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R a a d i journal c of a socialist Editorial collective Claudia Aradau, Matthew Charles, David Cunningham, H Author: Radical Philosophy.
Table of contents
They measure the profundity of feeling by its intensity, not by its justifying relations; and in the radical disintegration of their spirit, the more they are devoured the more they fancy themselves fed.
Radical Philosophy #165
What you say, for instance, about the value of the good lying in its existence , and about the continuity of the world of values with that of fact, is not different from what I should admit. Ideals would be irrelevant if they were not natural entelechies, if they were not called for by something that exists and if consequently their realization would not be a present and actual good. After this I need hardly say that I neither wish people to kiss the Pope's toe nor to be liberals, if liberalism in philosophy is to mean the tendency to believe that unverifiable hypotheses, if they are meagre and abstract enough, may be passed off for matters of fact.
I want my metaphysics and religion to be good poetry, not bad and inadequate poetry. For in Paganism I see the only religion that tried to do justice to all life, and at the same time retained the consciousness that it was a kind of poetry. God [to Saint Augustine] was simply the ideal eternal object of human thought and love. God is not true but the truth i. Where religion is primary, however, all that worldly dread of fraud and illusion becomes irrelevant, as it is irrelevant to an artist's pleasure to be warned that the beauty he expresses has no objective existence, or as it would be irrelevant to a mathematician's reasoning to suspect that Pythagoras was a myth and his supposed philosophy an abracadabra.
Proofs of the existence of God are therefore not needed, since his existence is in one sense obvious and in another of no religious interest. It is obvious in the sense that the ideal is a term of moral experience, and that truth, goodness, and beauty are inevitably envisaged by any one whose life has in some measure a rational quality.
It is of no religious interest in the sense that perhaps some physical or dynamic absolute might be scientifically discoverable in the dark entrails of nature or of mind.
Radical Philosophy #124
The great difference between religion and metaphysics is that religion looks for God at the top of life and metaphysics at the bottom; a fact which explains why metaphysics has such difficulty in finding God, while religion has never lost him. This brings us to the grand characteristic and contradiction of Saint Augustine's philosophy. This is the idea that the same God who is the ideal of human aspiration is also the creator of the universe and its only primary substance. The insoluble problems of the origin of evil and of freedom, in a world produced in its every fibre by omnipotent goodness,.
The former are internal products of life, the latter its external conditions. When the two are confused we reach the contradiction confronting Saint Augustine, and all who to this day have followed in his steps. The cause of everything must have been the cause of sin, yet the principle of good could not be the principle of evil.
Both propositions were obviously true, and they were contradictory only after the mythical identification of the God which meant the ideal of life with the God which meant the forces of nature. The insoluble problems of the origin of evil and of freedom, in a world produced in its every fibre by omnipotent goodness, can never be understood until we remember their origin. They are artificial problems, unknown to philosophy before it betook itself to the literal justification of fables in which the objects of rational endeavour were represented as causes of natural existence. You became in this way idealists in physics and realists in morals, so that in neither department had your philosophy any validity or truth.
The remedy, which it will take centuries to make thoroughly efficacious, but which every one may apply in a measure for himself, is simply to deepen practical life, to make it express all its possible affinities, all its latent demands. Were that done, we should find ourselves in unexpected and spontaneous harmony with the traditions which we might seem to have disregarded.
All traditions have been founded on practice: in practice the most ideal of them regain their authority, when practice really deals with reality, and faces the world squarely, in the interest of the whole soul. To bring the whole soul to expression is what all civilization is after. I have been reading Moore's Principia Ethica. I should more heartily agree with his logic if it were backed by some sense of the conditions in which it operates, some knowledge of human nature. His points become cogent only when the speaker forgets himself and makes his assertions irresponsibly forthright and categorical.
How little wisdom these metaphysicians have, and how punctiform and scholastic their vision of things is apt to become when they live in colleges or dwell in an atmosphere of technical controversy. To the ideal function of envisaging the absent, memory and reflection will add since they exist and constitute a new complication in being the practical function of modifying the future.
Vital impulse, however, when it is modified by reflection and veers in sympathy with judgments pronounced on the past, is properly called reason. The tenets of Protestant bodies are notoriously varied and on principle subject to change. There is hardly a combination of tradition and spontaneity which has not been tried in some quarter.
If we think, however, of broad tendencies and ultimate issues, it appears that in Protestantism myth, without disappearing, has changed its relation to reality: instead of being an extension to the natural world myth has become its substratum. Religion no longer reveals divine personalities, future rewards, and tenderer Elysian consolations; nor does it seriously propose a heaven to be reached by a ladder nor a purgatory to be shortened by prescribed devotions.
