This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1909
Buy it on Amazon Listen via Audible FREE Audible 30 days

how long or how short it feels to the sugar? All _felt_ times coexist and overlap or compenetrate each other thus vaguely, but the artifice of plotting them on a common scale helps us to reduce their aboriginal confusion, and it helps us still more to plot, against the same scale, the successive possible steps into which nature’s various changes may be resolved, either sensibly or conceivably. We thus straighten out the aboriginal privacy and vagueness, and can date things publicly, as it were, and by each other. The notion of one objective and ‘evenly flowing’ time, cut into numbered instants, applies itself as a common measure to all the steps and phases, no matter how many, into which we cut the processes of nature. They are now definitely contemporary, or later or earlier one than another, and we can handle them mathematically, as we say, and far better, practically as well as theoretically, for having thus correlated them one to one with each other on the common schematic or conceptual time-scale.

Motion, to take a good example, is originally a turbid sensation, of which the native shape is perhaps best preserved in the phenomenon of vertigo. In vertigo we feel that movement _is_, and is more or less violent or rapid, more or less in this direction or that, more or less alarming or sickening. But a man subject to vertigo may gradually learn to co-ordinate his felt motion with his real position and that of other things, and intellectualize it enough to succeed at last in walking without staggering. The mathematical mind similarly organizes motion in its way, putting it into a logical definition: motion is now conceived as ‘the occupancy of serially successive points of space at serially successive instants of time.’ With such a definition we escape wholly from the turbid privacy of sense. But do we not also escape from sense-reality altogether? Whatever motion really may be, it surely is not static; but the definition we have gained is of the absolutely static. It gives a set of one-to-one relations between space-points and time-points, which relations themselves are as fixed as the points are. It gives _positions_ assignable ad infinitum, but how the body gets from one position to another it omits to mention. The body gets there by moving, of course; but the conceived positions, however numerously multiplied, contain no element of movement, so Zeno, using nothing but them in his discussion, has no alternative but to say that our intellect repudiates motion as a non-reality. Intellectualism here does what I said it does–it makes experience less instead of more intelligible.

We of course need a stable scheme of concepts, stably related with one another, to lay hold of our experiences and to co-ordinate them withal. When an experience comes with sufficient saliency to stand out, we keep the thought of it for future use, and store it in our conceptual system. What does not of itself stand out, we learn to _cut_ out; so the system grows completer, and new reality, as it comes, gets named after and conceptually strung upon this or that element of it which we have already established. The immutability of such an abstract system is its great practical merit; the same identical terms and relations in it can always be recovered and referred to–change itself is just such an unalterable concept. But all these abstract concepts are but as flowers gathered, they are only moments dipped out from the stream of time, snap-shots taken, as by a kinetoscopic camera, at a life that in its original coming is continuous. Useful as they are as samples of the garden, or to re-enter the stream with, or to insert in our revolving lantern, they have no value but these practical values. You cannot explain by them what makes any single phenomenon be or go–you merely dot out the path of appearances which it traverses. For you cannot make continuous being out of discontinuities, and your concepts are discontinuous. The stages into which you analyze a change are _states_, the change itself goes on between them. It lies along their intervals, inhabits what your definition fails to gather up, and thus eludes conceptual explanation altogether.

‘When the mathematician,’ Bergson writes, ‘calculates the state of a system at the end of a time _t_, nothing need prevent him from supposing that betweenwhiles the universe vanishes, in order suddenly to appear again at the due moment in the new configuration. It is only the _t_-th moment that counts–that which flows throughout the intervals, namely real time, plays no part in his calculation…. In short, the world on which the mathematician operates is a world which dies and is born anew at every instant, like the world which Descartes thought of when he spoke of a continued creation.’ To know adequately what really _happens_ we ought, Bergson insists, to see into the intervals, but the mathematician sees only their extremities. He fixes only a few results, he dots a curve and then interpolates, he substitutes a tracing for a reality.

This being so undeniably the case, the history of the way in which philosophy has dealt with it is curious. The ruling tradition in philosophy has always been the platonic and aristotelian belief that fixity is a nobler and worthier thing than change. Reality must be one and unalterable. Concepts, being themselves fixities, agree best with this fixed nature of truth, so that for any knowledge of ours to be quite true it must be knowledge by universal concepts rather than by particular experiences, for these notoriously are mutable and corruptible. This is the tradition known as rationalism in philosophy, and what I have called intellectualism is only the extreme application of it. In spite of sceptics and empiricists, in spite of Protagoras, Hume, and James Mill, rationalism has never been seriously questioned, for its sharpest critics have always had a tender place in their hearts for it, and have obeyed some of its mandates. They have not been consistent; they have played fast and loose with the enemy; and Bergson alone has been radical.

To show what I mean by this, let me contrast his procedure with that of some of the transcendentalist philosophers whom I have lately mentioned. Coming after Kant, these pique themselves on being ‘critical,’ on building in fact upon Kant’s ‘critique’ of pure reason. What that critique professed to establish was this, that concepts do not apprehend reality, but only such appearances as our senses feed out to them. They give immutable intellectual forms to these appearances, it is true, but the reality _an sich_ from which in ultimate resort the sense-appearances have to come remains forever unintelligible to our intellect. Take motion, for example. Sensibly, motion comes in drops, waves, or pulses; either some actual amount of it, or none, being apprehended. This amount is the datum or _gabe_ which reality feeds out to our intellectual faculty; but our intellect makes of it a task or _aufgabe_–this pun is one of the most memorable of Kant’s formulas–and insists that in every pulse of it an infinite number of successive minor pulses shall be ascertainable. These minor pulses _we_ can indeed _go on_ to ascertain or to compute indefinitely if we have patience; but it would contradict the definition of an infinite number to suppose the endless series of them to have actually counted _themselves_ out piecemeal. Zeno made this manifest; so the infinity which our intellect requires of the sense-datum is thus a future and potential rather than a past and actual infinity of structure. The datum after it has made itself must be decompos_able_ ad infinitum by our conception, but of the steps by which that structure actually got composed we know nothing. Our intellect casts, in short, no ray of light on the processes by which experiences _get made_.

Kant’s monistic successors have in general found the data of immediate experience even more self-contradictory, when intellectually treated, than Kant did. Not only the character of infinity involved in the relation of various empirical data to their ‘conditions,’ but the very notion that empirical things should be related to one another at all, has seemed to them, when the intellectualistic fit was upon them, full of paradox and contradiction. We saw in a former lecture numerous instances of this from Hegel, Bradley, Royce, and others. We saw also where the solution of such an intolerable state of things was sought for by these authors. Whereas Kant had placed it outside of and _before_ our experience, in the _dinge an sich_ which are the causes of the latter, his monistic successors all look for it either _after_ experience, as its absolute completion, or else consider it to be even now implicit within experience as its ideal signification. Kant and his successors look, in short, in diametrically opposite directions. Do not be misled by Kant’s admission of theism into his system. His God is the ordinary dualistic God of Christianity, to whom his philosophy simply opens the door; he has nothing whatsoever in common with the ‘absolute spirit’ set up by his successors. So far as this absolute spirit is logically derived from Kant, it is not from his God, but from entirely different elements of his philosophy. First from his notion that an unconditioned totality of the conditions of any experience must be assignable; and then from his other notion that the presence of some witness, or ego of apperception, is the most universal of all the conditions in question. The post-kantians make of the witness-condition what is called a concrete universal, an individualized all-witness or world-self, which shall imply in its rational constitution each and all of the other conditions put together, and therefore necessitate each and all of the conditioned experiences.

Abridgments like this of other men’s opinions are very unsatisfactory, they always work injustice; but in this case those of you who are familiar with the literature will see immediately what I have in mind; and to the others, if there be any here, it will suffice to say that what I am trying so pedantically to point out is only the fact that monistic idealists after Kant have invariably sought relief from the supposed contradictions of our world of sense by looking forward toward an _ens rationis_ conceived as its integration or logical completion, while he looked backward toward non-rational _dinge an sich_ conceived as its cause. Pluralistic empiricists, on the other hand, have remained in the world of sense, either naively and because they overlooked the intellectualistic contradictions, or because, not able to ignore them, they thought they could refute them by a superior use of the same intellectualistic logic. Thus it is that John Mill pretends to refute the Achilles-tortoise fallacy.

The important point to notice here is the intellectualist logic. Both sides treat it as authoritative, but they do so capriciously: the absolutists smashing the world of sense by its means, the empiricists smashing the absolute–for the absolute, they say, is the quintessence of all logical contradictions. Neither side attains consistency. The Hegelians have to invoke a higher logic to supersede the purely destructive efforts of their first logic. The empiricists use their logic against the absolute, but refuse to use it against finite experience. Each party uses it or drops it to suit the vision it has faith in, but neither impugns in principle its general theoretic authority.

Bergson alone challenges its theoretic authority in principle. He alone denies that mere conceptual logic can tell us what is impossible or possible in the world of being or fact; and he does so for reasons which at the same time that they rule logic out from lordship over the whole of life, establish a vast and definite sphere of influence where its sovereignty is indisputable. Bergson’s own text, felicitous as it is, is too intricate for quotation, so I must use my own inferior words in explaining what I mean by saying this.

In the first place, logic, giving primarily the relations between concepts as such, and the relations between natural facts only secondarily or so far as the facts have been already identified with concepts and defined by them, must of course stand or fall with the conceptual method. But the conceptual method is a transformation which the flux of life undergoes at our hands in the interests of practice essentially and only subordinately in the interests of theory. We live forward, we understand backward, said a danish writer; and to understand life by concepts is to arrest its movement, cutting it up into bits as if with scissors, and immobilizing these in our logical herbarium where, comparing them as dried specimens, we can ascertain which of them statically includes or excludes which other. This treatment supposes life to have already accomplished itself, for the concepts, being so many views taken after the fact, are retrospective and post mortem. Nevertheless we can draw conclusions from them and project them into the future. We cannot learn from them how life made itself go, or how it will make itself go; but, on the supposition that its ways of making itself go are unchanging, we can calculate what positions of imagined arrest it will exhibit hereafter under given conditions. We can compute, for instance, at what point Achilles will be, and where the tortoise will be, at the end of the twentieth minute. Achilles may then be at a point far ahead; but the full detail of how he will have managed practically to get there our logic never gives us–we have seen, indeed, that it finds that its results contradict the facts of nature. The computations which the other sciences make differ in no respect from those of mathematics. The concepts used are all of them dots through which, by interpolation or extrapolation, curves are drawn, while along the curves other dots are found as consequences. The latest refinements of logic dispense with the curves altogether, and deal solely with the dots and their correspondences each to each in various series. The authors of these recent improvements tell us expressly that their aim is to abolish the last vestiges of intuition, _videlicet_ of concrete reality, from the field of reasoning, which then will operate literally on mental dots or bare abstract units of discourse, and on the ways in which they may be strung in naked series.

