which at any 
present moment are alive with the "warmth and intimacy" which 
belong to the present moment. The present self, our contents of 
consciousness whose esse is coincident with their percipi, must be 
filled out, if it is to include all that the self stands for. And it is to 
be filled out in two directions. First, the self must be thought of as 
including a relatively stable and permanent mental structure, com- 
prising sentiments and attitudes which make up a totality and serve 
as a fringe for the more focal and particular present moment. This 
is, so to speak, a psychological extension of the present moment. 
Secondly, the self must be thought of as in possession of those 
significant structures, Platonic Ideas and norms which, when fused 
with the particular and matter-of-fact items of experience, generate 
knowledge and goodness. This is, we may say, an extension of the 
present moment not so much into further psychological and mental 
territory, as into the realm of significant structures, autonomously 
valid, the participation in which is the mark of the life of reason. 
A self which is more than a behaving organism is made by appro- 
priating from and participating in such significant structures, and 
fusing them with the particular and contingent items of its expe- 
rience and biography. We have been defending, then, what can be 
called a theory of appropriation. But what of the activity of selves; 

11 "Werke," vol. 2, p. 853. 

[ 215 ] 


how shall we make provision for those motives which cause so many 
writers to stress the unique activity of conscious selves? 

By way of an answer to this question, we may first recall the 
necessity of distinguishing between causal efficacy and the appre- 
hension and development of meaning. There is intelligent activity 
involved in successfully making a fire outdoors in the rain; there 
is activity involved in listening to music and apprehending its beauty 
and its meaning, or in conversing with a friend and developing 
common ideas and interests. But surely here are two different types 
of activity which, however intimately they may be related in many 
of the specific things we do, are, in principle, distinct. It is the 
distinction once more between adequately responding to a stimulus 
and apprehending an object, appropriating a meaning; it is the 
difference between the pragmatic and the non-pragmatic interests. 
With the necessity of being clear about this distinction we have 
already dealt at some length, and we need pursue it here no further. 
For we are here concerned with understanding the relation between 
the attitudes of appropriation and of activity, with seeing the place 
which a life of activity and freedom may have in a world where 
there are significant structures to be appropriated. Is the interest 
in possessing and in contemplating significant structures utterly 
static and conservative, or does it give scope for the individual, for 
freedom, for activity ? Is it consonant with the impelling radicalism, 
more necessary now than ever, of reconstructing and building up 
our world anew? It will be seen that we are touching here once 
again upon the central question, the place which idealism may still 
claim in the modern age. In the remainder of this chapter but one 
aspect of this question will come before us, that which concerns 
especially the activities and the deeds of selves. What I shall try 
to make clear is the way in which both appropriation from without 
and activity from within meet and interpenetrate in the life of selves 
and individuals. 

There is, first, a very familiar issue about the way in which his- 
torical events and achievements had best be interpreted, and the 
part taken by individuals in historical processes. There are historians 
who care nothing for institutions and there are those who care not 
at all about individuals. There are those who believe that every 

[ 2I6 ] 


significant historical change must have been somewhiere initiated 
by an individual, and there are those who view the individual merely 
as one who seizes upon and utters forces which he finds already 
in existence and which he does not at all create. Place side by side 
these two statements. "The great religious movements which have 
stirred humanity to its depths and altered the beliefs of nations 
spring ultimately from the conscious and deliberate efforts of 
extraordinary minds, not from the blind unconscious operation of 
the multitude.'"^ And then this: "Hiunility and religion are neither 
the discovery nor the private possession of a few 'higher intelli- 
gences,' but are bound up with the native tendencies and with the 
social development of ordinary humanity."^^ There is the principle, 
explicitly formulated by Baur, "alle geschichtliche Personen sind 
fiir uns blosse Namen," and there is the Great Man, the hero 
conception of Carlyle, and of William James who held that all 
historical and social changes are due "to the accumulated in- 
fluences of individuals, of their examples, their initiatives, and their 

The issue between these two interpretations of history, familiar 
as it is, touches deeply other central problems. Thus, when one 
surveys any considerable portion of the world, one finds abundant 
evidences of change, of evolution, of something which we call lower 
becoming something which we are likely to call higher. The inor- 
ganic world forms the indispensable basis for the organic world; 
it in turn precedes the world of consciousness, and within the con- 
scious order the instinctive and involuntary provide the foundations 
for the reflective and the voluntary. Now any process of develop- 
ment may be interpreted in one of two ways. Either that which is 
later and "higher" merely unfolds, utters, renders explicit and 
articulate that which is earlier and "lower," or it transforms and 

^^Frazer: "Adonis," p. 311. 

"Marett: "The Birth of Humility," p. 13. 

1* Great Men and their Environment, in "The Will to Believe," etc., p. 218. I quote 
one more passage, again from a competent historian. "But we must look beyond mere 
individuals. In the great ages of the world individuals are but the instruments which 
are used by ideas and tendencies. If Paul had never become a Christian, the work he 
did would have been done by others; and no one felt this more strongly than the 
apostle himself." Percy Gardner: "The Growth of Christianity," p. 85. 

[ 217 ] 


really adds to the world through that which it contributes. In the 
former case, it appropriates the more elementary and the earlier, 
and is thus in reality but a prolongation of the "simpler" structures 
which precede. In the latter case it contributes something which it 
does not borrow; it is self-active and creative from within. Does 
consciousness but voice the body's interests, or does consciousness 
have some interests of its own? Is reason but instinct become aware 
of itself, or does it disclose new values and new motives? Does the 
community, for instance the state and the ordered institutions of 
historical man, but give utterance and protection to the natural 
interests and rights of the individual, or does it add to the wealth 
of his interests, transforming perhaps those concerns and motives 
which he has inherited from a "state of nature"? Does the present 
but appropriate and prolong the past, or does it add to the past, 
contributing something which it does in no way borrow? These are 
all analogous questions. They are pertinent to our inquiry as to 
the relative part played by appropriation and activity, knowledge 
and will, in the life of selves. Each of the two alternative answers 
to these questions appears to be strongest in pointing out the weak- 
ness of its opponent. Thus, one points out that the whole meaning 
of development, of history, of life quite drops out if the "higher" or 
later merely prolongs without reconstructing the "lower" or earlier. 
Were such the case, indeed, we simply would have no problem what- 
ever on our hands. We face problems here because there are dis- 
continuities, because there are selves, local centers of disturbance 
and change. But, on the other hand, one may urge no less decisively 
that unless the earlier and the "lower" contain the ground for the 
later and "higher," unless the life and the deeds of an individual do 
really knit themselves into and utter the forces really within the 
environment, then his own contributions will avail nothing, and will 
be vain and empty. The activities of such an individual will be re- 
jected as an external gift, an intruding charity which is not wanted 
because it is no completion and fulfillment, no appropriation and 
utterance of what is really there. 

There is only one solution of this dilemma which can, in the end, 
satisfy us. We must discover a situation in which the "higher" can 
not only build upon the "lower," appropriate and give voice to it, 

[ 218 ] 


thereby escaping emptiness and shallowness, but also be not merely 
the repetition and the prolongation of the lower. We want to discover 
an order in which there are both appropriation and activity. And 
such a situation, such a type of order, surely is to be found nowhere 
except in what is essentially a community, a social and a spiritual 
order. No purely mechanical order can meet this double require- 
ment. There is, in a mechanical, time-space system, no novelty, no 
activity of anything individual; there is only continuity, thorough- 
going appropriation without alteration or leakage. That is precisely 
what the conservation of energy connotes. Also, a system charac- 
terized by "piecemeal supernaturalism" is no better off. Here is, at 
least in spots, sheer discontinuity; radical pluralism; activity, but 
no appropriation. But how different is a social structure, a world 
of selves. The very commonplaces of psychology are our witnesses 
to the way in which, in a world of selves, appropriation and activity 
are indissolubly linked together in a unique process, unique in the 
sense that such a fusion is exhibited only in a social structure. This 
is the bottom meaning of apperception, of attention, of the processes 
of imitation and learning, of knowing and of willing. Always is 
there appropriation, recognition of something not created and hence 
not at all subjective. And there is also invariably present some 
element of activity, individual emphasis, and unique interest. Let 
us state the matter in this way. A social world, a community life, 
is certainly not one in which Berkeley's formula would hold. The 
reality in the midst of which one is living is not identical with one's 
own perceptions and feelings. All is not solitary and individual. 
There is an objective significant structure which the individual is 
to acknowledge. The social order is not just my "idea." But it is 
equally true to say that no formula of sheer realism will exhibit the 
true nature of a social situation. My social environment is not wholly 
independent of my own recognition of it. You literally cease to be 
my fellow, if I refuse ever to recognize you as such. To be sure, your 
body is there in space, but that is all. A state, an authority, a sover- 
eignty which is utterly realistic, whose very reality is not in some 
manner constituted by the voluntary recognition and allegiance 
which men yield it, is no real sovereign and no real state. Authority 
and political sovereignty have always, even in the most despotic 

[ 219 ] 


regime, some vestige of what Green has called "that impalpable 
congeries of the hopes and fears of a people, bound togther by 
common interests and sympathy."^' Neitier realism nor subjectiv- 
ism, neither sheer recognition of something completely independent, 
nor activity and creativity in a vacuum, will describe the truth about 
a social situation. We must say, simply, that both appropriation and 
activity are here fused together, both continuity and novelty, law 
and freedom. Here is, let us say, a third dimension in which the 
present moment and its activity need to be expanded and sur- 
rounded before we understand what the self is or implies. The 
present moment, we remember, participates in the past and in 
enduring mental structures, and this we called its psychological 
extension. And it participates in ideal meanings, regulative ideals, 
autonomous norms and values, and this we called its logical exten- 
sion. And now what we say is that it participates in a social order, 
it appropriates a community life. The individual gets his significance 
and his solidity because his life expresses institutions, traditions, 
hopes and ideals transcending anything which springs only from 
within himself. Yet, the individual may be no mere repetition, and 
no slave of his community. He is to interpret it, to make it his own, 
to discover himself in its life. Thus may we see certainly one type 
of objective significant structiure, a complex type, and one which is 
pervasive in all regions of our experience. How universal, how 
cosmic, may we expect and hope to find it? This raises the problem 
of religion, and to this subject we turn in the next chapter. 

