The Philosophy of the Act
Essay 28 Experimentalism as a Philosophy of History
ANTHROPOLOGY within very recent years has unearthed remains of human beings, their implements, and their habitats which it has been able to so relate to one another that they present a strange prologue to the history by which we interpret our conduct. Using the clock which geology offers for timing the changes that have embodied themselves in earth strata, anthropology has stretched the history of man on the earth back hundreds of thousands of years. What we call history, the records which men have wittingly transcribed, may be carried back some four or five or six thousands of years B.C. First in the valley of the Nile, or that of the Tigris and the Euphrates, or perhaps in China, the events in the heavens and the achievements of monarchs were transcribed on stone or bricks for later men to read. By looking into the future, society acquired a history. Spaced against the aeons of prehistoric man the historic period dwindles into an insignificant moment. To be somewhat more specific, consider the Cro-Magnons of the Upper Paleolithic period. The anthropologist has identified the tools of his hand and his manner of using them, particularly he has found caves that have been for ages sealed from light and the outer air, which in his day the Cro-Magnon frescoed with extraordinary portraits of animals of his period. The colors are still fresh, and the representation of posture and motion is characterized by great vivacity. There is likelihood in the suggestion that these caves were the scenes of the performance of their cults. They must have lived in small hunting groups, killing some animals, but probably feasting like jackals on the killings of other animals when these were surfeited, or on
(495) animals who had died from other causes. A few skeletons of these Cro-Magnons have been found, and if it is legitimate to judge the race from these, they were of more than the average stature of the modern European races, and they had larger brains.
The period in which they inhabited Europe was one in which the icecap of a glacial epoch was slowly retreating to the north. The anthropologist reckons the length of the life of this race as twenty-five thousand years. Here was a race, possibly better than our own, inhabiting what was to be the center of Western civilization for a period more than five times as long as the whole of recorded history, who never got far beyond the life of the animals that they trailed. Anatole France need not have fashioned his Isle of the Penguins to satirize the philosophy of history of church doctrine, or such a version of Augustine's philosophy as lies in the back of the minds of most of us. What is the value of the effort and suffering of innumerable human souls through twenty-five thousand years? Into what sort of a picture of human values in a rational universe can we fit the episode of the Cro-Magnons? And they constituted but an episode in the many hundred thousand years of humanity. Is all the meaning of the race crowded into a few thousand years within which so-called civilization has flourished?
Some sort of a philosophy of history we do carry about in the back of our heads. Even the scientifically tough-minded men must recognize that values have arisen in the universe as genuinely as molecules or galaxies or the tides of the seas. They belong, to be sure, to the perspectives of human society, but there is no aspect of the universe that is not a perspective, and the tough minded scientist is the last person who can deny that the human perspective belongs to the universe of science, for his toughness consists in denying any transcendence of man above his habitat. The medieval philosophy of history saw in the physical world the scene on which was enacted the fall and salvation of man for the greater glory of God. The final culmination lay in the world to come. Since the Renaissance, with
(496) the background of the thought of Francis Bacon, the Western world has been slowly bringing that culmination to earth. We have surrendered the Civitas Dei, with its streets of gold and its gates of precious stones. We do not know where we are going, but we are on the way. In the sense of progress we have a philosophy of history that is as genuine as the plan of salvation of Milton.
But, if we cannot scale the Delectable Mountains and discern even through a glass darkly the goal of our upward struggle, we can and must look backward and map the land which we have traversed. It is through our backsights that we gain the course that we have to follow day by day.
The features which these values assume as we look back at them are those of social institutions, monuments, and products. Liberals in politics trace back the growth of popular government through the changes in institutions of social control, of economic process, of means of communication, and public enlightenment. Educationalists follow the history of the schools from those of the church to the university with its humanities and experimental science, from those of the counting-house to common elementary schools with compulsory attendance. Religionists pursue the history of doctrine from the dogma to the creed and from the creed to the recognition of the social import of the cult. The retrospect of history formulates the values in the institutions that have embodied them and gives us a sense of the direction which their evolution is taking. The mere recitation of these essential social institutions exhibits their vital relationship with one another. The history of society has displayed them differentiating themselves out of the social habits in which they were operative in function, if not present in structure. No one institution could stand by itself, and the development of each one of them has been the outcome of the processes of all of them. The church, which has incarnated absolute authority, has also carried in its schisms the banner of political liberty. Philosophy and science have demanded freedom as the price of their existence, and political revolutions
(497) have sprung from the universities. On the other hand, the only society in which any one of them could thrive and advance has been that characterized by the reign of law and the sense of political responsibility.
