Essays in Experimental Logic

Chapter 2: The Relationship of Thought and Its Subject-matter

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No one doubts that thought, at least reflective as distinct from what is sometimes called constitutive thought, is derivative and secondary. It comes after something and out of something, and for the sake of something. No one doubts that the thinking of everyday practical life and of science is of this reflective type. We think about; we reflect over. If we ask what it is which is primary and radical to thought; if we ask what is the final objective for the sake of which thought intervenes; if we ask in what sense we are to understand thought as a derived procedure, we are plunging ourselves into the very heart of the logical problem: the relation of thought to its empirical antecedents and to its consequent, truth, and the relation of truth to reality.

Yet from the naive point of view no difficulty attaches to these questions. The antecedents of thought are our universe of life and love; of appreciation and struggle. We think about anything and everything: snow on the ground; the alternating clanks and thuds that rise from below; the relation of the Monroe Doctrine to the embroglio in Venezuela; the relation of art to industry; the poetic

(76) quality of a painting by Botticelli; the battle of Marathon; the economic interpretation of history; the proper definition of cause; the best method of reducing expenses; whether and how to renew the ties of a broken friendship; the interpretation of an equation in hydrodynamics, etc.

Through the madness of this miscellaneous citation there appears so much of method: anything—event, act, value, ideal, person, or place—may be an object of thought. Reflection busies itself alike with physical nature, the record of social achievement, and the endeavors of social aspiration. It is with reference to such affairs that thought is derivative; it is with reference to them that it intervenes or mediates. Taking some part of the universe of action, of affection, of social construction, under its special charge, and having busied itself therewith sufficiently to meet the special difficulty presented, thought releases that topic and enters into further more direct experience.

Sticking for a moment to this naïve standpoint, we recognize a certain rhythm of direct practice and derived theory; of primary construction and of secondary criticism; of living appreciation and of abstract description; of active endeavor and of pale reflection. We find that every more direct primary attitude passes upon occasion into its secondary deliberative and discursive counterpart. We find that when the latter has done its work it passes away and passes on. From the naïve standpoint such

(77) rhythm is taken as a matter of course. There is no attempt either to state the nature of the occasion which demands the thinking attitude, or to formulate a theory of the standard by which is judged its success. No general theory is propounded as to the exact relationship between thinking and what antecedes and succeeds it. Much less do we ask how empirical circumstances can generate rationality of thought; nor how it is possible for reflection to lay claim to power of determining truth and thereby of constructing further reality.

If we were to ask the thinking of naïve life to present, with a minimum of theoretical elaboration, its conception of its own practice, we should get an answer running not unlike this: Thinking is a kind of activity which we perform at specific need, just as at other need we engage in other sorts of activity: as converse with a friend; draw a plan for a house; take a walk; eat a dinner; purchase a suit of clothes, etc. In general, its material is anything in the wide universe which seems to be relevant to this need—anything which may serve as a resource in defining the difficulty or in suggesting modes of dealing effectively with it. The measure of its success, the standard of its validity, is precisely the degree in which the thinking actually disposes of the difficulty and allows us to proceed with more direct modes of experiencing, that are forthwith possessed of more assured and deepened value.


If we inquire why the naïve attitude does not go on to elaborate these implications of its own practice into a systematic theory, the answer, on its own basis, is obvious. Thought arises in response to its own occasion. And this occasion is so exacting that there is time, as there is need, only to do the thinking which is needed in that occasion—not to reflect upon the thinking itself. Reflection follows so naturally upon its appropriate cue, its issue is so obvious, so practical, the entire relationship is so organic, that once grant the position that thought arises in reaction to specific demand, and there is not the particular type of thinking called logical theory because there is not the practical demand for reflection of that sort. Our attention is taken up with particular questions and specific answers. What we have to reckon with is not the problem of, How can I think überhaupt? but, How shall I think right here and now? Not what is the test of thought at large, but what validates and confirms this thought ?

In conformity with this view, it follows that a generic account of our thinking behavior, the generic account termed logical theory, arises at historic periods in which the situation has lost the organic character above described. The general theory of reflection, as over against its concrete exercise, appears when occasions for reflection are so overwhelming and so mutually conflicting that specific adequate response in thought is blocked. Again, it shows itself when

(79) practical affairs are so multifarious, complicated, and remote from control that thinking is hell off from successful passage into them.

