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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/420

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

so guide us in our dealings with things that actual experience verifies ideal anticipation. There is no direct resemblance whatever between the sizes, forms, colors, and arrangements, of the figures in an account-book, and the moneys or goods, debts or credits, represented by them; and yet the forms and arrangements of the written symbols are such as to answer in a perfectly exact way to stocks of various commodities and to various kinds of transactions. Hence we say, figuratively, that the account-book will "tell us" all about these stocks and transactions. Similarly, the diagram Mr. Sidgwick refers to illustrates the way in which symbols, registered in us by objects, may have forms and arrangements wholly unlike their objective causes and the nexus among those causes, while yet they are so related as to guide us correctly in our transactions with those objective causes, and in that sense constitute cognitions of them; though they no more constitute cognitions in the absolute sense than do the guiding symbols in the account-book constitute cognitions of the things to which they refer. So repeatedly is this view implied throughout the "Principles of Psychology," that I am surprised to find a laxity of expression raising the suspicion that I entertain any other.

To follow Mr. Sidgwick through sundry criticisms of like kind, which may be similarly met, would take more space than I can here afford. I must restrict myself now to that which he seems to regard as the "fundamental incoherence" of which these inconsistencies are signs. I refer to that reconciliation of Realism and Idealism considered by him as an impossible compromise. A difficulty is habitually felt in accepting a coalition after long conflict. Whoever has espoused one of two antagonist views, and, in defending it, has gained a certain comprehension of the opposite view, becomes accustomed to regard these as the only alternatives, and is puzzled by an hypothesis which is at once both and neither. Yet, since it turns out in nearly all cases, that of conflicting doctrines each contains an element of truth, and that controversy ends by combination of their respective half-truths, there is an a priori probability on the side of an hypothesis which qualifies Realism by Idealism.

Mr. Sidgwick expresses his astonishment, or rather bespeaks that of his readers, because, while I accept idealistic criticisms, I nevertheless defend the fundamental intuition of Common-Sense, and, as he puts it, "fires his [my] argument full in the face of Kant, Mill, and 'metaphysicians' generally."

"He tells us that 'metaphysicians' illegitimately assume that 'beliefs reached through complex intellectual processes' are more valid than 'beliefs reached through simple intellectual processes;' that the common language they use refuses to express their hypotheses, and thus their reasoning inevitably implies the common notions which they repudiate; that the belief of Realism has the advantage of 'priority,' 'simplicity,' 'distinctness.' But surely this prior, simple, distinctly affirmed belief is that of what Mr. Spencer terms 'crude Realism,'