At times we look back with a certain nostalgia to the thirteenth century, when all the values which these institutions have enshrined could be contemplated as but the phases of a single summum bonum, the glory of God. Everything, including our values, was placed with such ideal neatness in the Summa of a Thomas Aquinas. But, beside the condemnation of this dogma which has been pronounced by one revolution after another, there arise all the multitude of the Cro-Magnons through twenty-five thousand years of their earthly existence to stare it out of countenance. Since this flowering period of medievalism each value has at times asserted itself in jealous detachment from all others. Religion has gone its sectarian way spurning establishment. Art for art's sake rejects all moral or social j udgments. An abstruse spirit of scientific research can rejoice that the products of its labor may be of no possible use to anyone, and the school demands that it be freed from politics. But, if the institutions that invest these values have always been and continue to be inextricably involved in one another, it can hardly be otherwise than that the values themselves involve one another and in some fashion belong to a common good. Such a sum of common values may be called "public welfare," but it seems to be mainly the fact that art, and health, and public security, and play, and enlightenment, and science, and other goods may belong to a single community that is responsible for their being assembled as public welfare. It is an additive summum bonum, not an organic whole of which these different values are but aspects. At times the conservative decries enlightenment, and the idealistic revolutionary undermines public security; the aesthete contemns morality, and the moralist denounces art; the religionist assails science, while the highly trained analytical mind denies that there is or can be any positive good of any sort.
(498) These, then, are the two sides of the problem of values. Each social institution with the good that it subtends asserts and maintains itself but finds itself in that assertion in conflict with other institutions and their goods. It is important to notice that, apart from the skeptic, the representative of one institution who finds himself in opposition to the representative of another, for example, the enlightened scholar criticizing the practical politician, does not deny the good which the other represents. He undertakes to give it a more adequate statement from his own point of view.
Unless men simply run amuck, the most peremptory assertion of their cherished goods is a demand for a world in which the competing goods shall have their proper place with due recognition of those in the interest of which they are fighting. A human community there must be, and there can be no human community unless it recognizes the values that are the goals of its strivings. As it is possible to find all the essential physiological processes of the most complex animal form in the life-process of an amoeba, so we can discover in a primitive community all the functions that answer to the structures of highly elaborated institutions in complex societies, and these functions must persist even if the values which the institutions mediate find themselves in conflict.
There have arisen social sciences correlative to these institutions. Answering to political institutions stands political science, to economic institutions, economics, and so on through the list of social institutions. In recent years another discipline emerged, that of sociology. Both its definition and its procedure are uncertain. It approaches nearer to a physiology of the social process than to the anatomy of social institutions. It is interested in the sociality that finds its expression in institutions and their functions, and it is particularly interested in this sociality as an expression of the experience of the individual; it has a special affinity, therefore, with social psychology. There is no situation in the field of political science or economics or education which cannot be approached by the sociologist. His
(499) science is in this sense a more general one than that of the other social sciences; and yet, when the problem of the conflict of values arises, it is not the sociologist who provides the interpretation which we feel such a problem demands. There are disciplines that deal specifically with values. Logic is occupied with truth values, aesthetics with aesthetic values, and ethics with moral values. Each within its field undertakes to determine the process by which the conflicts of its values should be resolved, but no one of them has control over all the material which is apt for the adequate interpretation of the strife between essential values which so largely occupies our attention.
But it is more convincing as well as more grateful to present this in an example, and let the example be that of the problem of eugenics. Shall society deliberately breed men in accordance with the laws of heredity, as it breeds sweet peas, and wheat and potatoes, and pouter pigeons and dancing mice and beef cattle?
Biology states the problem as that of the possible isolation of transmissable characters. The human animal that is to be bred is to be a compound of certain characters. Supposing that we know what are the characters that we want in the future race, are these characters Mendelian unit characters, or combinations of such unit characters? Biology cannot define the characters that are desired in the human being, nor can biology define the characters that a rancher in southwestern Arizona desires in his cattle. When the biologist learns that it is drought resistance that the rancher wants, he may be able to demonstrate that the Hereford cattle have this power as the consequence of a persistent group of unit characters; but he cannot, because of his acquaintance with the laws and mechanism of inheritance, define the values that we wish to see embodied in later generations.
Psychology is making recognizable progress in analyzing traits and defining types and in discovering some of the groups of characteristics that are heritable. It is unraveling some of the complex groups of acquirements that have passed as intelligence and is beginning to distinguish different forms of intelligence. In this respect psychology is doing for the social human animal
(500) what the biologist and cattleman does for cattle-isolating traits and their combinations, distinguishing what are heritable and what acquired-but psychology would have no title to speak authoritatively on the question as to what sort of men society should breed, nor on how the conflict of values which any policy of eugenics would arouse should be resolved.
Sociology would presumably approach the problem of eugenics from the standpoint of the study of different types of social processes, and that in man which these processes express. No more than the psychologist could the sociologist decide what sort of men society should breed, nor can sociology marshal the goods of the community in such a fashion that they will interpret one another in men's minds when a law in the interest of eugenics is to be enacted or rejected.