Anyhow (sticking to the naïve standpoint), it is true that the stimulus to that particular form of reflective thinking termed logical theory is found when circumstances require the act of thinking and nevertheless impede clear and coherent thinking in detail; or when they occasion thought and then prevent the results of thinking from exercising directive influence upon the immediate concerns of life. Under these conditions we get such questions as the following: What is the relation of rational thought to crude or unreflective experience ? What is the relation of thought to reality ? What is the barrier which prevents reason from complete penetration into the world of truth? What is it that makes us live alternately in a concrete world of experience in which thought as such finds not satisfaction, and in a world of ordered thought which is yet only abstract and ideal?

It is not my intention here to pursue the line of historical inquiry thus suggested. Indeed, the point would not be mentioned did it not serve to fix attention upon the nature of the logical problem.

It is in dealing with this latter type of question that logical theory has taken a turn which separates it widely from the theoretical implications of practical deliberation and of scientific research. The

( 80) two latter, however much they differ from each other in detail, agree in a fundamental principle. They both assume that every reflective problem and operation arises with reference to some specific situation, and has to subserve a specific purpose dependent upon its own occasion. They assume and observe distinct limits—limits from which and to which. There is the limit of origin in the needs of the particular situation which evokes reflection. There is the limit of terminus in successful dealing with the particular problem presented—or in retiring, baffled, to take up some other question. The query that at once faces us regarding the nature of logical theory is whether reflection upon reflection shall recognize these limits, endeavoring to formulate them more exactly and to define their relationships to each other more adequately; or shall it abolish limits, do away with the matter of specific conditions and specific aims of thought, and discuss thought and its relation to empirical antecedents and rational consequents (truth) at large?

At first blush, it might seem as if the very nature of logical theory as generalization of the reflective process must of necessity disregard the matter of particular conditions and particular results as irrelevant. How, the implication runs, could reflection become generalized save by elimination of details as irrelevant ? Such a conception in fixing the central problem of logic fixes once for all its future career

( 81) and material. The essential business of logic is henceforth to discuss the relation of thought as such to reality as such. It may, indeed, involve much psychological material, particularly in the discussion of the processes which antecede thinking and which call it out. It may involve much discussion of the concrete methods of investigation and verification employed in the various sciences. It may busily concern itself with the differentiation of various types and forms of thought—different modes of conceiving, various conformations of judgment, various types of inferential reasoning. But it concerns itself with any and all of these three fields, not on their own account or as ultimate, but as subsidiary to the main problem: the relation of thought as such, or at large, to reality as such, or at large. Some of the detailed considerations referred to may throw light upon the terms under which thought transacts its business with reality; upon, say, certain peculiar limitations it has to submit to as best it may. Other considerations throw light upon the ways in which thought gets at reality. Still other considerations throw light upon the forms which thought assumes in attacking and apprehending reality. But in the end all this is incidental. In the end the one problem holds: How do the specifications of thought as such hold good of reality as such ? In fine, logic is supposed to grow out of the epistemological inquiry and to lead up to its solution.


From this point of view various aspects of logical theory are well stated by an author whom later on we shall consider in some detail. Lotze[1] refers to "universal forms and principles of thought which hold good everywhere both in judging of reality and in weighing possibility, irrespective of any difference in the objects." This defines the business of pure logic. This is clearly the question of thought as such—of thought at large or in general. Then we have the question "of how far the most complete structure of thought . . . . can claim to be an adequate account of that which we seem compelled to assume as the object and occasion of our ideas." This is clearly the question of the relation of thought at large to reality at large. It is epistemology. Then comes "applied logic," having to do with the actual employment of concrete forms of thought with reference to investigation of specific topics and subjects. This "applied" logic would, if the standpoint of practical deliberation and of scientific research were adopted, be the sole genuine logic. But the existence of thought in itself having been agreed upon, we have in this "applied" logic only an incidental inquiry of how the particular resistances and oppositions which "pure" thought meets from particular matters may best be discounted. It is concerned with methods of investigation which obviate defects in the relationship of thought at large to reality at large, as these

(83) present themselves under the limitations of human experience. It deals merely with hindrances, and with devices for overcoming them; it is directed by considerations of utility. When we reflect that this field includes the entire procedure of practical deliberation and of concrete scientific research, we begin to realize something of the significance of the theory of logic which regards the limitations of specific origination and specific outcome as irrelevant to its main problem, which assumes an activity of thought "pure" or "in itself," that is, "irrespective of any difference in its objects."

