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IDEALISM


and if only one thing is real what becomes of the many different things which again my consciousness assures me are the one world with which I can have any practical concern? To meet these difficulties and give back to us the assurance of the substantiality of the world without us it has therefore been thought necessary to maintain two propositions which are taken to be the refutation of idealism. (1) There is given to us immediately in knowledge a world entirely independent of and different from our own impressions on the one hand and the conceptions by which we seek to establish relations between them upon the other. The relation of these impressions (and for the matter of that of their inter-relations among themselves) to our minds is only one out of many. As a leading writer puts it: “ There is such a thing as greenness having various relations, among others that of being perceived." (2) Things may be, and may be known to be simply different. They may exclude one another, exist so to speak in a condition of armed neutrality to one another, without being positively thereby related to one another or altered by any change taking place in any of them. As the same writer puts it: “ There is such a thing as numerical difference, different from conceptual difference/'2 or expressing the same thing in other words “ there are relations not grounded in the nature of the related terms.”

In this double-barrelled criticism it is important to distinguish what is really relevant. Whatever the shortcomings of individual writers may be, modern idealism differs, as we have seen, from the arrested idealism of Berkeley precisely in the point on which dualism insists. In all knowledge we are in touch not merely with the self and its passing states, but with a real object which is different from them. On this head there is no difference, and idealism need have no difficulty in accepting all that its opponents here contend. The difference between the two theories does not consist in any difference of emphasis on the objective side of knowledge, but in the standard by which the nature of the object is to be tested-the difference is logical not metaphysical-it concerns the definition of truth or falsity in the knowledge of the reality which both admit. To idealism there can be no ultimate test, but the possibility of giving any fact which claims to be true its place in a coherent system of mutually related truths. To this dualism opposes the doctrine that truth and falsehood are a matter of mere immediate intuition: “ There is no problem at all in truth and falsehood, some propositions are true and some false just as some roses are red and some white.”° The issue between the two theories under this head may here be left with the remark that it is a curious comment on the logic of dualism that setting out to vindicate the reality of an objective standard of truth it should end in the most subjective of all the way a thing appears to the individual. The criticism that applies to the first of the above contentions applies mutatis mutandis to the second. As idealism dilifers from Berkeleyanism in asserting the reality of an “ external” world so it differs from Spinozism in asserting the reality of difference within it. Determination is not merely negation. On this head there need be no quarrel between it and dualism. Ours is a many-sided, a many-coloured world. The point of conflict again lies in the nature and ground of the assigned differences. Dualism meets the assertion of absolute unity by the counter assertion of mere difference. But if it is an error to treat the unity of the world as its only real aspect, it is equally an error to treat its differences as something ultimately irreducible. No philosophy founded on this assumption is likely to maintain itself against the twofold evidence of modern psychology and modern logic. According to the first the world, whether looked at from the side of our perception or from the side of the object perceived, can be made intelligible only when we accept it for what it is as a real continuity. Differences, of course, there are; and, if we like to say so, every difference is unique, but this does not mean' that they are given in absolute independence of everything else, “ fired at us out of See Mind, New Series, xii. p. 433 sqq.

2 Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1900-1901), p. IIO. ° Mind, New Series, xiii. p. 525; cf. 204, 350. a cannon.” They bear a definite relation to the structure ol" our physical and psychical nature, and correspond to definite needs of the subject that manifests itself therein. Similarly from the side of logic. It is not the teaching of idealism alone but of the facts which logical analysis has brought home to us that all difference in the last resort finds its ground in the quality or content of the things differentiated, and that this difference of content shows in turn a double strand, the strand of sameness and the strand of otherness-that in which and that by which they differ from one another. Idealism has, of course, no quarrel with numerical difference. All difference has its numerical aspect: two different things are always two both in knowledge and in reality. What it cannot accept is the doctrine that there are two things which are two in themselves apart from that which makes them two-which are not two of something. So far from establishing the truth for which dualism is itself concerned-the reality of all differences-such a theory can end only in a scepticism as to the reality of any difference. It is difficult to see what real difference there can be between things which are differences of nothing.

II. More widespread and of more serious import is the attack from the other side to which since the publication of A. Seth's H egellanism and Personality (1887) and W. James's Will to Believe (1903) idealism has been subjected. Here also it is important to distinguish what is relevant from what is irrelevant in the line of criticism represented by these writers. There need be no contradiction between idealism and a reasonable pragmatism. In so far as the older doctrine is open to the charge of neglecting the conative and teleological side of experience it can afford to be grateful to its critics for recalling it to its own eponymous principle of the priority of the “, ideal ” to the “ idea, ” of needs to the conception of their object. The real issue comes into view in the attempt, undertaken in the interest of freedom, to substitute for the notion of the world as a cosmos pervaded by no discernible principle and in its essence indifferent to the form impressed upon it by its active parts.

To the older idealism as to the new the essence of mind or spirit is freedom. But the guarantee of freedom is to be sought for not in the denial of law, but in the whole nature of mind and its relation to the structure of experience. Without mind no orderly world: only through the action of the subject and its “ ideas " are the confused and incoherent data of sense-perception (themselves shot through with both strands) built up into that system of things we call Nature, and which stands out against the subject as the body stands out against the soul whose functioning may be said to have created it. On the other hand, 'without the world no mind: only through the action of the environment upon the subject is the idealizing activity in which it finds its being called into existence. Herein lies the paradox which is also the deepest truth of our spiritual life. In interpreting its environment first as a world ol things that seem to stand in a relation of exclusion to one another and to itself, then as a natural system governed by rigid mechanical necessity, the mind can yet feel that in its very opposition the world is akin to it, bone of its bone and flesh of its flesh. What is true of mind is true of will. Idealism starts from the relativity of the world to purposive consciousness. But this again may be so stated as to represent only one side of the truth. It is equally true that the will is relative to the world of objects and interests to which it is attached through instincts and feelings, habits and sentiments. In isolation from its object the will is as much an abstraction as thought apart from the world of percepts, memories and associations which give it content and stability. And just as mind does not lose but gain in individuality in proportion as it parts with any claim to the capricious determination of what its world shall be, and becomes dominated by the conception of an order which is immutable so the will becomes free and “ personal " in proportion as it iden-t, i fies itself with objects and interests, and subordinates itself to laws and requirements which involve the suppression of all that is merely arbitrary and subjective. Here, too, subject and object grow together. The power and vitality of the one is the power and vitality of the other, and this is so because they are not two things with separate roots but are both rooted in a common reality which, while it includes, is more than either.

Passing by these contentions as unmeaning or irrelevant and seeing nothing but irreconcilable contradiction between the conceptions of the worfd as immutable law and a self-determining subject pragmatism (q.'v.) seeks other means of vindicating the reality of freedom. It agrees with older forms of libertarianism in taking its

stand on the fact of spontaneity as primary and self-evidencing,