Some Logical Aspects of Purpose

Addison Webster Moore


WHENEVER and wherever it was discovered that the content of experience as given in immediate perception could be reconstructed through ideas, then and there began to emerge such questions as these: What is the significance of this reconstructive power? What is the relation between it and the immediate experience? What is the relative value of each in experience as a whole? What is their relation to truth and error? If thinking leads to truth, and thought must yet get its material from perception, how then shall the product of thought escape infection from the material? On the other hand, if truth is to be found in the immediate experience, can it here be preserved from the blighting effects of thought? For so insistent and pervasive is this activity of thought that it appears to penetrate into the sanctum of perception itself. Turning to a third possibility, if it should be found that truth and error are concerned with both—that they are products of the combined activity of perception and reflection—then just what does each do? And what in their operations marks the difference between truth and error? Or still again, if truth and error cannot be found in the operations of perception and reflection as such, then they must be located in the relation of these processes to something else. If so, what is this something else? Out of such questions as these is logic born.

There may he those who will object to some of these questions as "logical" problems—those who would limit

(342) logic to a description of the forms and processes of reconstruction, relegating the question of the criterion of truth and error to "epistemology." This objection we must here dismiss summarily by saying that, by whatever name it is called, a treatment of the forms and processes of thought must deal with the criterion of truth and error, since these different " forms" are just those which thought assumes in attempting to reach truth under different conditions.

Certainly in the beginning the Greeks regarded their newly discovered power of thought as anything but formal. Indeed, it soon became so "substantial" that it was regarded as simply a new world of fact, of existence alongside of, or rather above, the world of perception. But Socrates hailed ideas as deliverers from the contradictions and paradoxes into which experience interpreted in terms of immediate sense-perception had fallen. In the concept Socrates found a solution for the then pressing problems of social life. The Socratic universal is not a mere empty form which thought imposes upon the world. It is something which thought creates in order that a life of social interaction and reciprocity may go on. This need not mean that the Greeks were reflectively conscious of this, but that this was the way the concept was actually used and developed by Socrates.

In attempting to formulate the relation between this new world of ideas and immediate sense-experience, Plato constructed his scheme of substantiation and participation. The Platonic doctrine of substantiation and participation is an expression of the conviction that anything so valuable as Socrates had shown ideas to be could not be merely formal or unreal. Up to the discovery of these ideas reality lay in the "substances" of perception. Hence in order to have that reality to which their worth, their value in life, entitled them, the ideas must be substantiated.

This introduction of the newly discovered ideas into the world of substances and reality wrought, of course, a change

(343) in the conception of the latter—a change which has well-nigh dominated the entire philosophic development ever since. Let us recall that the aim of Socrates was to find something that would prevent society from going to pieces under the influence of the disintegrating conception of experience as a mere flux of given immediate content. Now, in the concepts Socrates discovered the basis for just this much-needed wholeness and stability. Moreover, the fact that unity and stability were the actual social needs of the hour led not only to the concepts which furnished them being conceived as substantial and real, but to their being regarded as a higher type of reality, as "more real" than the given, immediate experiences of perception. They were higher and more real because, just then, they answered the pressing social need.

The ideas supplied this unity because they furnished ends, purposes, to the given material of perception. The given is now given for something; for something more, too, than mere contemplation. Socrates also showed, by the most acute analysis, that the content of these ends, these purposes, was social through and through.

From the ethical standpoint this teleological character of the idea is clearly recognized. But as "real," the ideas must be stated in the metaphysical terms of substance and attribute. Here the social need is abstracted from and lost to sight. The fundamental attributes of the ideas are now a metaphysical unity and stability. Hence unity and stability, wholeness and completeness, are the very essence of reality, while multiplicity and change constitute the nature of appearance. Thus does Plato's reality become, as Windelband says, "an immaterial eleaticism which seeks true being in the ideas without troubling itself about the world of generation and occurrence which it leaves to perception and opinion."[1]

Now it is the momentum of this conception of reality as

(344) a stable and complete system of absolute ideas, the development of which we have just roughly sketched, that is so important historically. Why this conception of reality, which apparently grew out of a particular historical situation, should have dominated philosophic theory for over two thousand years appears at first somewhat puzzling. Those who still hold and defend it will of course say that this survival is evidence of its validity. But, after all, our human world may be yet very young. It may be that "a thousand years are but as yesterday." At any rate philosophy has never been in a hurry to reconstruct conceptions which served their day and generation with such distinction as did the Platonic conception of reality. And this is true to the evolutionary instinct that experience has only its own products as material for further construction. On the other hand, the principle of evolution with equal force demands that only as material, not as final forms of experience, shall these products continue. It may be that philosophy has not yet taken the conception of evolution quite seriously. At all events it is certain that long after it has been found that, instead of being eternal and complete, the concept undergoes change, that it has simply the stability and wholeness demanded by a particular and concrete situation; after it has been discovered, in other words, that the stability and wholeness, instead of attaching to the content of an idea, are simply the functions of any content used as a purpose — after all this has been accepted in psychology, the conception of truth and reality which arose under an entirely different conception of the nature of thought still survives.

This change in the conception of the character of the ideas, with no corresponding change in the conception of reality, marks the divorce of thought and reality and the rise of the epistemological problem. Let us recall that in Plato the relation between the higher and ultimate

(345) reality, as constituted by the complete and "Eternal Ideas," and the lower reality of perception, is that of archetype and ectype. Perceptions attempt to imitate and copy the ideas. Now, when the ideas are found to be changing, and when further the interpenetration of perception and conception is discovered, reality as fixed and complete must be located elsewhere. And just as in the old system it was the business of perception to imitate the "Eternal Ideas," so here it is still assumed that thought is to imitate the reality wherever now it is to be located. And as regards the matter of location, the old conception is not abandoned. The elder Plato is mighty yet. Reality must still be a completed system of fixed and eternal "things in themselves," "relations," or "noumena" of some sort which our ideas, now constituted by both perception and conceptional processes, are still to "imitate," "copy," "reflect," "represent," or at least "symbolize" in some fashion.

From this point on, then, thought has two functions: one, to hell experience meet and reorganize into itself the results of its own past activity; the other, to reflect or represent in some sense the absolute system of reality. For a very long time the latter has continued to constitute the logical problem, the former being relegated to the realm of psychology.

But this discovery of the reconstructive function of the idea and its assignment to the jurisdiction of psychology did not leave logic where it was before, nor did it lighten its task. Logic could not shut its eyes to this "psychological" character of the idea.[2] Indeed, logic had to take the idea as psychology described it, then do the best it could with it for its purpose.

The embarrassment of logic by this reconstructive char-

( 346) -acter of the idea even Aristotle discovered to some extent in the relation of the Platonic perceptions to the eternal ideas. He found great difficulty in getting a flowing stream of consciousness to imitate or even symbolize an eternally fixed and completed reality. And since we have discovered, in addition, that the idea is so palpably a reconstructive activity, the difficulties have not diminished.

In such a situation it could only be a question of time until solutions of the problem should be sought by attempting to bring together these two functions of the idea. Perhaps after all the representation of objects in an absolute system is involved in the reconstruction of our experience. Or perhaps what appears as reconstructions of our experience—as desiring, struggling, deliberating, choosing, willing, as sorrows and joys, failures and triumphs—are but the machinery by which the absolute system is represented. At any rate, these two functions surely cannot be regarded as belonging to the idea as color and form belong to a stone. We should never be satisfied with such a brute dualism as this.

