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and to a large extent are, similar to their perceptual objects. But it is never the primary function of an idea to picture its object, and in this case, at least, a complete picturing is impossible Because, in the first place, concepts are single and partial 2 s of perceptual things, and never a thing's totality. ugh conception exhibits these aspects clearly one by one, sense-perception, apprehending the thing all at once, or concretely, will, in spite of its inarticulateness, always convey something it may be only the fullness of potential concepts which conception misses. It would follow, then, that a concept is true of a percept only so far as it goes. But those who employ concepts are prone to use them "privatively," that is, as though they exhausted their perceptual object and prevented it from being anything more. This "treating of a name as excluding from the fact named what the name's definition fails positively to include," is what James calls "vicious intellectualism."1
But, in the second place, there is a more specific reason why concepts cannot adequately express the existential sense-manifold. Not only are they unequal to it because abstracted from it, but they are necessarily unlike it, in that the most characteristic aspects of the sense-manifold cannot be conveyed in conceptual form. This is the chief ground of James's indictment of intellectualism, and is of critical importance to the understanding of his philosophy. It is important once more to note that the cognitive use of ideas does not depend upon their similarity to their objects. They may be abstracted aspects of their objects, or they may be entirely extraneous bits of experience, like words, connected with their objects only through their functional office. Now it is James's contention that the most characteristic aspects of existence can be ideated only in this second way. They cannot be abstracted, they cannot themselves become the immediate objects of thought, although they can, of course, be led up to and functionally represented. Every bit of experience has "its quality, its duration, its extension, its intensity, its urgency, its clearness, and many aspects besides, no one of which can exist in the isolation in which our verbalized logic keeps it." The error of intellectualism lies in its attempt
1 Pluralistic Universe, p. 60. Cf. also pp. 218 ff., and Meaning of Truth, pp. 248, 249 ff.
• Pluralistic Universe, p. 256.
to make up such aspects as these out of logical terms and relations. The result is either a ridiculous over-simplification of existence, or the multiplication of paradoxes. The continuity of change, the union of related things, the fulness of the existant world, has to be sensed or felt, if its genuine character is known, as truly as color has to be seen or music heard. So so far as these aspects of existence are concerned, concepts are useful for “purposes of practice,” that is, to guide us to the sensible context, and not for “purposes of insight.”ı
"Direct acquaintance and conceptual knowledge are thus complementary of each other; each remedies the other's defects.": Knowing is always in the last analysis witnessing :- having the thing itself within the mind. This is the only way in which the proper nature, the original and intrinsic character, of things, is revealed. Thought itself is the means of thus directly envisaging some aspects of things. But owing to the peculiar conditions under which the mind operates, it is practically necessary to know most things indirectly. So thought has a second use, namely, to provide substitutes for aspects of things that can be known directly only by sense. The peculiar value of thought lies, then, in its direct grasp of the more universal elements, and in the range and economy of its indirect grasp of those elements which, in their native quality, can be directly grasped only by sense.
Knowledge in all its varieties and developments arises from practical needs. It takes place within an environment to whose independent nature it must conform. If that environment be regarded as something believed, then it signifies truth already arrived at obediently to the same practical motives. But if it be conceived simply as reality, as it must also be conceived, then it is prior to all knowledge, and in no sense involved in the vicissitudes of knowledge. In short, James's theory is epistemology in the limited sense. It describes knowledge without implying any dependence of things on the knowing of them. Indeed, on the contrary, it is based explicitly on the acceptance of that non-mental world-order which is recognized by common sense, by science, and by philosophical realism.:
i Op. cit., p. 290. Cf. Lectures V, VI, and VII, passim. : Op. cit., p. 251. : Cf. Meaning of Truth, Preface, and pp. 190-197, 212-216.
III. PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
$ 9. James's contribution to the study of religion is so considerable and so important as to stand by itself, beside his psychol
ogy and his philosophy. In the present meagre The Right to Believe
summary I shall deal only with what is directly
related to the fundamentals of his philosophy, namely, to his theory of mind and his epistemology. Religion, like knowledge, is a reaction of man to his environment. Its motives are practical, and its issues, tests, and successes are practical. Religion is “a man's total reaction upon life.” It springs from “that curious sense of the whole residual cosmos as an everlasting presence, intimate or alien, terrible or amusing, lovable or odious."1 The positive or hopeful religion says “ that the best things are the more eternal things,” and “that we are better off even now” if we believe so. There is a practical motive leading to some such belief, and there is an additional motive for taking the hopeful rather than the despairing view. Applying the theory of truth already expounded, it follows that that religious belief is true which satisfies the demands which give it birth. So far this might mean simply that it is important for life to have an idea of the ultimate nature of things, and as hopeful an idea as possible; in which case the true religion would be the idea which succeeded in meeting these requirements. It would be the verified hypothesis concerning the maximum of hopefulness which the universe justifies. But the case is not so simple as that. For no idea of the ultimate nature of things can be verified, that is, proved by following it into the direct presence of its object. And meanwhile it is practically necessary to adopt some such idea. So the question arises as to whether the general acceptability of an idea, including its service to other interests than the theoretical interest, may in this case be allowed to count. To accept an idea, or to believe under such conditions and on such grounds, is an act of faith. What, then, is the justification of faith?
