Psychology as Philosophic Method

In an article on "The Psychological Standpoint," in MIND II  I endeavored to point out that the characteristic English development in philosophy -- the psychological movement since Locke -- had been neither a "threshing of old straw," nor a movement of purely negative meaning, whose significance for us was exhausted when we had learned how it necessarily led to the movement in Germany -- the so-called "transcendental" movement. Its positive significance was found to consist in the fact that it declared consciousness to be the sole content, account and criterion of all reality; and psychology, as the science of this consciousness, to be the explicit and accurate determination of the nature of reality in its wholeness, as well as the determination of the value and validity of the various elements or factors of this whole. It is the ultimate science of reality, because it declares what experience- in its totality is; it fixes the worth and meaning of its various elements by showing their development and place within this whole. It is, in short, philosophic method. But that paper was necessarily largely negative, for it was necessary to point out that as matter of fact the movement had not been successful in

(154) presenting psychology as the method of philosophy, for it had not been true to its own basis and ideal. Instead of determining all, both in its totality and its factors, through consciousness, it had endeavored to determine consciousness from something out of and beyond necessary relation to consciousness. It had determined its psychology from a dogmatically presupposed ontology, instead of getting at its ontology from a critical examination of the nature and contents of consciousness, as its standpoint required. It had a thing-in-itself, something whose very existence was to be opposed to consciousness, as in the unknowable "substances" of Locke, the transcendent Deity of Berkeley, the sensations or impressions of Hume and Mill, the "transfigured real" of Spencer; and it used this thing-in-itself as the cause and criterion of conscious experience. Thus it contradicted itself; for, if psychology as method of philosophy means anything, it means that nothing shall be assumed except just conscious experience itself, and that the nature of all shall be ascertained from and within this.

It is to the positive significance of psychology as philosophic method -- its significance when it is allowed to develop itself free from self-contradictory assumptions -- that this present paper is directed. It was suggested in the previous paper that this method, taken in its purity, would show substantial identity with the presuppositions and results of the "transcendental" movement. And as the principal attacks upon the pretensions of psychology to be method for philosophy, or anything more than one of the special sciences, have come from representatives of this movement, this paper must be occupied with treating psychology in reference to what we may call German philosophy, as the other treated it in reference to English philosophy. In so far as the criticisms from this side have been occupied with pointing out the failure of the actual English psychology to be philosophy, there is of course no difference of opinion. That arises only in so far as these criticisms have seemed (seemed, I repeat) to imply that the same objections must hold against every possible psychology; while it seems to the writer that psychology is the only possible method.

It is held, or seems to be held, by representatives of the post-Kantian movement, that man may be regarded in two aspects, in one of which he is an object of experience like other objects: he is a finite thing among other finite things; with these things he is in relations of action and reaction, but possesses the additional characteristic that he is a knowing, feeling, willing phenomenon. As such, he forms

(155) the object of a special science, psychology, which, like every other special science, deals with its material as pure object, abstracting from that creative synthesis of subject and object, self-consciousness, through which all things are and are known. It is therefore, like all the special sciences, partial and utterly inadequate to determining the nature and meaning of that whole with which philosophy has to deal. Nay more, it is itself ultimately dependent upon philosophy for the determination of the meaning, validity, and limits of the principles, categories, and method which it unconsciously assumes. To regard psychology therefore as philosophic method is to be guilty of the same error as it would be to regard the highest generalizations of, say, physics as adequate to determining the problems of philosophy. It is an attempt to determine the unconditioned whole, self-consciousness, by that which has no existence except as a conditioned part of this very whole.

Metaphysics (says Professor Caird) has to deal with conditions of the knowable, and hence with self-consciousness or that unity which is implied in all that is and is known. Psychology has to inquire how this self-consciousness is realized or developed in man, in whom the consciousness of self grows with the consciousness of a world in time and space, of which he individually is only a part, and to parts of which only he stands in immediate relation. In considering the former question we are considering the sphere within which all knowledge and all objects of knowledge are contained. In considering the latter, we are selecting one particular object or class of objects within this sphere.... It is possible to have a purely objective anthropology or psychology -- which abstracts from the relation of man to the mind that knows him -- just as it is possible to have a purely objective science of nature.' [1]

The other aspect of man is that in which he, as self-conscious, has manifested in him the unity of all being and knowing, and is not finite, i.e., an object or event, but is, in virtue of his self-conscious nature, infinite, the bond, the living union of all objects and events. With this infinite, universal self-consciousness, philosophy deals; with man as the object of experience, psychology deals.

In stating the position of the post-Kantian movement, I used the word seemed, and used it advisedly, as I do not conceive that at bottom there is any difference of opinion. But it seems to me that there are invariably involved in the reasonings of this school certain presuppositions regarding the real science of psychology which, probably for the reason that the writers have seen such misuse made of a false

(156) psychology, are not distinctly stated, and which, accordingly, not only lessen the convincing force with which their reasonings are received by those unacquainted with the necessity and rationality of these presuppositions, but which also, as not distinctly thought out, tend at times to involve these reasonings in unnecessary obscurity and even contradictions. It is these presuppositions regarding the nature of a real psychology, Iying at the basis of all the work of the post-Kantian school, conditioning it and giving it its worth, which it is the object of this paper to examine.

