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an individuality and plurality of parts. And there is nothing in the principle of coherence itself which defines what proportion of unity and plurality shall constitute the ideal coherence. Thus to insist that the universe must, on general logical grounds, be conceived as a coherent whole, is not really significant, even as repects the unity of the world. Suppose it to be granted that all things must be related. There still remains the question: How far do these all-ramifying relations go toward defining the terms so related? That the terms cannot be wholly defined by these relations is obvious; nor is there any definite degree of significance that must be attached to them in order to satisfy the demands of bare relational unity. Grant that the world is some sort of unity in variety, of permanence in change, and the alternatives still range from a vital unity to a loose aggregate.
It might, I think, readily be proved that this whole procedure involves confusion and error. It is impossible in any given case of knowledge to say: "By this I know, by that I am prevented from knowing; therefore if that were wholly replaced by this, I should know without limit.” There is no negative element in knowledge, such as plurality, unrelatedness, incoherence, or meaninglessness. There is a negative cognitive element only in so far as I do not know, that is, am confused or unaware. The conditions of knowledge are fully satisfied when I know positively and clearly. And from this it is possible to infer only that things are precisely and determinately what they are a conclusion which does not in the least support either absolutism or idealism.
Thus absolutism is neither more significant nor more valid for its alliance with idealism. The Absolute is now, as formerly, no more than logic makes it - which is much too little to satisfy the metaphysical claims which are urged in its behalf. An absolute defined in terms of the system or unity of the logical categories is doubtless allgeneral, but too formal or abstract to afford a sufficient explanation of anything. Nor does logic itself yield even a definite ideal which may be postulated, even though it remain problematic.
§ 9. A complete and rounded idealism contains two principles, the priority of consciousness, and the validity of
the speculative ideal. Its central conception Summary of Idealism.
is the Absolute Spirit; which, as spirit, conIdealism and
ditions the being of its objects; and, as absoCivilization
lute, constitutes the superlative fulfilment of every human aspiration. Waiving the question of its proof, with which we have thus far been mainly occupied,
- let us in conclusion summarize its significance as a philosophy of life and of religion.'
In the first place, it is to be remarked that idealism is not at heart sympathetic with the modern democratic conception of civilization. Idealism is, it is true, an idealizing philosophy. But the ideal which this philosophy glorifies is not the gradual amelioration of life through the human conquest of nature; but rather the perfection that was from the beginning and is forever more. The faith which is most characteristic of today, is the faith in what an enlightened and solidified mankind may achieve, despite the real resistance and incompetence which retard it. The faith which is most characteristic of idealism, on the other hand, is the faith that all things work together for the glory of an eternal spiritual life, despite appearances.
It may seem paradoxical to charge idealism with being excessively individualistic. And yet this has been the case with absolutist philosophies from the beginning. For they emphasize the relation between the individual life and the universal life, and so tend to slight society. Both Plato and Spinoza, in so far as they have affected the fundamental motives of life, have tended to withdraw men from social relations, and unite them directly, through speculation and contemplation, with God. Idealism emphasizes, it is true, the indispensableness of social relations to a developed self-consciousness; but the socialized self is only a step toward the realization of that absolute self in which a man is encouraged to find his true sphere and only genuine reality. And as idealism tends to be out of sympathy with the current notion of human society as the working force of the spiritual life, so it tends to discredit the complementary notion of progress, as the measure of work done. Idealism does, it is true, emphasize historical development, but of the sort in which the value attaches to the progress itself rather than to the result; and in which the merit of historical achievement is apparent rather than real. “The consummation of the infinite End,” says Hegel, “consists merely in removing the illusion which makes it seem yet unaccomplished. The Good, the absolutely Good, is eternally accomplishing itself in the world; and the result is that it needs not wait upon us, but is already by implication, as well as in full actuality, accomplished.”2
1 What follows may be compared with a similar summary of pragmatism; cf. Ch. XI, $ 7.
• See above, p. 5.