This suggests, by contrast, the opposite mode of stating the problem of logical theory. Generalization of the nature of the reflective process certainly involves elimination of much of the specific material and contents of the thought-situations of daily life and of critical science. Quite compatible with this, however, is the notion that it seizes upon certain specific conditions and factors, and aims to bring them to clear consciousness—not to abolish them. While eliminating the particular material of particular practical and scientific pursuits, (1) it may strive to hit upon the common denominator in the various situations which are antecedent or primary to thought and which evoke it; (2) it may attempt to show how typical features in the specific antecedents of thought call out diverse typical modes of thought-reaction; (3) it may attempt to state

( 84) the nature of the specific consequences in which thought fulfils its career.

(1) It does not eliminate dependence upon specific occasions as provocative of thought, but endeavors to define what in the various occasions renders them thought-provoking. The specific occasion is not eliminated, but insisted upon and brought into the foreground. Consequently, empirical considerations are not subsidiary incidents, but are of essential importance so far as they enable us to trace the generation of the thought-situation. (2) From this point of view the various types and modes of conceiving, judging, and inference are treated, not as qualifications of thought per se or at large, but of reflection engaged in its specific, most economic, effective response to its own particular occasion; they are adaptations for control of stimuli. The distinctions and classifications that have been accumulated in "formal" logic are relevant data; but they demand interpretation from the standpoint of use as organs of adjustment to material antecedents and stimuli. (3) Finally the question of validity, or ultimate objective of thought, is relevant; but relevant as a matter of the specific issue of the specific career of a thought-function. All the typical investigatory and verificatory procedures of the various sciences indicate the ways in which thought actually brings to successful fulfilment its dealing with various types of problems.

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While the epistemological type of logic may, as we have seen, leave (under the name of applied logic) a subsidiary place open for the instrumental type, the type which deals with thinking as a specific procedure relative to a specific antecedent occasion and to a subsequent specific fulfilment is not able to reciprocate the favor. From its point of view, an attempt to discuss the antecedents, data, forms, and objectives of thought, apart from reference to particular position occupied and particular part played in the growth of experience, is to reach results which are not so much either true or false as they are radically meaningless—because they are considered apart from limits. Its results are not only abstractions (for all theorizing ends in abstractions), but abstractions without possible reference or bearing. From this point of view, the taking of something (whether that something be a thinking activity, its empirical stimulus, or its objective goal), apart from the limits of a historic or developing situation, is the essence of metaphysical procedure—in that sense of metaphysics which makes a gulf between it and science.

As the reader has doubtless anticipated, it is the object of this chapter to present the problem and industry of reflective thought from the standpoint of naïve experience, using the term in a sense wide enough to cover both practical procedure and concrete scientific research. I resume by saying that this point of view knows no fixed distinction between

(86) the empirical things and values of unreflective life and the most abstract process of rational thought. It knows no fixed gulf between the highest flight of theory and a control of the details of practical construction and behavior. It passes, according to the occasion and opportunity of the moment, from the attitude of loving and struggling and doing to that of thinking and the reverse. Its contents or material shift their values back and forth from technological or utilitarian to aesthetic, ethical, or affectional. It utilizes data of perception of meaning or of discursive ideation as need calls, just as an inventor now utilizes heat, now mechanical strain, now electricity, according to the demands set by his aim. Anything from past experience may be taken which appears to be an element in either the statement or the solution of the present problem. Thus we understand the coexistence, without contradiction, of an indeterminate possible field and a limited actual field. The undefined range of possible materials becomes specific through reference to an end.