The start is made accordingly from the supposed distinction of aspects in man's nature, according to one of which he is an object of experience and the subject of psychology, and according to the other of which, he, as self-consciousness, is the universal condition and unity of all experience, and hence not an object of experience. As I have already referred to Professor Adamson's treatment of this distinction, let me refer to a later writing of his which seems to retract all that gave validity to this distinction. After pointing out that the subject matter of psychology cannot be pure objects but must always be the reference of an individual subject to a content which is universal, he goes on with the following most admirable statement:

"It is in and through the conscious life of the individual that all the thinking and acting which form the material for other treatment is realised. When we isolate the content and treat it as having a quasi-experience per se, we are in the attitude of objective or natural science. When we endeavour to interpret the significance of the whole, to determine the meaning of the connective links that bind it together, we are in the attitude of philosophy. But when we regard the modes through which knowledge and acting are realised in the life of an individual subject, we are in the position of the psychological inquirer."

Now, when psychology is defined as the science of the realization of the universe in and through the individual, all pretense of regarding psychology as merely one of the special sciences, whose subject matter by necessity is simply some one department of the universe, considered out of relation to the individual, is, of course, abandoned. With this falls, as a matter of course, the supposed twofold character of man's nature. If the essence of his nature is to be the realization of the universe, there is no aspect in which, as man, it appears as a mere object or event in the universe The distinction is now transferred to the two ways of looking at the same material. and no longer concerns two distinct materials. IS this distinction, however, any more valid? Is there

(157) any reason for distinguishing between the modes through which the universe is realized in an individual, and the significance of this universe as a whole? At first sight there may appear to be, but let us consider the following questions. Does the whole have any significance beyond itself? If we consider experience in its absolute totality so far as realized in the individual, can the "significance of the whole" be determined beyond what itself testifies to as a whole; and do the "connective links which bind together" have any "meaning" except just as they do bind together? And since this whole and these connective links are given to us by the science of psychology, what is this except completed philosophic method, and what more has philosophy to do except to abstract from this totality, and regard it, on its material side, as philosophy of nature, and on its formal as real logic? Psychology, as science of the realization through the individual of the universe, answers the question as to the significance of the whole, by giving that whole, and at the same time gives the meaning of the parts and of their connection by showing just their place within this whole.

It would be fatal to the existence of philosophy as well as of psychology to make any distinction here. Were not the universe realized in the individual, it would be impossible for the individual to rise to a universal point of view, and hence to philosophize. That the universe has not been completely realized in man is no more an objection to the employment of psychology as the determination of the nature of this universe, than it is to any treatment of philosophy whatever. In no way can the individual philosophize about a universe which has not been realized in his conscious experience. The universe, except as realized in an individual, has no existence. In man it is partially realized, and man has a partial science; in the absolute it is completely realized, and God has a complete science. Self-consciousness means simply an individualized universe; and if this universe has not been realized in man, if man be not self-conscious, then no philosophy whatever is possible. If it has been realized, it is in and through psychological experience that this realization has occurred. Psychology is the scientific account of this realization, of this individualized universe, of this self-consciousness. What other account can be given? It is the object of this paper to show that no other account can be given. Not only is any final distinction or dualism, even of aspects, in man's nature utterly untenable, but no distinction even of aspects can be

(158) made in the treatment of man's nature. Psychology has to do with just the consciousness which constitutes man's experience, and all further determinations of experience fall within this psychological determination of it, and are hence abstract. More definitely, Psychology, and not Logic, is the method of Philosophy. Let us deal seriatim with these two questions.

No such distinction in the nature of man, as that in one aspect he is "part of the partial world," and hence the subject of a purely natural science, psychology, and in another the conscious subject for which all exists, the subject of philosophy, can be maintained. This is our first assertion. Let us turn again to that most lucid and comprehensive statement of philosophic doctrine by Professor Caird, from which extract has already been made. The distinction to be upheld is that between the "sphere in which all knowledge and all objects of knowledge are contained" and "one particular object within this sphere." The question which at once arises is, How does this distinction come about? Granted that it is valid, how is man known as requiring in his nature this distinction for his proper comprehension? There is but one possible answer: it is a distinction which has arisen within and from conscious experience itself. In the course of man's realization of the universe there is necessitated this distinction. This distinction therefore falls within the sphere of psychology, and cannot be used to fix the position of psychology. Much less can psychology be identified with some one aspect of experience which has its origin only within that experience which in its wholeness constitutes the material of psychology. The distinction, as we shall immediately see, cannot be an absolute one: by no possibility or contingency can man be regarded as merely one of objects of experience; but so far as the distinction has relative validity it is a purely psychological one, originating because man in his experience, at different stages of it, finds it necessary to regard himself in two lights -- in one of which he is a particular space- and time-conditioned being (we cannot say object or event) or activity, and in the other the unconditioned eternal synthesis of all. At most the distinction is only one of various stages in one and the same experience, both of which, as stages of experience -- one, indeed, of experience in its partiality and the other of experience in its totality -- fall within the science of experience, viz., psychology