Without any further historical sketch of attempts at this synthesis, I desire to pass at once to a consideration of what I am sure everyone will agree must stand as one of the most brilliant and in every way notable efforts in this direction—Mr. Royce's Aberdeen lectures on " The World and the Individual." It is the purpose here to examine that part of these lectures, and it is the heart of the whole matter, in which the key to the solution of the problem of the relation between ideas and reality is sought precisely in the purposive character of the idea. This will be found especially in the "Introduction" and in the chapter on "Internal and External Meaning of Ideas."[3]



With his unerring sense for fundamentals, Mr. Royce begins by telling us that the first thing called for by the problem of the relation of ideas to reality is a discussion of the nature of ideas. Here Mr. Royce says he shall "be guided by certain psychological analyses of the mere contents of our consciousness, which have become prominent in recent discussion."[4]

Your intelligent ideas of things never consist of mere imagery of the thing, but always involve a consciousness of how you propose to act toward the thing of which you have ideas . . . . . Complex scientific ideas viewed as to their conscious significance are, as Professor Stout has well said, plans of action, ways of constructing the object of your scientific consciousness . . . . . By the word idea, then, as we shall use it, when, after having criticised opposing theory, we come to state in these lectures our own thesis, I shall mean in the end any state of consciousness, whether simple or complex, which when present is then and there viewed as at least a partial expression, or embodiment of a single conscious purpose . . . . . In brief, an idea in my present definition may, and in fact always does, if you please, appear to be representative of a fact existent beyond itself. But the primary character which makes it an idea is not its representative character, is not its vicarious assumption of the responsibility of standing for a being beyond itself, but is its inner character as relatively fulfilling the purpose, that is as presenting the partial fulfilment of the purpose which is in the consciousness of the moment wherein the idea takes place.[5] . . . . Now this purpose, just in so far as it gets a present conscious embodiment in the contents, and in the form of the complex state called the idea, constitutes what I shall hereafter call the internal meaning of the idea[6] . . . . But ideas often seem to have a meaning; yes, as one must add, finite ideas always undertake or appear to have a meaning that is not exhausted by this conscious internal meaning presented and relatively fulfilled at the moment when the idea is there for our finite view. The melody Sung, the artists' ideal the, thought of vour absent friend, a thought on which you love to dwell, all these not merely have their obvious

(348) internal meaning as meeting a conscious purpose by their very presence, but also they at least appear to have that other sort of meaning, that reference beyond themselves to objects, that cognitive relation to outer facts, that attempted correspondence with outer facts, which many accounts of our ideas regard as their primary inexplicable and ultimate character. I call this second, and for me still problematic, and derived aspect of the nature of ideas, their apparently external meaning.[7]

From all this it is quite evident that Mr. Royce accepts and welcomes the results of the work of modern psychology on the nature of the idea. The difficulty will come in making the connection between these accepted results and the Platonic conception of ultimate reality as stated# in the following:

To be means simply to express, to embody the complete internal meaning of a certain absolute system of ideas. A system, moreover, which is genuinely implied in the true internal meaning or purpose of every finite idea, however fragmentary.[8]

It may be well to note here in passing that, notwithstanding the avowed subordination here of the representative to the reconstructive character of the ideas, the former becomes very important in the chapter on the relation of internal to external meaning, where the problem of truth and error is considered.

In this account of the two meanings of the idea, which I have tried to state as nearly as possible in the author's own words, there appear some conceptions of idea, of purpose, and of their relation to each other, that play an important part in the further treatment and in determining the final outcome. In the description of the internal meaning there appear to be two quite different conceptions of the relation of idea to purpose. One regards the idea as itself constituting the purpose or plan of action; the other descrubes the. idea as "the partial fulfilment" of the purpose. (1) "Complex

(349) scientific ideas, viewed as to their conscious significance, are, as Professor Stout has well said, plans of action." (2) " You sing to yourself a melody; you are then and there conscious that the melody, as you hear yourself singing it, partially fulfils and embodies a purpose."[9] When we come to the problem of the relation between the internal and external meaning, we shall find that the idea as internal meaning comes into a third relation to purpose, viz., that of having the further purpose to agree or correspond to the external meaning. "Is the correspondence reached between idea and object the precise correspondence that the idea itself intended? If it is, the idea is true . . . . . Thus it is not mere agreement, but intended agreement, that constitutes truth."[10] Thus the idea is (1) the purpose, (2) the partial fulfilment of the purpose, and (3) has a further purpose—to correspond to an object in the "absolute system of ideas."

The first statement of the internal meaning as constituting the plan or purpose is, I take it, the conception of the internal meaning as an ideal construction which gives a working form, a definition to the "indefinite sort of restlessness" and blind feeling of dissatisfaction out of which the need of and demand for thought arises.[11] This accords with the scientific conception of the idea as a working hypothesis. If this interpretation of idea were steadily followed throughout, it is difficult to see how it could fail to lead to a conception of reality quite different from that described as "a certain absolute system of ideas."

The second definition of internal meaning is the one in which it is stated as the "partial expression," "embodiment," and "fulfilment" of a single conscious purpose, and in which subsequently and consequently the idea is identified with "any conscious act," for example, singing. The first part of the statement appears to say that the idea of a melody is in

(350) "partial fulfilment" of the idea regarded as the purpose to sing the melody. But, as the first statement of internal meaning implies, how can one have a purpose to sing the melody except in and through the idea? It is precisely the construction of an idea that transforms the vague "indefinite restlessness" and dissatisfaction into a purpose. The idea is the defining, the sharpening of the blind activity of mere sensation, mere want, into a plan of action.

However, Mr. Royce meets this difficulty at once by the statement that the term "idea" here not only covers the activity involved in forming the idea, e. g., the idea of singing, but includes the action of singing, which fulfils this purpose. "In the same sense any conscious act at the moment when you perform it not merely expresses, but is, in my present sense, an idea."[12]

But this sort of an adjustment between the idea as the purpose and as the fulfilment of the purpose raises a new question. What here becomes of the distinction between immediate and mediating experience? Surely there is a pretty discernible difference between experience as a purposive idea and the experience which fulfils this purpose. To call them both " ideas" is at least confusing, and indeed it appears that it is just this confusion that obscures the fundamental difficulty in dealing, later on, with the problem of truth and error. To be sure, the very formation of the idea as the purpose, the "plan of action," is the beginning of the relief from the " indefinite restlessness." On the other hand, it defines and sharpens the dissatisfaction. When this vague unrest takes the form of a purpose to attain food or shelter, or to sing in tune, it is of course the first step toward solution. But this very definition of the dissatisfaction intensifies it. The idea as purpose, then, instead of being the fulfilment, appears to be the plan, the

(351) method of fulfilment. The fulfilling experience is the further experience to which the idea points and leads.

To follow a little farther this relation between the purposive and fulfilling aspects of experience, it is of course apparent that the idea as the purpose, the "plan of action," must as a function go over into the fulfilling experience. My purpose to sing the melody must remain. in so far as the action is a conscious one, until the melody is sung. I say "as a function," for the specific content of this purpose is continuously changing. The purpose is certainly not the same in content after half the melody has been sung as it is at the beginning. This means that the purpose is being progressively fulfilled; and as part of the purpose is fulfilled each moment, so a part of the original content of the idea drops out; and when the fulfilling process of this particular purpose is complete, or is suspended—for, in Mr. Royce's view, it never is complete in human experiencethat purpose then gives way to some other, perhaps one growing out of it, but still one regarded as another. A purpose realized, fulfilled, cannot persist as a purpose. We may desire to repeat the experience in memory; i. e., instead of singing aloud, simply, as Mr. Royce says, "silently recall and listen to its imagined presence." But here we must remember that the memory experience, as such, is not an idea in the logical sense at all. It is an immediate experience that is fulfilling the idea of the song which constitutes the purpose to recall it, just as truly as the singing aloud fulfils the idea of singing aloud. Shouting, whistling, or "listening in memory to the silent notes" may all be equally immediate, fulfilling experiences. Doubtless the idea as purpose involves memory, as Mr. Royce says.[13] But it is a memory used as a purpose, and it is just this use of the memory material as a purpose that makes it a logical idea.

( 352) In its content the purposive idea is just as immediate and as mechanical as any other part of experience. "Psychology explains the presence and the partial present efficacy of this purpose by the laws of motor processes, of habit, or of what is often called association."[14] Here "idea," however, simply means, as Mr. Royce takes it in his second statement, conscious content of any sort. But this is not the meaning of "idea" in the logical sense. The logical idea is a conscious content used as an organizer, as "a plan of action," to get other contents. If, for example, in the course of writing a paper one wishes to recall an abstract distinction, as the distinction dawns in consciousness, it is not an idea in the logical sense. It is just as truly an immediate fulfilling experience as is a good golf stroke. So in the mathematician's most abstruse processes, which Mr. Royce so admirably portrays, the results for which he watches "as empirically as the astronomer alone with his star" are not ideas in the logical sense; they are immediate, fulfilling experiences.[15] The distinction between the idea as the mediating experience—that is, the logical idea—and the immediate fulfilling experience is therefore not one of content, but of use.

There is a sense, however, in which the idea as a purpose can be taken as the partial fulfilment of another purpose; in the sense that any purpose is the outgrowth of activity involving previous purposes. This becomes evident when we inquire into the "indefinite restlessness" and dissatisfaction out of which the idea as purpose springs. Dissatisfaction presupposes some activity already going on in attempted ful-

(353) -filment of some previous purpose. If one is dissatisfied with his singing, or with not singing, it is because one has already purposed to participate in the performance of a company of people which now he finds singing a certain melody, or one has rashly contracted to entertain a strenuous infant who is vociferously demanding his favorite ditty. This is only saying that any given dissatisfaction and the purpose to which it gives rise grow out of activity involving previous purposing. But this does not do away with the distinction between the idea as a purpose and the immediate fulfilling experience.

If the discussion appears at this point to be growing somewhat captious, let us pass to a consideration of the relation between internal and external meanings, where the problem of truth and error appears, and where the vital import of these distinctions becomes more obvious.


Mr. Royce begins with the traditional definition of truth, which he then proceeds to reinterpret:

Truth is very frequently defined in terms of external meaning as that about which we judge . . . . . In the second place, truth has been defined as the correspondence between our ideas and their objects.[16] . . . . When we undertake to express the objective validity of any truth, we use judgment. These judgments, if subjectively regarded, that is, if viewed merely as processes of our own present thinking, whose objects are external to themselves, involve in all their more complex forms, combinations of ideas, devices whereby we weave already present ideas into more manifold structure, thereby enriching our internal meaning; but the act of judgment has always its other, its objective aspect. The ideas when we judge are also to possess external meaning . . . . . It is true, as Mr. Bradley has well said, that the intended subject of every judgment is realitv itself. The ideas that we combine when we judge about external meanings are to have value for us as truth

(354) only in so far as they not only possess internal meaning, but also imitate, by their Structure, what is at once other than themselves, and, in significance, something above themselves. That, at least, is the natural view of our consciousness, just in so far as, in judging, we conceive our thought as essentially other than its external object, and as destined merely to correspond thereto. Now we have by this time come to feel how hard it is to define the Reality to which our ideas are thus to conform, and about which our judgments are said to be made, so long as we thus sunder external and internal meanings.[17]

The universal judgment.-The problem is, then, to discover just the nature and ground of this relation between the internal and external meaning, between the idea and its object. This relation is established in the act of judgment. Taking first the universal judgment, we find here that the internal meaning has at best only a negative relation to the external meaning.

To say that all A is B is in fact merely to assert that the real world contains no objects that are A, but that fail to be of the class B. To say that no A is B is to assert that the real world contains no objects that are at once A and B.[18]

The universal judgments then "tell us indirectly what is in the realm of external meaning; but only by first telling us what is not."[19]

However, these universal judgments have after all a positive value in the realm of internal meaning; that is, as mere thought.

This negative character of the universal judgments holds true of them, as we have just said, just in so far as you sunder the external and internal meaning, and just in so far as you view the real as the beyond, and as the merely beyond. If you turn your attention once more to the realm of ideas, viewed as internal meaning, you see, indeed, that they are constantly becoming enriched in their inner life by all this process. To know by inner demonstration that 2+2=4 and that this is necessarily so, is not yet to

(355) know that the external world, taken merely as the Beyond contains any true or finally valid variety of objects at all, any two or four objects that can be counted . . . . . On the other hand, so far as your internal meaning goes, to have experienced within that which makes you call this judgment necessary, is indeed to have observed a character about your own ideas which rightly seems to you very positive.[20]

This passage deserves especial attention. In the light of Kant, and in view of Mr. Royce's general definition of the judgment as the reference of internal to external meanings, one is puzzled to find that for the mathematician the positive value of the judgment " two and two are four" is confined to the realm of internal meaning. To be sure, Mr. Royce says that this limitation of the positive value of the universal judgment to the world of internal meaning occurs only when the external and internal meaning are sundered. But the point is: Does the mathematician or anyone else ever so sunder as to regard the judgment " two and two are four" as of positive value only as internal meaning ? Indeed, in another connection Mr. Royce himself shows most clearly that mathematical results are as objective and as empirical as the astronomer's star.[21] Nor would it appear competent for anyone to say here: "Of course, they are not internal meanings after we come to see, through the kind offices of the epistemologist, that the internal meanings are valid of the external world." We are insisting that they are never taken by the mathematician and scientists at first as merely internal meaning whose external meaning is then to be established. Surely the mathematical judgment, or any other, does not require an epistemological midwife to effect the passage from internal to external meaning. The external meaning is there all the while ill the form of the diagrams anti muter tensions and images with which the mathematician works. The difficulty

( 356) here again seems to be that the distinction above discussed between the idea in the logical sense, as purpose, and the immediate fulfilling experience is lost sight of. The relation between two and four is not first discovered as a merely internal meaning. It is discovered in the process of fulfilling some purpose involving the working out of this relation. So the sum of the angles of a triangle is not discovered as a mere internal meaning whose external meaning is then to be found. It is found in working with the triangle. It is discovered in the triangle. And, once more, it matters not if the triangle here is a mere memory image. In relation to the purpose, to the logical idea, it is as truly external and objective as pine sticks or chalk marks. The streams of motor, etc., images that flow spontaneously under the stimulus of the purpose are just as immediate fulfilling experiences as the manipulation of sticks or chalk lines.

The difficulty in keeping the universal judgment, as a judgment, in terms of merely internal meaning may be seen from the following:

As to these two types of judgments, the universal and the particular, they both, as we have seen, make use of experience. The universal judgments arise in the realm where experience and idea have already fused into one whole; and this is precisely the realm of internal meanings. Here one constructs and observes the consequences of one's construction. But the construction is at once an experience of fact and an idea . . . . . Upon the basis of such ideal constructions one makes universal judgments. These in a fashion still to us, at this stage, mysterious, undertake to be valid of that other world—the world of external meaning.[22]

One is somewhat puzzled to know just what is meant by the fusion "of experience and idea." We must infer that it moans the fusion of some aspect of experience which can be set over against idea, and this has always meant the external

( 357) meaning, and this interpretation seems further warranted by the statement immediately following which describes the fusion as one "of fact and idea." The situation then seems to be this: An internal and an external meaning, a fact and an idea, "fuse into one whole" and thus constitute that which is yet "precisely the realm of internal meanings," which aims to be valid of still another world of external meanings. And this waives the question of how experience fused into one whole can be an internal meaning, since as such it must be in opposition and reference to an external meaning; or conversely, how experience can be at once fact and idea and still be "fused into one whole."

Nor does the difficulty disappear when we turn to the aspects of universality and necessity. What is the significance and basis of universality and necessity as confined merely to the realm of internal meaning ?

So far as your internal meaning goes, to have experienced within that which makes you call this judgment necessary is, indeed, to have observed a character about your own ideas which rightly seems to you very positive.[23]

But what is it that we "experience within" which makes us call this judgment necessary ? In the discussion of the relation of the universal judgment to the disjunctive judgment, through which the former is shown to get even its negative force, there is an interesting statement

One who inquires into a matter upon which he believes himself able to decide in universal terms, e.g., in mathematics, has present to his mind, at the outset, questions such as admit of alternative answers. "A," he declares, "in case it exists at all, is either B or C." Further research shows universally, perhaps, that No A is B. The last sentence is the statement referred to. What is meant by "further research shows universally, perhaps, that No A is B"? What kind of "research," internal or external,

( 358) can show this ? In short, there appears to be as much difficulty with universality and necessity in the realm of internal meaning as in the reference of internal to external meaning.[24]

Instead, however, of discussing this point, Mr. Royce pursues the problem of the relation of the external and internal meaning, and finds that regarded as sundered there is no basis so far for even the negative universality and necessity in the reference of the internal meaning to the external.

For at this point arises the ancient question, How can you know at all that your judgment is universally valid, even in this ideal and negative way, about that external realm of validity, in so far as it is external, and is merely your Other,—the Beyond? Must you not just dogmatically say that that world must agree with your negations ? This judgment is indeed positive. But how do you prove it? The only answer has to be in terms which already suggest how vain is the very sundering in question. If you can predetermine, even if but thus negatively, what cannot exist in the object, the object then cannot be merely foreign to you. It must be somewhat predetermined by your Meaning.[25]

But in the universal judgment this determination, as referred to the external meaning, is only negative.

The particular judgment.—It is then through the particular judgment that the universal judgment is to get any positive value in its reference to the external meaning.

As has been repeatedly pointed out in the discussions on recent Logic, the particular judgments—whose form is Some A is B, or Some A is not B—are the typical judgments that positively assert Being in the object viewed as external. This fact constitutes their essential contrast with the universal judgments. They undertake to cross the chasm that is said to sunder internal and external meanings; and the means by which they do so is always what is called "external experience."

( 359)

It is now high time to ask why the internal meaning seeks this external meaning. Why does it seek an object? Why does it want to cross the chasm? In other words, what is the significance of the demand for the particular judgment? In the introduction we have been told, as a matter of description, that the internal meanings do seek the external meaning, but why do they? We have also been told that universal judgments "develop and enrich the realm of internal meaning." Why, then, should there be a demand for the external meaning, for a further object? The answer is:

We have our internal meanings. We develop them in inner experience. There they get presented as something of universal value, but always in fragments. They, therefore, so far dissatisfy. We conceive of the Other wherein these meanings shall get some sort of final fulfilment.[26]

It is, then, the incomplete and fragmentary character of the internal meaning that demands the particular judgment. The particular judgment is to further complete and determine the incomplete and indeterminate internal meaning. And yet no sooner is this particular judgment made than we are told that " it is a form at once positive, and very unsatisfactorily indeterminate." Again:[27]

The judgments of experience, the particular judgments, express a positive but still imperfect determination of internal meaning through external experience. The limit or goal of this process would be an individual judgment wherein the will expressed its own final determination.[28]

Apparently, then, the particular judgment to which the internal meaning appeals for completion and determination only succeeds in increasing the fragmentary and indeterminate character.

This brings us to another "previous question." Just

(360) what are we to understand by this "fragmentary" and "indeterminate" character of the internal meaning? In what sense, with reference to what, is it incomplete and fragmentary? Later we shall be told that it is with reference to I its own final and completely individual expression." This is to be reached in the individual judgment. And if we ask what is meant by this final, complete, and individual expression — which, by the way, no human being can experience—we read, wondering all the while how it can be known, that it is simply "the expression that seeks no other," that "is satisfied," that "is conclusive of the search for perfection."[29] Waiving for the present questions concerning the basis of this satisfaction and perfection, all this leaves unanswered our query concerning the other end of the matter, viz., the meaning and criterion of the fragmentary and indeterminate character of these internal meanings.

If we here return to the first definition of internal meaning of the idea as a purpose in the sense of " a plan of action," such as " singing in tune," or getting the properties of a geometrical figure, it does not seem difficult to find a basis and meaning for this fragmentary and indeterminate character. First we may note in a general way that it is of the very essence of a plan or purpose to lead on to a fulfilling experience such as singing in tune, or reaching a mathematical equation. But here this fulfilling experience to which the plan points is not a mere working out of detail inside the plan itself, although, indeed, this does take place. If this were all the fulfilling experience meant, it is difficult to see how we should escape subjective idealism.[30] We start with a relatively indeterminate idea and end with a more determinate idea, though, indeed, there is yet no criterion for this increased determination. To be sure the idea as a

( 361) plan of action, as has already been stated, does undergo change and does become, if you please, more definite and complete as a plan; but this does not constitute its fulfilment. Its fulfilment surely is to be found in the immediate experiences of singing, etc., to which the idea points and leads.

The fragmentary and incomplete character of the internal meaning as a plan of action does not, then, after all, so much describe the plan itself as it does the general condition of experience out of which the idea arises. Experience takes on the form of a plan, of an idea, precisely because it has fallen apart, has become "fragmentary." It is just the business of the internal meaning, as Mr. Royce so well shows, to form a plan, an ideal, an hypothetical synthesis that shall stimulate an activity, which shall satisfactorily heal the breach. "Fragmentary" is a quality, then, that belongs, not to the idea in itself considered, but to the general condition of experience, of which the idea as a plan is an expression.

If, now, the fragmentary character of the internal meaning is determined simply with relation to the fulfilling experiences, such as singing in tune, adjustments of geometrical figures, etc., to which it points and leads, it seems as if the completion of the internal meaning must be defined in the same terms. And this would appear to open a pretty straight path to the redefinition of truth and error.


At the outset, truth was defined as the "correspondence" or "agreement" of an idea with its object. But we have seen that correspondence or agreement with an object means the completion and determination of the idea itself, and since the idea is here a specific "plan of action," it would seem that the "true" idea would be the one that can complete itself by stimulating a satisfying activity. The

(362) false idea would be one that cannot complete itself in a satisfying activity, such as singing in tune, constructing a mathematical equation, etc., and just this solution is very clearly expounded by our author. In the case of mathematical inquiry,

In just so far as we pause satisfied we observe that there "is no other" mathematical fact to be sought in the direction of the particular inquiry in hand. Satisfaction of purpose by means of presented fact and such determinate satisfaction as sends us to no other experience for further light and fulfillment, precisely this outcome is itself the Other that is sought when we begin our inquiry.[31]

So "when other facts of experience are sought," if I watch for stars or for a chemical precipitate, or for a turn in the stock market, or in the sickness of a friend, my ideas are true when they are satisfied with "the presented facts." Again,

It follows that the finally determinate form of the object of any finite idea is that form which the idea itself would assume whenever it became individuated, or in other words, became a completely determined idea, an idea or will fulfilled by a wholly adequate empirical content, for which no other content need be substituted or from the point of view of the satisfied idea, could be substituted.[32]

In such passages as these it seems clear that the test of the truth of an idea is its power to bring us to the point where we "pause satisfied," where "no other content need be substituted," etc. Nor in such passages does there seem to be any doubt of reaching satisfaction in particular cases. Here, it appears, we may sing in tune, we may get the desired precipitate, and possibly even interpret the stock market correctly. Of course, the discord, the hunger, the loss, will come again; but so will new ideas, new truths. "Man thinks in order to get control of his world and thereby of himself."[33] Then the control actually gained must measure the value, the truth of his thought. Do you wish to

( 363) sing in tune, "then your musical ideas are false if they lead you to strike what are then called false notes."[34]

It should also be noticed that here this desired determination does not consist in a further determination of the mere idea as such. It is found in " the presented fact," in the immediate activity of singing, of getting precipitates, etc. As has already been pointed out, it is only by using the term "idea" for both the purpose and the fulfilling act of singing that this "pause of satisfaction" can be ascribed to the further determination of the idea. As such, as also before remarked, the sort of determination that the idea here gets means its termination, its disappearance in the immediate experiences of singing, etc., to which it leads. The "indefinite restlessness" of hunger and cold would scarcely be satisfied by getting more determinate and specific ideas only of food and shelter. The satisfaction comes when the ideas are "realized," when the "plans" are swallowed up in fulfilment.

But in all this nothing has been said about "the certain absolute system of ideas," nor does there appear to be here any demand for it. To be sure, in the passages just considered, experience has been found to become "fragmentary," but it has also been found capable of healing, of wholing itself, not of course into any "final whole," but into the unity of "satisfaction" as regards "the particular inquiry in hand." There is of course failure as well, but this also is not final. It means simply that we must look farther for the "pause of satisfaction," that we must construct another idea, another "plan of action."

But, after having shown that the idea as a plan of action may lead to satisfaction in the particular case, and that its success or failure so to do is one measure of its truth or falsity, we are now suddenly aroused to the fact that after

(364) all thought does not lead us to the completed "absolute system of ideas," to a final stage of eternal unbroken satisfaction.

But never in our human process of experience do we reach that determination. It is for us the object of love and of hope, of desire and of will, of faith and of work, but never of present finding.[35]

If at this point one asks: Whence this absolute system of ideas? Why have we to reckon with it at all? there appears to be little that is satisfying. Indeed, it seems difficult to get rid of the impression that this "certain absolute system of ideas" is on our hands as a philosophical heirloom from the time of Plato, so hallowed by time and so established by centuries of acceptance that we have ceased to ask for its credentials. To ground it in the "essentially fragmentary character of human experience" appears to be a petitio, for experience does not appear "essentially fragmentary" in this sense until after the absolute system has been posited.

And this brings to notice that at this point both the fragmentary and unitary characters of experience take on new meaning. So far this fragmentary character has been defined with reference to "the particular inquiry in hand." Now, since the distinction between absolute and human experience has emerged, the fragmentary character becomes an absolute quality of the latter in contrast with the former. So, mutatis mutandis, of unity. Up to this point unity, wholeness, has been possible within human experience in the case of particular problems, such as singing in tune, etc. But with the appearance of the absolute system of ideas, wholeness is now the exclusive quality of the latter, as incompleteness is of human experience, though of course the working unity, the unity resulting in "pauses of satisfaction," must still remain in the latter.

( 365)

The problem now is to somehow work the absolute system of ideas into connection with the conception of the idea as a purpose, as a concrete plan of action. Here is where the third conception of the relation between idea and purpose, described at the beginning, comes into play—the conception in which the idea, instead of being the purpose, or the fulfilment of a purpose, has the purpose to correspond with, or represent "its own final and completely individual expression," contained in the absolute system. From the previous standpoint the idea's "own final and completely individual expression" has been found in the fulfilling experiences of singing in tune, getting mathematical equations, chemical precipitates, etc. Here this complete individual experience can never be found in finite, human experience, but must be sought in the absolute system—and this can be only "the object of love arid hope, of desire and will, never of present finding."

Notwithstanding the many previous protestations that the purposive function of the idea is its "primary" and "most essential" character, we are here forced to fall back upon correspondence—representation as the primary, the essential, and indeed, it appears at times, as the sole function. For in the attempt to bring these two functions together the purposive function is swallowed up in the representative. The idea still is, or has a purpose, a "plan of action," but this purpose, this plan, is now nothing but to represent and correspond with its own final and completed form in the absolute system. By this simple coup is the purposive function of the idea reduced at once to the representative. Nor is it pertinent to urge at this point that every purpose involves representation, that the plan must be some sort of an image or scheme which symbolizes, and stimulates the thing to be done. This no one would question, but now the sole "thing to be done" apparently is to perfect this representa-

(366) -tion of the complete and individual form in the absolute system.[36]

Once more, an array of passages could be marshaled from almost every page refuting any such interpretation as this, but they would be passages expounding the part played by the idea in such concrete experiences as singing, measuring, etc., not in representing an absolute system of ideas. Even as regards the latter one might urge that, by insisting on the active character of the idea, we could after all regard this absolute system as a life of will after the fashion of our own, were it not at once described as "the complete embodiment," "the final fulfilment," of finite ideas. A life consisting of mere fulfilment seems a baffling paradox. And its timeless character only adds to the difficulty. Moreover, if we regard the system as constituted by such concrete activities as measuring and singing, etc., while we have saved will, we shall now have to fall back upon our first conception of truth as found in the idea which unifies the fragmentary condition of experience as related to specific problems, not fragmentary as related to an absolute system.

This brings us to the final and crucial point of the discussion, the part which purpose plays in the determination of truth and error from the standpoint of "the absolute system of ideas." When is this purpose of the idea to correspond with its absolute, final, and completed form fulfilled,

(367) or partially fulfilled? And here at the very outset is a difficulty. We have read repeatedly that the idea is itself "the partial fulfilment of a purpose." It is now to seek an object which shall increase this degree of fulfilment, but still this fulfilment shall be incomplete. And when we come to consider error, it too will be found to consist in a partial fulfilment. So it appears that there are three stages of "partial fulfilment" to be discriminated, one belonging to the idea itself, another to finite truth, and still another to error.

Returning to the problem, from this point on we find the two standpoints, that of the specific situation and that of the absolute system, so closely interwoven and entangled that they are followed with great difficulty. We have already seen that the idea seeks correspondence with its object, because it is "fragmentary," "incomplete," "indetermined." And there we found that this indeterminate and fragmentary character belonged to the idea as a purpose, a plan of seeking relief from some sort of "restlessness " and "dissatisfaction," such as singing out of tune, etc. Here it is the incompleteness of an imperfect representation of its object in the absolute system that is the motif, and how it is to effect an improvement in its imperfect condition is now the problem. Here again the appeal is to purpose. Whatever may constitute the absolute system, one thing is assured: nothing in it can be an object except as the finite idea "intends it," purposes it, to be its object. Again must we ask: On what basis is this object in the absolute system selected at all? In general the answer is: On the basis of a need of "further determination;" but when we further analyze this, we find it means on the basis of a specific want or need, such as food, shelter, measuring, singing, etc. The basis of the selection, then, is entirely on the side of the concrete, finite situation.


Here, too, we might ask: Whence the confidence that there will be found something in the absolute system that will fulfil the purpose generated on the side of the finite? Must we not here fall back on something like a pre-established harmony ? To this our author would say: " Yea, verily. The fact that the absolute system responds to the finite needs does precisely show that the finite and the absolute cannot be sundered." But when we try to state how the purpose generated on the side of the finite can be met by the absolute system, the account again seems to run so much in terms of the finite experience that to call it a system of "final," "completed," and "fulfilled" ideas does not seem accurate. We must note here, too, the shifting in the sense of "purpose." The idea selects its object on the basis of the material needed to relieve the unrest and dissatisfaction of singing out of tune, etc. But now it is to be satisfied by increasing the extent of its representation of its object in the absolute system.

And now, finally, what shall mark the attainment of this purpose of the idea to correspond and represent "its own completed form"? When is the correspondence and representation true? Simply at the point where "we pause satisfied," where "no other content need be substituted, or from the point of view of the satisfied idea could be substituted." That is all; there is no other answer. There are other statements, but they all come to the same thing. For instance:

It is true—this instant's idea—if, in its own measure, and on its own plan, it corresponds, even in its vagueness, to its own final and completely individual expression.[37]

But the moment we ask what this "final and individual expression" is, and what is meant by "in its own measure,"

(369) and "on its own plan," we are thrown back at once upon the preceding statement. The next sentence following the passage just quoted does indeed define this "individual expression." "Its expression would be the very life of fulfilment of purpose which this present idea already fragmentarily begins, as it were, to express." But how can we know that the expression is "fragmentary" unless we have some experience of wholeness?

And here perhaps is the place to say, what has been implied all along, that this absolutely "fragmentary" character of human experience is an abstraction of the relatively disintegrated condition into which experience temporarily falls, which abstraction is then reinstated as a fixed quality, overlooking the fact that experience becomes fragmentary only that it may again become whole. The absolute system, the final fulfilment, is in the same case. It too is but the hypostatized abstraction of the function of becoming whole, of wholing and fulfilling, which manifests itself in the "pauses of satisfaction."

" But," Mr. Royce would say, "the wholeness of the particular instance is after all not a true and perfect wholeness, because we can always think of the fulfilling experience as possibly different, as having a possibly different embodiment." But this implies also a different purpose. Moreover, it abstracts the purpose from the specific conditions under which the purpose develops. Thus in singing in tune one doubtless could easily imagine himself singing another tune, on another occasion, in another key, in a clear tenor instead of a cracked bass, etc. But if on this occasion, in this song, and with this cracked bass voice one, accepting all these conditions, does, with malice aforethought, purpose to strike. the tune, and happily succeeds, why, for that purpose formed under the known and accepted conditions, is not the accomplishment final and absolute? Nor is the

( 370) case any different, so far as I can see, in mathematical experience. To quote again

You think of numbers, and accordingly count one, two, three. Your idea of these numbers is abstract, a mere generality. Why? Because there could be other cases of counting, and other numbers counted than the present counting process shows you, and why so? Because your purpose in counting is not wholly fulfilled by the numbers now counted.[38]

I confess I cannot see here in what respect the purpose is not fulfilled. Doubtless there could be "other cases of counting," and " other numbers," but these may not be included in my present purpose, which is simply to count here and now. In this passage the purpose is not very fully defined. One's counting is usually for something, if for nothing more than merely to illustrate the process. In this latter case one's purpose would be completely fulfilled by just the numbers used when he should "pause satisfied " with the illustration. Or, if I wish to show the properties of numbers, then the discovery that there can always be more of them fulfils my purpose, since this endless progression is one of the properties. Or yet again, if one should suddenly become enamored of the process of counting, and forthwith should purpose to devote the rest of his days to it, it would still be fortunate that there were always other numbers to be counted. In other words, the idea as a purpose is formed with reference to, and out of, specific conditions. In the last analysis the problem always is: What is to be done here and now with the actual material at hand, under the present conditions? As the purpose is determined by these specific conditions, so is the fulfilment. To say that the fulfilment might be different is virtually to say that the purpose might have been different, or indeed that the universe might have been different.


This necessity of falling back upon the character of the idea as a purpose in the sense of the specific " plan of action" comes into still bolder relief in the consideration of error from the standpoint of "the absolute system of ideas." As already mentioned, the initial and persistent problem here is to distinguish at all between truth and error in our experience from this standpoint. All our efforts at representing the absolute system must fall short. What can we mean, then, by calling some of our ideas true and others false? The definition of error is as follows:

An error is an error about a specific object, only in case the purpose, imperfectly defined by the vague idea at the instant when the error is made, is better defined, is in fact, better fulfilled by an object whose determinate character in some wise, although never absolutely, opposes the fragmentary efforts first made to define them.[39]

But in relation to the absolute system the later part of this statement holds of all our ideas. There always is the absolute object which would "better define" and "better fulfil" our purposes. Hence it is only in reference to the "specific" instances of singing, measuring, etc., that a basis for the distinction can be found. Here our plan is not true so long as its mission of relieving the specific unrest and dissatisfaction, the specific discord or hunger, is unfulfilled.

The only criterion, then, which we have been able to find for the fulfilment of the purpose, for the truth of the idea as representing an object in the absolute system, is the sense of wholeness, the "pause of satisfaction," which we experience in realizing such specific purposes as "singing in tune." And if it be said again: "Precisely so; this only shows how intimate is the relation between our experience and the absolute system of idea,;" then mutt it also be said once more, either that the absolute system can be nothing more than an

(372) abstraction of the element of wholeness or wholing in our experience, or that thus far the relation appears to rest upon sheer assumption.

Again, it may be insisted, as suggested at the outset of this discussion, that the idea can well have two purposes: one to help constitute and solve the specific problems of daily life; the other to represent the absolute system. Very well, we must then make out a case for the latter. If the purposes are to be different, the purpose to represent the Absolute should have a criterion of its own. This we have not been able to find. On the contrary, whenever pushed to the point of stating a criterion for the representation of the absolute system, we have had to appeal, in every case, to the fulfilment of a specific finite purpose. And even if this purpose to represent the absolute system had some apparent standard of its own, we should not be content to leave the matter so. We should scarcely be satisfied to observe as a mere matter of fact that the idea has a reconstructive function, and also a representative function. Such a brute dualism would be intolerable.


In the end, the outcome of the endeavor to establish a connection between the relation of the idea to human experience and its relation to the absolute system does not appear satisfying. The idea is left either with two independent purposes—one to reconstruct finite experience, the other to represent and symbolize the absolute system—or one of these purposes is merged in the other. When the attempt is made from the standpoint of the absolute system, the reconstructive purpose is swallowed up in the representative.. When, on the other hand, the need for a basis of distinction between truth and error "here on this bank and shoal of time" is felt, the representative disappears in the

(373) reconstructive function. Nowhere are we able to discover a true unification. To be sure, we have been told again and again that the representation of the absolute object, if only we could accomplish it, would be "the final fulfilment," "completion," and "realization" of the human, finite purpose. But besides a confessed impotency at the very start, this involves, as we have seen, either a sudden transformation of the specific purpose of singing in tune, etc., into that of representing the absolute system, or a sheer assumption that the representation of the absolute object does somehow help in the realization of the specific finite purpose. Nowhere is there any account of how this help would be given.

And this suggests that if the analysis of the idea as purpose, given at the outset of Mr. Royce's lecture, had been developed further, if the conditions and origin of purpose had been examined, it is difficult to see how this discrepancy could have escaped disclosure. Mr. Royce starts his account by simply accepting from psychology a general description of the purposive character of the idea. Even in the more detailed passages on purpose we have nothing but descriptions of purpose after it is formed. Nothing is said of the origin of this purposiveness. The purposive character of experience is of course very manifest, but what is the significance of this purposing in experience as a whole? What is the source and the material of the purposes?

It is this uncritical acceptance of the purposive quality of the idea that obscures the irrelevancy of its relation to the absolute system. If the idea must merely be or have a purpose, then it may as well be that of representing the absolute system as any other. Of course, there are troublesome questions as to how our finite ideas ever got such a purpose,: but, after all, if it is pimply a matter of having any sort of a purpose, representing the absolute system may answer as well as anything. But when now we come to deal

(374) with the problem of fulfilment, with the question of truth and error, we have to reckon with this neglect of the source of this purposiveness.

