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grounds are precisely the same. Arguing from the ego-centric predicament,' Schiller says: “The simple fact is that we know the Real as it is when we know it; we know nothing whatever about what it is apart from that process."1 And, his “ethical metaphysics" is virtually assumed when he takes the world knowledge-wise at the outset. In other words, he is also guilty of the fallacy of 'definition by initial predication. It is unnecessary for me to repeat what I have already said concerning these basal errors of the whole subjectivistic way of thinking. And the subjectivistic principle in pragmatism is not only unproved, but here, as elsewhere, is essentially vicious. Before pressing this criticism further, however, I wish to consider the bearing of the realistic-subjectivistic alternative upon several pragmatist conceptions.
§ 10. There is, for example, a realistic and a subjectivistic version of “satisfaction.” Satisfaction, realistically Realistic and
construed, is grounded on a determinate relation Subjectivistic between interest, instrument, and environment. Interpretations
. Under given circumstances, and in behalf of Satisfaction. The Making of the governing interest, a certain instrumenReality
tality has an objective rightness or fitness. Thus an idea may 'satisfy' the situation, in the sense of meeting it. The confrontation of interest and environment is prior and independent, and imposes conditions upon the idea. So that the idea which feels satisfactory to the agent may not in fact work. There is a difference between a sense of adaptation and real adaptation.
In subjectivistic terms, on the other hand, the state of felt satisfaction is decisive. The environment and the interest have no inherent structure apart from the successes of knowledge. They are the modes or the precipitates of an inwardly harmonious life. From the subjectivistic standpoint, accordingly, there is no difference of principle between verification by contact with the environment and
See below, pp. 333-334.
1 Op. cit., p. 11, note.
verification by sentiment. Indeed the former tends to be resolved into the form of the latter.1
Or consider the pragmatist doctrine that knowing makes reality. For the realistic pragmatist this doctrine has a very limited scope. Schiller sums up the realistic version of the matter as follows:
(1) “Our making of truth really alters 'subjective' reality.” In other words, knowing adds itself to reality. (2) “Our knowledge, when applied, alters 'real reality' and (3) is not real knowledge if it cannot be applied. Moreover (4) in some cases, e.g., in human intercourse, a subjective making is at the same time a real making of reality. Human beings, that is, are really affected by the opinion of others." (5) "Mere knowing always alters reality, so far at least as one party to the transaction is concerned. Knowing always really alters the knower." 2
A. W. Moore gives a similar account of knowledge of the past. The past can be modified by knowledge in so far as the sequel to the past, or the past continued into the present, can be affected by applied knowledge of it. “Cæsar's act, like John Brown's, 'goes marching on.' Like all other historic acts, it is not yet finished, and never will be so long as it continues, through acts of knowledge, to produce new results.'"3 In other words, on realistic grounds a thing is not modified simply by being known. Knowledge modifies knowledge, and the thing which is known is liable on that account to be acted on, and so modified. But the past and the distant, though they may be known, cannot be modified. Only the present continuation of the past or the near continuation of the distant can be modified, because modification requires a propinquity that is not required for knowledge.
But this restricted modification by knowledge does not satisfy the metaphysical yearnings of pragmatism. The pragmatist as a rule prefers to state the matter loosely – to assert the interesting and hopeful generalization that knowledge makes reality, rather than to specify in what respects. Or he goes over altogether to the radical contention that the environment is wholly plastic, and knowledge an instrument of "creative evolution.” In the essay from which I have quoted above Schiller fondly dwells on such a speculative possibility. He suggests a hylozoistic nature that responds socially as our fellows respond. He emphasizes the incompleteness of reality, the freedom of man, and the perpetual yielding of fact to art. And though he nowhere removes the paradox in which he admits the doctrine to be involved, he makes clear his faith "that Truth is great and must prevail, because it has the making of Reality.”1
i Cf. Schiller, Humanism, pp. 49-50. • Studies in Humanism, pp. 438-439. • A. W. Moore: Pragmatism and its Critics, p. 103.
The issue is further complicated by the pragmatist doctrine concerning concepts; these, as distinguished from percepts, being supposed to be peculiarly the creatures of the knowing process. The conceptualized world, at least, is a made world, a projection of practical needs. Bergson, the arch-creationist of them all, rests his case mainly on his theory of concepts, and we shall therefore return to this matter again.
§ 11. We have already learned enough to enable us to recognize the seriousness of the dilemma by which pragThe Dilemma matism is confronted. On its strictly epistemof Pragmatism ological side pragmatism is naturalistic and biological. The mind is conceived as operating in an environment to whose decrees it must submit as the price of adaptation. Upon this basis the complex process of knowledge is made up of definable parts. Truth is a product into which the environment enters as a prior and independent component. The environment is not itself subject to the fluctuations and vicissitudes of knowledge; and knowledge may be construed as a human and doubtful enterprise without compromising the structure
Studies in Humanism, p. 451. Cf. p. 428.
of the world from which it arises and to which it addresses itself.
But when, on the other hand, the factors of knowledge, and in particular its environment, are regarded as the precipitate of knowledge itself — then knowledge is left suspended in mid-air. It must be conceived as somehow spinning out of itself the very auspices and surroundings which condition it and give it meaning. There arises the same contradiction that vitiates the Fichtean idealism. Activity must itself contrive the very foil and medium without which it cannot act. And if the arguments for the subjectivistic view are accepted as valid, there is no defence against the vicious paradoxes of relativism. Individual judgments conflict, your judgment and mine, my judgment of today and my judgment of to-morrow, the belief of one epoch, and the belief of another; and the objects of these judgments, now regarded as their creations, are implicated in this conflict. There is no court of appeal to arbitrate their destructive inconsistency. It is not that there is no fixed truth; there is no fixed fact or being, not even past events. For the subjectivistic pragmatist has destroyed the distinction on which pragmatism itself has repeatedly insisted, the distinction between truth and reality. There are, then, only two courses open to the subjectivistic pragmatist. If he is to retain his subjectivism he must imitate the example of idealism, and accept a cosmic or absolute knower. For if reality is to repose in knowledge, there must be a knowledge which gives shape and outline to the world. The voluntaristic idealist is on subjectivistic grounds correct in charging pragmatism with relativism; and his offer of “absolute pragmatism”! as a harbor of refuge is both pertinent and opportune.
Thus if pragmatism is to avoid absolutism, and remain within empirical and naturalistic limits, it must adopt the realistic alternative, as James has so successfully done. And the pragmatist theory of knowledge cannot be less illuminating and important for being merely a theory of knowledge. To it will still belong the credit for an original and sound analysis of the process of reflective thought for a scrupulously empirical account of 'ideas,' of 'meaning,' and of 'truth' as a specific and characteristic form of human success.
1 Royce: William James, and other Essays, p. 254; cf. also “The Eternal and the Practical,” Phil. Review, Vol. XIII, 1904.