But is not this exactly the province of ethics? It has been defined as the science of values in so far as these influence authoritative action. A presentation here of current discussion of the field and function of ethics would be misplaced. We can only consider it from the two standpoints from which men are accustomed to regard it, as the theory either of the good or of the standard which should decide action. But the inadequacy of such a statement is evident. Such an ethics considers values only after their relation to one another in social conduct has been defined. They are already moral goods before ethics approaches them. For this reason the artist has denied that the moralist's writ runs in the field of his creations, and the statesman has averred that he has recognized no categorical imperative. But we want not conformity; we want a new form. We are not content with the light from the old lamps; we want new lamps for old. It is a question of remaking our goods, not of conserving them. It is not an affair of obedience or disobedience to law but the evolution of a new standard. Specifically, what manner of men should we breed? And more specifically still, does it seem desirable to take the implied physiological and social steps to procreate them?
Each of these sciences, the biological, the psychological, and
(501) the social, defines a value which we experience in terms of the conditions under which it can be secured. Biology defines health in terms of foods, vitamins, the elasticity of the walls of our arteries, the selection of right parents and grandparents, and the like. Health as a value is enjoyed; it is not analytically known. Psychology defines intelligence in terms of delayed responses, discrimination of characters in objects of perception, the syntheses of these characters that make possible the reorganization of the habitual responses, and the like. Intelligence as a value is exercised in dodging automobiles and in inventing self-starters and excuses for not meeting people who bore us.
Political science defines self-government in terms of primaries, the commission form of municipal government, the costunit reporting of municipal administration, and the like. Selfgovernment as a value is experienced in the realization of one's self as a power in a political campaign whose issues are dear to one's heart. Economics defines wealth in terms of exchange, production, distribution, supply and demand, and the like. Wealth as a value is enjoyed as power to consume, to assist, and as social prestige.
Granting that there is no question about the value of health, the medical man can tell us authoritatively how we ought to live and is justified in describing a man's manner of eating as digging his grave with his teeth; but the physicians who assured Milton that he would lose the sight of his remaining eye if he continued his polemical defense of the Puritan Revolution could not decide for him whether he should make this last sacrifice for a lost cause. The scientists are experts who may be able to instruct us in achieving our hearts' desires or in fleeing from what we dread, but there is no scientist who can instruct us in remaking our hearts' desires when we are burdened with the mystery of all this weary and unintelligible world. So there is no definitive scientific statement of what sort of men, or in other words, what sort of life, ought to be bred upon this earth, nor any science that by its decrees can determine whether procreation of the citizens of the state shall take place in the enjoyment of
(502) romantic love or in obedience to the ordinances of a Platonic state.
However, it is not in such a summary disjunctive form that the problem of eugenics, or most of our problems of conflicting values, appears. The most radical eugenicists do not profess to know the breed of men that should multiply on the face of the earth, nor do their recommendations go beyond the most elementary directions for the avoidance of a few heritable evils and the characterization of desirable stocks. Putting to one side the question of the advisability of forbidding by statute unions that would be productive of imbeciles and the insane, and requiring physical examination of those seeking marriage licenses, the fundamental problem is that of remaking the attractiveness of men and women for each other so that it will include characters that at present do not enter into it. The psychologist and sociologist can give us some expert advice about the conditions under which this can be done, provided these traits have some inherent attractiveness in themselves, that is, provided they are already values.
I am referring, first of all, to the commonplace that tastes change. We know that this is the case in matters of the table, of dress, of various types of prestige in the community-and the list could be variously extended. Novel elements have entered into the beauty of landscape, of line and design in the pictorial arts; the consummatory experiences of the Elizabethan epoch, the eighteenth century, and the nineteenth century were profoundly different from one another. Historical criticism, psychology, and sociology can in a manner explain the changes which have taken place in these values, that is, they can display the conditions which were favorable to the shifting of interests and the fusion of attractive characters; but no one of them could establish itself as a master-science which is competent to determine for us what traits of people and things should attract our interest, nor what reshaping of our goods should take place. We are as profoundly ignorant of what concrete tastes our grandchildren will have in sauces, in witticisms, in sculpture and
(503) painting, in Poetry, the drama, and the novel, in morals, in social prestige, and in religion, as were our forefathers in the Elizabethan epoch.
And yet, in the second place, we know that these changes will take place in the values of our posterity, and our Elizabethan ancestors did not know it as well. We not only know that these changes will take place but know the sort of conditions that will make these changes comprehensible. We know that society is in a process of evolution, though we do not know what forms of institutions, of monuments and products, of minds or of temperaments will supervene. We know that we are on the way, though we do not know where we are going. In other words, we have a different philosophy of history from that of the medievalist or the Elizabethan. In what sense, then, does our equipment enable us to approach the problem of eugenics?
As I think I have indicated, there are two approaches to this problem. One of them starts from present unquestioned values and, setting up standards fashioned on these values, proposes social regulations that tend to restrain the reproduction of certain strains of human stocks that by these standards are undesirable. The other approach is from the reinterpretation of the situations within which our values appear and which are responsible for the cast they have taken on.
