Page images
PDF
EPUB

'blue,' it is felt that it must be one indivisible thing like blue. But it would be as reasonable to say that motion is an indivisible thing because the word 'motion' is single; whereas it is evident that motion contains both space and time, and is therefore complex. I am led to conclude, therefore, that all of these concepts are essentially ratios or relational complexes of the simple terms of experience, such as space, time, color, sound, etc.; and that each of these ratios or relational complexes expresses some specific complexity or configuration, which is found in nature. And I judge that these concepts illustrate the motive of science; which is simply to describe and record, with special reference to their unity and constancy, the actual changes of bodies.

CHAPTER IV

NAÏVE AND CRITICAL NATURALISM

§ 1. NATURALISM, as we have seen, is not science, but an assertion about science. More specifically, it is the The Two

assertion that scientific knowledge is final, Varieties of leaving no room for extra-scientific or philoNaturalism

sophical knowledge. Naturalism assumes two forms. On the one hand there is a variety of naturalism which adopts the traditional problems, and to a large extent the traditional methods, of philosophy. It continues, e.g., the philosophical search for a universal substance and a first cause, and claims to have discovered these in some such scientific concept as 'matter' or 'force.' The second variety of naturalism repudiates not only the solutions of the traditional philosophy, but the problems and methods as well. It condemns the search for universal substance and first cause as futile. Its last word is a theory of knowledge, in which science is asserted to be final because the only case of exact knowledge. In other words, the second variety of naturalism claims less for the concepts of a science, but nevertheless claims all. Science is not the only knowledge that has been dreamed of, but it is the only knowledge that is possible. The first variety of naturalism is metaphysical, the second proclaims its 'anti-metaphysical character. Or the first may be called 'materialism,' and the second 'positivism.'

The crucial difference between these two forms of naturalism is to be found, I think, in what they make of scientific concepts. The first construes matter, mass, energy, and the rest, as simple substances or powers. Owing to its failure to analyze these concepts, owing to its uncritical assumption that whatever has a single name must be an indivisible thing, I propose to call this 'naïve naturalism.' The second variety, on the other hand, accepts the analytical version of scientific concepts, as set forth in the last chapter, and hence may be called 'critical naturalism.'

Naive naturalism, metaphysical naturalism, or materialism, derives its form from philosophy — and its defects as well. Indeed it affords the best example available of the characteristic defects of philosophy, of those errors to which philosophy is perpetually and peculiarly liable owing to the motives which rule it. We shall, therefore, be aided both in the exposition and in the criticism of naïve naturalism if we have certain of these errors clearly in mind.

§ 2. In the first place, there is an error to which I propose to give the name of the speculative dogma.'' By this I

mean the arbitrary assertion of the ideal of Three Characteristic Philo

thought. What that ideal is, when verbally sophical Errors. formulated, may be inferred from our review The Specula- of the procedure of science. The concepts of

science satisfy thought's peculiar bias for identity and permanence. Thought seeks so far as possible to construe particulars as modes of the general, to construe what is apparently unique as a special instance of something that is common. It seeks also to account for as much as possible of any individual phenomenon, in terms of such a general concept. It seeks concepts, in short, that shall be both general, and also sufficient or adequate, to the things subsumed under them. Now philosophy has especially to do with ultimates and finalities. So the philosophical form of this general propensity of thought gives rise to the ideal of a concept that shall be of unlimited generality and sufficiency. The concepts of acceleration and mass make possible the systematization of the motion-properties of bodies. By virtue of these concepts each body is regarded as a function of all other bodies; and these concepts may thus be said to possess a high degree of generality. But because they leave the space-time-filling properties out of the account, they lack sufficiency; that is, they do not measure up to the concrete variety of an individual body's properties. They account for something of all bodies, but not for all of any body. The concept of energy, on the other hand, makes a body's motion-properties commensurable with its heat, light, sound, etc.; and thus makes the formulas of science more sufficient, that is, more exhaustive of an individual body's variety of properties. Hence it appears possible to define a maximum in both directions; a concept that shall lack nothing either in generality or sufficiency — that shall provide for everything, and for all of everything.

1 For a more thorough examination of this error, see below, Ch. VIII, passim.

Such a concept is the speculative ideal. Were it formulated and verified it would mark the consummation of thought. And it is characteristic of philosophy to assume such a concept, without being rigorously critical concerning either its definition or its proof. With many philosophers, perhaps with the majority of philosophers, it is simply a question of finding a content or a complete formulation for this concept, its validity as an abstract ideal being taken for granted. Philosophy is then only an attempt to find the the value of x, where x is that something of which everything is a case, and in terms of which every aspect and alteration of everything may be expressed. And speculation has given rise to an uninterrupted line of attempted solutions, from Thales's "all things are made of water," down to the present-day “monisms” of force and energy. It is the uncritical assumption that this speculative ideal is valid — that such a concept is necessary, leaving only its precise nature to be determined — that I have named 'the speculative dogma.'

83. A second traditional philosophical error may conveniently be named the 'error of pseudo-simplicity.” It consists in the failure to recognize the difference between the simplicity that precedes analysis, and the simplicity · For this and the following error, cf. also below, pp. 261-264, 279-283. that is revealed by analysis; between the apparent simplicity of an unanalyzed complex, and the real simplicity

Pseudo-sim- of the ultimate terms of analysis; or between plicity' and 'Indefinite

the simplicity that is owing to the little that Potentiality' one knows, and that which is owing to the much that one knows.

Thought begins with an undifferentiated that, roughly denoted by a word or gesture. The object is as yet barely distinguished. It is an undivided unity because some single character, such, for example, as its position in space or time, or a relation to some more familiar thing, has served to identify it for the purpose of discourse and investigation. But when the investigation is made, a variety of characters is discovered; and if the investigation is carried far enough, certain ultimate characters are arrived at, which will no longer yield to analysis. The object is then exhibited as a complex of simple properties, having a certain arrangement or relational unity. Meanwhile the original unity, of name, gesture, or denotative reference, hovers reminiscently in the background of the mind, and unless it is understood and discounted, it serves to discredit analysis. It endows the object with an undivided unity which contradicts the results of analysis. It construes the object as simply that,whereas analysis construes it as many terms in relation. It is eventually converted into the well-known notion of substance' or 'essence,' and as such plays the role of a superior reality which analysis can never reach.

The fallacy is evident when once it is noted that this undifferentiated unity is subjective and not objective. It is the knowledge of the thing, which is simple, and not the thing itself. It is not the thing, but the mind of the knower, that is empty of diversity. And if it is not possible to reach this simplicity by carrying analysis on, it is always possible to reach it by reversing the process and returning to the initial state of innocence.

Intimately connected with this error is a third, which may be named “the error of indefinite potentiality.' A

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »