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ple of Bergson's metaphysics. It connects his theory of knowledge with his theory of will. True knowledge is “that faculty of seeing which is immanent in the faculty of acting.” And activity is the universal substance. Strictly speaking, “there are no things, there are only actions.” Activity is no longer predicated merely of the organism as distinguished from the environment. As the former is a reality which makes itself, the latter is “a creative action which unmakes itself.” If life is a movement, “materiality is the inverse movement.” They are two
undivided ” currents, two “simple” movements, that run counter to one another. And “God thus defined has nothing of the already made; He is unceasing life, action, freedom. Creation, so conceived, is not a mystery; we experience it in ourselves when we act freely."1 Thus the sequel to the postulate of 'dynamism’ is a metaphysical 'activism' or creationism; and in so far as pragmatism assumes this form, it allies itself with the voluntaristic and romanticist forms of idealism.
The sole support of this metaphysics and philosophy of religion is the postulate of dynamism. If it be true that the essential nature of causality is revealed in the experience of activity, then it follows that physical causality is only a projection or inversion of will. Criticism, then, must challenge the postulate. And, first of all, it is to be pointed out that the origin of the idea of causality is an irrelevant consideration. The causation exercised by the will may have been the first to attract attention, and it may remain the most familiar instance; but it does not follow that causation was first understood in the case of the will, or that the will is the clearest instance of it. As the first and most familiar instance, it may be the most primitive and ill-comprehended. It may be the instance to which crude and uncritical modes of thought are, through the operation of habit, most firmly attached. This suggestion
1 Creative Evolution, pp. 250, 247, 248, 249, 248. For the idealistic form of activism, see above, pp. 150-154.
receives support from the fact that the experience of activity is held to reveal the operation of a simple, free, and spontaneous "force," just in proportion as it is not analyzed. “The self, infallible when it affirms its immediate experiences, feels itself free and says so; but, as soon as it tries to explain its freedom to itself, it no longer perceives itself except by a kind of refraction through space.” 1
This is Bergson's way of acknowledging that the experience, whether for better or for worse, can be analyzed. Now it has already been pointed out that there is a very significant difference between the simplicity that precedes, and that which follows, analysis. The first is the simplicity of knowledge that has not yet fully explored and grasped its object; the second is the simplicity of the object. The knowledge of anything whatsoever is simple at the instant of its initiation; it begins at zero, or spreads from a point which is the bare denoting of its object. To
a attribute this accidental and subjective simplicity to the object is to fall into the error which I have called the error of 'pseudo-simplicity.'? “Dynamism” depends upon
' this error. It unites the multiplicity of activity as a process, the multiplicity which it reveals upon even the most cursory examination, with that phase of knowledge in which analysis has not yet begun. The as-yet-simple knowledge of a complex thing is converted into a thing which possesses a complex simplicity or simple complexity.
This is not the same as to say that activity is indefinable. It is not shown to be simple, in the sense of having been tested and found unanalyzable. It is not an ultimate term. As a matter of fact activity has proved definable, both psychologically and physically. Pragmatists, like James, have gone far toward defining subjective effort; and rational dynamics contains exact formulations of 'force' and 'energy' in the physical sense. No, - one
i Bergson: Time and Free Will, p. 183. * See above, pp. 128-132.
• Cf. James: “The Experience of Activity,” in A Pluralistic Universe, Appendix B. Cf. below, pp. 352–353.
must not attempt to define it; it is essentially a somethingnot-yet-defined. In short, it is nescience presented in the rôle of a revelation of reality. To lapse from knowledge into nescience is always possible, there is no law of God or man forbidding it. But to offer nescience as evidence of the nature of anything, to rank nescience above knowledge for cognitive purposes, is to obtain immunity from criticism only by forfeiting the right to a respectful hearing.
Pragmatism thus offers two versions of indeterminism. On the one hand it is argued on pluralistic grounds that necessity is not all-pervading. There are dislocations in the universe, that make it possible to judge parts of it-such as its good, its evil, and its indifference — independently. It is possible to attack evil in behalf of good, without the sense that one's client is guilty of complicity. Reality is not a conspiracy; the game is not “fixed”; the world in the all-inclusive sense is a contact of strange things, a shock of independent forces; the adventure of life is an honest warfare.