^^ The Principles of Political Obligation, "Works," vol. 3, p. 404. 

[ 220 ] 


THAT religion is to be counted among the foremost of 
those significant interests and attitudes which are other 
than pragmatic and utilitarian will seem to many a 
doubtful saying. It is, however, this undoubted char- 
acteristic of religion which will constitute the theme of 
this chapter. Religion, in idea if not always in fact, has been the 
chief spokesman for the attitude of possession, of contemplation, 
of worship, — we may even say of knowledge, when these energies 
of the mind are taken at their fullest and their deepest. In the total 
economy of life's interests there is room for the apprehension of 
meanings, for participation in significant structures, for the knowl- 
edge of reality. And these all fulfill an office other than that of 
response to a stimulus, other than that of adaptation and behavior. 
To interpret the proper function of religion, and rightly to judge of 
its destiny is to understand, in something of its concrete significance, 
the import of these non-pragmatic interests. Moreover, that religion, 
in some fashion and in greater or less degree, is a matter of feeling 
will probably be admitted. In seeking, then, to understand the office 
of religion we shall find ourselves confronted by some of those 
vexed issues as to the relation between the intellect and such 
energies of the mind as imagination and appreciation, sympathy 
and love, in short, between idea and feeling. There are two situations 
in which this question as to the relation between idea and feeling 
arises, and a consideration of these two large situations will aid us 
in understanding the nature and the office of religion. 

The first situation comes to light when we reflect upon the dis- 
tinction between two different regions of experience, and two con- 
trasting tj^es of knowledge. In those ranges of our knowledge and 
our sciences which are called exact, such as mathematics or me- 

[ 221 ] 


chanics, we find it both easy and necessary to mark off the indi- 
vidual thinker, discoverer, investigator from the truths and theories 
which he discovers and propounds. All intellectual and scientific 
achievement is, indeed, in an important sense, individual. It is 
always some individual thinker who is responsible for every known 
truth, for every fruitful hypothesis which has emerged in the 
development of science and of philosophy. But, in that region of 
our knowledge which we are now calling to mind, the truths, theories 
and hypotheses, once discovered or invented, propounded and set 
forth in books, may be understood and tested without making any 
explicit reference to the individual thinker who first discovered them 
and sent them on their way. One need know and care little enough 
about the individual man Pythagoras, or the life and aspirations 
of the Pythagorean community in order to understand and to verify 
the Pythagorean proposition in geometry. Nor need one interest 
himself in the man Robert Boyle, nor in the culture of seventeenth 
century England, in order to grasp the meaning and verify the truth 
of Boyle's law in physics. Once born, once discovered, these truths 
and theories of mathematics and of science live, so to speak, a free 
life of their own. They sever themselves from all local attachment 
to the mind which first formulated them, and gave them birth. 
Such truths, we say, are objective and universal. That identical 
proposition in geometry which is ascribed to Pythagoras might have 
been, and very likely has been discovered frequently by various 
individuals and in varjdng circumstances of life and of culture. 
No one of these individual thinkers, then, puts anything of his 
unique, individual self into such a theorem. It passes as common 
currency in the intellectual market, freely changing hands, trans- 
mitted from countless teachers to countless pupils, but never bear- 
ing the marks of any individual mind or age lirough which it has 
passed. In respect to such wares, the individual is but a transparent 
vehicle for truths which might have been discovered and uttered by 
any other mind, at any other time and place, so far, at least, as any 
characteristic of the true proposition itself is concerned. Yet, we 
do well not to forget that all tihiis mass of common intellectual cur- 
rency does bear upon it some stamp, which attests its genuineness 
and its validity. Such a stamp issues from the scientific mind and 

[ 222 ] 


tradition itself, from the nature of an autonomous intelligence which 
reserves the right to accept only such currency as conforms to its 
own standards and laws. Such is the permanent outcome and lesson 
of the Kantian analysis of the nature and basis of our knowledge. 
Because, then, nothing individual enters into the texture of scien- 
tific truths, it does not follow that nothing ideal, nothing derived 
from the autonomous realm of mind, enters therein. But it is not 
this Kantian insight which here demands our notice so much as the 
fact that science does, in vast regions of our knowledge, avow an 
exclusive interest in such truths as can be understood wholly apart 
from the individual selves who propounded them and who transmit 

But this is not the sole region either of our interest or of our 
knowledge. There is another domain, in which it is less easy sharply 
to mark off the individual person and thinker from the results which 
issue from his thinking, and the products of his art. Here, so much 
of himself goes into his work that, in order to understand it, there 
is need to watch the manner in which it issues from the individual's 
own self. The personality of the originator, whether creator or 
thinker, becomes so mixed with his product that we cannot go far 
in comprehending that product without some appreciative insight 
into the individual self of the originator. All art I suppose to exhibit 
something of this trait, though in varying degrees, poetry more than 
music, and lyric poetry more than epic or dramatic poetry. And not 
only is a work of art permeated, to some extent, with the individual 
character of the artist, but it bears, as well, the marks of the indi- 
vidual age and culture in which it was produced. To read the 
"Divine Comedy" with intelligent understanding is not only to 
enter into the mind of the man Dante, but into the mind of the 
medieval age as well. Philosophy, if we choose to contrast it with 
science, shows us, unquestionably, thought-structures into which the 
individual thinker has put more of himself and of his age, more of 
all the varied energies of his life and his experience — feeling, passion, 
and imagination as well as idea and thought — than is the case with 
science. This explains why it is that the history of philosophy bears 
a more intimate relation to the problems of philosophy than the 
history of scientific ideas bears to the validity and the truth of those 

[ 223 ] 


ideas. There is more of the total and individual man and his age in 
the dialogues of Plato than in Newton's "Principia." 

But if art and philosophy show us something of that region in 
which the thinker and his deeds are so intertwined that it is impos- 
sible to understand his ideas apart from the energies of the self 
which enter into them, religion may be said to explore farther and 
deeper reaches of that same region. I believe that many of the 
central and most characteristic traits of the religious attitude are 
to be understood only in the light of the situation we are now con- 
sidering. We have already met with this situation in studying some 
of the relations between Platonism and Christianity. There we were 
interested both in the similarity and the differences in the Platonic 
contemplation of the Idea, and in the Christian loyalty to an indi- 
vidual and historical life and community. That religion is supremely 
concerned with individual selves, places, and events, that it lives 
through participation in the historic life of some vital tradition and 
community, must be patent to anyone who cares to understand the 
religious attitude. And also, correlated with this fact, is the addi- 
tional characteristic of religion, that its interest is fundamentally 
non-pragmatic. Religion grows out of the discovery of and love for 
significant individual and historical structures, which live in time, 
even if they also participate in values which are more than temporal. 
Of such structures, a "beloved community" provides us with our 
most concrete instance. Religion, when purged of magic — as it may 
be in idea if not, alas, in fact — is something quite different from 
man's interest in utilizing and controlling his world, in responding 
effectively to stimuli. The interest of religion terminates not in 
behavior following upon a stimulus, but in the apprehension of 
meaning, the possession of an object, the knowledge of reality. To 
be sure, our age seldom interprets religion thus. Rather does it 
estimate religion in accordance with the presupposition that nothing 
can be significant for the modern man except that which contributes 
to his forward-looking interest in control, organization, and activity; 
in behavior and the anticipation of behavior. How deep and how 
persistent are the motives which have urged the modern mind to the 
tacit or avowed acknowledgment of this faith we have already seen. 
The influence of biology; the retreat of the intellect; democracy, 

[ 224 ] 


boldly generalized; and, above all, the forces of modern economic 
rationalism have all tended to sweep the mind clear of any disposi- 
tion to recognize non-pragmatic values. When confronted by such an 
idea system, the most that religion may claim is a zest for social 
activity, for "practical" concerns, an interest in promoting social 
reform. "Even prelates and missionaries," writes Mr. Santayana, 
"are hardly sincere or conscious of an honest function, save as they 
devote, themselves to social work." Surely such "practical religion" 
represents but feebly the historical energy and function of religion; 
it witnesses rather to the success with which the biological and eco- 
nomic (capitalistic) interest of men in instrumental power and prag- 
matic mastery have all but eaten their way into the very citadel of 
that interest which historically has been the spokesman for posses- 
sion and contemplation, for the love and worship of some significant 
structure, which alone makes any activity and any mastery worth 
while. And no wonder that religion, even "practical religion," lan- 
guishes when expert and trained secular structures are at hand 
equipped and competent to organize the practical concerns of men. 
Religion will always bungle when it competes with the intelligent 
and the scientific control of life processes and their environment. 
For quite different purposes has it, since its early attempts to throw 
off magic, developed its most characteristic structures and its life. 
"Uti non frui bonis terrenis, frui non uti Deo." We may perhaps 
question the first clause, but surely not the second, and Augustine 
speaks with authority. One may not say that having taken this 
stand we are of necessity committed to all that is reactionary and 
conservative. Indeed, the contrary seems to me the natural impli- 
cation. One may be and will be fearless and radical in thinking 
through the task of social reconstruction and social justice, precisely 
because one cherishes and participates in significant structures, 
which are the source of guidance and of loyalty. 

Religion, then, stands for an interest in participating in, in know- 
ing a significant structure, and one which is both individual and 
historical. But now we may recall what we said a moment ago about 
the way in which an individual being may express himself in deeds 
and products which may not be adequately apprehended independ- 
ently of their source, but which are penetrated by meanings intel- 

[ 225 ] 


ligible only as we enter into the individual mind or minds which 
discovered them or brought them into being. And what I now wish 
to urge is this: There is a certain correlation between the nature 
of any structure which is to be apprehended and the nature of sudi 
energies as are involved in its apprehension. Especially, the more 
concrete is any structure, the more total and concrete must be the 
mind's activities if the mind is to succeed in knowing that structure. 
An idea, surrounded by feeling and kindled by imagination, is more 
complex and — one may surely say — more concrete than is idea 
standing alone. Accordingly, those truths which, once propounded, 
are intelligible without making any reference to their source in some 
individual mind and age, may be apprehended by idea alone. But 
it is otherwise with all such structures as embody within themselves 
genuinely individual meanings, purposes, and deeds. Wherever an 
individual self, community or age has really put something of itself 
into its deeds, and has mixed itself with its products, in such cases 
idea alone will not be adequate to participate in or to obtain a 
knowledge of the significant structure in question. What I am say- 
ing, then, is that there are circumstances in which feeling and 
imagination, sympathy and love are vehicles of knowledge. Without 
the functioning of these energies which are other than idea, certain 
significant structures could not be known and participated in. So 
far from feeling always and necessarily being subjective, wholly 
lacking in an object, we may say of it what our general idealistic 
thesis has said of the whole life of mind, that it is in communication 
with and in possession of the real. Error and illusion are to be 
recognized and provided for as one may, here as elsewhere. But 
error becomes a problem only because truth is the expected thing, 
and only if some truth is indubitably the possession of the mind. 
Not life but death, not memory but forgetfulness, not the mind's 
continuity with the real but its isolation and its futility, awaken 
wonder and demand explanation.^ 

^ Cf . the following from Dilthey : "Die Natur erklaren wir, das Seelenleben verstehen 
wir." . . . "Wir erklaren durch rein intellectuelle Prozesse, aber wir verstehen durch 
das zusammenwirken aller Gemiitskrafte in der Auffassung." Ideen uber eine beschrie- 
bende u. zergliedemde Psychologie. Berlin Akadamie, 1894, pp. 1314, 1342. Cf. also 

[ 226 ] 


It may be admitted willingly that the term "feeling" is not ade- 
quate to denote the regions of our experience here in question. We 
have used it here simply as the most familiar of the terms which 
mark out some of those energies of the mind which are other than 
intellect and idea. But I would wish to guard against the implication 
that there is a clear-cut and decisive demarcation between reason 
and sympathetic imagination, idea and feeling. Indeed, one beneficial 
result of attempting to view the matter as we have been doing is 
the breaking down of the easy antithesis which controversies about 
intellectualism are too prone to build upon. For, there are varying 
distances between the life of concrete individual selves and commu- 
nities, and the products or embodiments of their thinking. The 
greater the distance, the less will any such content be penetrated 
by the individual, and the less will 'feeling' be involved in its appre- 
hension. Mathematics and the exact sciences are concerned with 
such truths as these; everything individual is here left behind and 
ideas alone function in the knowledge of such systems. But one may 
approach nearer to the deeds and life of individual structures, 
selves, communities, nations. As one does so, some element of feeling 
and will, something akin to love and sympathy must needs function 
with idea if such individual structures are to be known as they are. 
Such structures, as well as the energies which function in their 
apprehension, are more concrete, in the proper sense of that term. 
Here, feeling and idea, the individual and that which is the embodi- 
ment of his thought, are concreted together. There is no radical and 
qualitative opposition between feeling and idea. It is a matter of 
greater or less distance from some individual source, from some 
unique and determinate purpose and life. We may start nearest to 
the concrete individual and say with James that "feelings are the 
germ and starting point of cognition, thoughts the developed tree.'" 
Or we may start with that which is least individual and most uni- 
versal, with mathematics and mechanics, and we might see how this 
is to be surrounded more and more by concrete and individual 
structures, requiring more and more the play of feeling and imagi- 

the discussion of Webb in "Problems in the Relations of God and Man," p. 59, and 
Merz : "Religion and Science," pp. 60 ff. 
2 "Psychology," vol. i, p. 222. 

[ 227 ] 


nation for their adequate apprehension. It is essentially thus that 
the idealistic critique of naturalism proceeds, as is exhibited for 
instance in Ward's "Naturalism and Agnosticism." Again, in this 
situation, we may be aided by the focus-fringe analogy. Idea is ever 
precise, explicit, fully attended to; feeling connotes that which is 
less articulate and formal, the vaguer background and fringe which 
surround the focal center of our attention. But no hard and fast 
barrier separates them, and both may be cognitive. Ideas, purged 
of feeling, may know such truths as have a content and meaning 
of which no individual purpose forms any part. Feeling and love, 
imagination and sympathetic appreciation may know the more total 
and complex structures, which cannot be torn away from their source 
in the life of some individual self or commimity. 

The bearing of this upon the interpretation of religion will be 
clear enough. Religion is, psychologically, a matter of feeling rather 
than of idea. This need not mean that idea is lacking. This need 
imply no rejection of the autonomy and integrity of ideas. This 
does not mean that religion is wholly a matter of individual expe- 
rience and subjective immediacy. The argument points indeed in 
quite an opposite direction. It opens the way for conceiving of 
religion both as an instance of those interests and attitudes which 
are cognitive, which possess and participate in real structures, and 
also as, on the whole, a matter of feeling and imagination. And it 
does so through no appeal to any abnormal or unusual experiences, 
but through observing the part actually played by mental energies 
other than sheer idea in the apprehension of individual structiures 
and meanings. But to stress tiie fact that reUgion is primarily a 
matter of feeling, or something akin to feeling, has a furtiier 
implication. For, feeling is linked, psychologically, with emotion 
and with instinct, with all that which is most primitive and potent 
among the constitutive and moving forces of life. And life itself, 
when reduced to its most fundamental terms, seems to be the 
maintenance of a particular interest as against an environment 
which does indeed tolerate, and which may, for a while, sustain the 
vital interest. But, any living body makes incessant demands upon 
its world; it is partial to and selective of such features of the envi- 
ronment as are pertinent to its own interests. And all such objects, 

[ 228 ] 


selected because they are relevant to the vital interests at stake, are 
attended to with a glow of emotion, with feeling and with "interest." 
Now especially noteworthy, in this respect, is the feeling tone which 
accompanies the individual's attention to and participation in the 
life of his social group. That man's social experience does readily 
become suffused with emotions and feelings of a mystical and reli- 
gious quality is not to be doubted. The loyalty of any individual to 
some social community which utterly commands his devotion and 
his life interests is piety and it is religion. We have dwelt upon this 
sufficiently in an earlier chapter.' But just here, when we see the 
psychological continuity between religious devotion, full of emo- 
tional ardor and mystic piety, and those vital interests, represented 
by the primary instincts, which seize upon such portions of the 
environment as are pertinent to them, we face an issue of capital 
and central importance. The problem touches upon a divergence 
and conflict between fundamental assumptions, and it confronts us 
everjrwhere in our thinking. Reduced to its simplest terms, the 
radical issue in all our philosophy becomes this. We must say one 
of two things. Either our beliefs and our judgments, our preferences 
and our loyalties are not valid unless they conform to the require- 
ments of some such function and energy of the mind as men have 
meant to denote by the term 'reason' : this means that no instinctive 
proclivity, no natural interest is justified merely because of the fact 
that it happens to exist; only such life activities as may be justified 
by the standards of reason shall be allowed to stand. This is, of 
course, the Socratic conviction: a life which is not criticized is not 
one which is fit for a human being to live. Or, we shall say the other 
thing: having discovered, beneath the life of reason and idea the 
welter of instinct and of impulse, we shall say that reason is no judge 
which stands above life, but is merely the voice which gives utter- 
ance to a preexisting particular interest. Ideas and ideals will now 
be viewed as reflecting the preferences of organisms which must 

8 For confirmatory details, one had best consult the writings of Durkheim and 
his school. Simmel has some pertinent remarks on this head in "Die ReUgion," pp. 
28 ff. A noteworthy statement of this same conviction appears also in the recent book 
of Loisy, "La ReUgion" (1917), a fervid and eloquent interpretation of religion as 
the very essence of heroic devotion to one's beloved nation. 

[ 229 ] 


first act and live before they think and reason and know. We may 
best call this, I think, the Humean insight. For, it is in the phi- 
losophy of Hume that this discovery of instinct and of life is first 
set forth with full awareness of its importance and its implications. 
The necessities of life are here seen to lie deeper and to be more 
impelling and more creative than any idea; it is idle and foolish to 
ask of reason and intellect that they shall furnish the basis and 
the justification of life. Life needs no justification; we are not to 
say of reason that it is autonomous, the source of such ideals and 
values as it may be willing to recognize. The "shining of the Right 
by its own unborrowed radiance" — the phrase is Howison's — be- 
comes meaningless. In Hume's philosophy is embedded practically 
the whole of instrumentalism and of modern biological naturalism, 
which affirms the primacy of instinct, and denies the autonomy of 
intellect. It is wholly in accordance with the spirit of Hume's thought 
for McDougall to write thus: "We may say, then that directly or 
indirectly the instincts are the prime movers of all human ac- 
tivity, . . . take away these instinctive dispositions with their 
powerful impulses, and the organism would become incapable of 
activity of any kind; it would lie inert and motionless like a wonder- 
ful clockwork whose mainspring had been removed or a steam- 
engine whose fires had been drawn."* 

We have already dealt with some aspects of this difference 
between the Socratic and Humean assumptions as to the office of 
reason in discussing and in defending the autonomy of certain 
values. This we did while attempting to give full recognition to the 
undoubted importance which feeling and instinctive, natural inter- 
ests have in our value consciousness. And we desire here to stress 
once more as emphatically as may be the way in which religion 
roots itself in impulse and in vital necessity, and the way in which 
it bodies forth certain of the fundamental and instinctive interests 
which a gregarious animal will exhibit. To see the force of this, let 
us enter into and accept the premises of a thoroughgoing biological 
and voluntaristic view of human nature and of the engrossing 
human concerns. We will be confronted on every hand by vital 

* "Social Psychology," p. 44. This is by no means to say that the whole of this 
book is Humean, in its discussion of the relation between instinct and reason. 

[ 230 ] 


interests, each one of which has arisen because it was a way of 
meeting the life needs of some specific organism in the presence of 
some specific situation. The total and single interest of the organism 
to maintain its existence, its &lan vital, is but refracted into the 
various specific interests which reflect the different circumstances 
and needs of life. "Religion focuses round the needs and circum- 
stances of life. Religion is indeed but a representation, an emphasis 
of those needs and circumstances collectively and repeatedly felt." 
This — quoted from Miss Harrison's "Themis" — is the burden of 
much of the most penetrating psychological analyses of religion 
which we owe to the whole modern movement inspired by biology 
and by the social and historical sense of the nineteenth century. It 
may well be that religion draws upon all of the primary human 
instincts, that it echoes in massive, if vague, form the ultimate neces- 
sities of the human organism in the presence of the world which 
surrounds him and, in part at least, sustains him. Or, with greater 
confidence and more definiteness we may link religion to those 
fundamental impulses and emotions which are bound up with the 
life of man in communities, the sensitiveness of the individual to 
social stimuli, and his felt participation in the life of the group. 
But it does not make very much difference, for the present argu- 
ment, which instinctive interest or which group of life activities is 
regarded as furnishing the psychological roots of religion. That it 
is linked to some basic and instinctive interests, just as love is, 
indeed just as life as a whole is, determines our problem. Now with 
respect to instinct and all that springs from instinct, certain things 
are to be noted. First, there is the characteristic so strikingly set 
forth by James in a passage from which I shall quote. Each instinct, 
it is pointed out, leads to emotions, preferences, and ways of be- 
haviour which, to the organism, are utterly obvious and "matter of 
course." The particular way of responding to the particular stimulus 
which happens to be effective is wholly self-evident and transparent, 
requiring no justification whatever. Such an instinctive connection 
is, for the organism itself, something, says James, "absolute and 
selbstverstdndlich, an 'a priori synthesis' of the most perfect sort, 
needing no proof but its own evidence. It takes, in short, what 
Berkeley calls a mind debauched by learning to carry the process 

[ 231 ] 


of making the natural seem strange, so far as to ask the why of any 
instinctive himian act. . . . Thus we may be sure that, however 
mysterious some animals' instincts may appear to us, our instincts 
will appear no less mysterious to them. And we may conclude that, 
to the animal which obeys it, every impulse and every step of every 
instinct shines with its own sufficient light, and seems at the moment 
the only eternally right and proper thing to do."° Further, as Mr. 
Trotter has pointed out with clearness, the folkways, the idea 
systems, the preferences and loyalties of any human group whatever 
come also to possess this same transparent and absolute quality. 
"The essential specific characteristic of the mind of the gregarious 
animal is this very capacity to confer upon herd opinion the psy- 
chical energy of instinct."" There are, in such instinctive behavior, 
or in the feelings which cluster around the individual's loyalty to 
and participation in the group, all the earmarks of absolutism. 
There is ever implied, if not avowed, an innocent disclaimer of rela- 
tivity, and of the possible justification of other folkways and other 
loyalties. Observe, now, the bearing of this upon the concerns of 
religion. It will be agreed that religion has to do primarily with 
feeling, or that it is the spokesman of certain instinctive responses 
of man to his world, for instance fear, or that, in the words of 
Durkheim, it is "the eminent form and, as it were, the concen- 
trated expression of the collective life." There is no need to plead 
for the recognition of some feeling and some instinctive interest 
which enters into the life of religion. And so of all our preferences, 
our sentiments, our loyalties. Somewhere each of these is to be 
traced back to some matter-of-fact instinct. But there is surely 
something disquieting about this discovery and this reflection. The 
existence and the intensity of any feeling, of any devotion, and 
consequently of religion proves to be only an index of the effective- 
ness of certain stimuli, and the sensitiveness of the individual to 

•i "Psychology," vol. 2, p. 387. 

8W. Trotter: "Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War," p. 82. Cf. also Veblen: 
"The Nature of Peace," pp. 91 ff. "Such an article of institutional furniture (as 
national loyalty) is an outcome of usage, not of reflection or deliberate choice; and 
it has consequently a character of self-legitimation, so that it stands in the accredited 
scheme of things as intrinsically right and good, and not merely as a shrewdly chosen 
expedient ad interim." 

[ 232 ] 


them. Such feeling furnishes no evidence whatever as to the intrinsic 
worth of the object of one's feelings and of one's devotion. Let any 
normal individual attend, say, any college; let him absorb such 
folkways and traditions as there obtain, and feelings of loyalty and 
devotion which are called college spirit arise within him. And this 
will occur wholly regardless of the real merit and excellence of the 
particular college he has chosen. His feelings will be a function of 
his sensitiveness to social stimuli; they do not at all measure the 
worth of the object to which they are, seemingly, directed. Now 
the basic problem about religion lies just here. Are there any rational 
loyalties? There are plenty of instinctive loyalties generated by 
instinct, and revealing merely the effectiveness of certain stimuli 
upon the individual's mind. But are the total feelings and loyalties 
which attend the enterprise of life as a whole, and which surely 
are the psychological roots of religion, — do they also reveal any 
object which is able not only to cause the feelings and the devotion, 
but really to justify them ? Does a man's willingness to give his life 
for his country measure the effectiveness with which herd opinion 
and collective emotions impinge upon him, or does it measure also 
the inherent worthiness and dignity of the cause to which he devotes 
himself? Unless we are able to affirm, at least, the possibility of the 
latter, I can see nothing but despair and cynicism for us as we face 
the future. Here is a terrible shortcoming of all feeling, instinct, of 
every matter-of-fact interest, of every devotion which is merely the 
inevitable prolongation of forces and stimuli from below and not 
at all the revelation of an autonomous good. For, in spite of the 
apparent self-evidence and transparency of instinct of which James 
speaks, we know how specious and illusory it is. It is utterly irra- 
tional, mere matter of fact, contingent and particular. Nothing 
objective or universal, nothing possessing inherent worth is here 
disclosed. To leave the matter thus with realism and with naturalism, 
is equivalent to shutting out from our life every breath of freedom 
and of reasonableness, of objectivity and of reality. Now, paradoxi- 
cal as it may sound, religion, however deeply it is rooted in the life 
of instinct and of feeling, witnesses to the urgent requirement that 
our loyalties be not only the utterance of our interests and our in- 
stincts, but also the disclosure of an objective order which is the 

[ 233 ] 


source and the criterion of the good. Religion, in its higher historical 
forms, expresses the conviction that there are rational loyalties and 
preferences. By "rational" I simply mean that the loyalty is not 
merely generated by a local and particular interest which is rooted 
in instinct, but that it is directed toward and is nourished by a 
Good which is autonomous. The worth of our striving and of our 
interests shall be measured by the intrinsic worth of that ideal which 
shines whoUy in its own light. Its worth shall not be measured by 
our instincts and our interests. No one can reasonably doubt, it 
seems to me, that such has been and is, the deepest and most uni- 
versal intent of the religious mind. Through the vehicle of countless 
metaphor and legend has religion expressed man's sense that he 
is in the presence of ideals, of significant structures possessing 
autonomous value, which are pertinent to his own life interests, yet 
are not merely the shadowy projections of his own wishes nor the 
fortuitous outcome of the precarious congeries of vital forces and 
instincts which we call the human body. Religion, it is true, does 
connote a kind of "absolutism," if you choose to use the term. The 
object of one's uttermost fealty is not wholly relative to the par- 
ticular interests which happen, for the time being, to be grouped 
together in some organism, class or nation. This is, one may say, 
"absolutism," but so is any conviction that there are, for instance, 
beliefs which derive their validity from the side of the objective 
realities they envisage, rather than from the instinctive and feeling 
propensities with which they may be congenial. And without this 
conviction there is no knowledge, no science, and no life of reason 

Here then are two needs which religion or something akin to 
religion, may fulfill. The needs are legitimate and persistent. 
Loyalty and devotion to any cause involve feeling and emotion 
rather than idea alone, because it is through these energies of the 
mind which have their roots in instinct and in impulse that indi- 
vidual and historical structures are apprehended and participated in. 
But there is another side of the balance sheet, and another urgent 
requirement. That which originates in feeling and instinct is boimd, 
it would appear, to be partial and limited, an expression solely of 
a particular and exclusive interest, never of structures and values 

[ 234 ] 


which are really objective. The very individuality of feeling, and 
of that which feeling may know, implies such partiality and con- 
centration. But we seek, at the very least, to clothe these instinc- 
tive loyalties in the garb of rationality, to pretend that they are 
inspired by the merit inhering in the object rather than by any 
interest or instinct which may happen to be ours. This tendency 
to take cover under the language of reason, to act and speak as if 
the intrinsic value of some object generates and justifies our devo- 
tion rather than acknowledge that our matter-of-fact devotion, 
instinctive or conventional, makes the object worthful, — this im- 
pulse is deep-seated and far-reaching. It witnesses to the actual 
need that we should discover some way of life, some organizing 
discipline, which issues from the authentic validity of an objective 
structure which we do not make and then remake, but which we 
know and in whose life we may share. Such a need is nothing what- 
ever but the extension to all our life and our loyalties, of that which 
we willingly accord to the interest of knowledge, of science, and, it 
may be, of philosophy. Once the possibility of any truth whatever 
be granted — and to avow anything else is obviously out of the 
question — the range of the mind's contents and energies which do 
have an objective reference, which participate in significant struc- 
tures, is likely to expand. You will, only with difficulty, draw a line 
between the mind's recognition of truth and the mind's possession 
of other values. 

But, having considered these two functions which fall to the office 
of religion, we are at once confronted with the query as to whether 
these two needs are not really in conflict with one another. Do they 
not veer off in opposite directions, as one follows them along? To 
urge that it is feeling, or something not-idea, something which lies 
close to the instinctive bias of impulse or of tradition, which enables 
us to participate in the life of communities and selves, this would 
seem to connote anti-intellectuaUsm and mysticism. It stresses the 
wealth and concreteness of the attitudes of love and loyalty, and it 
would ascribe to such interests of the mind a genuinely cognitive 
function. But the other motive and need points elsewhere, in the 
direction of a Platonic intellectualism; it distrusts, certainly for all 
the purposes of knowledge and possession, everything which springs 

[ 235 ] 


from impulse and instinct, from the basic necessities of life and 
of action. Now, placing these two functions of religion thus side by 
side merely serves to bring to a focus what is, after all, the central 
issue and the deepest problem in all our philosophy. It is the relation, 
once more, between activity and possession, behavior and knowl- 
edge. For feeling and instinct, representing as they do the energies 
of life itself, must needs select, act, and seek in every way to further 
the interests of which they are the witness. To live is to utilize and 
to control the world in which one lives. But what of knowledge, of 
the arts of sympathetic apprehension, of love, and of worship? Are 
these but variations upon the one central theme of creative intel- 
ligence and mastery? Bring together, once more and in a single 
perspective, the historical forces and the human motives which press 
for recognition and for some sjmthesis of their conflicting claims. 
Greek philosophy, the genius of Christianity, and the social struc- 
ture of medieval feudalism, each in a different way, contain the 
implications of a common idea. That was the idea of an order 
of reality, a significant structure, which it is given to man to 
apprehend, to conform to, and to participate in. His vocation 
Hes in the more and more complete possession of that order; 
it is wholly prior to his nature, his wants, and his life. Men neither 
construct nor reconstruct this divine texture, these Forms, this 
order of society. Everj^ing individual, human, natural, is de- 
fined in terms of these prior structures. It is from this root 
that both religion and idealism emerge. Here there is opportunity 
for contemplation and for worship, for knowledge and for partici- 
pation in the life and purposes of God. This is the one outstanding 
and overshadowing motive in the idea systems which prevailed 
down to the emergence and the dominance of those forces which 
have made the modern world. There is abundant room for diversity 
and richness of tj^e in the long and impressive history of this 
master motive. And there was always present in these various idea 
systems one persistent and one great danger. It was the danger 
that, since one started not from human needs and from human 
nature, but from significant structures, these should become empty 
forms, the embodiment of interests which were simply not pertinent 

[ 236 ] 


to the life of man/ The time comes when this danger proves to be 
fatal. The natural energies of man, his human interests and impulses 
find release; they burst forth rebellious against the claim of any- 
significant structures which are simply to be recognized and appre- 
hended. No structure possesses meaning or value, save such as is 
the embodiment and the instrument of a prior interest. We are in 
the world of the Renaissance, of nationalism, and of individualism, 
a world exhibiting the release of desire and the discovery of instinct. 
Not possession but activity, not realism but nominalism, not ideal- 
ism but naturalism, not traditionalism but economic rationalism, 
not absolutism but democracy define the moving forces of the new 

When we allow ourselves steadily to discern this large situation, 
when we see how significant and compelling are the idea systems 
which spring from both the old and the new, I see but one direction 
in which to look for a reasonable and a verifiable hj^othesis which 
will meet our requirements. View the full circle of the mind's 
interests and experiences, and you must say that the mind points, 
as it were, in two directions, back to instinct, impulse, and desire, 
and forward to a real world which is the locus of enduring signifi- 
cant structures whose apprehension and love make the enterprise 
of life the thing that it is. And it is not two separate and irrelevant 
regions with which we are dealing, no merely blind, insatiable 

^ "Both Stoicism and Christianity disapproved of slavery; but both were too 
careful of the established order, and the real effect of their attitudes was to keep the 
old institution in existence. For to the Stoic the law of nature was somewhat aloof 
from the actual arrangements of society. Stoics might believe and even act as though 
a slave were a human being; but the established convention had also to be main- 
tained. And the Christian idealist also believed all men equal in the eyes of God and 
treated slaves as brethren; but he too gave his influence to maintain the established 
institution, for the laws of the city of God were very far removed from any real 
contact with the order of the state. Thus began the greatest hindrance to political 
development, the divided allegiance, according to which men continue to maintain 
as citizens what they condemn as human beings. Caesar being given one sort of 
service and God another, the higher your enthusiasm the more you neglected the 
actual re-arrangement of human relations. The temporal was reduced to dust and 
ashes by taking from it all the spirit of life, and the spiritual was emptied of all 
content by being removed from immediate contact with the world." Bums : "Political 
Ideals," p. 89. 

[ 237 ] 


Rousseauistic impulse arising from below, and a mysterious check 
from above, issuing from reason. Let one keep in mind a palpable 
and elementary truth regarding the function of consciousness at 
that level where it appears most rudimentary and simple. In a very 
literal manner we have said that the fxmction of sense organs points 
in two directions. Sense organs are pertinent to the needs and the 
life-activity of the organism; and they disclose significant aspects 
of the environment. Their meaning is both "internal" and "external." 
Sense organs are called into being by the vital necessities of the 
organism, and are thus pragmatic and instrumental; but they also 
reveal that which is external and real and their fimction here can 
be interpreted only in terms of "realism." But neither instrumen- 
talism nor realism, taken by itself, can do justice to this two- 
fold relationship. The very same sensation which is an event in the 
life history of the organism and is a portion of its behavior just 
as truly as is its breathing, is also a disclosure of the real, in contact 
with and participant in an objective order. And what is so manifest 
in the case of sensations holds true, in principle, of the entire life 
of the mind. Ideas, as well as sensations, are the instruments of life; 
they are events in the behavior of selves, but they are cognitive 
as well. Ideas stand in a "between" relation with reference to life's 
interests on the one side, and objective structures on the other side. 
They interpret the one to the other; they are the pledge of the 
solidarity and continuity of life and knowledge, activity and 
possession, instinct and reason. Pragmatism alone, and realism alone, 
fail to do justice to the entire nature and office of ideas. An idea 
may be pertinent both to the life interests which are concentrated 
within a body, a self, a community, and at the same time it may 
participate in reality. 

Now religion may be viewed, I believe, as the spokesman of this 
entire situation in which the life of the mind points backward to the 
vital interests of selves and communities, and forward to imperish- 
able and real structures, whose apprehension is the source of what- 
ever truth and significance the enterprise of life and of reason may 
achieve. This is the office of religion in principle and in idea. Such 
an interpretation does justice to both of those elements within the 
historic life of religion which everywhere meet our attention. There 

[ 238 ] 


is in religion immediacy, feeling, the urge and the pressure of social 
experience and group loyalty. And there is, too, an ineradicable 
metaphysical motive, a conviction of the reality of that which seems 
most distant from the immediacy of feeling, a belief in that which 
belongs to another order and another world. The fusion of these two 
elements may have been and may still be crude and unimaginative 
in the historical religions. Nevertheless it is religion which has 
served as the witness and the pledge of this most deep-lying and per- 
vasive characteristic of all our experience. Unless the mind does 
point backward to vital interests, and forward to real significant 
structures, then there is no truth for man which is relevant to his 
experience and to the requirements of his life. 

What I urge is, in substance then, that religion concentrates in 
a single attitude and experience those two motives which have 
seemed to so many to be utterly incompatible with one another, 
the motives of possession and activity, contemplation and control, 
idealism and democracy, the idea systems of Platonism and Chris- 
tianity, and the moving ideals of the modern age. And I have wished 
to contend that, in principle, these two attitudes are not necessarily 
antagonistic, but that they mutually imply and reinforce each other, 
when we take them at their fullest and their best. This they may do 
if a sensation or an idea may be viewed as facing in two directions, 
interpreting to each other a vital interest and objective fact. It 
remains to consider, in greater detail, why we are entitled to hold 
that the basic attitudes of religion and of democracy, contemplation 
and activity are not incompatible with one another. The belief that 
they are irreconcilable is widespread. And since idealism, in its more 
radical and profound form, has ever been the spokesman for the 
religious attitude, the rejection of religion implies also the rejection 
of idealism. The following passage from Perry may be cited as a 
moderate statement of the position here in question. ". . . Idealism 
is not at heart sympathetic with the modern democratic conception 
of civilization. Idealism is, it is true, an idealizing philosophy. But 
the ideal which this philosophy glorifies is not the gradual ameliora- 
tion of life through the human conquest of nature; but rather the 
perfection that was from the beginning and is forever more. The 
faith which is most characteristic of today, is the faith in what an 

[ 239 ] 


enlightened and solidified mankind may achieve, despite the real 
resistance and incompetence which retard it. The faith which is 
most characteristic of ideahsm, on the other hand, is the faith that 
all things work together for the glory of an eternal spiritual life, 
despite appearances."® Holding to this conviction, one will either 
renoxmce interest in religion altogether, ignore it while empha- 
sizing the necessity for intelligent control and mastery, or one will 
interpret religion — that is, such religion as is worthy of survival in 
the modern age- — as a doctrine of meliorism, and as, in substance, 
identical with the interests of morality. As representing the former 
position, Dewey is a conspicuous instance. One may confidently 
say that, for the instrumentalism of Dewey, there simply are no 
problems of religion and of the religious attitude and mind which 
are pertinent to our world and its interests. Here is eloquent if 
silent testimony to the conviction that religion is a matter of con- 
templation and of worship, of the mind's apprehension and posses- 
sion of something perfected and significant. As such, it is not for us. 
For the instrumentalist, life and mind are centers of adaptive 
response, surrounded by an environment to be mastered and used 
and not enjoyed and loved. James, on the other hand, did concern 
himself with some of the problems of religion. But, for him, the 
religion which is best suited to a pluralistic and democratic world 
is melioristic and identical with the moral attitude of activity and 
striving. Any attitude of possession or contemplation bespeaks 
quiescence and a world in which nothing more remains to be done. 
Our world calls for struggle and for strife in order that it may 
become better. Significance shall accrue to it through man's activity. 
No one will be inclined to deny the compelling force of such con- 
siderations. They are, without doubt, valid as against certain forms 
which, in the past and in the present, the religious interests of men 
have assumed. Nor is it at all difficult to point out certain traits of 
the religious attitude which appear to show a marked contrast with 
the life and the interests of morality. For the religious attitude, so 
it has appeared to us throughout, is one of the apprehension of and 
the participation in something which is both real and also signifi- 
cant. Here is, we have urged, something non-pragmatic, not describ- 

8 Perry : "Present Philosophical Tendencies," p. i88. 

[ 240 ] 


able in the categories of behavior, response to a stimulus, mastery 
and use. Idealism, in its true and Platonic sense, is the utterance 
of just this interest. But the moral order — ^how commonly has it 
been urged — is a world of selves, individually responsible, defined 
not in terms of the significant structures in which they participate, 
and which are, but in terms of their fealty to ideals which ought to 
exist. And whoever tries to study with any patience and sympathy 
the life of religion must agree that it is utterly impossible to sweep 
into the categories of moralism those traits of the religious attitude 
which are most central and characteristic; he will agree that religion 
possesses a certain autonomy of its own, that it is no mere reinforce- 
ment of morality — as Kant supposed — any more than it is a bare 
affirmation of certain supposed truths, and all of this should now be 
clear to us. The achievements of psychological, historical, and social 
studies can no longer leave us content with Kant's interpretation, 
say, of the significance of the concept of Grace, and the experience 
which has gone into its making. We know how much has gone into 
the making of any individual self, how much is literally given to 
him by nature and by his social experience; his life and his deeds 
are, we agree, a participation in and an enjo5niient of some commu- 
nity larger than himself. But, it is also true, as a plain matter of his- 
torical fact, that this participation of the individual in structures 
and in energies which he does not create, instead of lessening his 
capacity for moral achievement and mastery, steadies it and enhances 
it. He who has not discerned the way in which possession and activ- 
ity, contemplation and mastery, knowledge and will, may be and 
are fused together without contradiction, in the life of religion, is 
blind to its most central and persistent nature. To point out the 
antinomy between apprehension, the contemplation of a significant 
structure, and the purposive striving to construct something satis- 
fpng and significant, between idealism and democracy, is certainly 
not the final word. The world of selves and of communities is too 
rich and too complex to be dealt with in so summary and easy a 
fashion. And the deeper regions of those energies and interests 
which men rightly call religious are given over neither to sheer 
quiescence, nor to creative adventure, but to a tj^e of experience 
and attitude formed by the mutual interaction and interdependence 

[ 241 ] 


of these two seemingly opposed interests. Nor is this situation one 
which is wholly peculiar to religion and absent altogether from other 
regions of experience and the life of the mind at large. Indeed, we 
may best hope to understand the solidarity of the attitudes of activ- 
ity and possession in the life of religion if we first turn to some 
analogous situations elsewhere in which such a fusion may be 
discerned. The larger import of the argument here should not 
escape us. Religion and idealism are rooted in those attitudes and 
interests which are involved in the mind's apprehension and posses- 
sion of significant structures. The formative forces of the modern 
world have fostered the attitudes of activity and control, democracy 
and individualism. Our argument thus far has been concerned with 
the task of showing that the motives and ideas which find expression 
in Platonism and in idealism have an undoubted validity in respect 
to the problems of truth and value, of mind and of the self. But are 
these idea systems consonant with the ideals and attitudes, the 
motives and experiences of democracy and of the modern age? At 
this time to defend idealism, and to avow an interest in the life of 
religion, is this to be utterly reactionary, to be blind to all that sepa- 
rates us from the past, and to betray those hopes and aspirations 
upon which the future depends? In seeking an answer to this ques- 
tion, let us observe the way in which some of the major interests 
and provinces of experience do exhibit an interaction and fusion 
of attitudes which are analogous with those of possession and activ- 
ity, idealism and democracy, religion and morality. We shall be inter- 
ested, then, in the way in which the mind's activity, in certain impor- 
tant regions at least, is not describable as a sheer adventure in the 
void, but is intelligible and significant because it implies some 
previous possession. The entire process is one which exhibits a 
mutual interaction or alternation between creative adventure and 
cognitive apprehension and contemplation. The enterprise as a whole 
is thus "circular" and dialectic; to ignore this and to attempt a 
description of consciousness with, say, the biological categories of 
behavior alone, is to ignore one of the deepest aspects of the entire 
life of mind. 

Consider, then, by way of illustration, the relation between deduc- 
tion and induction in the acquisition and ordering of our knowledge. 

[ 242 ] 


What we are fairly entitled here to say is this. No concrete process 
of knowledge getting is ever an instance either of pure "deduction" 
or of pure "induction." It is the possibility of pure induction which 
specially interests us here. For, it might appear as if induction were 
really an instance of sheer adventure, as if one were, at the outset, 
in possession only of fragments and that the process consisted wholly 
of the building up of these fragments into something like a total 
structure. But not till the whole is thus constructed, not till the 
theory is formulated and the law ascertained is there anything for 
the mind to possess save the fragments which are to be pieced 
together and reconstructed. Here would appear to be nothing but 
a process which goes from the parts to the whole, a process e^diibit- 
ing "creative intelligence," an experimental attitude, a "world in 
the making," a spirit of forward-looking adventure. No place here 
for Platonic contemplation, for the mind's possession of and partici- 
pation in a significant structure. Any such structure seems but the 
tentative outcome of experimental activity. But, if anything is 
certain about the growth of knowledge and about scientific method, 
it is that any such description eis this is entirely too simple and one- 
sided. There is, in the first place, the part played by hypothesis and 
postulate. Every observation of a fact implies a certain principle 
of selection whereby just this fact is attended to. That principle of 
selection may not come before the mind as an explicit hjrpothesis. 
It will have its roots deep within those interests which belong to 
the mind, which indeed constitute the mind. It is the presence of 
these selective interests which lead both to the mind's looking and 
to the asking of questions. And nature answers no questions till we 
ask her. Facts are, then, observed and attended to in the hope that 
they may fulfill some want, verify some hypothesis, answer some 
question. The process of going from fact to fact, the activity of 
induction and construction is embedded within a structure the 
apprehension and possession of which makes the quest and the 
activity meaningful. The creative process describes only that which 
is taking place at the "focus" of some total situation in which there 
is a "fringe" as well. The further out toward the fringe one goes 
from the focus, the more is the attitude of creative adventure 
replaced by the attitude of apprehension and sure possession. That 

[ 243 ] 


the process in its entirety is not simply one of experimentalism, 
where everything is tentative because everything waits upon the 
success or failure of our constructions, is made clear by another con- 
sideration. Besides the process of induction there is the inductive 
principle itself. It is the inductive principle alone that, as Russell 
puts it, "can justify any inference from what has been examined 
to what has not been examined," and moreover, "we can never use 
experience to prove the inductive principle without begging the 
question."^ The inductive principle is that whose possession makes 
the activity of induction itself significant and we must say not only 
that the constructive activity is surrounded by a more total struc- 
ture which is an object of possession, but also that such an "whole- 
idea" (the term is Hocking's), such a significant system, becomes 
pertinent to our experience, becomes articulate and concrete only as 
it is used to make our active and constructive enterprises significant. 
The continuity and mutual solidarity of focus and fringe, will and 
knowledge, instinct and idea means just this. The total process and 
interest is neither pure or impassive contemplation, nor one of sheer 
adventure and activity. Those philosophers who have envisaged the 
deeper nature of this situation have spoken of it as a "dialectic," a 
conversation, a matter of mutual enrichment with reference to the 
mind's prior possessions and its temporal constructions. The deeply 
human and normal nature of such dialectic so often has escaped 
the critic. The dialectic of Plato and of Hegel may appear a mere 
matter of words and of verbal gymnastics. This is not wholly lacking 
in either. But the dialectic is primarily an utterance and an inter- 
pretation of the life of the mind, and of the deepest trait of our 
experience. A paragraph from Nettleship, setting forth the nature 
of the Platonic dialectic, is worth quoting in this connection. "The 
logical method of the 'Republic' is in accordance with the form 
of conversational discussion. Plato does not start by collecting all 
the facts he can, trying afterwards to infer a principle from them; 
the book is full of facts, but they are all arranged to illustrate prin- 
ciples which he has in mind from the beginning. Nor does he set 
out by stating a principle and then asking what consequences 
follow from it. Starting with a certain conception of what man is, 

9 Russell : "The Problems of Philosophy," p. io6. 

[ 244 ] 


he builds up a picture of what human hfe might be, and in this he 
is guided throughout by principles which he does not enunciate till 
he has gone on some way. He begins the construction of his picture 
with admitted facts about human life, and he gradually adds 
further elements in human life; he at once appeals to and criticizes 
popular ideas, as he goes on, extracting the truth and rejecting the 
falsehood in them. Thus neither 'induction' nor 'deduction' is a 
term that applies to his method; it is a 'genetic' or 'constructive' 
method; the formation of his principle and the application of it are 
going on side by side."" This mutual playing back and forth between 
a total structure and a specific item, enriching the former and inter- 
preting the latter, significantly responding to the stimulus of a fact 
because one apprehends a total meaning as an object, this is a matter 
of psychology as well as of logic and scientific method. Any new 
fact which may be perceived, every fresh item of experience as it 
comes to us, is taken up and knit into some already existing struc- 
ture, some apperception mass, interest, hj^othesis, or "whole-idea." 
And this process of assimilation is a circular process, in which both 
preexisting mental structure and the new experience react upon 
each other. Each is the interpreter of the other. Here is both deduc- 
tion and induction, possession of a significant structure and creative 
activity, contemplation and behavior. An analysis of any significant 
human experience provides us with the essential concepts wherewith 
to understand how it is that Platonism and democracy, religion and 
creative intelligence, so far from being mutually repellent, may 
reinforce and supplement each other. That these two mental atti- 
tudes and energies are implicated together in the life of conscious- 
ness as it is concretely lived is the clear import of the chapter on 
Reasoning in James' "Psychology," and it has been more definitely 
set forth since then by many others." Hocking has given an illu- 
minating account of the intricate nexus which binds deduction and 
induction together into a single complex process. This process is 
one which he brings under the rubric of the "Principle of Alter- 
nation," and it is this principle which is chiefly to aid us in inter- 
preting religion at large and that more concentrated expression of 

1" Nettleship : "Lectures on the Republic of Plato,'' p. lo. 
11 Notably by Angell, "Psychology," pp. 242 ff. 

[ 245 ] 


religion which is mysticism. "Effortless appreciation" of something 
complete and significant, this is what worship and the love of God 
are, in their psychological meaning. Every conscious event, every 
particular response to a stimulus, every specific practicality does, 
in truth, lie embedded within some larger structure, some apper- 
ception mass, some "whole-idea." Induction, pragmatic behavior, 
intelligent control, empiricism, and nominalism do not tell the whole 
story. The interest of religion, worship if you choose, is, in Hock- 
ing's words, "nothing more than doing with the whole self, and 
consciously, that which in blinder and more fragmentary fashion, 
we are doing at every moment of our waking lives."'^ 

Thus, the relation between induction and deduction, when we see 
its import, connotes what may be the possible relation between all 
of the manifold interests which are engendered by democracy and 
modernity, and those attitudes and interests which earlier took shape 
in the form of religion and idealism. "Every induction is induced 
by a prior induction, ultimately by a total induction, or judgment 
about the whole of things, — none other than my whole-idea, derived 
from whatever knowledge of the whole and of God my experience 
has built up for me. Every induction is at the same time a deduction, 
then, — an 'It must be so,' parented, though from the background 
of consciousness, by an insight which in its origins is religious."^' 

We may briefly note the presence of another situation analogous to 
that which we have been describing in the province of man's moral 
and political activity. It comes to light as a difficulty which inheres 
in the attempt to view the state, say, as the outcome of creative 

12 Hocking: "The Meaning of God in Human Experience," p. 422. 

1^ Ihid., p. 477. Hocking has also touched upon the relation between deduction and 
induction in his paper on "The Holt-Freudian Ethics and the Ethics of Royce" in the 
Philosophical Review for May, 1916. Cf. also the following paragraph from Bradley: 
"Essays on Truth and Reality," p. 16. "The want of an object, and, still more, the 
search for an object, imply in a certain sense, the knowledge of that object. If a man 
supposed that he never could tell when possession is or is not gained, he surely never 
woiUd pursue. In and by the pursuit he commits himself to the opposite assumption, 
and that assumption must rest on a possession which to some extent and in some 
sense is there." There are some observations, acute as usual, concerning the mutual 
reciprocity of induction and deduction, activity and possession made by Simmel: 
"Die Probleme der Geschichtsphilosophie," pp. 20 ff. 

[ 246 ] 


activity on the part of free individuals who wish to possess only- 
such structures as they themselves have constructed. The social 
contract theory issues from such an idea system. That theory gives 
expression to the radical democratic — and modern — attitude accord- 
ing to which all worthy structures, fit for human habitation and 
possession, must be the outcome of man's own creative activity. 
The established political order, the structure of the state will be 
viewed as the outcome of men's deeds whereby they freely con- 
tracted with one another and built up an order which previously 
did not exist. But there is here an anomaly and a difficulty. For, in 
a "state of nature," where no political and moral structures are as 
yet possessed, no laws are binding, and no contract which is made 
where there is no such possession has any meaning or any binding 
force. A contract is a promise, but a promise has meaning only for 
one who already exists within a moral order. He who makes a 
promise must participate, prior to the making of the promise, in 
a system of laws and obligations. That system cannot be the product 
of any activity of promise making. And so with a contract. Two 
individuals may now make a contract because they both exist within 
a system which is prior to their activity as makers of contracts. 
That system is not, in its entirety, the residue of men's activity and 
creativity. The activity goes on within a structure which makes the 
activity possible and significant. So much at least constitutes the 
indispensable minimum of what philosophers have, at times, de- 
clared to be the a priori nature of morality. It is a way — often a 
very formal way — of saying that creative intelligence and activity 
occur at a "focus" surrounded by a larger "fringe" which is pos- 
sessed and whose apprehension, explicit or not, makes the con- 
structive activity possible.^* 

^* There is an interesting passage in Shaftesbury bearing directly upon the argu- 
ment. " 'Tis ridiculous to say there is any obligation on man to act sociably or 
honestly in a formed government, and not in that which is commonly called the 
state of nature. For, to speak in the fashionable language of our modem philosophy: 
'Society being founded on a compact, the surrender made of every man's private 
unlimited right, into the hands of the majority, or such as the majority should 
appoint, was of free choice, and by a promise.' Now the promise itself was made 
in the state of nature; and that which could make a promise obligatory in the state 
of nature, must make all other acts of humanity as much our real duty and natural 

[ 247 ] 


We have been citing illustrations of the undoubted coexistence and 
mutual reinforcement of the two attitudes of creative activity and 
contemplative possession. Now the existence of this situation else- 
where, as a normal if profound characteristic of our human expe- 
rience, prepares us to understand what is an indubitable if paradoxi- 
cal characteristic of the life of religion. To the sober-minded critic, 
zealous to defend the requirements of the moral consciousness, the at- 
titude of possession and contemplation has often appeared antago- 
nistic to the attitude and the implications of morality. What place 
has any Platonic or religious apprehension of significant structures, 
already complete and worthy of man's contemplation, in a world 
which bids us toil and create, looking only to that which ought to 
be but now is not? In so far as religion stresses any other interest 
than that of moral activity, does it not imply and justify a "moral 
holiday" which, if taken seriously, means the death of morals? How 
familiar is this judgment, and how urgently is it stressed, nowhere 
with more compelling vigor than in the polemic of James. But the 
very position against which James hurls the attitudes of meliorism 
and activism is one which makes the same assumption made by 
James himself. The quiescence and indifferentism of the mystic and 
the absolutist arise from the conviction that the life of possession 
and contemplation excludes, perforce, all moral striving and all dis- 
criminating loyalties. This belief in the essential antagonism of 
knowledge and activity, thought and life, is the common property 
of both James and the "tender-minded," contemplative intellect- 
ualist whom he pursues with such zest and relish. No doubt the 
history of religion and of life provides ample evidence for such a 
belief. But need it be so, and is it, in fact, the final word? That it 

part. Thus faith, justice, honesty, and virtue, must have been as early as the state 
of nature, or they could never have been at all. The dvil union, or confederacy, 
could never make right or wrong, if they subsisted not before. He who was free to 
any viUainy before his contract, wiU and ought to make as free with his contract 
when he thinks fit. The natural knave has the same reason to be a dvil one, and 
may dispense with his politic capadty as oft as he sees occasion. 'Tis only his word 
stands in his way. A man is obliged to keep his word. Why? Because he has given 
his word to keep it. Is not this a notable account of the original of moral justice, and 
the rise of dvil government and allegiance I" "Freedom of Wit and Humour," Part 3, 
Section i. 