This is all very esoteric, and my own understanding of it is most likely misunderstanding. So I speak here only by way of brief reminder to those who know. For the rest of us it is enough to recognize this fact, that altho by means of concepts cut out from the sensible flux of the past, we can re-descend upon the future flux and, making another cut, say what particular thing is likely to be found there; and that altho in this sense concepts give us knowledge, and may be said to have some theoretic value (especially when the particular thing foretold is one in which we take no present practical interest); yet in the deeper sense of giving _insight_ they have no theoretic value, for they quite fail to connect us with the inner life of the flux, or with the causes that govern its direction. Instead of being interpreters of reality, concepts negate the inwardness of reality altogether. They make the whole notion of a causal influence between finite things incomprehensible. No real activities and indeed no real connexions of any kind can obtain if we follow the conceptual logic; for to be distinguishable, according to what I call intellectualism, is to be incapable of connexion. The work begun by Zeno, and continued by Hume, Kant, Herbart, Hegel, and Bradley, does not stop till sensible reality lies entirely disintegrated at the feet of ‘reason.’

Of the ‘absolute’ reality which reason proposes to substitute for sensible reality I shall have more to say presently. Meanwhile you see what Professor Bergson means by insisting that the function of the intellect is practical rather than theoretical. Sensible reality is too concrete to be entirely manageable–look at the narrow range of it which is all that any animal, living in it exclusively as he does, is able to compass. To get from one point in it to another we have to plough or wade through the whole intolerable interval. No detail is spared us; it is as bad as the barbed-wire complications at Port Arthur, and we grow old and die in the process. But with our faculty of abstracting and fixing concepts we are there in a second, almost as if we controlled a fourth dimension, skipping the intermediaries as by a divine winged power, and getting at the exact point we require without entanglement with any context. What we do in fact is to _harness up_ reality in our conceptual systems in order to drive it the better. This process is practical because all the termini to which we drive are _particular_ termini, even when they are facts of the mental order. But the sciences in which the conceptual method chiefly celebrates its triumphs are those of space and matter, where the transformations of external things are dealt with. To deal with moral facts conceptually, we have first to transform them, substitute brain-diagrams or physical metaphors, treat ideas as atoms, interests as mechanical forces, our conscious ‘selves’ as ‘streams,’ and the like. Paradoxical effect! as Bergson well remarks, if our intellectual life were not practical but destined to reveal the inner natures. One would then suppose that it would find itself most at home in the domain of its own intellectual realities. But it is precisely there that it finds itself at the end of its tether. We know the inner movements of our spirit only perceptually. We feel them live in us, but can give no distinct account of their elements, nor definitely predict their future; while things that lie along the world of space, things of the sort that we literally _handle_, are what our intellects cope with most successfully. Does not this confirm us in the view that the original and still surviving function of our intellectual life is to guide us in the practical adaptation of our expectancies and activities?

One can easily get into a verbal mess at this point, and my own experience with pragmatism’ makes me shrink from the dangers that lie in the word ‘practical,’ and far rather than stand out against you for that word, I am quite willing to part company with Professor Bergson, and to ascribe a primarily theoretical function to our intellect, provided you on your part then agree to discriminate ‘theoretic’ or scientific knowledge from the deeper ‘speculative’ knowledge aspired to by most philosophers, and concede that theoretic knowledge, which is knowledge _about_ things, as distinguished from living or sympathetic acquaintance with them, touches only the outer surface of reality. The surface which theoretic knowledge taken in this sense covers may indeed be enormous in extent; it may dot the whole diameter of space and time with its conceptual creations; but it does not penetrate a millimeter into the solid dimension. That inner dimension of reality is occupied by the _activities_ that keep it going, but the intellect, speaking through Hume, Kant & Co., finds itself obliged to deny, and persists in denying, that activities have any intelligible existence. What exists for _thought_, we are told, is at most the results that we illusorily ascribe to such activities, strung along the surfaces of space and time by _regeln der verknuepfung_, laws of nature which state only coexistences and successions.[1]

Thought deals thus solely with surfaces. It can name the thickness of reality, but it cannot fathom it, and its insufficiency here is essential and permanent, not temporary.

The only way in which to apprehend reality’s thickness is either to experience it directly by being a part of reality one’s self, or to evoke it in imagination by sympathetically divining some one else’s inner life. But what we thus immediately experience or concretely divine is very limited in duration, whereas abstractly we are able to conceive eternities. Could we feel a million years concretely as we now feel a passing minute, we should have very little employment for our conceptual faculty. We should know the whole period fully at every moment of its passage, whereas we must now construct it laboriously by means of concepts which we project. Direct acquaintance and conceptual knowledge are thus complementary of each other; each remedies the other’s defects. If what we care most about be the synoptic treatment of phenomena, the vision of the far and the gathering of the scattered like, we must follow the conceptual method. But if, as metaphysicians, we are more curious about the inner nature of reality or about what really makes it go, we must turn our backs upon our winged concepts altogether, and bury ourselves in the thickness of those passing moments over the surface of which they fly, and on particular points of which they occasionally rest and perch.

Professor Bergson thus inverts the traditional platonic doctrine absolutely. Instead of intellectual knowledge being the profounder, he calls it the more superficial. Instead of being the only adequate knowledge, it is grossly inadequate, and its only superiority is the practical one of enabling us to make short cuts through experience and thereby to save time. The one thing it cannot do is to reveal the nature of things–which last remark, if not clear already, will become clearer as I proceed. Dive back into the flux itself, then, Bergson tells us, if you wish to _know_ reality, that flux which Platonism, in its strange belief that only the immutable is excellent, has always spurned; turn your face toward sensation, that flesh-bound thing which rationalism has always loaded with abuse.–This, you see, is exactly the opposite remedy from that of looking forward into the absolute, which our idealistic contemporaries prescribe. It violates our mental habits, being a kind of passive and receptive listening quite contrary to that effort to react noisily and verbally on everything, which is our usual intellectual pose.

What, then, are the peculiar features in the perceptual flux which the conceptual translation so fatally leaves out?

The essence of life is its continuously changing character; but our concepts are all discontinuous and fixed, and the only mode of making them coincide with life is by arbitrarily supposing positions of arrest therein. With such arrests our concepts may be made congruent. But these concepts are not _parts_ of reality, not real positions taken by it, but _suppositions_ rather, notes taken by ourselves, and you can no more dip up the substance of reality with them than you can dip up water with a net, however finely meshed.

When we conceptualize, we cut out and fix, and exclude everything but what we have fixed. A concept means a _that-and-no-other_. Conceptually, time excludes space; motion and rest exclude each other; approach excludes contact; presence excludes absence; unity excludes plurality; independence excludes relativity; ‘mine’ excludes ‘yours’; this connexion excludes that connexion–and so on indefinitely; whereas in the real concrete sensible flux of life experiences compenetrate each other so that it is not easy to know just what is excluded and what not. Past and future, for example, conceptually separated by the cut to which we give the name of present, and defined as being the opposite sides of that cut, are to some extent, however brief, co-present with each other throughout experience. The literally present moment is a purely verbal supposition, not a position; the only present ever realized concretely being the ‘passing moment’ in which the dying rearward of time and its dawning future forever mix their lights. Say ‘now’ and it _was_ even while you say it.

It is just intellectualism’s attempt to substitute static cuts for units of experienced duration that makes real motion so unintelligible. The conception of the first half of the interval between Achilles and the tortoise excludes that of the last half, and the mathematical necessity of traversing it separately before the last half is traversed stands permanently in the way of the last half ever being traversed. Meanwhile the living Achilles (who, for the purposes of this discussion, is only the abstract name of one phenomenon of impetus, just as the tortoise is of another) asks no leave of logic. The velocity of his acts is an indivisible nature in them like the expansive tension in a spring compressed. We define it conceptually as [_s/t_], but the _s_ and _t_ are only artificial cuts made after the fact, and indeed most artificial when we treat them in both runners as the same tracts of ‘objective’ space and time, for the experienced spaces and times in which the tortoise inwardly lives are probably as different as his velocity from the same things in Achilles. The impetus of Achilles is one concrete fact, and carries space, time, and conquest over the inferior creature’s motion indivisibly in it. He perceives nothing, while running, of the mathematician’s homogeneous time and space, of the infinitely numerous succession of cuts in both, or of their order. End and beginning come for him in the one onrush, and all that he actually experiences is that, in the midst of a certain intense effort of his own, the rival is in point of fact outstripped.

We are so inveterately wedded to the conceptual decomposition of life that I know that this will seem to you like putting muddiest confusion in place of clearest thought, and relapsing into a molluscoid state of mind. Yet I ask you whether the absolute superiority of our higher thought is so very clear, if all that it can find is impossibility in tasks which sense-experience so easily performs.

What makes you call real life confusion is that it presents, as if they were dissolved in one another, a lot of differents which conception breaks life’s flow by keeping apart. But _are_ not differents actually dissolved in one another? Hasn’t every bit of experience its quality, its duration, its extension, its intensity, its urgency, its clearness, and many aspects besides, no one of which can exist in the isolation in which our verbalized logic keeps it? They exist only _durcheinander_. Reality always is, in M. Bergson’s phrase, an endosmosis or conflux of the same with the different: they compenetrate and telescope. For conceptual logic, the same is nothing but the same, and all sames with a third thing are the same with each other. Not so in concrete experience. Two spots on our skin, each of which feels the same as a third spot when touched along with it, are felt as different from each other. Two tones, neither distinguishable from a third tone, are perfectly distinct from each other. The whole process of life is due to life’s violation of our logical axioms. Take its continuity as an example. Terms like A and C appear to be connected by intermediaries, by B for example. Intellectualism calls this absurd, for ‘B-connected-with-A’ is, ‘as such,’ a different term from ‘B-connected-with-C.’ But real life laughs at logic’s veto. Imagine a heavy log which takes two men to carry it. First A and B take it. Then C takes hold and A drops off; then D takes hold and B drops off, so that C and D now bear it; and so on. The log meanwhile never drops, and keeps its sameness throughout the journey. Even so it is with all our experiences. Their changes are not complete annihilations followed by complete creations of something absolutely novel. There is partial decay and partial growth, and all the while a nucleus of relative constancy from which what decays drops off, and which takes into itself whatever is grafted on, until at length something wholly different has taken its place. In such a process we are as sure, in spite of intellectualist logic with its ‘as suches,’ that it _is_ the same nucleus which is able now to make connexion with what goes and again with what comes, as we are sure that the same point can lie on diverse lines that intersect there. Without being one throughout, such a universe is continuous. Its members interdigitate with their next neighbors in manifold directions, and there are no clean cuts between them anywhere.

The great clash of intellectualist logic with sensible experience is where the experience is that of influence exerted. Intellectualism denies (as we saw in lecture ii) that finite things can act on one another, for all things, once translated into concepts, remain shut up to themselves. To act on anything means to get into it somehow; but that would mean to get out of one’s self and be one’s other, which is self-contradictory, etc. Meanwhile each of us actually _is_ his own other to that extent, livingly knowing how to perform the trick which logic tells us can’t be done. My thoughts animate and actuate this very body which you see and hear, and thereby influence your thoughts. The dynamic current somehow does get from me to you, however numerous the intermediary conductors may have to be. Distinctions may be insulators in logic as much as they like, but in life distinct things can and do commune together every moment.

The conflict of the two ways of knowing is best summed up in the intellectualist doctrine that ‘the same cannot exist in many relations.’ This follows of course from the concepts of the two relations being so distinct that ‘what-is-in-the-one’ means ‘as such’ something distinct from what ‘what-is-in-the-other’ means. It is like Mill’s ironical saying, that we should not think of Newton as both an Englishman and a mathematician, because an Englishman as such is not a mathematician and a mathematician as such is not an Englishman. But the real Newton was somehow both things at once; and throughout the whole finite universe each real thing proves to be many differents without undergoing the necessity of breaking into disconnected editions of itself.