It merely gives the real world an ideal status and teaches men to accept a natural life on supernatural grounds. The consequence is that the most pious can give an unvarnished description of things. Even immortality and the idea of God are submitted, in liberal circles, to scientific treatment. On the other hand, it would be hard to conceive a more inveterate obsession than that which keeps the attitude of these same minds inappropriate to the objects they envisage.
They have accepted natural conditions; they will not accept natural ideals. The Life of Reason has no existence for them, because, although its field is clear, they will not tolerate any human or finite standard of value, and will not suffer extant interests, which can alone guide them in action or judgment, to define the worth of life. It was a thing taken for granted in ancient and scholastic philosophy that a being dwelling, like man, in the immediate, whose moments are in flux, needed constructive reason to interpret his experience and paint in his unstable consciousness some symbolic picture of the world.
We know that life is a dream, and how should thinking be more? Modern theory has not done so much to help us here, however, as it has in physics. It seldom occurs to the modern moralists that theirs is the science of all good and the art of its attainment; they think only of some set of categorical precepts or some theory of moral sentiments, abstracting altogether from the ideals reigning in society, in science, and in art. They attach morals to religion, rather than to politics. They divide man into compartments. Such trivial sanctimony in morals is doubtless due to artificial views about the conditions of welfare; the basis is laid in authority rather than in human nature, and the goal in salvation rather than in happiness.
Thought is not a mechanical calculus, where the elements and the method exhaust the fact. Thought is a form of life, and should be conceived on the analogy of nutrition, generation, and art. Reason, as Hume said with profound truth, is an unintelligible instinct. Hume, like Berkeley, was extremely young, scarce five-and-twenty, when he wrote his most incisive work; he was not ready to propose in theory that test of ideas by their utility which in practice he and the whole English school have instinctively adopted.
An ulterior test of validity would not have seemed to him satisfactory, for though inclined to rebellion and positivism he was still the pupil of that mythical philosophy which attributed the value of things to their origin rather than to their uses, because it had first, in its parabolic way, erected the highest good into a First Cause.
Nature had been proved [in Kant's thought] a figment of human imagination so that, once rid of all but a mock allegiance to her facts and laws, we might be free to invent any world we chose and believe it to be absolutely real and independent of our nature. An age of mythology yields to an age of subjectivity; reason being equally neglected and exceeded in both. The notions of permanence and independence by which [nature is conceived] apply also, of course, to everything spiritual; and while the dominion exercised by spirits may be somewhat precarious, they are as remote as possible from immediacy and sensation.
They come and go; they govern nature. It gives a vitiated personal view of these realities. Its pleasures are dangerous and unintelligent, and it perishes as it goes. Such are, for primitive apperception, the three great realms of being: nature, sense, and spirit. Their frontiers, however, always remain uncertain. Mind is the body's entelechy, a value which accrues to the body when it has reached a certain perfection, of which it would be a pity, so to speak, that it should remain unconscious; so that while the body feeds the mind the mind perfects the body, lifting it and all its natural relations and impulses into the moral world, into the sphere of interests and ideas.
Spirit is useless, being the end of things: but it is not vain, since it alone rescues all else from vanity. Thought is essentially practical in the sense that but for thought no motion would be an action, no change a progress; but thought is in no way instrumental or servile; it is an experience realised, not a force to be used. To execute the simplest intention we must rely on fate: our own acts are mysteries to us.
Do I know how I open my eyes or how I walk down stairs? Is it the supervising wisdom of consciousness that guides me in these acts? Is it the mind that controls the bewildered body and points out the way to physical habits uncertain of their affinities? Or is it not much rather automatic inward machinery that executes the marvellous work, while the mind catches here and there some glimpse of the operation, now with delight and adhesion, now with impotent rebellion?
The mind at best vaguely forecasts the result of action: a schematic verbal sense of the end to be accomplished possibly hovers in consciousness while the act is being performed; but this premonition is itself the sense of a process already present and betrays the tendency at work; it can obviously give no aid or direction to the unknown mechanical process that produced it and that must realise its own prophecy, if that prophecy is to be realised at all.
In a word, the value of thought is ideal. And when that imputed and incongruous utility was subtracted from ideas they would appear in their proper form of expressions, realisations, ultimate fruits. That thought is nature's concomitant expression or entelechy, never one of her instruments, is a truth long ago divined by the more judicious thinkers, like Aristotle and Spinoza; but it has not met with general acceptance or even consideration.
It is obstructed by superficial empiricism. It may therefore be worth while, before leaving this phase of the subject [of the relation of mind to body, of reason to nature], to consider one or two prejudices which might make it sound paradoxical to say, as we propose, that ideals are ideal and nature natural. Threatened destruction would not involve pain unless that threatened destruction were being resisted; so that the reaction which pain is supposed to cause must already be taking place before pain can be felt.