We will see how the question stands if we state it otherwise. Does or does not the self-consciousness of man fall within the science of psychology? What reason can be given for excluding it? Certainly few would be found so thoroughgoing as to deny that perception is a matter which that science must treat; those however who admit perception would find themselves hard put to it to give a reason for excluding memory, imagination, conception, judgment, reasoning. Why having reached the stage of reasoning, where the original implicit individual with which we began has been broken up into the greatest possible number of explicit relations, shall we rule out self-consciousness where these relations are again seen united into an individual unity? There is no possible break: either we must deny the possibility of treating perception in psychology, and then our "purely objective science of psychology" can be nothing more than a physiology; or, admitting it, we must admit what follows directly from and upon it -- self-consciousness. Self-consciousness is indeed a fact (I do not fear the word) of experience, and must therefore find its treatment in psychology.

But this is not all. Not only does self-consciousness appear as one of the stages of psychological experience, but the explanation of the simplest psychological fact -- say one of perception, or feeling, or impulse -- involves necessary reference to self-consciousness. self-consciousness is involved in every simpler process, and no one of them can be scientifically described or comprehended except as this involution is brought out. In fact, their comprehension or explanation is simply bringing to light this implication of self-consciousness within them. This would be the last thing that the upholders of self-consciousness as the final unity and synthesis, the absolute meaning of experience, could deny. The organic nature of self-consciousness being their thesis, it must indeed reveal itself in, or rather constitute, each of its members and phases. The very existence of any idea or feeling being ultimately its relation to self-consciousness, what other account of it can be given except its organic placing in the system? If there be such an act as perception, a candid, careful examination of it, not of its logical conditions, but of itself as matter of experienced fact, will reveal what it is; and this revelation will be the declaration of its relation to that organic system which in its wholeness is self-consciousness. We may then abstract from this relation, which constitutes its very being, and consider it as an object of perception, and, generalizing the case, produce a

(160) philosophy of nature; or, considering it as conditioned by thought, we may thus produce a logic. But both of these proceedings go on in abstraction from its real being, and cannot give the real method of philosophy. In short, the real esse of things is neither their percipi, nor their intelligi alone; it is their experiri. Logic may give us the science of the intelligi, the philosophy of nature of the percipi, but only psychology can give us the systematic connected account of the experiri, which is also in its wholeness just the experior -- self-consciousness itself.

We may see how the matter stands by inquiring what would be the effect upon philosophy if self-consciousness were not an experienced fact, i.e., if it were not one actual stage in that realization of the universe by an individual which is defined as constituting the sphere of psychology. The result would be again, precisely, that no such thing as philosophy, under any theory of its nature whatever, is possible. Philosophy, it cannot be too often repeated, consists simply in viewing things sub specie aeternitatis or in ordine ad universum. If man, as matter of fact, does not realize the nature of the eternal and the universal within himself, as the essence of his own being; if he does not at one stage of his experience consciously, and in all stages implicitly, lay hold of this universal and eternal, then it is a mere matter of words to say that he can give no account of things as they universally and eternally are. To deny, therefore, that self-consciousness is a matter of psychological experience is to deny the possibility of any philosophy.

What the denial comes to we have had historically demonstrated in Kant. He admits perception and conception as matters of experience, but he draws the line at self-consciousness. It is worth noticing that his reason for denying it is not psychological at all, but logical. It is not because self-consciousness is not a fact, but because it cannot be a fact according to his logical presuppositions. The results following the denial are worthy of notice as corresponding exactly to what we might be led to expect: first, with the denial of the fact of self-consciousness comes the impossibility of solving the problem of philosophy, expressed in the setting up of an unknown thing-in-itself as the ultimate ground and condition of experience; and, secondly, comes the failure to bring perception and conception into any organic connection with experience, that is, the failure to really comprehend and explain them, manifested in the limitation of both perception, through the forms of space and time, and thinking, through the categories, to pheno-

(161)-mena which are in no demonstrable connection with reality. The failure to recognize self-consciousness as a stage of psychological experience leads not only to a failure to reach the alternate synthesis of experience, but renders it impossible to explain the simpler forms of psychological experience. This failure of Kant teaches us another lesson also, in that, as already stated, it was due to abandoning his real method, which was psychological, consisting in the self-knowledge of reason as an organic system by reason itself, and setting up a logical standard (in this latter case the principles of non-contradiction and identity), by which to determine the totality of experience. The work of Hegel consisted essentially in showing that Kant's logical standard was erroneous, and that, as matter of logic, the only true criterion or standard was the organic notion, or Begriff, which is a systematic totality, and accordingly able to explain both itself and also the simpler processes and principles. That Hegel accomplished this work successfully and thoroughly there can be to the writer no doubt; but it seems equally clear that the work of Kant is in need of another complement, following more closely his own conception of method and of philosophy, which shall consist in showing self-consciousness as a fact of experience, as well as perception through organic forms and thinking through organic principles. And it seems further that, only when this has been done, will, for the first time, the presuppositions latent in the work of Hegel, which give it its convincing force and validity, be brought out.