Let me illustrate the latter by birth control, one of the features in the program of eugenics. There have been two situations whose values have been largely associated with birth control in the public mind. One is that of the economic estate of the family, the res angusta domi, and the other that of irresponsible sexual relations between men and women. Birth control is thought of as an avoidance of economic and social burdens, or of the restraints which the institution of marriage entails. Birth control appears as an evasion of responsibilities. The reinterpretation to which I refer would relate it to the most intelligent generation and rearing of children, and to the economic and racial health of a community that is not impairing itself by overproduction. It is not necessary to elaborate the point, for
(504) it is evident that, in so far as birth control is made a part of the most intelligent procedure in the production of the best children, it takes on the values of those children both in the family and in the community, and tends to pass under the control which the interest in such children carries with it. Such remakings of values in human society are too familiar to require further illustration. And such remakings of values take place also far below the threshold of reflective experience. If certain physical types come to take on the prestige in the community which belong to an approved breed, these characteristics may become dominant in the sexual attractiveness which men and women have for each other.
It is the new philosophy of history, that of social evolution, which opens the door to this procedure of the reinterpretation of values-a door which was forever closed to Augustine's philosophy of history, for in this all values were authoritatively defined and fixed. Where heterodoxies and schisms appeared, new definitions equally fixed were substituted for the old.
A philosophy of history arose as soon as men conceived that society was moving toward the realization of triumphant ends in some great far-off event. It became necessary to relate present conduct and transient immediate values to the ultimate values toward which all creation moved. Its earliest form was in Paul's belief in the coming of the Lord within the lifetime of his own generation. By the time of Augustine these hopes had sunk in a dateless night, and he stood in the dark and stormy dawn of the modern world lighted by the collapse of Roman society, in the fires kindled by barbarous peoples. It was in the City of God in the world to come that the achievement of the purpose of the human race was placed, and it became the task of this philosopher of history to interpret the past, the present, and the future in the light of the inspired revelation of creation's goal.
There was no philosophy of history in the Grecian or the Greco-Roman world. Its values existed fully realized, if not in the sensible world, in the supersensible world of ideas and
(505) forms. At most Aristotle could guess at a sort of rhythm in history at the nodes of which intelligence rose to higher levels, and the Stoics conceived of a recurrence of events ceaselessly reproducing the past in the future in mighty cycles; but, if the fulfilment of values, the realization of ends, lay in the process of time, it was incumbent upon intelligence to read the history of it in the past and project it into the future in terms of present conduct. As long as the dogmas of the church held men's belief, the philosophy of history was some variant upon the plan of salvation.
When the church dogma had lost its grip on speculative thought, the Renaissance ushered in human progress through man's control over nature, and an earthly goal was pictured in Sir Thomas More's Utopia and in Bacon's New Atlantis. If dogma could be interpreted so as to allow freedom to human endeavor and to the science that gave it its technique, there was no necessary break between the goal of the church and that of human social progress. The most grandiose attempt to combine the three great motives of speculation (that of Greek contemplation, that of the church's plan of salvation, and that of experimental science) is found in Hegel's Philosophy of History.
Hegel presents human progress as a finite temporal process that ceaselessly advances toward a goal at infinity, the divine timeless absolute, within which it exists as a mere subjective appearance of truth in its objective reality. There were curious reverberations of Hegel's philosophy in the absolutistic theory of the Prussian state and in the economic interpretation of history of Lassalle and Karl Marx; but the supreme test of any present-day philosophy of history must be found in its interpretation of experimental science, the great too] of human progress, and here Hegel's philosophy was an almost ridiculous failure.
Only less grandiose was Herbert Spencer's philosophy of evolution. He undertook to so generalize the conception of biologic evolution that it could be made the principle of physical science, on the one hand, and of social science, on the other.
(506) But his generalization was necessarily so abstract that it lost all meaning for the interpretation of physical science. In the field of psychology, ethics, and sociology, where it could retain the concreteness of biologic evolution, Spencer misinterpreted evolution as a process of bare adaptation. His picture of the goal of social evolution as a society in which men are completely adapted and adjusted to their physical and social environments would certainly inspire no enthusiasm of endeavor, even if it could be got into men's minds. And if, as Bergson insists, even biologic evolution is creative, then beyond doubt this is the case in social evolution. We fashion hypotheses and test them and intentionally reconstruct the institutions within which we live. The philosophy of the Augustinian type started with values authoritatively defined and enshrined in institutions. It undertook to interpret the past and present endeavor, and future achievement or defeat, in terms of the appearance of these values and their embodying institutions, of our obedience or disobedience to them, and of the consequences that attend thereon. If we accept our values in forms that are already defined, then our philosophy of history must be of the Augustinian type, however far it departs from his dogma. What Hegel and Spencer offered over and above Augustine was an account, logical in the case of Hegel and sociological in the case of Spencer, of the manner in which the formulation of a value in an institution had arisen. For example, in the conflict between immediate sexual desire and the interest of society in the care and upbringing of children it is easy to understand the appearance of an institution such as the family, in which alone is approved the satisfaction of desire on the part of those who will be responsible for the care of the children that spring from it. Now, it is one thing to present the history of the rise of the institution from the standpoint of the result attained, and another to present it as the struggle took place in the dim consciousness of innumerable individuals. It is one thing to present the Copernican hypothesis as the most satisfactory statement of planetary movements; it is another to get into the mind of Coper-
(507) -nicus, for whom the hypothesis was largely a mathematical device. After all, Hegel and Herbert Spencer interpreted history from the standpoint of the institutionalized values of their own moments. Neither of them presented the situation in which a value or a form or an idea is arising that is not already predetermined. As is so often the case, they used the forms and institutions of their own time to interpret history.