§ 10. In the course of his well-known indictment of idealism, Mr. Hobhouse writes as follows: "Indeed, it is
scarcely too much to say that the effect of The Universalistic or Level- idealism on the world in general has been ing Tendency mainly to sap intellectual and moral sincerity, in Idealism
to excuse men in their consciences for professing beliefs which on the meaning ordinarily attached to them they do not hold, to soften the edges of all hard contrasts between right and wrong, truth and falsity, to throw a gloss over stupidity, and prejudice, and caste,
*Cf. Royce: Studies of Good and Evil, “Self-consciousness, Social Consciousness and Nature." There is an idealistic school which has attempted to deny this; cf. Personal Idealism, edited by H. Sturt; and G. H. Howison: Evolution and Idealism. That this position is on strict idealist grounds untenable, is, I think, proved by Professor Royce's successful refutation of it; cf. the discussion between Professor Royce and Professor Howison in Royce: Conception of God. A personal idealism or "humanism” based on pragmatist grounds, is another matter; cf. below,
pp. 261 ff.
• Encyclopädie, $ 212, trans. by W. Wallace, Logic of Hegel, pp. 351-352.
and tradition, to weaken the bases of reason, and disincline men to the searching analysis of their habitual ways of thinking."
In reply, Professor Henry Jones puts his finger, I think, on the real point of the accusation. "In refusing to admit differences which are absolute, in reducing all differences into relative differences, or differences within or of a unity, Idealism must seem to the ordinary critic, with his onesided way of thought, to render them of no account.” The critic "will have every question answered by a downright 'Yes' or 'No.'”. He objects, in other words, to the universalistic or leveling tendency in idealism. He claims that through his assertion that things find their real meaning only in the unity of all things, the idealist virtually overrules the flat differences and uncompromising oppositions that guide the empirical and practical intelligence.
And this accusation is, I think, substantially just. Idealism does not, it is true, attribute equal significance to all things; but it does attribute necessary significance to all things. It is essentially the all-saving philosophy, as opposed to the philosophy of extermination. It encourages the supposition that a profounder insight would reinstate what ordinary discrimination rejects out of hand. It rises above the plane of distinctions, and invites attention to the broad synthetic features of the world. This universalistic tendency in idealism accounts, I think, for the significant fact that idealism has contributed little or nothing to the solution of special problems, such as the relation of mind and body; and for its comparative lack of interest in special empirical discoveries, such, for example, as those of modern psychology. But it also accounts for the much more significant fact that idealism
"L. T. Hobhouse: Democracy and Reaction, pp. 78–79. For reference and comment, cf. John Morley: Miscellanies, Fourth Series, pp. 261, sq.; James: A Pluralistic Universe, II; and Henry Jones: The Working Faith of the Social Reformer, Ch. VII, VIII.
Henry Jones: op. cit., pp. 218, 208.
does not really touch those special issues with which religion is concerned.
Thus, the religious belief in immortality arises from a solicitude that is specific and unmistakable. Its root is the dread of annihilation, of the severance of ties and the cessation of activities that are presently good. Immortality is a prerogative by virtue of which man hopes that he may continue thus to live, after that natural-historical event called death. Idealism assures a man that his life, whether long or short, is a “unique embodiment of purpose.”ı By virtue of the world-sustaining thought or will, he belongs to a timeless unity, within which he has a determinate relation to all other things! It is doubtful if such doctrines would be recognized as even remotely relevant to the religious issue, were they not expressed in such phrases as “the eternal life.” In any case, after the idealist has offered his consolation, the real object of hope and fear - man's chance of life after death remains in as great darkness as before.
Similarly, the religious belief in God relates to specific good things of which God is the guarantee. But for idealism, God is “the unity and the spiritual purpose of the world,” where “spiritual purpose” is above the petty differences and blind prejudices of this mundane life. God is that “richer, purer, completer selfhood,” in which the temporal illusion is dispelled, and which when a man attains it by a "maximizing of life," "elevates his disposition beyond immediate or finite interests." 2
As a version of God, such a philosophy deserves the comment which it has recently received from a theologian. "As one contemplates the idea of the timeless Absolute in its strict meaning-and especially as one regards it from
1 Royce: The Conception of Immortality, p. 49. Cf. Münsterberg: The Eternal Life, passim. For the admission that the religious implications of idealism are “almost entirely negative,” cf. McTaggart: Some Dogmas of Religion, p. 291.
: H. Jones: Idealism as a Practical Creed, p. 296; R. M. Wenley: Modern Thought and the Crisis in Belief, pp. 304, 308, 310.