Again, it seems worthy of note that the late Professor Green (of whom the writer would not speak without expressing his deep, almost reverential gratitude), when following out Kant's work from its logical side, hardly escaped Kant's negative results. (By Kant's logical method we mean the inquiry into the necessary conditions of experience; by his psychological method the inquiry into the actual nature of experience.) After his complete demonstration of consciousness as the final condition, synthesis and unity of all that is or is knowable, he finds himself obliged to state (Prolegg. to Ethics, p. 54): "As to what that consciousness in itself or in its completeness is, we can only make negative statements. That there is such a consciousness is implied in the existence of the world; but what it is we can only know through its so far acting in us as to enable us, however partially and interruptedly, to have knowledge of a world or an intelligent experience." Had he begun from the latter statement, and shown as matter of fact that this universal

(162) consciousness had realized itself, though only partially and interruptedly, in us, he certainly would have been able to make very positive statements regarding it, and would also have furnished a basis in fact for his logical method, which now seems to hang upon nothing but a unity of which all that can be said is that it is a unity, and that it is not anything in particular. When one reflects that it is not only upon the existence of this unity, but upon its working in and through us, that all philosophy and philosophizing depend, one cannot conceal the apprehension that too great a load of philosophy has been hung upon too feeble a peg.

So, too, after his victorious demonstration that upon the existence of this spiritual unity depends the possibility of all moral experience, he finds himself obliged to state (p. 180), with that candor so characteristic of all his thinking: ''Of a life of completed development, of activity with the end attained, we can only speak or think in negatives, and thus only can we speak or think of that state of being in which, according to our theory, the ultimate moral good must consist." Once more, had he started from the fact that as matter of actual realization this absolute good has been reproduced in our lives and the end attained (for surely the good is a matter of quality and not of quantity, and the end a power, not a sum), he would not have found himself in this difficulty. But with a purely logical method, one can end only with the must be or the ought: the is vanishes, because it has been abstracted from. The psychological method starts from the is, and thereby also gives the basis and the ideal for the ought and must be.

But it is time that we returned to our thesis, which, in brief, was that no distinction which maintains that psychology is the science of man as "part of this partial world'' can be maintained. The following reasons for this denial have been given: it was pointed out that the relative validity which this distinction in man's nature undoubtedly possesses is itself the product and manifestation of psychological experience; that man as man, or as the conscious experience whose science is psychology, is self-conscious, and that therefore self-consciousness as the unity of subject and object, not as "purely objective," as the totality, not as a "part," must be included in the science of psychology; and that furthermore this treatment of self-consciousness is necessary for the explanation and comprehension of any partial fact of conscious experience. And finally, it was pointed out that the denial of self-consciousness as constitut

(163)-ing matter of experience, and hence of psychology, was the denial of the possibility of philosophy itself; and this was illustrated by historic examples. Before passing on to the second topic, I wish briefly to return to Professor Caird's exposition, and shelter myself somewhat beneath the wings of his authority. In the article already referred to, he goes on to state that the natural objective science of man after all "omits the distinctive characteristic of man's being"; that while we may treat inorganic nature and even organic with purely natural objective methods and principles, because "they are not unities for themselves, but only for us, " such treatment cannot be applied to man, for man is for himself, i.e., is not a pure object, but is self-consciousness. Thus, he continues (p. 89):

In man, in so far as he is self-conscious -- and it is self-consciousness that makes him man -- the unity through which all things are and are known is manifested.... Therefore to treat him as a simply natural being is even more inaccurate and misleading than to forget or deny his relation to nature altogether. A true psychology must avoid both errors: it must conceive man as at once spiritual and natural; it must find a reconciliation of freedom and necessity. It must face all the difficulties involved in the conception of the absolute principle of self-consciousness --through which all things are and are known -- as manifesting itself in the life of a being like man, who "comes to himself" only by a long process of development out of the unconsciousness of a merely animal existence.

When it is stated, later on, that the natural science of man "is necessarily abstract and imperfect, as it omits from its view the central fact in the life of the object of which it treats," it is hardly worth while discussing whether there be any such science or not. But there is suggested for us in the quotation just made our second problem -- the final relation of psychology, which confessedly must deal with self-consciousness, to philosophy. For there the problem of psychology was stated to be the question of the ''absolute principle of self-consciousness, manifesting itself in the life of a being like man." That is, it is here suggested that psychology does not deal with the absolute principle in itself, but only with the modes by which this is manifested or realized in the life of man. Psychology no longer appears as an objective science; it now comes before us as a phenomenology, presupposing a science of the absolute reality itself. It is to this question that I now turn. Is psychology the science merely of the manifestation of the Absolute, or is it the science of the Absolute itself?