In all this, there is no difference of kind between the methods of science and those of the plain man. The difference is the greater control by science of the statement of the problem, and of the selection and use of relevant material, both sensible and conceptual. The two are related to each other just as the hit-or-miss, trial-and-error inventions of uncivilized man stand to the deliberate and consecutively persistent efforts

( 88) of a modern inventor to produce a certain complicated device for doing a comprehensive piece of work. Neither the plain man nor the scientific inquirer is aware, as he engages in his reflective activity, of any transition from one sphere of existence to another. He knows no two fixed worlds—reality on one side and mere subjective ideas on the other; he is aware of no gulf to cross. He assumes uninterrupted, tree, and fluid passage from ordinary experience to abstract thinking, from thought to fact, from things to theories and back again. Observation passes into development of hypothesis; deductive methods pass into use in description of the particular; inference passes into action, all with no sense of difficulty save those found in the particular task in question. The fundamental assumption is continuity.

This does not mean that fact is confused with idea, or observed datum with voluntary hypothesis, theory with doing, any more than a traveler confuses land and water when he journeys from one to the other. It simply means that each is placed and used with reference to service rendered the other, and with reference to the future use of the other.

Only the epistemological spectator of traditional controversies is aware of the fact that the everyday man and the scientific man in this free and easy intercourse are rashly assuming the right to glide over a cleft in the very structure of reality. This fact raises a query not favorable to the epistemologist.

( 88) Why is it that the scientific man, who is constantly plying his venturous traffic of exchange of facts for ideas, of theories for laws, of real things for hypotheses, should be so wholly unaware of the radical and generic (as distinct from specific) difficulty of the undertakings in which he is engaged ? We thus come afresh to our inquiry: Does not the epistemological logician unwittingly transfer the specific difficulty which always faces the scientific man—the difficulty in detail of correct and adequate translation back and forth of this set of facts and this group of reflective consideration—into a totally different problem of the wholesale relation of thought at large to reality in general ? If such be the case, it is clear that the very way in which the epistemological type of logic states the problem of thinking, in relation both to empirical antecedents and to objective truth, makes that problem insoluble. Working terms, terms which as working are flexible and historic, relative and methodological, are transformed into absolute, fixed, and predetermined properties of being.

We come a little closer to the problem when we recognize that every scientific inquiry passes historically through at least four stages. (a) The first of these stages is, if I may be allowed the bull, that in which scientific inquiry does not take place at all, because no problem or difficulty in the quality of the experience presents itself to provoke reflection. We have only to cast our eye back from the existing

( 89) status of any science, or back from the status of any particular topic in any science, to discover a time when no reflective or critical thinking busied itself with the matter—when the facts and relations were taken for granted and thus were lost and absorbed in the net meaning which accrued from the experience. (b) After the dawning of the problem there comes a period of occupation with relatively crude and unorganized facts—hunting for, locating, and collecting raw material. This is the empiric stage, which no existing science, however proud in its attained rationality, can disavow as its own progenitor. (c) Then there is also a speculative stage: a period of guessing, of making hypotheses, of framing ideas which later on are labeled and condemned as only ideas. There is a period of distinction-making and classification-making which later on is regarded as only mentally gymnastic in character. And no science, however proud in its present security of experimental assurance, can disavow a scholastic ancestor. (d) Finally, there comes a period of fruitful interaction between the mere ideas and the mere facts: a period when observation is determined by experimental conditions depending upon the use of certain guiding conceptions; when reflection is directed and checked at every point by the use of experimental data, and by the necessity of finding such a form for itself as will enable it to serve in a deduction leading to evolution of new meanings, and

(90) ultimately to experimental inquiry which brings to light new facts. In the emerging of a more orderly and significant region of fact, and of a more coherent and self-luminous system of meaning, we have the natural limit of evolution of the logic of a given science.

But consider what has happened in this historic record. Unanalyzed experience has broken up into distinctions of facts and ideas; the factual side has been developed by indefinite and almost miscellaneous descriptions and cumulative listings; the conceptual side has been developed by unchecked and speculative elaboration of definitions, classifications, etc. Then there has been a relegation of accepted meanings to the limbo of mere ideas; there has been a passage of some of the accepted facts into the region of mere hypothesis and opinion. Conversely, there hay been a continued issuing of ideas from the region of hypotheses and theories into that of facts, of accepted objective and meaningful objects. Out of a world of only seeming facts, and of only doubtful ideas, there emerges a world continually growing in definiteness, order, and luminosity.