It is this unanalyzed ground of the purpose that makes the matter of fulfilment so ambiguous. Such an analysis, we believe, would have shown that the conditions out of which the idea as a purpose arises determine also the sort of fulfilment possible. There are, indeed, one or two very general, but very significant, statements in this direction, if they were only followed up. For instance:

In doing what we often call "making up our minds" we pass from a vague to a definite state of will and of resolution. In such cases we begin with perhaps a very indefinite sort of restlessness which arouses the question: " What is it that I want, what do I desire, what is my real purpose?"

In other words, what does this restlessness mean? What is the matter? What is to be done?

Purpose is born, then, out of restlessness and dissatisfaction. But whence comes this restlessness and dissatisfaction? Surely we cannot at this point charge it to a discrepancy between our finite idea and the absolute object, since it is just this restlessness that is giving birth to the purposive idea. One thing, at any rate, appears pretty certain: this "indefinite restlessness" presupposes some sort of activity already going on. The restlessness is not generated in a vacuum. But why should this activity get into a condition to be described as "indefinite restlessness" and dissatisfaction?

Repugnant as it will be to many to have psycho-physical, to say nothing of biological, doctrines introduced into a logical discussion, I confess that, at this point facing the issue squarely, I see no other way. And it appears to me that just at this point it is the fear of phenomenalistic giants that has kept logic wandering so many years in the wilderness.

What, then, in this action already going on is responsible

(375) for this restlessness? First let us note that " indefinite restlessness" and "dissatisfaction" are terms descriptive of what Mr. James calls "the first thing in the way of consciousness." This assumes consciousness as a factor in activity. So that our question now becomes: What is the significance of this factor of restless, dissatisfied consciousness in activity? Now, there appears no way of getting at the part which consciousness plays different from that of discovering the function of anything else. And this way is simply that of observing, as best we may, the conditions under which consciousness operates, and what it does. Here the biologist and psychologist with one voice inform us that this indefinite restlessness which marks the point of the operation of consciousness arises where, in a co-ordinated system of activities, there develop out of the continuation of the activity itself new conditions calling for a readjustment and reconstruction of the activity, if it is to go on. Consciousness then appears to be the function which makes possible the reorganization of the results of a process back into the process itself, thus constituting and preserving the continuity of activity. So interpreted, consciousness appears to be an essential element in the conception of a self-sustaining activity. This "indefinite restlessness," in which consciousness begins, marks, then, the operation of the function of reconstruction without which activity would utterly break down.

Precisely because, then, the idea " as a plan" is projected and constructed in response to this restlessness must its fulfilment be relevant to it. It is when the idea as a purpose, a plan, born out of this matrix of restlessness, begins to aspire to the absolute system, and attempts to ignore or repudiate its lowly antecedents, that the difficulties concerning fulfilment begin. They are the difficulties that beset every ambition which aspires to things foreign to its inherited powers and equipment.

(376) A detailed account at this point of the construction and fulfilment of the idea as "a plan of action" would contain a consecutive reinterpretation of Mr. Royce's principal rubrics. Such an account the limits of this paper forbid. We shall have to be content with pointing out in a general way a few instances by way of illustration.

In the first place, it is in this matrix of indefinite restlessness out of which the idea is born that the "fragmentary character of experience," of which Mr. Royce is so keenly conscious, appears. But, once more, this fragmentary character is discernible only by contrast with the wholeness on both sides of the fragments; the wholeness that precedes the restlessness, and the new "pause of satisfaction" toward which it points. Nor must we forget that the habit matrix, out of the disintegration of which the restlessness is immediately born, does not exist as some metaphysical ultimate out of which thought as such has evolved. Back of it is some previous purpose in whose service habit was enlisted. On the other hand, this disintegration means that the old purpose, the old plan, must be reconstructed; that it, along with the disintegrated habit, becomes the material for a new plan, a new wholing of experience.

In the next place, the construction of this new plan of action does involve "re-presentation." The first step in the transition from the condition of "indefinite restlessness" toward a "plan" is the diagnosis, the definition of the restlessness. This involves the re-presentation in consciousness of the activities, out of which the restlessness has arisen. This re-presentation is also the beginning of the reconstruction. The diagnosis of the singing activity as being " out of tune" is the negative side of beginning to sing in tune. It is now a commonplace of psychology that all representation is reconstruction. And this is where Mr. Royce's emphasis of the symbolic, the algebraic, as against the copy type of rep-

(377) -resentation, has its application. All we want here is some sort of an image—visual, auditory, motor, it matters notthat shall serve to focus attention upon the singing activities until they are reconstructed sufficiently to bring us to the "pause of satisfaction."[40] But nowhere in all this is there any reference to the idea's object in the absolute system. Nor does there appear to be any call or place for such reference. The representation here is a part of the very process of forming the plan of further reconstruction out of the materials of the specific situation. Representation is not the plan's own end and aim. This is to stimulate a new set of activities that shall lead out of the present state of unrest and dissatisfaction.

It is also true, as already mentioned, that in the process of fulfilling the plan, of realizing the idea, further determination and specification is produced in the plan itself. The idea as a plan is certainly not formed all at once. Nor does it reach and maintain a fixed content. No purpose is ever realized in its original content. But this does not mean that its realization is, therefore, "partial," "incomplete," or "fragmentary." It is a part of its business to change. The purpose is not there for its own sake. The purpose is there as a means to the reorganization and reconstruction of experience. It exists, as Mr. Royce says, as an instrument, "as a tool" for "introducing control into experience." And as, in the process of use, a tool always undergoes modification, so here, as an instrument for reconstructing habit, the plan, too, undergoes reconstruction. Indeed, as regards its content, it is itself, as Mr. Royce says, as much a habit, as much "the product of association," as any part of experience. The purposing function, the purposing activity, remains; its content is constantly shifting.

Here, too, is where "the submission of the idea to the

(378) object" takes place. Only, here, it is not a submission to an object already constituted as it is in Mr. Royce's conception of the absolute system. The idea as an hypothetical plan of action, as a trial construction, must be tested by the activities it is attempting to reconstruct. That is to say, at this point the question is: Does the plan apply to the activities actually involved in the unrest? Has it diagnosed the case properly, and is it therefore one in and through which these activities can operate and come to unity again? The "submission" here is the submission of the purpose, the end, to the material out of which it is formed, and with which it must work. But again this material to which the idea submits itself is anything but finally fixed and "complete" in form. On the contrary, as we have seen, it is just the fragmentary and incomplete condition of this material that calls for the idea. Yet the idea as a plan must be true to its mission, and to this material, and in this sense must submit itself to whatever modifications and reconstruction the material "dictates" as necessary in order that it may function in and through the plan.[41]

On the other hand—and this is the point to which Mr. Royce gives most emphasis—it is equally apparent that "the idea must determine its object." On this all philosophy, from Plato down, which approaches reality "from the side of ideas" is at stake. And this does not appear impossible if, again, the object is not already and eternally fixed and complete. If the object is one constructed out of the very mass of habit material which the idea is reconstructing, and if determination" means not copying, but construction, then, indeed, must the idea " determine its object." Just for that

( 379) does it have its being. That is its sole mission. Here the determination of the object by the idea is not a mere abstract postulate; it is not based upon a general consideration of the disastrous consequences to our logical and ethical assumptions, if it were not so determined. Here not only the general necessity for it, but the modus operandi of this determination, is apparent. But, at the risk of tedious iteration, must it again be said that for the determination of the completed and perfected object in the absolute system not only is there nowhere any modus to be found, but, even if there were, it is difficult to see what it would have to do with the kind of determination demanded by such a specific sort of unrest as "singing out of tune," etc. The process of submission is thus a reciprocal one. Neither in the object nor in the idea is there a fixed scheme or order to which the other must submit and conform. And this is simply the logical commonplace that submission cannot be a one-sided affair, that determination must be reciprocal.