The relation of Psychology to Philosophy now stands, I suppose, something like this: There is an absolute self-consciousness. The science of this is philosophy. This absolute self-consciousness manifests itself in the knowing and acting of individual men. The science of this manifestation, a phenomenology, is psychology. The distinction is no longer concerned with man's being itself; it is a distinction of treatment, of ways of looking at the same material. Before going to its positive consideration the following questions may suggest the result we desire to reach How does there come about this distinction between the "spiritual" and the "natural," between "freedom'' and "necessity"? How does there come into our knowledge the notion of a distinction between the "absolute principle of self-consciousness" and ''man coming to himself only by a long process of development out of the unconsciousness of a merely animal existence''? Is this a distinction which falls outside the subject matter of psychology, and which may therefore be used to determine it; or is it one which has originated within psychological experience, and whose nature therefore, instead of being capable of fixing the character of psychology, must itself be determined by psychology? Furthermore, what is this distinction between the absolute self-consciousness and its manifestation in a being like man? Is the absolute self-consciousness complete in itself, or does it involve this realization and manifestation in a being like man? If it is complete in itself, how can any philosophy which is limited to "this absolute principle of self-consciousness" face and solve the difficulties involved in its going beyond itself to manifest itself in self-consciousness? This cannot be what is meant. The absolute self-consciousness must involve within itself, as organic member of its very being and activity, this manifestation and revelation. Its being must be this realization and manifestation. Granted that this realization and manifestation is an act not occurring in time, but eternally completed in the nature of the Absolute, and that it occurs only "partially" and "interruptedly" through (not in) time, in a being like man -- the fact none the less remains that philosophy, under any theory of its nature, can deal with this absolute self-consciousness only so far as it has partially and interruptedly realized itself in man. For man, as object of his philosophy, this Absolute has existence only so far as it has manifested itself in his conscious experience. To return to our questions: If the material of philosophy be

(165) the absolute self-consciousness, and this absolute self-consciousness is the realization and manifestation of itself, and as material for philosophy exists only in so far as it has realized and manifested itself in man's conscious experience, and if psychology be the science of this realization in man, what else can philosophy in its fullness be but psychology, and psychology but philosophy?

These questions are stated only to suggest the end which we shall endeavor to reach. I shall not attempt to answer them directly, but to consider first the relations of Psychology to Science, and hence to Philosophy; and secondly to Logic.

(1) The Relation of Psychology to Science -- Psychology is the completed method of philosophy, because in it science and philosophy, fact and reason. are one. Philosophy seems to stand in a double relation to Science. In its first aspect it is a science -- the highest of all sciences. We take one sphere of reality and ask certain questions regarding it, and the answers give us some one science; we find in the process that this sphere of reality can only artificially be thus isolated, and we broaden and deepen our question, until finally, led by the organic connection of science with science, we ask after the nature of all reality, as one connected system. The answer to this question constitutes philosophy as one science amid the circle of sciences. But to continue to regard it in this way is to fail to grasp the meaning of the process which has forced us into philosophy. At the same time that philosophy is seen as the completion of the sciences, it is seen as their basis. It is no longer a science; it is Science. That is to say, the same movement of thought and reality which forces upon us the conception of a science which shall deal with the totality of reality forces us to recognize that no one of our previous sciences was in strict truth science. Each abstracted from certain larger aspects of reality, and was hence hypothetical. Its truth was conditioned upon the truth of its relations to that whole which that science, as special science, could not investigate without giving up its own independent existence. Only in this whole is categorical truth to be found, and only as categorical truth is found in this whole is the basis found for the special sciences. Philosophy as the science of this whole appears no longer therefore as a science, but as all science taken in its organic systematic wholeness -- not merely to which every so-called special science is something subordinate, but of which it constitutes an organic member. Philosophy has no existence except as the organic living unity and bond

(166) of these sciences; they have no existence except through their position in this living synthesis.