The past is one affair when we are at grips with a problem and are seeking its solution. It is another when a solution of some sort has been reached, and the whole falls into a single story that we read in terms of a causal series. In the first case, it takes on now one sense and now another. We analyze it into one set of factors and then into another; we are seeking its meaning, endeavoring to find in it the course we should follow. In the second case, we build up a hypothesis which we test and perhaps act successfully upon, and then the problem takes the interpretation which our hypothesis places upon it; but, while we are seeking the hypothesis, our philosophy of history is of a different sort.
These, then, are the two philosophies of history, which we use when the movement of events, the implications of the past and the promise of the future, enter into our deliberations. We either accept the meanings of our ends and purposes, as they are written in the structure of the institutions of the present, and study to preserve these values in whatever reshaping of events and things takes place. If these values are fixed, the goal toward which evolution or progress moves is fixed, and we may struggle to glimpse it in the imperfections of the present. To recur to the illustration of eugenics, from the standpoint of the Augustinian type of the philosophy of history we are likely to picture a society of - men and children that comes up to the norms which biology, psychology, and present social theory present to us, and fashion a program of the selection of types by which to breed such human animals, and of the social norms to be fostered and enforced which would insure the desired institutions. Another illustration of the same attitude is found in the program of so-
(508) -cial democracy, in Germany, presented a generation ago. In no little detail this gospel according to Marx delineated the new social order that was to obtain when the great economic revolution had taken place. The communists in Russia have sought to realize it today, though in all the great industrial societies of the world socialistic thought and endeavor have turned from it to a program that has been depreciatingly called opportunistic. Actually these socialistic philosophers realize that there is no vision of a New Jerusalem on earth given on the economic mount that can intelligently guide present conduct. They have wittingly or unwittingly turned to another philosophy of history.
This other philosophy of history is the philosophy of a society that is not only as much as but more at home on the earth than any other species of life that has existed here, for it has gradually become aware of the method of meeting its problems, the method of reconstructing its environment and itself. The method is that of experimental science, by means of which men change the environment within which society exists, and the forms and institutions of society itself. A new sort of agriculture alters the vegetable environment. A new method of conserving the temperature of the body gives the community otherwise impossible surroundings. Means of transportation enable men to live in deserts and crowd themselves into regions that could not otherwise feed them.
And pari passu have arisen the changes in human institutions which have made these changes in the environment possible. What by the slow process of hundreds of thousands of years has taken place in the origin and development of species of plants and animals proceeds with astounding rapidity when the process of evolution has passed under the Control of social reason. As a set of means it takes on the forms of the various physical, biological, and social sciences. As a philosophy it enables us to formulate the new values which at each transition determine what changes we will seek to bring about.
Again we can turn to eugenics for an example. The values
(509) that have determined the begetting and bearing and rearing of children have been those involved in the attraction of men and women for each other and the desire for and love of children within the family which society establishes. The decrease in the death-rate, the access to increased food supplies, the triumph over hostile climatic conditions, and the vastly increased mobility of populations have presented the problem of the overproduction of humanity, while biology and psychology have indicated valuable traits and types which could with intelligent selection be encouraged and rendered permanent. As I have indicated, we do not know what sort of society or what sort of men are ultimately desirable. We can only feel our way in finding out what is desirable. Now, that may be done in a haphazard fashion or it may be done in a systematic procedure.
The first step in a systematic procedure has, since the day of Aristotle's Metaphysics, been the considerate statement of the problem; and the problem as it appears to me may be stated as follows: What are the implications for present conduct of the discovery of biological and social science that the human community on earth can by taking thought determine what characters of its individuals are heritable, and by selecting them and favoring their propagation change itself by changing the individuals?
This does not imply that society will or should adopt a program of producing a community of perfect biological and psychological individuals. All that is implied in this regard is that in facing our social problems we have a new technique which should be taken into account. We are beginning to take it into account, for example, in the discouragement through public opinion and legislation of the breeding of imbeciles and the insane. The systematic import of a new technique is found in the new form which it gives to the problem in the solution of which it may be used. The discoveries of Mr. and Mrs. Dick, for example, have given us a technique which is transforming the problem of the control of scarlet fever. It becomes a problem of educating the community and the school authorities in
(510) particular, so that children who are shown to be susceptible may be immunized against the disease. Consider now the import of the technique of eugenics in approaching the problem of race prejudice. Race prejudice is an unthinking emotional attitude based upon an equally unthinking sense of group superiority. It has had its function in the past of heightening group solidarity, but any valuable function that it may have had is lost, and it has become in our composite communities one of the most serious evils because of the extreme difficulty of bringing it under the control of the individual. Such control will be reached, however, when accepted judgments of superiority and inferiority are based upon the same secure analysis as that which selects strains of cattle or wheat. The most fundamental attack that can be made upon race prejudice is through the careful and scientific application of the intelligence test.
I have already indicated the import of this technique in the possibility of changing birth control from a socially censured escape from responsibilities into an intelligent constructive freedom.
Consider also its import in accepting or rejecting the legitimacy of war because of its supposed inevitability. One of the strongest arguments for this is found in the pressure of populations. When the growth of a population is recognized as lying within the control of the community, the assumption of an almost divine sanction of the war institution lapses.
There is one other aspect to which I wish to refer, and that is the added concreteness which the implications of this technique give to the human being who is most distant from us. Anthropology and all the comparative social sciences have been making it easier and easier for us to put ourselves in the places of those who are far removed from us by social caste, economic status, race, and differences of culture and civilization. They bring us nearer the emotional attitude which has been the inspiration of the universal religions, that of regarding every man as our neighbor. In fact, we may regard as paramount the results of the physical and social sciences in bringing the members of the
(511) whole human community on earth into such close social relations, and into such intimate comprehension of one another, that the toleration of the evils of misery, of disease, of war, and ignorance, which spring from the isolations of communities from one another, becomes increasingly impossible. The point of view of eugenics is of importance here not only because it regards every man as a bundle of Mendelian traits, but still more because it enables us to approach so many fundamental social attitudes and situations from beneath the threshold of consciousness, and to approach them with the realization that they are susceptible of intelligent control.
Now it is just this reinterpretation of values in the face of the problems of society that constitutes the subject matter of the philosophy of history, and it is the theory of this reinterpretation that is that philosophy. Men came to regard sexual desire in terms of the family, and to regard the family in terms of children, and children in terms of populations and in terms of the sort of lives they would lead, and these lives in terms of the traits they inherited and the social training they had received; and at every step the old value had been enriched and reconstructed and had become a new end. This constitutes a continued advance, for the solution of each problem brings with it a deeper meaning and a richer value in living, but it is in no sense an advance toward a goal. It is the realization of the problem and its solution that is the whole zest of living, as research with its problems and their solutions is the heart of science, and not the fashion of the universe that science presents to us at any one moment. Men in human society have come into some degree of control of the process of evolution out of which the-,, arose. The exercise of that control over the values of the life of nature which they live is the highest expression of their intelligence, and the theory of it is philosophy; looked at from the standpoint of the process of evolution, it is the philosophy of history.
I have pointed out earlier in this paper that none of the social sciences deals with the actual reconstruction of values but
(512) presents only the techniques by which these values are given concrete form in society and in the experience of the individual. They must all be brought into relation to one another, and no one of them, not even sociology or ethics, can do this. There are, of course, two aspects of the problem, the practical and theoretical. If one's philosophy of history is of the Augustinian sort, and the meaning of nature and man is conceived of as the realization of some plan of which some idea can be formed, then one's practical philosophy is the ordering of values and the action that flows from them according to this plan. If one's philosophy of history is of the evolutionary sort, one finds the meaning of life in marshaling all the values that are involved in the problems of conduct and interpretation, and seeking such a reconstruction of them as will motivate conduct that recognizes all the interests that are involved.
Consider, for example, the problems presented by the conflicts between business conducted for profit and labor organized to increase its wage and shorten its hours. Whether one's attitude is that of the employer, or of the employed, or that of the ultimate consumer, the social process of production and its function in the community must be the basis for reconstructing the conflicting values. The efficiency of business for profit in production must be its justification, and the justification for the the (sic)higher wage must be found in the greater value to the community of a business whose employees have a living wage. In facing the new problems that arise, or the old ones in new forms, we fashion more or less definitely a picture of the sort of a community we think it worth while to live in as the basis for the solutions. What we mean by the philosophy of a man's life is the group of values that he brings in in (sic) his reinterpretations, and particularly hiss ability and willingness to take into account all the interests that are involved. More especially, we consider the whole sweep of a man's spiritual horizon, his intellectual and aesthetic interests, and his tastes in recreation and relaxation. If we are asking for the philosophy of a man's life, we wish to know all the values, all the interests, and all the goods that are
(514) going to arise by which to construct and comprehend the ends he will pursue. It is existent and operative in all of us, but there are those in whom it becomes a fine art, as in Montaigne and Sir Francis Bacon, in Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells, or in Justice Holmes.
Theoretical philosophy has three aspects which would be recognized perhaps under the cognizances of metaphysics, logic, and psychology. They have to do with the meanings and import of things, with the method of conduct, including thought, and with the perspectives which individuals introduce into experience.
Ancient philosophy was entirely metaphysical. Its theory of reality was obsessed by the universality of meanings, and its logic and its ethics, and such psychology as it had, followed out the implications of this universality. Its dominant attitude was contemplation. Its thought moved securely along the necessary relations of the ideas which it contemplated. Its universality ironed out or eliminated all that was peculiar to the experience of the individual. It provided the theory of the withdrawal from life which was the final goal of the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, and of the ataraxia, or undisturbed calm, which was the harbor that was sought alike by the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the Skeptic.