Faith does not mean a defiance of proof but only a second best, a substitute where the evidence is not conclusive. "Faith
· Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 35. In the “Varieties” the topic is circumscribed for the sake of convenience; cf. p. 31.
• Will to Believe, pp. 25, 26.
means belief in something concerning which doubt is still theoretically possible; and as the test of belief is willingness to act, one may say that faith is the readiness to act in a cause the prosperous issue of which is not certified to us in advance." If it can be certified in advance, so much the better; but if not, then it may be proper to act confidently none the less. Now such is the case, first when hesitation or suspension of action is equivalent to disbelief in a prosperous issue. Thus, "if I must not believe that the world is divine, I can only express that refusal by declining ever to act distinctively as if it were so, which can only mean acting on certain critical occasions as if it were not so, or in an irreligious way." "Logical scrupulosity" may thus over-reach itself, and lead one to a virtual denial even in the face of probability. In the second place, there are "cases where faith creates its own verification." Belief in the success of an enterprise in which the believer is himself engaged breeds the confidence which will help to make success. And religion is such an enterprise. "Believe, and you shall be right, for you shall save yourself."
In short, "there is really no scientific or other method by which men can steer safely between the two opposite dangers of believing too little or of believing too much." We can neither limit belief to proof, for that would be to cut ourselves off from possibilities of truth that have a momentous importance for us; nor exempt our belief altogether from criticism, for that would be to forfeit our principal means to truth. There are genuine"options" for belief, options that are "live" in that there is an incentive to choose; and "forced," in that to decline to choose is still virtually to choose. Where such an option exists, hope may be allowed to convert objective or theoretical probability into subjective certainty. And the one momentous case of this is religion.
§ 10. That religious belief which is at once most probable on theoretical grounds, and most rational in the broader sense of making a "direct appeal to all those powers of our nature
1 Op. cit., p. 90; cf. p. 1; and Meaning of Truth, p. 256.
• Will to Believe, p. 55.
• Op. cit., p. 97.
• Op. cit., p. xi. Cf. p. 128.
Op. cit., p. 3. Cf. Some Problems of Philosophy, Appendix, on “Faith and the Right to Believe."
which we hold in highest esteem,”! is theism. God is conceived as "the deepest power in the universe," and a power
not ourselves, "which not only makes for rightReflex Action and Theism
but means it, and which recognizes us.' eousness,
“To coöperate with his creation by the best and rightest response seems all He wants of us.”. Such an interpretation of the world most completely answers our needs. “At a ! single stroke, it changes the dead blank it of the world into a living thou, with whom the whole man may have dealings." “Our volitional nature must, then, until the end of time, exert a constant pressure upon the other departments of the mind to induce them to function to theistic conclusions.". Here, then, is the possible and the profoundly desirable religious truth. To neglect it is to disbelieve it, which is equally arbitrary, and involves all the practical loss besides; while to accept it is to help make it true, since human efforts may assist in establishing the supremacy of the good. But what evidence may be adduced in its support?
The answer to this question consists partly in the removal of difficulties, such as the dogmatism of science, and the problem of “the compounding of consciousness," partly in the application to the religious experience of the theory of a "subconscious self.” “We have in the fact that the conscious person is continuous with a wider self through which saving experiences come, a positive content of religious experience which, it seems to me, is literally and objectively true as far as it goes.". When we ask "how far our transmarginal consciousness carries us if we follow it on its remoter side," our "over-beliefs begin;” but the evidence afforded by mystical experiences, thus construed by means of an established psychological theory, creates decidedly formidable probability” in favor of the theistic hypothesis.
$11. The belief in freedom, like the belief in God, cannot be proved. Here, again, belief has an option between a rigidly determined world and a world with alternative possibilities
"Op. cit., p. 110. Cf. pp. 115-116. • Op. cit., p. 122.
: op. cit., p. 141. • Op. cit., p. 127.
s Cf. above, pp. 353-354. • Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 515. Cf. also “The Energies of Men," Memories and Studies, X.
I op. cit., p. 513; Plurolistic Universe, p. 309.