These few indications will perhaps suffice to put you at the bergsonian point of view. The immediate experience of life solves the problems which so baffle our conceptual intelligence: How can what is manifold be one? how can things get out of themselves? how be their own others? how be both distinct and connected? how can they act on one another? how be for others and yet for themselves? how be absent and present at once? The intellect asks these questions much as we might ask how anything can both separate and unite things, or how sounds can grow more alike by continuing to grow more different. If you already know space sensibly, you can answer the former question by pointing to any interval in it, long or short; if you know the musical scale, you can answer the latter by sounding an octave; but then you must first have the sensible knowledge of these realities. Similarly Bergson answers the intellectualist conundrums by pointing back to our various finite sensational experiences and saying, ‘Lo, even thus; even so are these other problems solved livingly.’

When you have broken the reality into concepts you never can reconstruct it in its wholeness. Out of no amount of discreteness can you manufacture the concrete. But place yourself at a bound, or _d’emblee_, as M. Bergson says, inside of the living, moving, active thickness of the real, and all the abstractions and distinctions are given into your hand: you can now make the intellectualist substitutions to your heart’s content. Install yourself in phenomenal movement, for example, and velocity, succession, dates, positions, and innumerable other things are given you in the bargain. But with only an abstract succession of dates and positions you can never patch up movement itself. It slips through their intervals and is lost.

So it is with every concrete thing, however complicated. Our intellectual handling of it is a retrospective patchwork, a post-mortem dissection, and can follow any order we find most expedient. We can make the thing seem self-contradictory whenever we wish to. But place yourself at the point of view of the thing’s interior _doing_, and all these back-looking and conflicting conceptions lie harmoniously in your hand. Get at the expanding centre of a human character, the _elan vital_ of a man, as Bergson calls it, by living sympathy, and at a stroke you see how it makes those who see it from without interpret it in such diverse ways. It is something that breaks into both honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, stupidity and insight, at the touch of varying circumstances, and you feel exactly why and how it does this, and never seek to identify it stably with any of these single abstractions. Only your intellectualist does that,–and you now also feel why _he_ must do it to the end.

Place yourself similarly at the centre of a man’s philosophic vision and you understand at once all the different things it makes him write or say. But keep outside, use your post-mortem method, try to build the philosophy up out of the single phrases, taking first one and then another and seeking to make them fit, and of course you fail. You crawl over the thing like a myopic ant over a building, tumbling into every microscopic crack or fissure, finding nothing but inconsistencies, and never suspecting that a centre exists. I hope that some of the philosophers in this audience may occasionally have had something different from this intellectualist type of criticism applied to their own works!

What really _exists_ is not things made but things in the making. Once made, they are dead, and an infinite number of alternative conceptual decompositions can be used in defining them. But put yourself _in the making_ by a stroke of intuitive sympathy with the thing and, the whole range of possible decompositions coming at once into your possession, you are no longer troubled with the question which of them is the more absolutely true. Reality _falls_ in passing into conceptual analysis; it _mounts_ in living its own undivided life–it buds and bourgeons, changes and creates. Once adopt the movement of this life in any given instance and you know what Bergson calls the _devenir reel_ by which the thing evolves and grows. Philosophy should seek this kind of living understanding of the movement of reality, not follow science in vainly patching together fragments of its dead results.

Thus much of M. Bergson’s philosophy is sufficient for my purpose in these lectures, so here I will stop, leaving unnoticed all its other constituent features, original and interesting tho they be. You may say, and doubtless some of you now are saying inwardly, that his remanding us to sensation in this wise is only a regress, a return to that ultra-crude empiricism which your own idealists since Green have buried ten times over. I confess that it is indeed a return to empiricism, but I think that the return in such accomplished shape only proves the latter’s immortal truth. What won’t stay buried must have some genuine life. _Am anfang war die tat_; fact is a _first_; to which all our conceptual handling comes as an inadequate second, never its full equivalent. When I read recent transcendentalist literature–I must partly except my colleague Royce!–I get nothing but a sort of marking of time, champing of jaws, pawing of the ground, and resettling into the same attitude, like a weary horse in a stall with an empty manger. It is but turning over the same few threadbare categories, bringing the same objections, and urging the same answers and solutions, with never a new fact or a new horizon coming into sight. But open Bergson, and new horizons loom on every page you read. It is like the breath of the morning and the song of birds. It tells of reality itself, instead of merely reiterating what dusty-minded professors have written about what other previous professors have thought. Nothing in Bergson is shop-worn or at second hand.

That he gives us no closed-in system will of course be fatal to him in intellectualist eyes. He only evokes and invites; but he first annuls the intellectualist veto, so that we now join step with reality with a philosophical conscience never quite set free before. As a french disciple of his well expresses it: ‘Bergson claims of us first of all a certain inner catastrophe, and not every one is capable of such a logical revolution. But those who have once found themselves flexible enough for the execution of such a psychological change of front, discover somehow that they can never return again to their ancient attitude of mind. They are now Bergsonians … and possess the principal thoughts of the master all at once. They have understood in the fashion in which one loves, they have caught the whole melody and can thereafter admire at their leisure the originality, the fecundity, and the imaginative genius with which its author develops, transposes, and varies in a thousand ways by the orchestration of his style and dialectic, the original theme.'[2]

This, scant as it is, is all I have to say about Bergson on this occasion–I hope it may send some of you to his original text. I must now turn back to the point where I found it advisable to appeal to his ideas. You remember my own intellectualist difficulties in the last lecture, about how a lot of separate consciousnesses can at the same time be one collective thing. How, I asked, can one and the same identical content of experience, of which on idealist principles the _esse_ is to be felt, be felt so diversely if itself be the only feeler? The usual way of escape by ‘quatenus’ or ‘as such’ won’t help us here if we are radical intellectualists, I said, for appearance-together is as such _not_ appearance-apart, the world _qua_ many is not the world _qua_ one, as absolutism claims. If we hold to Hume’s maxim, which later intellectualism uses so well, that whatever things are distinguished are as separate as if there were no manner of connexion between them, there seemed no way out of the difficulty save by stepping outside of experience altogether and invoking different spiritual agents, selves or souls, to realize the diversity required. But this rescue by ‘scholastic entities’ I was unwilling to accept any more than pantheistic idealists accept it.

Yet, to quote Fechner’s phrase again, ‘nichts wirkliches kann unmoeglich sein,’ the actual cannot be impossible, and what _is_ actual at every moment of our lives is the sort of thing which I now proceed to remind you of. You can hear the vibration of an electric contact-maker, smell the ozone, see the sparks, and feel the thrill, co-consciously as it were or in one field of experience. But you can also isolate any one of these sensations by shutting out the rest. If you close your eyes, hold your nose, and remove your hand, you can get the sensation of sound alone, but it seems still the same sensation that it was; and if you restore the action of the other organs, the sound coalesces with the feeling, the sight, and the smell sensations again. Now the natural way of talking of all this[3] is to say that certain sensations are experienced, now singly, and now together with other sensations, in a common conscious field. Fluctuations of attention give analogous results. We let a sensation in or keep it out by changing our attention; and similarly we let an item of memory in or drop it out. [Please don’t raise the question here of how these changes _come to pass_. The immediate condition is probably cerebral in every instance, but it would be irrelevant now to consider it, for now we are thinking only of results, and I repeat that the natural way of thinking of them is that which intellectualist criticism finds so absurd.]

The absurdity charged is that the self-same should function so differently, now with and now without something else. But this it sensibly seems to do. This very desk which I strike with my hand strikes in turn your eyes. It functions at once as a physical object in the outer world and as a mental object in our sundry mental worlds. The very body of mine that _my_ thought actuates is the body whose gestures are _your_ visual object and to which you give my name. The very log which John helped to carry is the log now borne by James. The very girl you love is simultaneously entangled elsewhere. The very place behind me is in front of you. Look where you will, you gather only examples of the same amid the different, and of different relations existing as it were in solution in the same thing. _Qua_ this an experience is not the same as it is _qua_ that, truly enough; but the _quas_ are conceptual shots of ours at its post-mortem remains, and in its sensational immediacy everything is all at once whatever different things it is at once at all. It is before C and after A, far from you and near to me, without this associate and with that one, active and passive, physical and mental, a whole of parts and part of a higher whole, all simultaneously and without interference or need of doubling-up its being, so long as we keep to what I call the ‘immediate’ point of view, the point of view in which we follow our sensational life’s continuity, and to which all living language conforms. It is only when you try–to continue using the hegelian vocabulary–to ‘mediate’ the immediate, or to substitute concepts for sensational life, that intellectualism celebrates its triumph and the immanent-self-contradictoriness of all this smooth-running finite experience gets proved.

Of the oddity of inventing as a remedy for the inconveniences resulting from this situation a supernumerary conceptual object called an absolute, into which you pack the self-same contradictions unreduced, I will say something in the next lecture. The absolute is said to perform its feats by taking up its other into itself. But that is exactly what is done when every individual morsel of the sensational stream takes up the adjacent morsels by coalescing with them. This is just what we mean by the stream’s sensible continuity. No element _there_ cuts itself off from any other element, as concepts cut themselves from concepts. No part _there_ is so small as not to be a place of conflux. No part there is not really _next_ its neighbors; which means that there is literally nothing between; which means again that no part goes exactly so far and no farther; that no part absolutely excludes another, but that they compenetrate and are cohesive; that if you tear out one, its roots bring out more with them; that whatever is real is telescoped and diffused into other reals; that, in short, every minutest thing is already its hegelian ‘own other,’ in the fullest sense of the term.

Of course this _sounds_ self-contradictory, but as the immediate facts don’t sound at all, but simply _are_, until we conceptualize and name them vocally, the contradiction results only from the conceptual or discursive form being substituted for the real form. But if, as Bergson shows, that form is superimposed for practical ends only, in order to let us jump about over life instead of wading through it; and if it cannot even pretend to reveal anything of what life’s inner nature is or ought to be; why then we can turn a deaf ear to its accusations. The resolve to turn the deaf ear is the inner crisis or ‘catastrophe’ of which M. Bergson’s disciple whom I lately quoted spoke. We are so subject to the philosophic tradition which treats _logos_ or discursive thought generally as the sole avenue to truth, that to fall back on raw unverbalized life as more of a revealer, and to think of concepts as the merely practical things which Bergson calls them, comes very hard. It is putting off our proud maturity of mind and becoming again as foolish little children in the eyes of reason. But difficult as such a revolution is, there is no other way, I believe, to the possession of reality, and I permit myself to hope that some of you may share my opinion after you have heard my next lecture.



I fear that few of you will have been able to obey Bergson’s call upon you to look towards the sensational life for the fuller knowledge of reality, or to sympathize with his attempt to limit the divine right of concepts to rule our mind absolutely. It is too much like looking downward and not up. Philosophy, you will say, doesn’t lie flat on its belly in the middle of experience, in the very thick of its sand and gravel, as this Bergsonism does, never getting a peep at anything from above. Philosophy is essentially the vision of things from above. It doesn’t simply feel the detail of things, it comprehends their intelligible plan, sees their forms and principles, their categories and rules, their order and necessity. It takes the superior point of view of the architect. Is it conceivable that it should ever forsake that point of view and abandon itself to a slovenly life of immediate feeling? To say nothing of your traditional Oxford devotion to Aristotle and Plato, the leaven of T.H. Green probably works still too strongly here for his anti-sensationalism to be outgrown quickly. Green more than any one realized that knowledge _about_ things was knowledge of their relations; but nothing could persuade him that our sensational life could contain any relational element. He followed the strict intellectualist method with sensations. What they were not expressly defined as including, they must exclude. Sensations are not defined as relations, so in the end Green thought that they could get related together only by the action on them from above of a ‘self-distinguishing’ absolute and eternal mind, present to that which is related, but not related itself. ‘A relation,’ he said, ‘is not contingent with the contingency of feeling. It is permanent with the permanence of the combining and comparing thought which alone constitutes it.'[1] In other words, relations are purely conceptual objects, and the sensational life as such cannot relate itself together. Sensation in itself, Green wrote, is fleeting, momentary, unnameable (because, while we name it, it has become another), and for the same reason unknowable, the very negation of knowability. Were there no permanent objects of conception for our sensations to be ‘referred to,’ there would be no significant names, but only noises, and a consistent sensationalism must be speechless.[2] Green’s intellectualism was so earnest that it produced a natural and an inevitable effect. But the atomistic and unrelated sensations which he had in mind were purely fictitious products of his rationalist fancy. The psychology of our own day disavows them utterly,[3] and Green’s laborious belaboring of poor old Locke for not having first seen that his ideas of sensation were just that impracticable sort of thing, and then fled to transcendental idealism as a remedy,–his belaboring of poor old Locke for this, I say, is pathetic. Every examiner of the sensible life _in concreto_ must see that relations of every sort, of time, space, difference, likeness, change, rate, cause, or what not, are just as integral members of the sensational flux as terms are, and that conjunctive relations are just as true members of the flux as disjunctive relations are.[4] This is what in some recent writings of mine I have called the ‘radically empiricist’ doctrine (in distinction from the doctrine of mental atoms which the name empiricism so often suggests). Intellectualistic critics of sensation insist that sensations are _disjoined_ only. Radical empiricism insists that conjunctions between them are just as immediately given as disjunctions are, and that relations, whether disjunctive or conjunctive, are in their original sensible givenness just as fleeting and momentary (in Green’s words), and just as ‘particular,’ as terms are. Later, both terms and relations get universalized by being conceptualized and named.[5] But all the thickness, concreteness, and individuality of experience exists in the immediate and relatively unnamed stages of it, to the richness of which, and to the standing inadequacy of our conceptions to match it, Professor Bergson so emphatically calls our attention. And now I am happy to say that we can begin to gather together some of the separate threads of our argument, and see a little better the general kind of conclusion toward which we are tending. Pray go back with me to the lecture before the last, and recall what I said about the difficulty of seeing how states of consciousness can compound themselves. The difficulty seemed to be the same, you remember, whether we took it in psychology as the composition of finite states of mind out of simpler finite states, or in metaphysics as the composition of the absolute mind out of finite minds in general. It is the general conceptualist difficulty of any one thing being the same with many things, either at once or in succession, for the abstract concepts of oneness and manyness must needs exclude each other. In the particular instance that we have dwelt on so long, the one thing is the all-form of experience, the many things are the each-forms of experience in you and me. To call them the same we must treat them as if each were simultaneously its own other, a feat on conceptualist principles impossible of performance.

On the principle of going behind the conceptual function altogether, however, and looking to the more primitive flux of the sensational life for reality’s true shape, a way is open to us, as I tried in my last lecture to show. Not only the absolute is its own other, but the simplest bits of immediate experience are their own others, if that hegelian phrase be once for all allowed. The concrete pulses of experience appear pent in by no such definite limits as our conceptual substitutes for them are confined by. They run into one another continuously and seem to interpenetrate. What in them is relation and what is matter related is hard to discern. You feel no one of them as inwardly simple, and no two as wholly without confluence where they touch. There is no datum so small as not to show this mystery, if mystery it be. The tiniest feeling that we can possibly have comes with an earlier and a later part and with a sense of their continuous procession. Mr. Shadworth Hodgson showed long ago that there is literally no such object as the present moment except as an unreal postulate of abstract thought.[6] The ‘passing’ moment is, as I already have reminded you, the minimal fact, with the ‘apparition of difference’ inside of it as well as outside. If we do not feel both past and present in one field of feeling, we feel them not at all. We have the same many-in-one in the matter that fills the passing time. The rush of our thought forward through its fringes is the everlasting peculiarity of its life. We realize this life as something always off its balance, something in transition, something that shoots out of a darkness through a dawn into a brightness that we feel to be the dawn fulfilled. In the very midst of the continuity our experience comes as an alteration. ‘Yes,’ we say at the full brightness, ‘_this_ is what I just meant.’ ‘No,’ we feel at the dawning, ‘this is not yet the full meaning, there is more to come.’ In every crescendo of sensation, in every effort to recall, in every progress towards the satisfaction of desire, this succession of an emptiness and fulness that have reference to each other and are one flesh is the essence of the phenomenon. In every hindrance of desire the sense of an ideal presence which is absent in fact, of an absent, in a word, which the only function of the present is to _mean_, is even more notoriously there. And in the movement of pure thought we have the same phenomenon. When I say _Socrates is mortal_, the moment _Socrates_ is incomplete; it falls forward through the _is_ which is pure movement, into the _mortal_ which is indeed bare mortal on the tongue, but for the mind is _that mortal_, the _mortal Socrates_, at last satisfactorily disposed of and told off.[7]

Here, then, inside of the minimal pulses of experience, is realized that very inner complexity which the transcendentalists say only the absolute can genuinely possess. The gist of the matter is always the same–something ever goes indissolubly with something else. You cannot separate the same from its other, except by abandoning the real altogether and taking to the conceptual system. What is immediately given in the single and particular instance is always something pooled and mutual, something with no dark spot, no point of ignorance. No one elementary bit of reality is eclipsed from the next bit’s point of view, if only we take reality sensibly and in small enough pulses–and by us it has to be taken pulse-wise, for our span of consciousness is too short to grasp the larger collectivity of things except nominally and abstractly. No more of reality collected together at once is extant anywhere, perhaps, than in my experience of reading this page, or in yours of listening; yet within those bits of experience as they come to pass we get a fulness of content that no conceptual description can equal. Sensational experiences _are_ their ‘own others,’ then, both internally and externally. Inwardly they are one with their parts, and outwardly they pass continuously into their next neighbors, so that events separated by years of time in a man’s life hang together unbrokenly by the intermediary events. Their _names_, to be sure, cut them into separate conceptual entities, but no cuts existed in the continuum in which they originally came.

If, with all this in our mind, we turn to our own particular predicament, we see that our old objection to the self-compounding of states of consciousness, our accusation that it was impossible for purely logical reasons, is unfounded in principle. Every smallest state of consciousness, concretely taken, overflows its own definition. Only concepts are self-identical; only ‘reason’ deals with closed equations; nature is but a name for excess; every point in her opens out and runs into the more; and the only question, with reference to any point we may be considering, is how far into the rest of nature we may have to go in order to get entirely beyond its overflow. In the pulse of inner life immediately present now in each of us is a little past, a little future, a little awareness of our own body, of each other’s persons, of these sublimities we are trying to talk about, of the earth’s geography and the direction of history, of truth and error, of good and bad, and of who knows how much more? Feeling, however dimly and subconsciously, all these things, your pulse of inner life is continuous with them, belongs to them and they to it. You can’t identify it with either one of them rather than with the others, for if you let it develop into no matter which of those directions, what it develops into will look back on it and say, ‘That was the original germ of me.’

In _principle_, then, the real units of our immediately-felt life are unlike the units that intellectualist logic holds to and makes its calculations with. They are not separate from their own others, and you have to take them at widely separated dates to find any two of them that seem unblent. Then indeed they do appear separate even as their concepts are separate; a chasm yawns between them; but the chasm itself is but an intellectualist fiction, got by abstracting from the continuous sheet of experiences with which the intermediary time was filled. It is like the log carried first by William and Henry, then by William, Henry, and John, then by Henry and John, then by John and Peter, and so on. All real units of experience _overlap_. Let a row of equidistant dots on a sheet of paper symbolize the concepts by which we intellectualize the world. Let a ruler long enough to cover at least three dots stand for our sensible experience. Then the conceived changes of the sensible experience can be symbolized by sliding the ruler along the line of dots. One concept after another will apply to it, one after another drop away, but it will always cover at least two of them, and no dots less than three will ever adequately cover _it_. You falsify it if you treat it conceptually, or by the law of dots.

What is true here of successive states must also be true of simultaneous characters. They also overlap each other with their being. My present field of consciousness is a centre surrounded by a fringe that shades insensibly into a subconscious more. I use three separate terms here to describe, this fact; but I might as well use three hundred, for the fact is all shades and no boundaries. Which part of it properly is in my consciousness, which out? If I name what is out, it already has come in. The centre works in one way while the margins work in another, and presently overpower the centre and are central themselves. What we conceptually identify ourselves with and say we are thinking of at any time is the centre; but our _full_ self is the whole field, with all those indefinitely radiating subconscious possibilities of increase that we can only feel without conceiving, and can hardly begin to analyze. The collective and the distributive ways of being coexist here, for each part functions distinctly, makes connexion with its own peculiar region in the still wider rest of experience and tends to draw us into that line, and yet the whole is somehow felt as one pulse of our life,–not conceived so, but felt so.

In principle, then, as I said, intellectualism’s edge is broken; it can only approximate to reality, and its logic is inapplicable to our inner life, which spurns its vetoes and mocks at its impossibilities. Every bit of us at every moment is part and parcel of a wider self, it quivers along various radii like the wind-rose on a compass, and the actual in it is continuously one with possibles not yet in our present sight.[8] And just as we are co-conscious with our own momentary margin, may not we ourselves form the margin of some more really central self in things which is co-conscious with the whole of us? May not you and I be confluent in a higher consciousness, and confluently active there, tho we now know it not?

I am tiring myself and you, I know, by vainly seeking to describe by concepts and words what I say at the same time exceeds either conceptualization or verbalization. As long as one continues _talking_, intellectualism remains in undisturbed possession of the field. The return to life can’t come about by talking. It is an _act_; to make you return to life, I must set an example for your imitation, I must deafen you to talk, or to the importance of talk, by showing you, as Bergson does, that the concepts we talk with are made for purposes of _practice_ and not for purposes of insight. Or I must _point_, point to the mere _that_ of life, and you by inner sympathy must fill out the _what_ for yourselves. The minds of some of you, I know, will absolutely refuse to do so, refuse to think in non-conceptualized terms. I myself absolutely refused to do so for years together, even after I knew that the denial of manyness-in-oneness by intellectualism must be false, for the same reality does perform the most various functions at once. But I hoped ever for a revised intellectualist way round the difficulty, and it was only after reading Bergson that I saw that to continue using the intellectualist method was itself the fault. I saw that philosophy had been on a false scent ever since the days of Socrates and Plato, that an _intellectual_ answer to the intellectualist’s difficulties will never come, and that the real way out of them, far from consisting in the discovery of such an answer, consists in simply closing one’s ears to the question. When conceptualism summons life to justify itself in conceptual terms, it is like a challenge addressed in a foreign language to some one who is absorbed in his own business; it is irrelevant to him altogether–he may let it lie unnoticed. I went thus through the ‘inner catastrophe’ of which I spoke in the last lecture; I had literally come to the end of my conceptual stock-in-trade, I was bankrupt intellectualistically, and had to change my base. No words of mine will probably convert you, for words can be the names only of concepts. But if any of you try sincerely and pertinaciously on your own separate accounts to intellectualize reality, you may be similarly driven to a change of front. I say no more: I must leave life to teach the lesson.

We have now reached a point of view from which the self-compounding of mind in its smaller and more accessible portions seems a certain fact, and in which the speculative assumption of a similar but wider compounding in remoter regions must be reckoned with as a legitimate hypothesis. The absolute is not the impossible being I once thought it. Mental facts do function both singly and together, at once, and we finite minds may simultaneously be co-conscious with one another in a superhuman intelligence. It is only the extravagant claims of coercive necessity on the absolute’s part that have to be denied by _a priori_ logic. As an hypothesis trying to make itself probable on analogical and inductive grounds, the absolute is entitled to a patient hearing. Which is as much as to say that our serious business from now onward lies with Fechner and his method, rather than with Hegel, Royce, or Bradley. Fechner treats the superhuman consciousness he so fervently believes in as an hypothesis only, which he then recommends by all the resources of induction and persuasion.

It is true that Fechner himself is an absolutist in his books, not actively but passively, if I may say so. He talks not only of the earth-soul and of the star-souls, but of an integrated soul of all things in the cosmos without exception, and this he calls God just as others call it the absolute. Nevertheless he _thinks_ only of the subordinate superhuman souls, and content with having made his obeisance once for all to the august total soul of the cosmos, he leaves it in its lonely sublimity with no attempt to define its nature. Like the absolute, it is ‘out of range,’ and not an object for distincter vision. Psychologically, it seems to me that Fechner’s God is a lazy postulate of his, rather than a part of his system positively thought out. As we envelop our sight and hearing, so the earth-soul envelops us, and the star-soul the earth-soul, until–what? Envelopment can’t go on forever; it must have an _abschluss_, a total envelope must terminate the series, so God is the name that Fechner gives to this last all-enveloper. But if nothing escapes this all-enveloper, he is responsible for everything, including evil, and all the paradoxes and difficulties which I found in the absolute at the end of our third lecture recur undiminished. Fechner tries sincerely to grapple with the problem of evil, but he always solves it in the leibnitzian fashion by making his God non-absolute, placing him under conditions of ‘metaphysical necessity’ which even his omnipotence cannot violate. His will has to struggle with conditions not imposed on that will by itself. He tolerates provisionally what he has not created, and then with endless patience tries to overcome it and live it down. He has, in short, a history. Whenever Fechner tries to represent him clearly, his God becomes the ordinary God of theism, and ceases to be the absolutely totalized all-enveloper.[9] In this shape, he represents the ideal element in things solely, and is our champion and our helper and we his helpers, against the bad parts of the universe.

Fechner was in fact too little of a metaphysician to care for perfect formal consistency in these abstract regions. He believed in God in the pluralistic manner, but partly from convention and partly from what I should call intellectual laziness, if laziness of any kind could be imputed to a Fechner, he let the usual monistic talk about him pass unchallenged. I propose to you that we should discuss the question of God without entangling ourselves in advance in the monistic assumption. Is it probable that there is any superhuman consciousness at all, in the first place? When that is settled, the further question whether its form be monistic or pluralistic is in order.

Before advancing to either question, however, and I shall have to deal with both but very briefly after what has been said already, let me finish our retrospective survey by one more remark about the curious logical situation of the absolutists. For what have they invoked the absolute except as a being the peculiar inner form of which shall enable it to overcome the contradictions with which intellectualism has found the finite many as such to be infected? The many-in-one character that, as we have seen, every smallest tract of finite experience offers, is considered by intellectualism to be fatal to the reality of finite experience. What can be distinguished, it tells us, is separate; and what is separate is unrelated, for a relation, being a ‘between,’ would bring only a twofold separation. Hegel, Royce, Bradley, and the Oxford absolutists in general seem to agree about this logical absurdity of manyness-in-oneness in the only places where it is empirically found. But see the curious tactics! Is the absurdity _reduced_ in the absolute being whom they call in to relieve it? Quite otherwise, for that being shows it on an infinitely greater scale, and flaunts it in its very definition. The fact of its not being related to any outward environment, the fact that all relations are inside of itself, doesn’t save it, for Mr. Bradley’s great argument against the finite is that _in_ any given bit of it (a bit of sugar, for instance) the presence of a plurality of characters (whiteness and sweetness, for example) is self-contradictory; so that in the final end all that the absolute’s name appears to stand for is the persistent claim of outraged human nature that reality _shall_ not be called absurd. _Somewhere_ there must be an aspect of it guiltless of self-contradiction. All we can see of the absolute, meanwhile, is guilty in the same way in which the finite is. Intellectualism sees what it calls the guilt, when comminuted in the finite object; but is too near-sighted to see it in the more enormous object. Yet the absolute’s constitution, if imagined at all, has to be imagined after the analogy of some bit of finite experience. Take any _real_ bit, suppress its environment and then magnify it to monstrosity, and you get identically the type of structure of the absolute. It is obvious that all your difficulties here remain and go with you. If the relative experience was inwardly absurd, the absolute experience is infinitely more so. Intellectualism, in short, strains off the gnat, but swallows the whole camel. But this polemic against the absolute is as odious to me as it is to you, so I will say no more about that being. It is only one of those wills of the wisp, those lights that do mislead the morn, that have so often impeded the clear progress of philosophy, so I will turn to the more general positive question of whether superhuman unities of consciousness should be considered as more probable or more improbable.

In a former lecture I went over some of the fechnerian reasons for their plausibility, or reasons that at least replied to our more obvious grounds of doubt concerning them. The numerous facts of divided or split human personality which the genius of certain medical men, as Janet, Freud, Prince, Sidis, and others, have unearthed were unknown in Fechner’s time, and neither the phenomena of automatic writing and speech, nor of mediumship and ‘possession’ generally, had been recognized or studied as we now study them, so Fechner’s stock of analogies is scant compared with our present one. He did the best with what he had, however. For my own part I find in some of these abnormal or supernormal facts the strongest suggestions in favor of a superior co-consciousness being possible. I doubt whether we shall ever understand some of them without using the very letter of Fechner’s conception of a great reservoir in which the memories of earth’s inhabitants are pooled and preserved, and from which, when the threshold lowers or the valve opens, information ordinarily shut out leaks into the mind of exceptional individuals among us. But those regions of inquiry are perhaps too spook-haunted to interest an academic audience, and the only evidence I feel it now decorous to bring to the support of Fechner is drawn from ordinary religious experience. I think it may be asserted that there _are_ religious experiences of a specific nature, not deducible by analogy or psychological reasoning from our other sorts of experience. I think that they point with reasonable probability to the continuity of our consciousness with a wider spiritual environment from which the ordinary prudential man (who is the only man that scientific psychology, so called, takes cognizance of) is shut off. I shall begin my final lecture by referring to them again briefly.



At the close of my last lecture I referred to the existence of religious experiences of a specific nature. I must now explain just what I mean by such a claim. Briefly, the facts I have in mind may all be described as experiences of an unexpected life succeeding upon death. By this I don’t mean immortality, or the death of the body. I mean the deathlike termination of certain mental processes within the individual’s experience, processes that run to failure, and in some individuals, at least, eventuate in despair. Just as romantic love seems a comparatively recent literary invention, so these experiences of a life that supervenes upon despair seem to have played no great part in official theology till Luther’s time; and possibly the best way to indicate their character will be to point to a certain contrast between the inner life of ourselves and of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Mr. Chesterton, I think, says somewhere, that the Greeks and Romans, in all that concerned their moral life, were an extraordinarily solemn set of folks. The Athenians thought that the very gods must admire the rectitude of Phocion and Aristides; and those gentlemen themselves were apparently of much the same opinion. Cato’s veracity was so impeccable that the extremest incredulity a Roman could express of anything was to say, ‘I would not believe it even if Cato had told me.’ Good was good, and bad was bad, for these people. Hypocrisy, which church-Christianity brought in, hardly existed; the naturalistic system held firm; its values showed no hollowness and brooked no irony. The individual, if virtuous enough, could meet all possible requirements. The pagan pride had never crumbled. Luther was the first moralist who broke with any effectiveness through the crust of all this naturalistic self-sufficiency, thinking (and possibly he was right) that Saint Paul had done it already. Religious experience of the lutheran type brings all our naturalistic standards to bankruptcy. You are strong only by being weak, it shows. You cannot live on pride or self-sufficingness. There is a light in which all the naturally founded and currently accepted distinctions, excellences, and safeguards of our characters appear as utter childishness. Sincerely to give up one’s conceit or hope of being good in one’s own right is the only door to the universe’s deeper reaches.

These deeper reaches are familiar to evangelical Christianity and to what is nowadays becoming known as ‘mind-cure’ religion or ‘new thought.’ The phenomenon is that of new ranges of life succeeding on our most despairing moments. There are resources in us that naturalism with its literal and legal virtues never recks of, possibilities that take our breath away, of another kind of happiness and power, based on giving up our own will and letting something higher work for us, and these seem to show a world wider than either physics or philistine ethics can imagine. Here is a world in which all is well, in _spite_ of certain forms of death, indeed _because_ of certain forms of death–death of hope, death of strength, death of responsibility, of fear and worry, competency and desert, death of everything that paganism, naturalism, and legalism pin their faith on and tie their trust to.

Reason, operating on our other experiences, even our psychological experiences, would never have inferred these specifically religious experiences in advance of their actual coming. She could not suspect their existence, for they are discontinuous with the ‘natural’ experiences they succeed upon and invert their values. But as they actually come and are given, creation widens to the view of their recipients. They suggest that our natural experience, our strictly moralistic and prudential experience, may be only a fragment of real human experience. They soften nature’s outlines and open out the strangest possibilities and perspectives.

This is why it seems to me that the logical understanding, working in abstraction from such specifically religious experiences, will always omit something, and fail to reach completely adequate conclusions. Death and failure, it will always say, _are_ death and failure simply, and can nevermore be one with life; so religious experience, peculiarly so called, needs, in my opinion, to be carefully considered and interpreted by every one who aspires to reason out a more complete philosophy.

The sort of belief that religious experience of this type naturally engenders in those who have it is fully in accord with Fechner’s theories. To quote words which I have used elsewhere, the believer finds that the tenderer parts of his personal life are continuous with a _more_ of the same quality which is operative in the universe outside of him and which he can keep in working touch with, and in a fashion get on board of and save himself, when all his lower being has gone to pieces in the wreck. In a word, the believer is continuous, to his own consciousness, at any rate, with a wider self from which saving experiences flow in. Those who have such experiences distinctly enough and often enough to live in the light of them remain quite unmoved by criticism, from whatever quarter it may come, be it academic or scientific, or be it merely the voice of logical common sense. They have had their vision and they _know_–that is enough–that we inhabit an invisible spiritual environment from which help comes, our soul being mysteriously one with a larger soul whose instruments we are.