Now the question is, where does psychology stand within this organism? On the one hand, psychology is certainly a positive science. It finds its materials in certain facts and events. As to systematic observation, experiment, conclusion and verification, it can differ in no essential way from any one of them. It is based upon and deals with fact, and aims at the ordered comprehension and explanation of fact as any special science does. Yet the whole drift of this paper has been to show that in some way psychology does differ very essentially from any one of them. Where shall we find this difference? In one word, its relation to them is precisely that which we have discovered philosophy to bear: it is not only a science, but it turns out to be science as an organic system, in which every special science has its life, and from which it must abstract when it sets up for an independent existence of its own. We begin -with any special science. That turns out to be not only some one department or sphere of reality, but also some one department of conscious experience. From one science to another we go, asking for some explanation of conscious experience, until we come to psychology, which gives us an account of it, in its own behalf, as neither mathematics, nor physics, nor biology does. So far we have only a special science, though the highest and most concrete of all. But the very process that has made necessary this new science reveals also that each of the former sciences existed only in abstraction from it. Each dealt with some one phase of conscious experience, and for that very reason could not deal with the totality which gave it its being, consciousness. But in psychology we have the manifestation and explication of this consciousness. It gives in its wholeness what each of them would give in part, viz., the nature of experience, and hence is related to them as the whole is to the part. It appears no longer, therefore, as the highest of sciences: it appears as Science itself, that is, as systematic account and comprehension of the nature of conscious experience. Mathematics, physics, biology, exist, because conscious experience reveals itself to be of such a nature, that one may make virtual abstraction from the whole, and consider a part by itself, without damage, so long as the treatment is purely scientific, that is, so long as the implicit connection with the whole is left undisturbed, and the attempt is not made to present this partial science as metaphysic, or as an explanation of the whole, as is the usual fashion of our

(167) uncritical so-called "scientific philosophies." Nay more, this abstraction of some one sphere is itself a living function of the psychologic experience. It is not merely something which it allows: it is something which it does. It is the analytic aspect of its own activity, whereby it deepens and renders explicit, realizes its own nature; just as their connection with each other is the synthetic aspect of the same self-realizing movement, whereby it returns to itself: while psychology in its completeness is the whole self-developing activity itself, which shows itself as the organic unity of both synthetic and analytic movements, and thus the condition of their possibility and ground of their validity. The analytic movement constitutes the special sciences; the synthetic constitutes the philosophy of nature; the self-developing activity itself, as psychology, constitutes philosophy.

What other position can be given psychology, so soon as we recognize the absurdity and impossibility of considering it a purely objective science? It is the science of the modes by which, in and through the individual, the universe is realized, it is said. But that the universe has no existence except as absolutely realized in an individual, i.e., except as self-consciousness, is precisely the result of philosophy, and can therefore be no objection to such a consideration of the universe: in fact, such a statement only amounts to saying that psychology considers the universe as it really is. If the assertion is varied again, to read that philosophy treats of this individualized universe as it eternally is, while psychology can treat of it only as it partially and interruptedly becomes, this loses sight of two very important facts. First, philosophy can treat of absolute self-consciousness only in so far as it has become in a being like man, for otherwise it is not material for philosophy at all; and, secondly, it falls into the error of regarding this realization in man as a time-conditioned product, which it is not. Time is not something outside of the process of conscious experience; it is a form within it, one of the functions by which it organically constitutes its own being. In fact, psychology as philosophic method has an immense advantage at just this point over any other method of treating this problem. To any philosophy attempting to consider the absolute self-consciousness by itself, it must remain forever an insoluble problem why the is should ever appear as becoming, why the eternal should ever appear through the temporal. Psychology solves the problem by avoiding the assumption which makes it a problem. For, dealing with an individualized universe, one of whose functions of realization is time, it knows nothing

(168) about any consciousness which is out of relation to time. The case is just here: if philosophy will deal with the absolute consciousness conceived as purely eternal, out of relation to time, then the existence of that which constitutes the actual content of man's experience is utterly inexplicable; it is not only a mystery, but a mystery which contradicts the very nature of that which is, ex hypothesi, the absolute. If philosophy does deal with the eternal absolute consciousness as forever realized, yet as forever having time as one of its organic functions, it is not open to anyone to bring charges against psychology as philosophy, for this and no more psychology does.

The question just comes to this: If we start from reason alone we shall never reach fact. If we start with fact, we shall find it revealing itself as reason. The objection to an account of fact or experience as philosophy is but a prejudice, though historically considered a well-grounded one. On the one hand, it has arisen because some partial account of experience, or rather account of partial experience, has been put forth as the totality, and just because thus put forth as absolute, has lost even the relative validity which it possessed as partial. Such is the procedure of Empiricism. On the other hand, we have had put forth as matter of fact certain truths declared to be immediate and necessary and intuitive, coming no one knows whence and meaning no one knows what. The aversion to immediacy, to ''undeduced ' fact as given us by the Intuitionalists, is certainly a well-grounded one. But neither of these objections lies against psychology as account of the facts of experience. Men are mortal, and every actual account of experience will suffer from the defects of mortals, and be but partial, no doubt; unfortunately we are none of us omniscient yet. But the very essence of psychology as method is that it treats of experience in its absolute totality, not setting up some one aspect of it to account for the whole, as, for example, our physical evolutionists do, nor yet attempting to determine its nature from something outside of and beyond itself, as, for example, our so-called empirical psychologists have done. The vice of the procedure of both is at bottom precisely the same -- the abstracting of some one element from the organism which gives it meaning, and setting it up as absolute. It is no wonder that the organism always has its revenge by pronouncing this abstracted element "unknowable." The only wonder is that men should still bow in spirit before this creation of their own abstracting thought, and reverence it as the cause and ground of all

(169) reality and knowledge. There is indeed an anthropomorphism which is degrading, but it is the anthropormorphism which sets up the feeblest element of its own thinking, pure being, as Mr. Spencer does, or the poorest element of its own feeling, a sensation, and reverences that as its own and the universe's cause. That is the anthropomorphism of the enslaved thought which has not yet awakened to the consciousness of its own totality and spiritual freedom.