This progress, verified in every record of science is an absolute monstrosity from the standpoint of the epistemology which assumes a thought in general, on one side, and a reality in general, on the other. The reason that it does not present itself as such a monster and miracle to those actually concerned with it is

(91) because continuity of reference and of use controls all diversities in the modes of existence specified and the types of significance assigned. The distinction of meaning and fact is treated in the growth of a science, or of any particular scientific problem, as an induced and intentional practical division of labor; as assignments of relative position with reference to performance of a task; as deliberate distribution of forces at command for their more economic use. The absorption of bald fact and hypothetical idea into the formation of a single world of scientific apprehension and comprehension is but the successful achieving of the aim on account of which the distinctions in question were instituted.

Thus we come back to the problem of logical theory. To take the distinctions of thought and fact, etc., as ontological, as inherently fixed in the makeup of the structure of being, results in treating the actual technique of scientific inquiry and scientific control as a mere subsidiary topic—ultimately of only utilitarian worth. It also states the terms upon which thought and being transact business in a way so totally alien to concrete experience that it creates a problem which can be discussed only in terms of itself—not in terms of the conduct of life. As against this, the logic which aligns itself with the origin and employ of reflective thought in everyday life and critical science follows the natural history of thinking as a life-process having its own generating

(92) antecedents and stimuli, its own states and career, and its own specific objective or limit.

This point of view makes it possible for logical theory to come to terms with psychology. When logic is considered as having to do with the wholesale activity of thought per se, the question of the historic process by which this or that particular thought came to be, of how its object happens to present itself as sensory, or perceptual, or conceptual, is quite irrelevant. These things are mere temporal accidents. The psychologist (not lifting his gaze from the realm of the changeable) may find in them matters of interest. His whole industry is just with natural history — to trace events as they mutually excite and inhibit one another. But the logician, we are told, has a deeper problem and an outlook of more unbounded horizon. He deals with the question of the eternal nature of thought and its eternal validity in relation to an eternal reality. He is concerned, not with genesis, but with value, not with a historic cycle, but with absolute entities and relations.

Still the query haunts us: Is this so in truth ? Or has the logician of a certain type arbitrarily made it so by taking his terms apart from reference to the specific occasions in which they arise and situations in which they function ? If the latter, then the very denial of historic relationship, the denial of the significance of historic method, is indicative of the unreal character of his own abstraction. It means

( 93) in effect that the affairs under consideration have been isolated from the conditions in which alone they have determinable meaning and assignable worth. It is astonishing that, in the face of the advance of the evolutionary method in natural science, any logician can persist in the assertion of a rigid difference between the problem of origin and of nature; between genesis and analysis; between history and validity. Such assertion simply reiterates as final a distinction which grew up and had meaning in pre-evolutionary science. It asserts, against the most marked advance which scientific method has yet made, a survival of a crude period of logical scientific procedure. We have no choice save either to conceive of thinking as a response to a specific stimulus, or else to regard it as something "in itself," having just in and of itself certain traits, elements, and laws. If we give up the last view, we must take the former. In this case it will still possess distinctive traits, but they will be traits of a specific response to a specific stimulus.

The significance of the evolutionary method in biology and social history is that every distinct organ, structure, or formation, every grouping of cells or elements, is to be treated as an instrument of adjustment or adaptation to a particular environing situation. Its meaning, its character, its force, is known when, and only when, it is considered as an arrangement for meeting the conditions involved in some specific situation. This analysis is carried out by

( 94) tracing successive stages of development—by endeavoring to locate the particular situation in which each structure has its origin, and by tracing the successive modifications through which, in response to changing media, it has reached its present conformation.[2] To persist in condemning natural history from the standpoint of what natural history meant before it identified itself with an evolutionary process is not so much to exclude the natural-history standpoint from philosophic consideration as it is to evince ignorance of what it signifies.

Psychology as the natural history of the various attitudes and structures through which experiencing passes, as an account of the conditions under which this or that attitude emerges, and of the way in which it influences, by stimulation or inhibition, production of other states or conformations of reflection, is indispensable to logical evaluation the moment we treat logical theory as an account of thinking as a response to its own generating conditions, and consequently judge its validity by reference to its efficiency in meeting its problems. The historical point of view describes the sequence; the normative follows the history to its conclusion, and then turns back and judges each historical step by viewing it in reference to its own outcome.