[ 248 ] 


may be otherwise, that activity is, in certain normal and familiar 
regions, embedded within a total structure which surrounds and 
sustains it, and which may be possessed all the while that the activity 
is going on, so much we have tried to make plain. And just this, we 
now urge, is the deepest lesson of the life of religion itself. It simply 
is not true to say that here exists an inevitable clash of attitudes. 
Who sees nothing but this is blind to all that is profound within the 
higher, historical religions. James, when he leaves his pragmatism 
and enters into an analysis of saintliness and goodness is by no 
means thus blinded. Either a unique blending of these two interests, 
or something akin to an alternation — vide Hocking — back and forth 
from possession to activity and then again to apprehension and 
worship, this is the normal occurrence in religion. Yet it is suffi- 
ciently profound to be called a mystery, and, with a recent writer we 
may say that "one of the chief mysteries in religion is, in fact, the 
mystery that moral zeal does coexist with, nay feeds upon, the con- 
viction of that perfection of the world which makes us see in it a 
revelation of God."^^ We content ourselves here with observing this 
as an indubitable fact, appearing over and over in the lives of 
countless individuals as well as in the manner in which religious 
idea systems have entered into the life of men. Mystery and paradox 
that such should be the case, if you choose, but equally so will be 
the coexistence of deduction and induction, of that apprehension 
of inclusive structures which makes creative activity and experi- 
mentation possible and significant. There are queries and problems 
enough here as to detail. At least the possibility is assured that all 
the manifold energies and ideals of the modern age, democracy, 
individualism, intelligent control, and creative intelligence might 
coexist with religion and idealism, with the sure possession of 
objective, significant structures. Let us admit that "what serious 

1" Hoemle : "The Religious Aspect of Bertrand Russell's Philosophy," Harvard Theo- 
logical Review, vol. 9, p. 181. Cf. also the following from P. Gardner: "And it is one 
of the great practical paradoxes of life that the human personality which is most 
constantly in quiet and patient communion with the divine does not thereby become 
poor and colorless, does not sink into a mere vehicle of an external power, but develops 
more remarkably on its own lines, gradually growing nearer to the height of that side 
of divine power and wisdom with which it has af&nity." "The Sub-conscious and the 
Super-conscious," Hibbert Journal, vol. 9, p. 489. 

[ 249 ] 


minded men most want to know is what modifications and abandon- 
ments of intellectual inheritance are required by the newer indus- 
trial, political and scientific movements. They want to know what 
these newer movements mean when translated into general ideas."^' 
The modem man wishes, then, a philosophy, an education, and a 
political order consonant with realistic science, machine industry 
and radical democracy. Nevertheless, the modem man seeks to 
make his own world, not passively and piously to accept and 
acquiesce in whatever he chances to find. He is dissatisfied with aU 
that is merely given to him from without, with everything tradi- 
tional and static, authoritative and supernatural. Well and good, — 
but why accept, then, as the final standards and sources of our 
philosophy and our imagination, those particular forces and struc- 
tures which have found lodgment in modern life? Why say, with 
Dewey, that our entire philosophy and eduction "must effect the 
transfiguration of the mechanics of modern life into sentiment and 
imagination," if, at the very center of modern life is the interest and 
demand that we accept nothing and make everj^thing? No, these 
modem structures themselves need scrutiny and appraisement, in 
the light of ideals and values which are autonomous. And this entire 
modern ideal and attitude of activity, control, and democracy, just 
as every pulse of conscious activity and will, presupposes an out- 
lying significant stmcture which may be possessed and apprehended. 
At the heart of our modern ideals, awaiting clarification and articu- 
lation, is something in addition to creative intelligence, something 
akin to participation in what Plato envisaged as lie idea of 
the Good, and what Christianity apprehended as the universal 
historical community. 

18 Dewey: "Creative Inteffigence," p. j. 

[ 250 ] 


Acton, Lord, 213 

Adam, J., 61 

Animism, 45 

Anselm, 120 

Appropriation, and activity, 212 ff. 

Aristotle, 8, 70 ff. 

Augustine, 225 

Avenarius, 171, 189 


Bacon, 100 

Balfour, jo8, 182 

Barrfes, 19 

Benn, 193 

Bentham, 20 

Bergson, 132, 171 

Berkeley, 116, 123, 176, 2042. 

Bradley, A. C, 153, 172, 

Bradley, F. H., 246 

Burnet, 67 

Burns, 2, 9, 237 

Calkins, 201 

Calvin, 32 

Carlyle, A. J., 8, 18 

Carlyle, Thos., 52 

Christianity, 8, 77 ff. 

Contemplation, 8, SS> 66 £f., 86, 148 

Comford, S3, 61 


Darwin, 106, 180 

Defoe, 31 

Democracy, 17, 22 ff., 62, 96, 166 

Democritus, 67 

Descartes, 116, 121 ff. 

Dewey, 41, 79, 87, 117, 135, 157, 178, 

193, 239, 250 
Dilthey, 208, 226 
Division of Labor, 30 
Durkheim, ij, 47, Jo, 54, 61 

Economic Rationalism, 25, 31 ff. 
End-Term theory of mind, 118 

Famell, 60 

Feeling, 33, 82, 126, 157 ff., 226 ff. 
Fichte, 166 
Finnbogason, 193 
Fisher, 84 
Frazer, 62, 217 
French Revolution, 7 

Galileo, 95 

Gardner, 79, 217, 249 
Gierke, 17, 78 
Good, 143 ff., i6s 
Green, 151, 172, 219 
Gummere, 17 
Guy an, 40 

Haldane, 98 

Harrison, 46, 49, 52, 55, loj, 231 
Hayes, 7 
Hegel, 119 
Henderson, 98 
Hildenbrand, 77 
Hobhouse, 23 
Hobbes, 143 
Hobson, 2S, 27 
Hocking, 15, 52 > 182, 245 

[ 251 ] 


Hoemle, 249 

Holt, 96 

Howison, 230 

Hume, 112, 130, iS5, 190, 201, 204, 

Husserl, 127 

Idea system, i ff. 
Idea, 66, 92 ff., iij, 227 
Imitation, 68 
Immediacy, 123, 204 
Individual, 82 fi., 192, 226 
Individualism, 7, 35, 194 
Induction, 242 
Instinct, 231 ff. 
Intentional Acts, 126 ff. 
Invention, 21 


f / 
James, 108, 122, 134, 187, 199, 207, 

227, 231, 240, 248 

Kant, 148, 162, 223 
Knowledge, Problem of, 93 

Laberthonniere, iSo 
Lauba, 39, 63 
Levy-Bruhl, S4, 178 
Lippman, 29 
Locke, 131 
Loeb, 170 

Love, Platonic doctrine of, 72, 80 
and Desire, 179 

Maeterlinck, 135 
Magic, 6 

and religion, 62, 84 
Maine, Sir Henry, 108, 213 
Marett, 47, 49, 62, 84, 185, 217 
Martineau, 75 

McDougall, 102, no, 154, 182, 191, 
M'Gilvary, 107 
Meaning, 186 ff., 216 



Medieval, 8, 18, 28 

Messer, 130 

Mind and Body, 136, 186 ff. 

Mitchell, 109 

Moore, 143, 159 

Miiller, 50 

Murray, 39 

Mystery God, 56 ff- 


Natorp, 74 
Naturalism, 132 ff. 
Nettleship, 244 


Odyssey, 66 
Oesterreich, 129, 201 
Olympian Gods, 55 ff. 

Participation, 17, S9, 68 
Perry, 24, 122, 128, 14s 
Personal Relations, 28 ff. 
Personality, 77 ff. 
Petzoldt, 9S 
Pfander, 130, ijo 
^lato, 8, 65 ff., 163 ff. 
Pleasure, 150 ff. 
Production, 25 
Progress, 174 

Projection, Theories of, 45, 76 
Protestant Ethics, 32 


Ranke, 174 

RashdaU, 129, 146, 148 
Reflex arc, loi ff. 
Religion, 14 ff., 39 

and knowledge, 42, 238 ff. 

and social experience, 52 

and magic, 62, 184 

and feeling, 228 ff. 
230 and morality, 240 ff. 

Renaissance, 6 
Renan, 134, 183 

[ 252 ] 


Richard, i8o 

Rickert, 84 

Rights, 20, 30, 

Romanticism, 36, 85 

Rousseau, 113 

Royce, 17, 47, 48, 82, 136, 164, 190 

Russell, 36, 146, IS9, 244 

Santayana, 41, 68, 87, loj, 225 

Scepticism, 99 

Scheler, 81, 132, 146, 150, 181, 209 

Schopenhauer, 148 

Science, 7, 94, 160 

Self, 198 ff. 

Sellars, no 

Sentiment, 206 

Shaftesbury, 247 

Shand, 206 

Shotwell, IS, 22 

Sidgwick, 147 

Simmel, 29, 31, 34, 35, 172, 194, 246 

Smith, N. K., 8S, no, 171 

Smith, W. R., 49, So 

St. Thomas, 8 

Social experience, 177 ff. 

Social psychology, 2 

Sombart, 26 

Spinoza, 122, 133, 148 

Stimulus, and object, 109, iS4, 173 ff., 

186 ff. 
Stoicism, 8, 143 
Stout, 127, 181, 187, 206 
Subjectivism, 26, 109, 116, 190 
Sumner, 108, 208 

TeichmiiUer, 78 

Time, 173, 209 

Totemism, 76 

Toy, 79 

Tragedy, 172 

Trevelyan, 3 

Troeltsch, 9, 18, 19, 28, 32, 213 

Trotter, 232 

Values, 107, 142 ff., iS3 ff. 
Veblen, 18, 28, 132, 134, 232 


Ward, S5 

Webb, 39, 72, 78, 83, 120, 131, 176 

Weber, 32, 33 

Werner, 71 

Windelband, 70, 162, 194 

Woodbridge, 93, 98, 118 

Zeller, 67 

[ 253 ]