Now does the account of fact given by psychology have anything in common with the "ultimate, inexplicable, necessary" mental facts called intuitions. The fact of psychology reveals itself as precisely reason, which thereby accounts for itself, and in accounting for itself accounts for all its members. The fact of psychology is not isolated "truths," but the organic system of self-consciousness. This fact is indeed "immediate," but it is immediate only in and through a process, hence of mediation. It is indeed self-evidencing, but what it evidences is simply, of the parts, relation to and dependence upon the whole, and of the whole, that it is self-conditioned and self-related. Of the whole fact it may be said indeed that it is inexplicable. "It is true that we cannot explain the spiritual principle which is implied in all experience by reference to anything else than itself." [2] "Because all we can experience is included in this one world, and all our inferences and explanations relate only to its details, neither it as a whole, nor the one consciousness which constitutes it, can be accounted for in the ordinary sense of the word. They cannot be accounted for by what they include; and being all-inclusive, there remains nothing else by which they can be accounted for." [3] In short, any system of philosophy must ultimately fall back on the fact for which no reason can be given except precisely just that it is what it is. This implication of fact [4] is latent in all philosophy whatever, and all that psychology as philosophic method does is to render this necessary implication explicit. It alone starts from the completed fact, and it alone is therefore completed philosophy.

If it may have seemed at times in the course of the discussion that the nominal subject -- the relation of psychology to science -- had been left, it will now appear, I think, that we have all the time been dealing with just that subject.

(170) Science is the systematic account, or reason of fact; Psychology is the completed systematic account of the ultimate fact, which, as fact, reveals itself as reason, and hence accounts for itself, and gives the "reasons" of all sciences. The other point, the relation of psychology to logic, has already been dealt with by implication, and need not detain us long again.

(2) The Relation of Psychology to Logic. -- The whole course of philosophic thought, so far as the writer can comprehend it, has consisted in showing that any distinction between the form and the matter of philosophic truth, between the content and the method, is fatal to the reaching of truth. Self-consciousness is the final truth, and in self-consciousness the form as organic system and the content as organized system are exactly equal to each other. It is a process which, as form, has produced itself as matter. Psychology as the account of this self-consciousness must necessarily fulfill all the conditions of true method. Logic, since it necessarily abstracts from the ultimate fact, cannot reach in matter what it points to in form. While its content, if it be true philosophy, must be the whole content of self-consciousness or spirit, its form is only one process within this content, that of thought-conditions, the Idee. While the content is the eternal nature of the universe, its form is adequate only to "thinking what God thought and was before the creation of the world,'' that is, the universe in its unreality, in its abstraction. It is this contradiction between content and form in logic which makes it not philosophic method, but only one moment within that method. No contradiction results as soon as logic is given its proper place within the system. The contradiction occurs when, at the same moment that it is said that logic is "abstract" the logical method is still said to be the method of philosophy.

Such contradictions certainly appear to exist, for example, in the philosophy of Hegel. They have been often pointed out, and I shall only summarize them, following for the most part a recent writer. [5] There is no way of getting from logic to the philosophy of nature logically. The only way is to fall back upon the fact; "we know from experience" that we have nature as well as the Idee. In truth we do not go from logic to nature at all. The movement is a reverse movement. "In reality, the necessity for any such transition is purely factitious, because the notions never existed otherwise than in nature and spirit.... They were got

(171) by abstraction from the concrete.... We owe, therefore, no apology for a return to the reality from which we took them." In short, it is necessity of fact, a necessity of conscious experience, which takes us from the realm of the Idee to the realm of nature, from the sphere of thought-conditions to the sphere of existent relations. "The same is true when we pass to the philosophy of spirit. The general form of personality is deducible, but not a living human spirit with its individual thoughts, feelings and actions." This remains "the incomprehensible and inexplicable point in philosophy." And so it does undoubtedly while we regard logic as method of philosophy. But this "inexplicability" is but the express condemnation of the method, not a fact to be contented with. If we go deeper and inquire not how is the transition from logic to the philosophy of nature or to the philosophy of spirit made, but how is any transition whatever possible, we find the same difficulty. It exists only by reason of the presupposed fact. "We cannot in strictness say that the result has been independently proved, because it has been reached in this fashion by the method. It was presupposed in the method all along." In a definite case, how is the transition, say from the category of quality to that of quantity, made? It occurs not by virtue of the category of quality in itself, but by virtue of the fact that the whole Idee is implicitly contained in the principle of quality, and must manifest itself, which it does by forcing quality, as an inadequate expression of its own nature, into quantity, which expresses its being more fully. And thus the process continues until the Idee has manifested itself as the whole organic system, which has expressed explicitly all that which in Idee it is. But this movement itself depends on spirit, and on the manifestation of spirit in nature, as already seen. Every purely logical transition therefore occurs at bottom because of fact? i.e., seen in its wholeness it is not a logical transition but a factual. Psychology, as philosophic method, merely starts from this everywhere presupposed fact, and by so doing, for the first time, gives logic its basis and validity.