In the course of changing experience we keep our balance in moving from situations of an affectional

(95) quality to those which are practical or appreciative or reflective, because we bear constantly in mind the context in which any particular distinction presents itself. As we submit each characteristic function and situation of experience to our gaze, we find it has a dual aspect. Wherever there is striving there are obstacles; wherever there is affection there are persons who are attached; wherever there is doing there is accomplishment; wherever there is appreciation there is value; wherever there is thinking there is material-in-question. We keep our footing as we move from one attitude to another, from one characteristic quality to another, because of the position occupied in the whole movement by the particular function in which we are engaged.

The distinction between each attitude and function and its predecessor and successor is serial, dynamic, operative. The distinctions within any given operation or function are structural, contemporaneous, and distributive. Thinking follows, we will say, striving, mid doing follows thinking. Each in the fulfilment of its own function inevitably calls out its successor. But coincident, simultaneous, and correspondent within doing is the distinction of doer and of deed; within the function of thought, of thinking and material thought upon; within the function of striving, of obstacle and aim, of means and end. We keep our paths straight because we do not confuse the sequential and functional relationship of types

( 96) of experience with the contemporaneous and structural distinctions of elements within a given function. In the seeming maze of endless confusion and unlimited shiftings, we find our way by the means of the stimulations and checks occurring within the process in which we are actually engaged. Operating within empirical situations we do not contrast or confuse a condition which is an element in the formation of one operation with the status which is one of the distributive terms of another function. When we ignore these specific empirical clews and limitations, we have at once an insoluble, because meaningless, problem upon our hands.

Now the epistemological logician deliberately shuts himself off from those cues and checks upon which the plain man instinctively relies, and which the scientific man deliberately searches for and adopts as constituting his technique. Consequently he is likely to set the attitude which has place and significance only in one of the serial functional situations of experience over against the active attitude which describes part of the structural constitution of another situation; or with equal lack of justification to assimilate materials characteristic of different stages to one another. He sets the agent, as he is found in the intimacy of love or appreciation, over against the externality of the fact, as that is defined within the reflective process. He takes the material which thought selects as its problematic data ac identical with the significant con-

( 97) -tent which results from successful pursuit of inquiry; and this in turn he regards as the material which was presented before thinking began, whose peculiarities were the means of awakening thought. He identifies the final deposit of the thought-function with its own generating antecedent, and then disposes of the resulting surd by reference to some metaphysical consideration, which remains when logical inquiry, when science (as interpreted by him), has done its work. He does this, not because he prefers confusion to order, or error to truth, but simply because, when the chain of historic sequence is cut, the vessel of thought is afloat to veer upon a sea without soundings or moorings. There are but two alternatives: either there is an object "in itself" of mind "in itself," or else there are a series of situations where elements vary with the varying functions to which they belong. If the latter, the only way in which the characteristic terms of situations can be defined is by discriminating the functions to which they belong. And the epistemological logician, in choosing to take his question as one of thought which has its own form just as "thought," apart from the limits of the special work it has to do, has deprived himself of these supports and stays.

The problem of logic has a more general and a more specific phase. In its generic form, it deals with this question: How does one type of functional situation and attitude in experience pass out of and into another; for example, the technological or utilitarian

( 98) into the aesthetic, the aesthetic into the religious, the religious into the scientific, and this into the socio-ethical and so on? The more specific question is: How does the particular functional situation termed the reflective behave? How shall we describe it? `'What in detail are its diverse contemporaneous distinctions, or divisions of labor, its correspondent statuses; in what specific ways do these operate with reference to each other so as to effect the specific aim which is proposed by the needs of the affair?