One may therefore plead, I think, that Fechner’s ideas are not without direct empirical verification. There is at any rate one side of life which would be easily explicable if those ideas were true, but of which there appears no clear explanation so long as we assume either with naturalism that human consciousness is the highest consciousness there is, or with dualistic theism that there is a higher mind in the cosmos, but that it is discontinuous with our own. It has always been a matter of surprise with me that philosophers of the absolute should have shown so little interest in this department of life, and so seldom put its phenomena in evidence, even when it seemed obvious that personal experience of some kind must have made their confidence in their own vision so strong. The logician’s bias has always been too much with them. They have preferred the thinner to the thicker method, dialectical abstraction being so much more dignified and academic than the confused and unwholesome facts of personal biography.

In spite of rationalism’s disdain for the particular, the personal, and the unwholesome, the drift of all the evidence we have seems to me to sweep us very strongly towards the belief in some form of superhuman life with which we may, unknown to ourselves, be co-conscious. We may be in the universe as dogs and cats are in our libraries, seeing the books and hearing the conversation, but having no inkling of the meaning of it all. The intellectualist objections to this fall away when the authority of intellectualist logic is undermined by criticism, and then the positive empirical evidence remains. The analogies with ordinary psychology and with the facts of pathology, with those of psychical research, so called, and with those of religious experience, establish, when taken together, a decidedly _formidable_ probability in favor of a general view of the world almost identical with Fechner’s. The outlines of the superhuman consciousness thus made probable must remain, however, very vague, and the number of functionally distinct ‘selves’ it comports and carries has to be left entirely problematic. It may be polytheistically or it may be monotheistically conceived of. Fechner, with his distinct earth-soul functioning as our guardian angel, seems to me clearly polytheistic; but the word ‘polytheism’ usually gives offence, so perhaps it is better not to use it. Only one thing is certain, and that is the result of our criticism of the absolute: the only way to escape from the paradoxes and perplexities that a consistently thought-out monistic universe suffers from as from a species of auto-intoxication–the mystery of the ‘fall’ namely, of reality lapsing into appearance, truth into error, perfection into imperfection; of evil, in short; the mystery of universal determinism, of the block-universe eternal and without a history, etc.;–the only way of escape, I say, from all this is to be frankly pluralistic and assume that the superhuman consciousness, however vast it may be, has itself an external environment, and consequently is finite. Present day monism carefully repudiates complicity with spinozistic monism. In that, it explains, the many get dissolved in the one and lost, whereas in the improved idealistic form they get preserved in all their manyness as the one’s eternal object. The absolute itself is thus represented by absolutists as having a pluralistic object. But if even the absolute has to have a pluralistic vision, why should we ourselves hesitate to be pluralists on our own sole account? Why should we envelop our many with the ‘one’ that brings so much poison in its train?

The line of least resistance, then, as it seems to me, both in theology and in philosophy, is to accept, along with the superhuman consciousness, the notion that it is not all-embracing, the notion, in other words, that there is a God, but that he is finite, either in power or in knowledge, or in both at once. These, I need hardly tell you, are the terms in which common men have usually carried on their active commerce with God; and the monistic perfections that make the notion of him so paradoxical practically and morally are the colder addition of remote professorial minds operating _in distans_ upon conceptual substitutes for him alone.

Why cannot ‘experience’ and ‘reason’ meet on this common ground? Why cannot they compromise? May not the godlessness usually but needlessly associated with the philosophy of immediate experience give way to a theism now seen to follow directly from that experience more widely taken? and may not rationalism, satisfied with seeing her _a priori_ proofs of God so effectively replaced by empirical evidence, abate something of her absolutist claims? Let God but have the least infinitesimal _other_ of any kind beside him, and empiricism and rationalism might strike hands in a lasting treaty of peace. Both might then leave abstract thinness behind them, and seek together, as scientific men seek, by using all the analogies and data within reach, to build up the most probable approximate idea of what the divine consciousness concretely may be like. I venture to beg the younger Oxford idealists to consider seriously this alternative. Few men are as qualified by their intellectual gifts to reap the harvests that seem certain to any one who, like Fechner and Bergson, will leave the thinner for the thicker path.

Compromise and mediation are inseparable from the pluralistic philosophy. Only monistic dogmatism can say of any of its hypotheses, ‘It is either that or nothing; take it or leave it just as it stands.’ The type of monism prevalent at Oxford has kept this steep and brittle attitude, partly through the proverbial academic preference for thin and elegant logical solutions, partly from a mistaken notion that the only solidly grounded basis for religion was along those lines. If Oxford men could be ignorant of anything, it might almost seem that they had remained ignorant of the great empirical movement towards a pluralistic panpsychic view of the universe, into which our own generation has been drawn, and which threatens to short-circuit their methods entirely and become their religious rival unless they are willing to make themselves its allies. Yet, wedded as they seem to be to the logical machinery and technical apparatus of absolutism, I cannot but believe that their fidelity to the religious ideal in general is deeper still. Especially do I find it hard to believe that the more clerical adherents of the school would hold so fast to its particular machinery if only they could be made to think that religion could be secured in some other way. Let empiricism once become associated with religion, as hitherto, through some strange misunderstanding, it has been associated with irreligion, and I believe that a new era of religion as well as of philosophy will be ready to begin. That great awakening of a new popular interest in philosophy, which is so striking a phenomenon at the present day in all countries, is undoubtedly due in part to religious demands. As the authority of past tradition tends more and more to crumble, men naturally turn a wistful ear to the authority of reason or to the evidence of present fact. They will assuredly not be disappointed if they open their minds to what the thicker and more radical empiricism has to say. I fully believe that such an empiricism is a more natural ally than dialectics ever were, or can be, of the religious life. It is true that superstitions and wild-growing over-beliefs of all sorts will undoubtedly begin to abound if the notion of higher consciousnesses enveloping ours, of fechnerian earth-souls and the like, grows orthodox and fashionable; still more will they superabound if science ever puts her approving stamp on the phenomena of which Frederic Myers so earnestly advocated the scientific recognition, the phenomena of psychic research so-called–and I myself firmly believe that most of these phenomena are rooted in reality. But ought one seriously to allow such a timid consideration as that to deter one from following the evident path of greatest religious promise? Since when, in this mixed world, was any good thing given us in purest outline and isolation? One of the chief characteristics of life is life’s redundancy. The sole condition of our having anything, no matter what, is that we should have so much of it, that we are fortunate if we do not grow sick of the sight and sound of it altogether. Everything is smothered in the litter that is fated to accompany it. Without too much you cannot have enough, of anything. Lots of inferior books, lots of bad statues, lots of dull speeches, of tenth-rate men and women, as a condition of the few precious specimens in either kind being realized! The gold-dust comes to birth with the quartz-sand all around it, and this is as much a condition of religion as of any other excellent possession. There must be extrication; there must be competition for survival; but the clay matrix and the noble gem must first come into being unsifted. Once extricated, the gem can be examined separately, conceptualized, defined, and insulated. But this process of extrication cannot be short-circuited–or if it is, you get the thin inferior abstractions which we have seen, either the hollow unreal god of scholastic theology, or the unintelligible pantheistic monster, instead of the more living divine reality with which it appears certain that empirical methods tend to connect men in imagination.

Arrived at this point, I ask you to go back to my first lecture and remember, if you can, what I quoted there from your own Professor Jacks–what he said about the philosopher himself being taken up into the universe which he is accounting for. This is the fechnerian as well as the hegelian view, and thus our end rejoins harmoniously our beginning. Philosophies are intimate parts of the universe, they express something of its own thought of itself. A philosophy may indeed be a most momentous reaction of the universe upon itself. It may, as I said, possess and handle itself differently in consequence of us philosophers, with our theories, being here; it may trust itself or mistrust itself the more, and, by doing the one or the other, deserve more the trust or the mistrust. What mistrusts itself deserves mistrust.

This is the philosophy of humanism in the widest sense. Our philosophies swell the current of being, add their character to it. They are part of all that we have met, of all that makes us be. As a French philosopher says, ‘Nous sommes du reel dans le reel.’ Our thoughts determine our acts, and our acts redetermine the previous nature of the world.

Thus does foreignness get banished from our world, and far more so when we take the system of it pluralistically than when we take it monistically. We are indeed internal parts of God and not external creations, on any possible reading of the panpsychic system. Yet because God is not the absolute, but is himself a part when the system is conceived pluralistically, his functions can be taken as not wholly dissimilar to those of the other smaller parts,–as similar to our functions consequently.

Having an environment, being in time, and working out a history just like ourselves, he escapes from the foreignness from all that is human, of the static timeless perfect absolute.

Remember that one of our troubles with that was its essential foreignness and monstrosity–there really is no other word for it than that. Its having the all-inclusive form gave to it an essentially heterogeneous _nature_ from ourselves. And this great difference between absolutism and pluralism demands no difference in the universe’s material content–it follows from a difference in the form alone. The all-form or monistic form makes the foreignness result, the each-form or pluralistic form leaves the intimacy undisturbed.

No matter what the content of the universe may be, if you only allow that it is _many_ everywhere and always, that _nothing_ real escapes from having an environment; so far from defeating its rationality, as the absolutists so unanimously pretend, you leave it in possession of the maximum amount of rationality practically attainable by our minds. Your relations with it, intellectual, emotional, and active, remain fluent and congruous with your own nature’s chief demands.

It would be a pity if the word ‘rationality’ were allowed to give us trouble here. It is one of those eulogistic words that both sides claim–for almost no one is willing to advertise his philosophy as a system of irrationality. But like most of the words which people used eulogistically, the word ‘rational’ carries too many meanings. The most objective one is that of the older logic–the connexion between two things is rational when you can infer one from the other, mortal from Socrates, _e.g.;_ and you can do that only when they have a quality in common. But this kind of rationality is just that logic of identity which all disciples of Hegel find insufficient. They supersede it by the higher rationality of negation and contradiction and make the notion vague again. Then you get the aesthetic or teleologic kinds of rationality, saying that whatever fits in any way, whatever is beautiful or good, whatever is purposive or gratifies desire, is rational in so far forth. Then again, according to Hegel, whatever is ‘real’ is rational. I myself said awhile ago that whatever lets loose any action which we are fond of exerting seems rational. It would be better to give up the word ‘rational’ altogether than to get into a merely verbal fight about who has the best right to keep it.

Perhaps the words ‘foreignness’ and ‘intimacy,’ which I put forward in my first lecture, express the contrast I insist on better than the words ‘rationality’ and ‘irrationality’–let us stick to them, then. I now say that the notion of the ‘one’ breeds foreignness and that of the ‘many’ intimacy, for reasons which I have urged at only too great length, and with which, whether they convince you or not, I may suppose that you are now well acquainted. But what at bottom is meant by calling the universe many or by calling it one?

Pragmatically interpreted, pluralism or the doctrine that it is many means only that the sundry parts of reality _may be externally related_. Everything you can think of, however vast or inclusive, has on the pluralistic view a genuinely ‘external’ environment of some sort or amount. Things are ‘with’ one another in many ways, but nothing includes everything, or dominates over everything. The word ‘and’ trails along after every sentence. Something always escapes. ‘Ever not quite’ has to be said of the best attempts made anywhere in the universe at attaining all-inclusiveness. The pluralistic world is thus more like a federal republic than like an empire or a kingdom. However much may be collected, however much may report itself as present at any effective centre of consciousness or action, something else is self-governed and absent and unreduced to unity.