There can be no escape from this result by saying that after all in the philosophy of spirit, spirit is shown to be the prius and condition of the whole, as it undoubtedly is by Hegel himself. This merely brings the contradiction itself into clearer light. For logic, being thus confessedly determined as abstract, is still retained to determine the nature of the concrete. Logic, while it is thus declared to be only one moment of spirit, is still used to determine the

(172) nature of the whole. Thus is revealed the contradiction between form and content involved in the use of logic as the method of philosophy. Spirit is reached by a logical process, and the logical result is that as fact it is not reached at all. As concrete, it is beyond the reach of any abstract process. Either one must call in the aid of the presupposed but suppressed Fact, and recognize that after all the process has been going on within a further and higher determination; or, failing to see this, must recognize Spirit as only one factor or moment of the logical movement, that is, give up the notion of self-consciousness as subject, and fall back into Spinozistic pantheism. The logical movement, considered by itself, is always balancing in unstable equilibrium between dualism and pantheism. Set up as absolute method, it either recognizes the fact, but being unable to comprehend it, has to regard this fact, as foreign element over against it, as the matter of Plato and Aristotle, the thing-in-itself of Kant, and Anstoss of Fichte, [6] or endeavors to absorb the Fact as a mere element in its own logical being, and falls into Pantheism.

This is the reason why Hegel, although the very center of his system is self-conditioned spirit, lends himself so easily to pantheistic treatment. Logic cannot reach, however much it may point to, an actual individual. The gathering up of the universe into the one self-conscious individuality it may assert as necessary, it cannot give it as reality. It is only as logic contradicts itself and faces back on the constant presupposition of this reality that it can demonstrate what it asserts. Taken purely by itself it must issue in a pantheism where the only real is the Idee, and where all its factors and moments, including spirit and nature, are real only at different stages or phases of the Idee, but vanish as imperfect ways of looking at things, or as illusions, when we reach the Idee. And thus the Idee itself vanishes; as an organic system, as a unity which lives through its distinctions, and becomes a dead identity, in no way distinguishable from the substance of Spinoza. Logic set up as absolute method reveals its self-contradiction by destroying itself. In a purely logical method the distinctions, the process, must disappear in the final unity, the product. Only a living actual Fact can preserve within its unity that organic system of differences in virtue of which it lives and moves and has

(173) its being. It is with this fact, conscious experience in its entirety, -that psychology as method begins. It thus brings to clear light of day the presupposition implicit in every philosophy, and thereby affords logic, as well as the philosophy of nature, its basis, ideal and surety. If we have determined the nature of reality, by a process whose content equals its form, we can show the meaning, worth and limits of any one moment of this reality.

The conclusion of the whole matter is that a "being like man," since self-conscious, is an individualized universe, and hence that his nature is the proper material of philosophy, and in its wholeness the only material. Psychology is the science of this nature, and no dualism in it, or in ways of regarding it, is tenable. Whatever the dualism may be, it is only relative, and one which occurs within, not without, psychological experience. Psychology, as the complete systematic account of man, at the same time shows the value and meaning, and affords the condition, of the special sciences, the philosophy of nature and of logic. Or, in a word, if the reality of spirit be the presupposition, the prius and the goal, the condition and the end of all reality, the science of spirit must occupy a corresponding position with relation to all science. Surely then, as the Editor of Mind formerly urged, "the method of psychological approach is not philosophically valueless," and we have "ground for the belief that it has only to be more systematically followed out for the attaining of as great results as have been claimed for another way, while in this way the results are more likely to secure general acceptance" [7] -- because, we may add, it simply expresses in a scientific way that which lies at the basis of all that has been otherwise secured.


  1. Art. "Metaphysic," Ency. Britt., xvi, 89. Cp. Professor Adamson, Philosophy of Kant, pp. 22 ff., Fichte, pp. 109 ff.; Essays in Philosophical Criticism, pp. 44 ff.; Professor A. Seth, Ency. Britt., art. ''Philosophy".
  2. Professor E. Caird, Mind, viii, 560.
  3. Green, Prolegomena to Ethics, p. 52.
  4. The insistence upon this seems to have been Lotze's great work as a philosopher.
  5. Professor A. Seth, "Hegel: an Exposition and Criticism," Mind, 24.
  6. The inability to go from the "because" of reason to the ''cause" of fact, from logic to reality, when logic is not taken simply as one movement within reality, is clearly set forth in the closing chapters of Mr. Bradley's Principles of Logic.
  7. "Psychology and Philosophy," Mind, Vol. viii, 20.

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