On the other hand, it is argued by pragmatists of the radical wing that there is in man an indeterminate, incalculable, and creative power to do. But the proof of it requires the abandonment of every tried method of knowledge — both the logical method of “intellectualists,” and the observational, experimental method which pragmatists themselves have so successfully practised on every occasion but this. Radicalism of this type is not only unreasonable and unverifiable, but it destroys the originality and distinction of pragmatism and allies it with forces of romanticism, mysticism, and irrationalism."
$ 9. In a résumé of pragmatism Papini alludes to its attitude toward religious questions as “fideism."? By this is meant its application of the pragmatic theory of truth
There is a positive sequel to pluralistic indeterminism, which does not involve these excesses. Cf. below, pp. 340-342.
Cf. G. Papini: Il Crepuscolo dei Filosofi; James: “G. Papini and the Pragmatist Movement in Italy,” in Jour. of Phil, Psych., and Scientific Methods, Vol. III, 1906.
to the case of religious belief. Here again we shall find it important to distinguish between the more moderate
pragmatism, represented by James, and the The Pragmatic Theory of
more radical pragmatism, represented in this Truth Applied case by Papini, LeRoy, and Schiller. to Religious Faith
James's view is expounded in his essay “The
Will to Believe," and in the more recent “Faith and the Right to Believe."? He contends that in the case of religion we are warranted in adopting that belief which is most in accord with our hopes, and which gives most firmness and courage to the moral will, even though the belief is not decisively proved. James does not advance this view on the general ground that we may believe what we wish, but on the ground of the special circumstances peculiar to religious belief. To state the issue clearly we must recall the pragmatic theory of truth.?
Ideas or beliefs are essentially instruments of meaning. They are good instruments in so far as they afford access to their objects, and the test of their goodness in this sense is to try them; i.e., employ them as means of access.
If they present to the mind what they have led the mind to expect, they are true. But ordinarily one does not use ideas merely to test them; one assumes their reliability and employs them in the affairs of life. And if they work here, they receive additional verification; for if they were not good substitutes for parts of the environment, they would not fit in with the rest of the environment. But ideas acquire still a third variety of value through their immediate agreeableness, or their power to impart vigor to the agent. In other words, they possess a sentimental or emotional value. This sentimental value, unlike their operative value, does not confirm their primary value as representations or means of access to things. A highly agreeable or inspiring idea, or a belief that disposes the
· Published as an Appendix to Some Problems of Philosophy. For further references to James, see below, pp. 367-368.
: Cf. above, pp. 203 ff.
mind to peace and contentment, may be of all ideas the least fitted to prepare the mind for what is to befall it. In other words, such emotional value is irrelevant to truthvalue, in the strict sense. But there are cases in which this emotional value may nevertheless be allowed to weigh and to determine the acceptance of belief. And religion is such a case.
For here the idea cannot be decisively tested by the other means. It is impossible to verify or disprove its truth, in the strict sense. The evidence remains indecisive. If one were governed only by 'theoretical' considerations, one would be compelled to suspend judgment. But that is impossible. Some plan of action with reference to the world at large, whether it move one to hope or despair, must be adopted. There is a “forced option.” If one scrupulously refrains from taking the hopeful view, one inevitably falls into renunciation or despair. But these are no better justified, theoretically, than hope; indeed, they are less justified, for there is a balance of probability in favor of religion. It would be folly, then, to allow one's “logical scrupulosity” to drive one to renunciation or despair. Furthermore, if one's religious belief refers to the future, and if the belief moves one to action, the very acceptance of it tends to bring about its truth. Hopefulness may lead to the fulfilment of hope.
In this view the distinction between the theoretical test of truth, and the emotional justification of belief, is renewed and emphasized at every step. The emotional value is not offered as evidence of truth, but as justifying belief where truth is doubtful. But the second or radical view, on the other hand, merges these two tests, the narrower truth-test and the emotional test. Both tests are "practical"; both are cases of "working"; both are cases in which the idea is justified by the “satisfaction” it yields. Truth, in the broad sense, is that which “harmonizes” with life all around. No pessimistic system can be true in this sense because it leaves “a sense of final