Since the period of the Renaissance modern thought has been ceaselessly rebuilding the structure of the philosophy of the old world. It has sought to retain the Ivory Tower of contemplation, while it has combined it with architectural motifs which from the standpoint of the Ivory Tower were bizarre and incongruous, namely, that of the experimental method of modern science and that of the primacy of the individual's experience. It was in keeping with the church's philosophy of history that the Ivory Tower should be retained, for from that Tower could be contemplated the goal of the universe; and it is the philosophy of history of the church which modern thought has been most loath to abandon.
The effect of this incongruity was to introduce three problems
(514) which are insoluble in the form which they are forced to take by the assumption that knowledge is contemplation: the problems of epistemology, of mind and body, and of mechanism and teleology; and a large part of modern philosophy has been a continuous wrangle over these issues. But the essential difference between ancient philosophy (together with scholasticism) and modern philosophy since the Renaissance springs from the fact that the most competent and acknowledged process of knowing went on outside the Ivory Tower of contemplation, utterly careless of its sanctions and imprimatur, that is, the process of scientific discovery, with its test of experiment and observation. In its central concern, that of knowledge, philosophy ceased to speak with acknowledged authority and spoke as one of the scribes. Scientific knowledge, that great and growing body of knowledge by which more and more men guided their lives, instead of being a part of philosophy had become its most baffling problem. And this had the further consequence that whatever part of the territory that philosophy had ruled as its demesne proved to be cultivatable by experimental methods, ceased de facto to be a part of philosophy and became a part of experimental science. Thus appeared the secession states of physiological psychology, experimental psychology, behavioristic psychology, together with the whole list of social sciences.
It has been the common impulse of the schools of contemporary philosophy, such as pragmatism, neo-idealism, and neorealism, to habilitate themselves again in these territories by the frank acknowledgment of the reality of the scientific object. In my judgment only pragmatism has successfully completed the revolution by abandoning the Ivory Tower. It alone is unencumbered with an epistemological problem. But I speak as a pragmatist. In any case, contemporary philosophy is seeking to maneuver itself out of philosophy's isolation, and we can turn from its subjective and transcendental idealisms, its agnosticism and ignorabimus, its solipsisms, its separation from the world of conduct by an unplumbed, salt, estranging sea, and put the question of this paper: What, if philosophy is at home in the
(515) world in which we live and move and have our being, is philosophy's office there?
Its office must then be to enable us, who are parts of this evolving universe, to capture the meaning which it has for us because its evolutionary process appears in us as intelligence.
Metaphysically, things are their meanings, and the forms they take on are the outcome of interactions which are responsible for the appearance of new forms, i.e., new meanings. In a single phrase, the world is ceaselessly becoming what it means. This is true in thinking because thought is simply the communication to ourselves or others of what is.
Logically, i.e., in conduct of which thought is a phase, meanings become means. In an intelligent being there is such a selection of meanings that the consequence is already involved in the means.
Psychologically, the perspective of the individual exists in nature, not in the individual. Physical science has recently discovered this and enunciated it in the doctrine of relativity.
I must beg pardon for administering a system of philosophy in three capsules. I have merely wished to indicate that it is the technical function of philosophy so to state the universe that what we call our conscious life can be recognized as a phase of its creative advance. The otherworldliness of the reason was the theme of ancient philosophy, and the otherworldliness of the soul that of Christian doctrine, and the otherworldliness of the mind that of the Renaissance dualisms. It has been the long, long trek from this world of sense and sense perception, where intelligence could have no abiding city, to the city not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. But from the days when Galileo watched the swinging lamps in the cathedral and set his clay marbles rolling down the inclined plane, timed by his water clock, and thus compelled the universal reason to submit its findings to the test of perceptual experience, intelligence has been placing its reflective powers more and more fully at the service of society in its task of building the earthly city. As experimental science it has proved itself entirely competent.
(516) With scientific curiosity and with the world hanging eagerly upon its findings, it investigates and re-creates the eternally novel universe that we inhabit and a part of whose living tissues we are.
But the method of exact measurement of the physical sciences has made use of approximations to situations of ideal simplicity in order to discover the laws of change in nature. There arose out of this method a materialism, a view of nature made up of ultimate physical particles located at points of space and instants of time. It was the other side of the dualism of the Renaissance. The whole qualitative aspect of nature, together with the meanings of things other than the scientific objects, was dumped into consciousness. That this was purely a methodical procedure is shown by the fact that science tested its own most exact findings by perceptual experience, and the further fact that science has not hesitated to recognize as the legitimate field of its study all manner of objects which are not physical particles, such as atoms which are galaxies of electrons, and molecules, and solar systems, and galaxies of stellar bodies, and plants and animals. It becomes, then, the office of philosophy to present an unfractured universe, qualitied as well as quantitied, together with all its meanings, and overcome the bifurcation of nature that arose from the methods of scientific measurement and philosophic dogma.