Monism, on the other hand, insists that when you come down to reality as such, to the reality of realities, everything is present to _everything_ else in one vast instantaneous co-implicated completeness–nothing can in _any_ sense, functional or substantial, be really absent from anything else, all things interpenetrate and telescope together in the great total conflux.

For pluralism, all that we are required to admit as the constitution of reality is what we ourselves find empirically realized in every minimum of finite life. Briefly it is this, that nothing real is absolutely simple, that every smallest bit of experience is a _multum in parvo_ plurally related, that each relation is one aspect, character, or function, way of its being taken, or way of its taking something else; and that a bit of reality when actively engaged in one of these relations is not _by that very fact_ engaged in all the other relations simultaneously. The relations are not _all_ what the French call _solidaires_ with one another. Without losing its identity a thing can either take up or drop another thing, like the log I spoke of, which by taking up new carriers and dropping old ones can travel anywhere with a light escort.

For monism, on the contrary, everything, whether we realize it or not, drags the whole universe along with itself and drops nothing. The log starts and arrives with all its carriers supporting it. If a thing were once disconnected, it could never be connected again, according to monism. The pragmatic difference between the two systems is thus a definite one. It is just thus, that if _a_ is once out of sight of _b_ or out of touch with it, or, more briefly, ‘out’ of it at all, then, according to monism, it must always remain so, they can never get together; whereas pluralism admits that on another occasion they may work together, or in some way be connected again. Monism allows for no such things as ‘other occasions’ in reality–in _real_ or absolute reality, that is.

The difference I try to describe amounts, you see, to nothing more than the difference between what I formerly called the each-form and the all-form of reality. Pluralism lets things really exist in the each-form or distributively. Monism thinks that the all-form or collective-unit form is the only form that is rational. The all-form allows of no taking up and dropping of connexions, for in the all the parts are essentially and eternally co-implicated. In the each-form, on the contrary, a thing may be connected by intermediary things, with a thing with which it has no immediate or essential connexion. It is thus at all times in many possible connexions which are not necessarily actualized at the moment. They depend on which actual path of intermediation it may functionally strike into: the word ‘or’ names a genuine reality. Thus, as I speak here, I may look ahead _or_ to the right _or_ to the left, and in either case the intervening space and air and ether enable me to see the faces of a different portion of this audience. My being here is independent of any one set of these faces.

If the each-form be the eternal form of reality no less than it is the form of temporal appearance, we still have a coherent world, and not an incarnate incoherence, as is charged by so many absolutists. Our ‘multiverse’ still makes a ‘universe’; for every part, tho it may not be in actual or immediate connexion, is nevertheless in some possible or mediated connexion, with every other part however remote, through the fact that each part hangs together with its very next neighbors in inextricable interfusion. The type of union, it is true, is different here from the monistic type of _all-einheit_. It is not a universal co-implication, or integration of all things _durcheinander_. It is what I call the strung-along type, the type of continuity, contiguity, or concatenation. If you prefer greek words, you may call it the synechistic type. At all events, you see that it forms a definitely conceivable alternative to the through-and-through unity of all things at once, which is the type opposed to it by monism. You see also that it stands or falls with the notion I have taken such pains to defend, of the through-and-through union of adjacent minima of experience, of the confluence of every passing moment of concretely felt experience with its immediately next neighbors. The recognition of this fact of coalescence of next with next in concrete experience, so that all the insulating cuts we make there are artificial products of the conceptualizing faculty, is what distinguishes the empiricism which I call ‘radical,’ from the bugaboo empiricism of the traditional rationalist critics, which (rightly or wrongly) is accused of chopping up experience into atomistic sensations, incapable of union with one another until a purely intellectual principle has swooped down upon them from on high and folded them in its own conjunctive categories.

Here, then, you have the plain alternative, and the full mystery of the difference between pluralism and monism, as clearly as I can set it forth on this occasion. It packs up into a nutshell:–Is the manyness in oneness that indubitably characterizes the world we inhabit, a property only of the absolute whole of things, so that you must postulate that one-enormous-whole indivisibly as the _prius_ of there being any many at all–in other words, start with the rationalistic block-universe, entire, unmitigated, and complete?–or can the finite elements have their own aboriginal forms of manyness in oneness, and where they have no immediate oneness still be continued into one another by intermediary terms–each one of these terms being one with its next neighbors, and yet the total ‘oneness’ never getting absolutely complete?

The alternative is definite. It seems to me, moreover, that the two horns of it make pragmatically different ethical appeals–at least they _may_ do so, to certain individuals. But if you consider the pluralistic horn to be intrinsically irrational, self-contradictory, and absurd, I can now say no more in its defence. Having done what I could in my earlier lectures to break the edge of the intellectualistic _reductiones ad absurdum_, I must leave the issue in your hands. Whatever I may say, each of you will be sure to take pluralism or leave it, just as your own sense of rationality moves and inclines. The only thing I emphatically insist upon is that it is a fully co-ordinate hypothesis with monism. This world _may_, in the last resort, be a block-universe; but on the other hand it _may_ be a universe only strung-along, not rounded in and closed. Reality _may_ exist distributively just as it sensibly seems to, after all. On that possibility I do insist.

One’s general vision of the probable usually decides such alternatives. They illustrate what I once wrote of as the ‘will to believe.’ In some of my lectures at Harvard I have spoken of what I call the ‘faith-ladder,’ as something quite different from the _sorites_ of the logic-books, yet seeming to have an analogous form. I think you will quickly recognize in yourselves, as I describe it, the mental process to which I give this name.

A conception of the world arises in you somehow, no matter how. Is it true or not? you ask.

It _might_ be true somewhere, you say, for it is not self-contradictory.

It _may_ be true, you continue, even here and now.

It is _fit_ to be true, it would be _well if it were true_, it _ought_ to be true, you presently feel.

It _must_ be true, something persuasive in you whispers next; and then–as a final result–

It shall be _held for true_, you decide; it _shall be_ as if true, for _you_.

And your acting thus may in certain special cases be a means of making it securely true in the end.

Not one step in this process is logical, yet it is the way in which monists and pluralists alike espouse and hold fast to their visions. It is life exceeding logic, it is the practical reason for which the theoretic reason finds arguments after the conclusion is once there. In just this way do some of us hold to the unfinished pluralistic universe; in just this way do others hold to the timeless universe eternally complete.

Meanwhile the incompleteness of the pluralistic universe, thus assumed and held to as the most probable hypothesis, is also represented by the pluralistic philosophy as being self-reparative through us, as getting its disconnections remedied in part by our behavior. ‘We use what we are and have, to know; and what we know, to be and have still more.'[1] Thus do philosophy and reality, theory and action, work in the same circle indefinitely.

I have now finished these poor lectures, and as you look back on them, they doubtless seem rambling and inconclusive enough. My only hope is that they may possibly have proved suggestive; and if indeed they have been suggestive of one point of method, I am almost willing to let all other suggestions go. That point is that _it is high time for the basis of discussion in these questions to be broadened and thickened up_. It is for that that I have brought in Fechner and Bergson, and descriptive psychology and religious experiences, and have ventured even to hint at psychical research and other wild beasts of the philosophic desert. Owing possibly to the fact that Plato and Aristotle, with their intellectualism, are the basis of philosophic study here, the Oxford brand of transcendentalism seems to me to have confined itself too exclusively to thin logical considerations, that would hold good in all conceivable worlds, worlds of an empirical constitution entirely different from ours. It is as if the actual peculiarities of the world that is were entirely irrelevant to the content of truth. But they cannot be irrelevant; and the philosophy of the future must imitate the sciences in taking them more and more elaborately into account. I urge some of the younger members of this learned audience to lay this hint to heart. If you can do so effectively, making still more concrete advances upon the path which Fechner and Bergson have so enticingly opened up, if you can gather philosophic conclusions of any kind, monistic or pluralistic, from the _particulars of life_, I will say, as I now do say, with the cheerfullest of hearts, ‘Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes, but ring the fuller minstrel in.’



Note 1, page 5.–Bailey: _op. cit._, First Series, p. 52.

Note 2, page 11.–_Smaller Logic_, Sec. 194.

Note 3, page 16.–_Exploratio philosophica_, Part I, 1865, pp. xxxviii, 130.

Note 4, page 20.–Hinneberg: _Die Kultur der Gegenwart: Systematische Philosophie_. Leipzig: Teubner, 1907.


Note 1, page 50.–The difference is that the bad parts of this finite are eternal and essential for absolutists, whereas pluralists may hope that they will eventually get sloughed off and become as if they had not been.

Note 2, page 51.–Quoted by W. Wallace: _Lectures and Essays_, Oxford, 1898, p. 560.

Note 3, page 51.–_Logic_, tr. Wallace, 1874, p. 181.

Note 4, page 52.–_Ibid._, p. 304.

Note 5, page 53.–_Contemporary Review_, December, 1907, vol. 92, p. 618.

Note 6, page 57.–_Metaphysic_, sec. 69 ff.

Note 7, page 62.–_The World and the Individual_, vol. i, pp. 131-132.

Note 8, page 67.–A good illustration of this is to be found in a controversy between Mr. Bradley and the present writer, in _Mind_ for 1893, Mr. Bradley contending (if I understood him rightly) that ‘resemblance’ is an illegitimate category, because it admits of degrees, and that the only real relations in comparison are absolute identity and absolute non-comparability.

Note 9, page 75.–_Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic_, p. 184.

Note 10, page 75.–_Appearance and Reality_, 1893, pp. 141-142.

Note 11, page 76.–Cf. _Elements of Metaphysics_, p. 88.

Note 12, page 77.–_Some Dogmas of Religion_, p. 184.

Note 13, page 80.–For a more detailed criticism of Mr. Bradley’s intellectualism, see Appendix A.


Note 1, page 94.–Hegel, _Smaller Logic_, pp. 184-185.

Note 2, page 95.–Cf. Hegel’s fine vindication of this function of contradiction in his _Wissenschaft der Logik_, Bk. ii, sec. 1, chap, ii, C, Anmerkung 3.

Note 3, page 95–_Hegel_, in _Blackwood’s Philosophical Classics_, p. 162.

Note 4, page 95–_Wissenschaft der Logik_, Bk. i, sec. 1, chap, ii, B, a.

Note 5, page 96–Wallace’s translation of the _Smaller Logic_, p. 128.

Note 6, page 101–Joachim, _The Nature of Truth_, Oxford, 1906, pp. 22, 178. The argument in case the belief should be doubted would be the higher synthetic idea: if two truths were possible, the duality of that possibility would itself be the one truth that would unite them.

Note 7, page 115.–_The World and the Individual_, vol. ii, pp. 385, 386, 409.

Note 8, page 116.–The best _un_inspired argument (again not ironical!) which I know is that in Miss M.W. Calkins’s excellent book, _The Persistent Problems of Philosophy_, Macmillan, 1902.

Note 9, page 117.–Cf. Dr. Fuller’s excellent article,’ Ethical monism and the problem of evil,’ in the _Harvard Journal of Theology_, vol. i, No. 2, April, 1908.

Note 10, page 120.–_Metaphysic_, sec. 79.

Note 11, page 121.–_Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic_, secs. 150, 153.

Note 12, page 121.–_The Nature of Truth_, 1906, pp. 170-171.

Note 13, page 121.–_Ibid._, p. 179.

