Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/382

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By what process is ground won from the metapsychic? How is the threshold of consciousness overstepped? The mind is a stage, upon which the actors come, and from which they go. Whence are they, and whither do they depart? We can describe in terms of science the accompanying phenomena, but the thing itself evades us. What wonder that mankind has always believed in supernatural, that is, metapsychical agencies!

Reality is a poor word for the totality of being, because it implies to us realizableness. It is only justifiable on the ground just stated, by postulating a being able to know the whole of it. Nevertheless, the practical thing for us is to recognize the continuity of the known into the unknown, without asking what the limits of the latter may be, supposing it to have any.

What is truth? Endless confusion has arisen from the double meaning which has been given to this word. There is practical truth, and abstract truth. The scientific man adheres to the former, the philosopher may talk about the latter.

Science tests things and finds them true, and is only willing to declare them so after examination. Truth then, is the objective side of knowledge, and without knowledge in this sense, there can be no truth. It would conduce to clearness, could we so restrict the meaning of the word, and I believe that in so doing we should have some support from ancient usage. Otherwise, how could we speak of a fact verified, made true, if the making true were not a process of the human mind, operating on preexisting reality?

This would leave us with abstract reality, metaphysical and metapsychical reality, but no abstract truth. Truth would be concrete, objective, scientific, something to tie to and act upon. Hence, said William James: "True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify," but he added something to which one need not subscribe, namely, "False ideas are those which we can not." This last postulate would make all ideas false which are incapable of verification, surely an absurd use of the word false. I would rather say that false ideas are those which, having been put through legitimate tests for verification, have failed to pass the examination. False ideas, then, are those which we have tested and could not then verify. Of those which we can not test, or have not tested, it is impossible to say whether they are false or not. Thus we are left with three categories, the true, the false and the candidates for admission into the first group, liable to find themselves ultimately in the second.

The power of verification is apperceptive; we are reminded of Ehrlich's chain-theory to explain certain aspects of proteid metabolism. There must have been an Adam and Eve of knowledge, when two sensations first joined together as the charter members of the society for con-