Furthermore, science seeks uniformities and ignores contingencies. It does this again in the interest of its method. It seeks ceaseless processes and ignores their termini. That this is solely in the interest of a method of research is shown by the fact that science has welcomed an evolutionary theory of stellar bodies and chemical elements as hospitably as the theory of the evolution of living species. And evolution involves both contingency and termini. Here again it is the office of philosophy to envisage a universe in which both the methods of experimental science and science's own interpretations, as well as those of everyday experience, are at home.
The point of approach of contemporary philosophy is found
(517) in the interpretation of experience-that experience which 1. both the starting-point and goal of research science and the field of all our values and all our meanings. The striking difference between these contemporary philosophies of experience and the dualisms, the romantic idealisms, and the materialisms that preceded them lies in this: for them, both the percipient event and the consentient set, both the form and its environment, both the individual and his world, are recognized as standing on the same level of reality, and the so-called process of experiencing is recognized as a natural process on the same level of reality as all other natural processes. There are three outstanding undertakings of this philosophic quest of an unfractured universe: Bergson's three treatises, the last of which is best known, the Creative Evolution; Alexander's Space, Time, and Deity; and Dewey's last volume, Experience and Nature.
Philosophy is concerned, then, with the import of the appearance and presence in the universe of human reflective intelligence-that intelligence which transforms causes and effects into means and consequences, reactions into responses, and termini of natural processes into ends-in-view. We have seen that there are two philosophies of history which indicate two attitudes toward this import of reflective intelligence. One places the end-in-view outside the so-called physical universe (say in the Platonic-Christian city not made with hands, eternal in the heavens), and the responses and means and consequences in a substantial consciousness. The other locates intelligence with all that arises out of it within the world of things about us.
We should realize that philosophy is not itself the attitude.It is a realization of the import of the attitude and a criticism of it, just as science is not the intelligence that discover,; the meaning of things and directs our conduct. Science is a method that arises out of the criticism and direction of the intelligence that the most unscientific of us are constantly using. The shift from the outside attitude to the inside attitude has been taking place for a long time. That is, we are taking over with more and more awareness the responsibility for the immediate environment in
(518) which we live, and we have been shifting our so-called ideals from the New Jerusalem to this world. But we "hold out" on the world at various points, for various reasons. Some of them are practical reasons and some are sentimental, and some of them are reasons of inertia. Moving is a distressing process at best, and we have become so used to leading a double life. Society has not yet reached the adequate insight or the full willingness to respond to William James's appeal that it accept the responsibility for having introduced morality into the world.
I have reserved for my last paragraphs an aspect of this identification of reflective intelligence with the world within which it has arisen, which is profound in its import and in its emotional resonance, and that is the implication of the social character of what we call "reason." Reason is the reference to the relations of things by means of symbols. When we are able to indicate these relations by means of these symbols, we get control of them and can isolate the universal characters of things, and the symbols become significant. No individual or form which has not come into the use of such symbols is rational. A system of these symbols is what is called a language, though the term is likely to connote merely the minute part of the behavior involved which is denominated a system of phonetic elements. It always involves, even when language makes thought possible, a co-operative social process. It is society that through the mechanism of co-operative activity has endowed man with reason. It is only through communication that meanings have arisen.
The universality of meanings implies, then, the organized medium within which it obtains and prevails, what is logically referred to as a universe of discourse. Language is ultimately a form of behavior and calls for the rationally organized society within which it can properly function. It implies common ends, and common ends are ipso facto rational ends.
The very existence, therefore, in human experience of universal meanings sets up the demand for a society in which the common meanings shall become means that embody common
(519) ends. But, as Hegel has insisted, universals may be either abstract or concrete. Food is an abstract universal when it is thrown among a herd of hungry swine who fight for the common good. Food is a concrete universal when it motivates the whole process of agriculture, its transportation, production, and distribution, as well as its consumption.
It is possible to conceive of a society whose individuals can all be at one, that is, be good, because wants are eliminated, an ascetic society, whose logical ideal Indian philosophy presented when it had discovered the universal in the form of a Nirvana; or a society of individuals whose abstract common end brings no strife-for example, the society of the New Jerusalem whose common good is the glory of God.
The other conceivable type of a rational society is one of concrete universals, that in which the common ends may be so embodied in highly organized means that to procure food for one's self is to take part in procuring it for everyone else. Adam Smith enunciated the ideal when he maintained that every sound economic bargain was good for both of those who were involved in the exchange. This is the ideal of a rational society which has been gradually taking form in men's minds since the time of the Renaissance. This ideal implies, then, something more than the abstract universality of its meanings. It implies that if the society in which these meanings obtain universally were sufficiently developed, the values which these meanings embody would be at the disposal of all of its members.
It is, however, an ideal of method, not of program. It indicates direction, not destination. Biologically phrased it implies that, since reason is a function of behavior in an evolving society of human individuals, it must always indicate a conceivable organization of the lives of those individuals in a social order which would realize the ends which reason presents.
It is the province of philosophy to work out the implications of the fact that reason has arisen in the process of social evolution.