Note 14, page 123.–The psychological analogy that certain finite tracts of consciousness are composed of isolable parts added together, cannot be used by absolutists as proof that such parts are essential elements of all consciousness. Other finite fields of consciousness seem in point of fact not to be similarly resolvable into isolable parts.

Note 15, page 128.–Judging by the analogy of the relation which our central consciousness seems to bear to that of our spinal cord, lower ganglia, etc., it would seem natural to suppose that in whatever superhuman mental synthesis there may be, the neglect and elimination of certain contents of which we are conscious on the human level might be as characteristic a feature as is the combination and interweaving of other human contents.


Note 1, page 143.–_The Spirit of Modern Philosophy_, p. 227.

Note 2, page 165.–Fechner: _Ueber die Seelenfrage_, 1861, p. 170.

Note 3, page 168.–Fechner’s latest summarizing of his views, _Die Tagesansicht gegenueber der Nachtansicht_, Leipzig, 1879, is now, I understand, in process of translation. His _Little Book of Life after Death_ exists already in two American versions, one published by Little, Brown & Co., Boston, the other by the Open Court Co., Chicago.

Note 4, page 176.–Mr. Bradley ought to be to some degree exempted from my attack in these last pages. Compare especially what he says of non-human consciousness in his _Appearance and Reality_, pp. 269-272.


Note 1, page 182.–Royce: _The Spirit of Modern Philosophy_, p. 379.

Note 2, page 184.–_The World and the Individual_, vol. ii, pp. 58-62.

Note 3, page 190.–I hold to it still as the best description of an enormous number of our higher fields of consciousness. They demonstrably do not _contain_ the lower states that know the same objects. Of other fields, however this is not so true; so, in the _Psychological Review_ for 1895, vol. ii, p. 105 (see especially pp. 119-120), I frankly withdrew, in principle, my former objection to talking of fields of consciousness being made of simpler ‘parts,’ leaving the facts to decide the question in each special case.

Note 4, page 194.–I abstract from the consciousness attached to the whole itself, if such consciousness be there.


Note 1, page 250.–For a more explicit vindication of the notion of activity, see Appendix B, where I try to defend its recognition as a definite form of immediate experience against its rationalistic critics.

I subjoin here a few remarks destined to disarm some possible critics of Professor Bergson, who, to defend himself against misunderstandings of his meaning, ought to amplify and more fully explain his statement that concepts have a practical but not a theoretical use. Understood in one way, the thesis sounds indefensible, for by concepts we certainly increase our knowledge about things, and that seems a theoretical achievement, whatever practical achievements may follow in its train. Indeed, M. Bergson might seem to be easily refutable out of his own mouth. His philosophy pretends, if anything, to give a better insight into truth than rationalistic philosophies give: yet what is it in itself if not a conceptual system? Does its author not reason by concepts exclusively in his very attempt to show that they can give no insight?

To this particular objection, at any rate, it is easy to reply. In using concepts of his own to discredit the theoretic claims of concepts generally, Bergson does not contradict, but on the contrary emphatically illustrates his own view of their practical role, for they serve in his hands only to ‘orient’ us, to show us to what quarter we must _practically turn_ if we wish to gain that completer insight into reality which he denies that they can give. He directs our hopes away from them and towards the despised sensible flux. _What he reaches by their means is thus only a new practical attitude_. He but restores, against the vetoes of intellectualist philosophy, our naturally cordial relations with sensible experience and common sense. This service is surely only practical; but it is a service for which we may be almost immeasurably grateful. To trust our senses again with a good philosophic conscience!–who ever conferred on us so valuable a freedom before?

By making certain distinctions and additions it seems easy to meet the other counts of the indictment. Concepts are realities of a new order, with particular relations between them. These relations are just as much directly perceived, when we compare our various concepts, as the distance between two sense-objects is perceived when we look at it. Conception is an operation which gives us material for new acts of perception, then; and when the results of these are written down, we get those bodies of ‘mental truth’ (as Locke called it) known as mathematics, logic, and _a priori_ metaphysics. To know all this truth is a theoretic achievement, indeed, but it is a narrow one; for the relations between conceptual objects as such are only the static ones of bare comparison, as difference or sameness, congruity or contradiction, inclusion or exclusion. Nothing _happens_ in the realm of concepts; relations there are ‘eternal’ only. The theoretic gain fails so far, therefore, to touch even the outer hem of the real world, the world of causal and dynamic relations, of activity and history. To gain insight into all that moving life, Bergson is right in turning us away from conception and towards perception.

By combining concepts with percepts, _we can draw maps of the distribution_ of other percepts in distant space and time. To know this distribution is of course a theoretic achievement, but the achievement is extremely limited, it cannot be effected without percepts, and even then what it yields is only static relations. From maps we learn positions only, and the position of a thing is but the slightest kind of truth about it; but, being indispensable for forming our plans of action, the conceptual map-making has the enormous practical importance on which Bergson so rightly insists.

But concepts, it will be said, do not only give us eternal truths of comparison and maps of the positions of things, they bring new _values_ into life. In their mapping function they stand to perception in general in the same relation in which sight and hearing stand to touch–Spencer calls these higher senses only organs of anticipatory touch. But our eyes and ears also open to us worlds of independent glory: music and decorative art result, and an incredible enhancement of life’s value follows. Even so does the conceptual world bring new ranges of value and of motivation to our life. Its maps not only serve us practically, but the mere mental possession of such vast pictures is of itself an inspiring good. New interests and incitements, and feelings of power, sublimity, and admiration are aroused.

Abstractness _per se_ seems to have a touch of ideality. ROYCE’S ‘loyalty to loyalty’ is an excellent example. ‘Causes,’ as anti-slavery, democracy, liberty, etc., dwindle when realized in their sordid particulars. The veritable ‘cash-value’ of the idea seems to cleave to it only in the abstract status. Truth at large, as ROYCE contends, in his _Philosophy of Loyalty_, appears another thing altogether from the true particulars in which it is best to believe. It transcends in value all those ‘expediencies,’ and is something to live for, whether expedient or inexpedient. Truth with a big T is a ‘momentous issue’; truths in detail are ‘poor scraps,’ mere ‘crumbling successes.’ (_Op. cit._, Lecture VII, especially Sec. v.)

Is, now, such bringing into existence of a new _value_ to be regarded as a theoretic achievement? The question is a nice one, for altho a value is in one sense an objective quality perceived, the essence of that quality is its relation to the will, and consists in its being a dynamogenic spur that makes our action different. So far as their value-creating function goes, it would thus appear that concepts connect themselves more with our active than with our theoretic life, so here again Bergson’s formulation seems unobjectionable. Persons who have certain concepts are animated otherwise, pursue their own vital careers differently. It doesn’t necessarily follow that they understand other vital careers more intimately.

Again it may be said that we combine old concepts into new ones, conceiving thus such realities as the ether, God, souls, or what not, of which our sensible life alone would leave us altogether ignorant. This surely is an increase of our knowledge, and may well be called a theoretical achievement. Yet here again Bergson’s criticisms hold good. Much as conception may tell us _about_ such invisible objects, it sheds no ray of light into their interior. The completer, indeed, our definitions of ether-waves, atoms, Gods, or souls become, the less instead of the more intelligible do they appear to us. The learned in such things are consequently beginning more and more to ascribe a solely instrumental value to our concepts of them. Ether and molecules may be like co-ordinates and averages, only so many crutches by the help of which we practically perform the operation of getting about among our sensible experiences.

We see from these considerations how easily the question of whether the function of concepts is theoretical or practical may grow into a logomachy. It may be better from this point of view to refuse to recognize the alternative as a sharp one. The sole thing that is certain in the midst of it all is that Bergson is absolutely right in contending that the whole life of activity and change is inwardly impenetrable to conceptual treatment, and that it opens itself only to sympathetic apprehension at the hands of immediate feeling. All the _whats_ as well as the _thats_ of reality, relational as well as terminal, are in the end contents of immediate concrete perception. Yet the remoter unperceived _arrangements_, temporal, spatial, and logical, of these contents, are also something that we need to know as well for the pleasure of the knowing as for the practical help. We may call this need of arrangement a theoretic need or a practical need, according as we choose to lay the emphasis; but Bergson is accurately right when he limits conceptual knowledge to arrangement, and when he insists that arrangement is the mere skirt and skin of the whole of what we ought to know.

Note 2, page 266.–Gaston Rageot, _Revue Philosophique_, vol. lxiv, p. 85 (July, 1907).

Note 3, page 268.–I have myself talked in other ways as plausibly as I could, in my _Psychology_, and talked truly (as I believe) in certain selected cases; but for other cases the natural way invincibly comes back.


Note 1, page 278.–_Introduction to Hume_, 1874, p. 151.

Note 2, page 279.–_Ibid._, pp. 16, 21, 36, _et passim_.

Note 3, page 279.–See, _inter alia_, the chapter on the ‘Stream of Thought’ in my own Psychologies; H. Cornelius, _Psychologie_, 1897, chaps, i and iii; G.H. Luquet, _Idees Generales de Psychologie_, 1906, _passim_.

Note 4, page 280.–Compare, as to all this, an article by the present writer, entitled ‘A world of pure experience,’ in the _Journal of Philosophy_, New York, vol. i, pp. 533, 561 (1905).

Note 5, page 280.–Green’s attempt to discredit sensations by reminding us of their ‘dumbness,’ in that they do not come already _named_, as concepts may be said to do, only shows how intellectualism is dominated by verbality. The unnamed appears in Green as synonymous with the unreal.

Note 6, page 283.–_Philosophy of Reflection_, i, 248 ff.

Note 7, page 284.–Most of this paragraph is extracted from an address of mine before the American Psychological Association, printed in the _Psychological Review_, vol. ii, p. 105. I take pleasure in the fact that already in 1895 I was so far advanced towards my present bergsonian position.

Note 8, page 289.–The conscious self of the moment, the central self, is probably determined to this privileged position by its functional connexion with the body’s imminent or present acts. It is the present _acting_ self. Tho the more that surrounds it may be ‘subconscious’ to us, yet if in its ‘collective capacity’ it also exerts an active function, it may be conscious in a wider way, conscious, as it were, over our heads.

On the relations of consciousness to action see Bergson’s _Matiere et Memoire, passim_, especially chap. i. Compare also the hints in Muensterberg’s _Grundzuege der Psychologie_, chap, xv; those in my own _Principles of Psychology_, vol. ii, pp. 581-592; and those in W. McDougall’s _Physiological Psychology_, chap. vii.

Note 9, page 295.–Compare _Zend-Avesta_, 2d edition, vol. i, pp. 165 ff., 181, 206, 244 ff., etc.; _Die Tagesansicht_, etc., chap, v, Sec. 6; and chap. xv.


Note 1, page 330.–Blondel: _Annales de Philosophie Chretienne_, June, 1906, p. 241.




Experience in its immediacy seems perfectly fluent. The active sense of living which we all enjoy, before reflection shatters our instinctive world for us, is self-luminous and suggests no paradoxes. Its difficulties are disappointments and uncertainties. They are not intellectual contradictions.

When the reflective intellect gets at work, however, it discovers incomprehensibilities in the flowing process. Distinguishing its elements and parts, it gives them separate names, and what it thus disjoins it cannot easily put together. Pyrrhonism accepts the irrationality and revels in its dialectic elaboration. Other philosophies try, some by ignoring, some by resisting, and some by turning the dialectic procedure against itself, negating its first