This brings us to what might as well have been our introductory as our concluding observation. It has just been said that the determination of the object by the idea is a vital matter in any philosophy which approaches reality "from the side of ideas." Such a way of approach must assert "the primacy of the world of ideas over the world as a fact."[42] Mr. Royce thus further states the case:

I am one of those who hold that when you ask what is an idea, and how can ideas stand in any true relation to reality, you attack the world knot in the way that promises most for the untying of its meshes. This way is of course very ancient. It is the way of Plato . . . . . It is in a different sense the way of Kant. If you view philosophy in this fashion, you subordinate the study of the world as fact to a reflection upon the world as idea. Begin by accepting upon faith anti tradition the mere brute reality of the world as fact, and there you are sunk deep in an ocean of mystery.

(380) . . . . The world of fact surprises you with all sorts of strange contrasts . . . . . It baffles you with caprices like a charming and yet hopelessly wayward child, or like a bad fairy. The world of fact daily announces itself to you as a defiant mystery.[43]

Here we have concisely stated at the outset of the lectures the position which we have seen to be fraught with so many difficulties: the position, namely, which accepts to start with the opposition of the world as idea and the world as fact, as something given, instead of something to be accounted for; and which assumes that this opposition stands in the way of reaching reality, whereas it possibly may be of the very essence of reality. To be sure, the above statement of this opposition between the world as fact and as idea is but the expository starting-point. And it is true that the rest of the argument is occupied in the attempt to close this breach. But, as we have seen, except where the idea is expounded as a specific purpose, arising out of a specific experience of unrest, such as singing out of tune, etc. — except in this case, the breach is taken as found and the attempt to heal it is made by working forward from the opposition as given instead of back to its source. This opposition, of course, has its forward goal, but the difficulty is to find it without an exploration of its source. It is back in that matrix out of which the opposition has arisen that the line of direction to the goal is to be found.

Moreover, in starting from this opposition of fact and idea as given, the only method of quelling it seems to be either that of reducing one side to terms of the other, or of appealing to some new, and therefore external unifying, agency. But if the factors in the opposition are found, not one in submission to the other, nor having the "primacy" over the other, but as co-ordinate and mutually determining functions, developed from a common matrix and co-operating

(381) in the work of reconstructing experience, some of the difficulties involved in the alternative methods just mentioned appear to drop out.[44]

The point may be clearer if we recur to the passage and ask just what is meant by "the defiantly mysterious," "baffling," and "capricious" character of the world as fact as "brute reality." First, if by the world as "fact," as "brute reality," we mean experience so brute that it is not yet "lighted up with ideas," it is difficult to see how it could be mysterious or capricious, since mystery and caprice appear only when experience ceases to be taken merely as it comes and an inquiry for connections and meanings has begun. That is to say, there can be neither mystery nor caprice except in relation to some sort of order. And order is always a matter of ideas. But it is sufficient to submit Mr. Royce's own statement on this point:

We all of us from moment to moment have experience. This experience comes to us in part as brute fact; light and shade, sound and silence, pain and grief and joy . . . . . These given facts flow by; and were they all, our world would be too much of a blind problem for us even to be puzzled by its meaningless presence.[45]

If next we take the world of fact as in contrast and coordinate with the world of ideas, mystery and caprice here, certainly, are not all on the side of the fact. Here, again, must they be functions of the relation between fact and idea. We have seen that without thought there is neither mystery nor caprice. The idea then cannot take part in the production of mystery and caprice, and forthwith deny its parenthood. Of course, mystery and caprice are not the final fruits of this co-ordinate opposition of fact and idea. They are but the first fruits—the relatively unorganized embryonic mass which through the further activities of the parent functions shall develop into the symmetry of truth and law.


There appears then no ultimate "primacy" of either idea or fact over the other. Nor does either appear as a better way of approach to reality than the other. It is only when we say: "Lo! here in the idea," or Lo! there in the fact is reality," that we find it "imperfect," "incomplete," and "fragmentary," and must straightway "look for another." But surely not in "a certain absolute system of ideas," which is "the object of love and hope, of desire and will, of faith and work, but never of present finding," shall we seek it. Rather precisely in the loving and hoping, desiring and willing, believing and working, shall we find that reality in which and for which both the "World as fact" and the "World as idea" have their being.


  1. History of Philosophy (TUFT'S translation), p. 117.
  2. Cf. PROFESSOR J. R. ANGELL'S article, "Relations of Structural and Functional Psychology to Philosophy," Decennial Publications of the University of Chicago, Vol. 111. pp. 10-12; also Philosophical Review, Vol. XII, No. 3. Cf. also MR. SCHILLER's essay on "Axioms as Postulates" in Personal Idealism.
  3. From this point on this paper is an expansion of some paragraphs, pp.11-13, in an article on "Existence, Meaning, and Reality," printed from Vol. III of the First Series of the Decennial Publications of the University of Chicago.
  4. P, 22„
  5. Pp. 22, 23; italics mine.
  6. P. 25.
  7. P, 26,
  8. P. 36; italics mine.
  9. Pp. 22, 23; italics mine.
  10. P. 307.
  11. P. 327.
  12. P. 23; italics mine.
  13. Cf. p. 34; also p. 22.
  14. P. 35.
  15. This warns us that in the phrase, "a plan of action," the term "action" must be more inclusive than it is in much current discussion. It must not be limited to gymnastic performance. It must apply to any sort of activity planned for, and which, when it arrives, fulfils the plan. This, I take it, is the import of the paragraph at the top of p. 7 of PROFESSOR JAMES'S Philosophical Conceptions anal Practical Results.
  16. P. 270.
  17. Pp. 270, 271.
  18. P. 276.
  19. P. 277.
  20. Pp, 280, 281.
  21. See p. 256.
  22. P.289; italics mine.
  23. P. 281; italics mine.
  24. It is worth noting in passing that here the universal appears to be located in finite experience, while the ground of the particular is in the absolute.
  25. P. 282.
  26. P. 284; italics mine.
  27. P. 283.
  28. P. 332.
  29. P. 339.
  30. This ghost of subjectivism haunts the entire part of the essay in which the final fulfilment of finite ideas is found in "a certain absolute system of ideas."
  31. P. 330; italics mine.
  32. P. 337.
  33. P. 286.
  34. P. 307.
  35. P. 297.
  36. This reduction of the purposive to the representative function carries with it an interesting implication concerning the whole character and relationship of thought and will. From beginning to end on almost every page, Mr. Royce insists upon the idea as an expression of will. At the outset we read: "`when we try to define the idea in itself, as a conscious fact, our best means is to lay stress upon the sort of will or active meaning which any idea involves for the mind that forms the idea" (p.22). Again: "The idea is a will seeking its own determination. It is nothing else" (p. 332)—and soon throughout the lectures. And we have already seen how consistently this is worked out in the analysis of concrete acts, such as singing, etc. But now, as related to the absolute system, the will, as embodied in the idea, is to rind its final determination in approximating the certain absolute system of ideas. This would seem to make will but little more than the mere form of representation itself. The idea is a will, but in its relation to truth its will is "to correspond even in its vagueness to its own final and completely individual expression."
  37. P. 339.
  38. P. 338.
  39. P. 335.
  40. Cf. MR. GORE'S paper, above.
  41. Cf. BALDWIN'S Development and Evolution, pp. 230, 251, on the necessity of the submission of the "new experience" to the test of its ability to utilize habit. Interpreted broadly, habit might here mean the whole mechanical side, including organism and environment, and so include Mr. Baldwin's second or "extra-organic" test.
  42. P. 19.
  43. Pp. 17, 18.
  44. See, above, PROFESSOR DEWEY'S Study III, pp. 49 ff.
  45. P. 55.

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