This chapter may be brought to conclusion by reference to the more ultimate value of the logic of experience, of logic taken in its wider sense; that is, as an account of the sequence of the various typical functions or situations of experience in their determining relations to one another. Philosophy, defined as such a logic, makes no pretense to be an account of a closed and finished universe. Its business is not to secure or guarantee any particular reality or value. Per contra, it gets the significance of a method. The right relationship and adjustment of the various typical phases of experience to one another is a problem felt in every department of life. Intellectual rectification and control of these adjustments cannot fail to reflect itself in an added clearness and security on the practical side. It may be that general logic cannot become an instrument in the immediate direction of the activities of science or art or industry; but it is of value in criticizing anal organizing tools of

( 99) immediate research. It also has direct significance in the valuation for social or life-purposes of results achieved in particular branches. Much of the immediate business of life is badly done because we do not know the genesis and outcome of the work that occupies us. The manner and degree of appropriation of the goods achieved in various departments of social interest and vocation are partial and faulty because we are not clear as to the due rights and responsibilities of one function of experience in reference to others.

The value of research for social progress; the bearing of psychology upon educational procedure; the mutual relations of fine and industrial art; the question of the extent and nature of specialization in science in comparison with the claims of applied science; the adjustment of religious aspirations to scientific statements; the justification of a refined culture for a few in face of economic insufficiency for the mass, the relation of organization to individuality —such are a few of the many social questions whose answer depends upon the possession and use of a general logic of experience as a method of inquiry and interpretation. I do not say that headway cannot be made in such questions apart from the method indicated: a logic of experience. But unless we have a critical and assured view of the juncture in which and with reference to which a given attitude or interest arise, unless we know the service it is thereby called

( 100) upon to perform, and hence the organs or methods by which it best functions in that service, our progress is impeded and irregular. We take a part for a whole, a means for an end; or we attack wholesale some interest because it interferes with the deified sway of the one we have selected as ultimate. A clear and comprehensive consensus of social conviction and a consequent concentrated and economical direction of effort are assured only as there is some way of locating the position and rôle of each typical interest and occupation. The domain of opinion is one of conflict; its rule is arbitrary and costly. Only intellectual method affords a substitute for opinion. A general logic of experience alone can do for social qualities and aims what the natural sciences after centuries of struggle are doing for activity in the physical realm.

This does not mean that systems of philosophy which have attempted to state the nature of thought and of reality at large, apart from limits of particular situations in the movement of experience, have been worthless—though it does mean that their industry has been somewhat misapplied. The unfolding of metaphysical theory has made large contributions to positive evaluations of the typical situations and relationships of experience—even when its conscious intention has been quite otherwise. Every system of philosophy is itself a mode of reflection; consequently (if our main contention he true), it too has been evoked

( 101) out of specific social antecedents, and has had its use as a response to them. It has effected something in modifying the situation within which it found its origin. It may not have solved the problem which it consciously put itself; in many cases we may freely admit that the question put has been found afterward to be so wrongly put as to be insoluble. Yet exactly the same thing is true, in precisely the same sense, in the history of science. For this reason, if for no other, it is impossible for the scientific man to cast the first stone at the philosopher.

The progress of science in any branch continually brings with it a realization that problems in their previous form of statement are insoluble because put in terms of unreal conditions; because the real conditions have been mixed up with mental artifacts or misconstructions. Every science is continually learning that its supposed solutions are only apparent because the "solution" solves, not the actual problem, but one which has been made up. But the very putting of the question, the very giving of the wrong answer, induces modification of existing intellectual habits, standpoints, and aims. Wrestling with the problem, there is evolution of new technique to control inquiry, there is search for new facts, institution of new types of experimentation; there is gain in the methodic control of experience. And all this is progress. It is only the worn-out cynic, the devitalized sensualist, and the fanatical dogmatist who

( 102) interpret the continuous change of science as proving that, since each successive statement is wrong, the whole record is error and folly; and that the present truth is only the error not yet found out. Such draw the moral of caring naught for all these things, or of flying to some external authority which will deliver once for all the fixed and unchangeable truth. But historic philosophy even in its aberrant forms has proved a factor in the valuation of experience; it has brought problems to light, it has provoked intellectual conflicts without which values are only nominal; even through its would-be absolutistic isolations it has secured recognition of mutual dependencies and reciprocal reinforcements. Yet if it can define its work more clearly, it can concentrate its energy upon its own characteristic problem: the genesis and functioning in experience of various typical interests and occupations with reference to one another.


  1. Logic (translation, Oxford, 1883), I, 10, ii. Italics mine.
  2. See Philosophical Review, XI, 117-20.

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