Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/383

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REALITY AND TRUTH

verting experience, a raw material, into beautiful and marketable truth. Since then the members of this society have closely scrutinized the newcomers, and many have been black-balled. The society is anything but infallible. Not unfrequently it has let in members which afterward had to be ejected with violence, greatly to the discomfort of all concerned. Still more often, I suspect, it has refused to admit worthy candidates who would have been a credit to it. Thus it has come about that many 60-called truths are not true at all, for the alleged process of verification was faulty; while supposed untruths may be destined in the fullness of time to be recognized as true.

At this point we must consider the pragmatic doctrine of truth, as expounded by James and others. Pragmatism says, try all things and hold fast to that which is good. Ask always, how does this work? Will it make a good member of the truth-makers' society? It is a doctrine of intellectual dynamics, of activity, of judgment based on knowledge. To this extent it is therefore a wind fanning the flame of intellectual activity, to the end of burning up the dross and extracting the gold. It is the scientific method invading the field of philosophy.

It has, however, a double aim. In testing an alleged truth by its consequences, it merely follows the scientific method of determining whether it will, as it should, articulate properly with pre-ascertained truth. It recognizes that for us, things are true which have endured the test. This, however, is only the beginning of its quest. It goes further, and asks what things, of those which may be called true, are worth while from a human standpoint. It is inclined to hold, indeed, that this very serviceability is in itself a test of truth. It is for this reason that Professor Schinz calls it "opportunism in philosophy."

The word philosophy, originally signifying the love of wisdom, has come to have many diverse meanings. Quite commonly it is taken to signify a theory of the totality of existence, as, for example, in Haeckel's monistic philosophy. Since it appears that much of reality is metapsychic, a theory embracing the whole of it must be beyond the powers of the human mind, and, as is certainly the case with monism, we find ourselves in possession of nothing more than a point of view. It is, indeed, with the point of view that philosophy must concern itself, and he is a philosopher who has scrutinized and recognized as a whole the landscape visible from his peculiar point of vantage, without necessarily formulating any opinions concerning what is to him unknown. I would therefore say that one's philosophy is one's attitude toward experienceable reality, and inasmuch as every one must have some such attitude, all are to this extent philosophers. One's philosophy, as thus defined, may be consistent or inconsistent, limited or comprehensive, optimistic or pessimistic, active or sluggish, in almost infinite variety. It is obvious that its character determines to a tremendous extent one's person-