Determinate impulses must exist already for their inhibition to have taken place or the pain to arise which is the sign of that inhibition. The picture of life as an eternal war for illusory ends was drawn at first by satirists. A barbarous mind cannot conceive life, like health, as a harmony continually preserved or restored, and containing those natural and ideal activities which disease merely interrupts.
Such a mind, never having tasted order, cannot conceive it, and identifies progress with new conflicts and life with continual death. Its deification of unreason, instability, and strife comes partly from piety and partly from inexperience. There is piety in saluting nature in her perpetual flux and in thinking that since no equilibrium is maintained forever none, perhaps, deserves to be.
There is inexperience in not considering that whatever interests and judgments exist, the natural flux has fallen, so to speak, into a vortex, and created a natural good, a cumulative life, and an ideal purpose. Art, science, government, human nature itself, are self-defining and self-preserving: by partly fixing a structure they fix an ideal. But the barbarian can hardly regard such things, for to have distinguished and fostered them would be to have founded a civilization. Illustrations might have been sought in some fictitious world, if imagination had not seemed so much less interesting than reality, which besides enforces with unapproachable eloquence the main principle in view, namely, that nature carries its ideal with it and that the progressive organisation of irrational impulses makes a rational life.
This definition of human nature, clear as it may be in itself and true to the facts, will perhaps hardly make sufficiently plain how the Life of Reason, having a natural basis, has in the ideal world a creative and absolute authority. A more concrete description of human nature may accordingly not come amiss, especially as the important practical question touching the extension of a given moral authority over times and places depends on the degree of kinship found among the creatures inhabiting those regions.
To give a general picture of human nature and its rational functions will be the tasks of the following books. We must observe, however, that only by virtue of a false perspective do ideas seem to govern action. The psychology of nominalism is undoubtedly right where it insists that every image is particular and every term, in its existential aspect, a flatum vocis ; but nominalists should have recognised that images may have any degree of vagueness and generality when measured by a conceptual standard. Functional or logical universality lies in another sphere altogether, being a matter of intent and not of [psychological] existence.
When we say that "universals alone exist in the mind" we mean by "mind" something unknown to Berkeley; not a bundle of psychoses nor an angelic substance, but quick intelligence, the faculty of discourse. Predication is an act, understanding a spiritual and transitive operation: its existential basis may well be counted in psychological]y and reduced to a stream of immediate presences; but its meaning can be caught only by another meaning, as life only can exemplify life. Vague or general images are as little universal as sounds are; but a sound better than a flickering abstraction can serve the intellect in its operation of comparison and synthesis.
Words are therefore the body of discourse, of which the soul is understanding. Man is still in his childhood; for he cannot respect an ideal which is not imposed on him against his will, nor can he find satisfaction in a good created by his own action. Pagan Christianity, or Catholicism, may accordingly be said to consist of two elements: first, the genius of paganism, the faculty of expressing spiritual experience in myth and external symbol, and, second, the experience of disillusion, forcing that pagan imagination to take wing from earth and to decorate no longer the political and material circumstances of life, but rather to remove beyond the clouds and constitute its realm of spirit beyond the veil of time and nature, in a posthumous and metaphysical sphere.
Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitations without benefit. It marks very clearly that margin of irresponsible variation in manners and thoughts which among a people artificially civilised may so easily be larger than the solid core. To this day we have not achieved a really native civilisation. Our art, morals, and religion, though deeply dyed in native feeling, are still only definable and, indeed, conceivable by reference to classic and alien standards. Among the northern races culture is even more artificial and superinduced than among the southern; whence the strange phenomenon of snobbery in society, affectation in art, and a violent contrast between the educated and the uneducated, the rich and the poor, classes that live on different intellectual planes and often have different religions.
Some educated persons, accordingly, are merely students and imbibers; they sit at the feet of a past which, not being really theirs, can produce no fruit in them but sentimentality. Others are merely protestants ; they are active in the moral sphere only by virtue of an inward rebellion against something greater and overshadowing, yet repulsive and alien. They are conscious truants from a foreign school of life. Its character may be indicated by saying that it is a religion of pure spontaneity, of emotional freedom, deeply respecting itself but scarcely deciphering its purposes.
It is the self-consciousness of a spirit in process of incubation, jealous of its potentiality, averse to definitions and finalities of any kind because it can itself discern nothing fixed or final. It keeps unsullied that antecedent integrity which is at the bottom of every living thing and at its core; it is not acquainted with that ulterior integrity, that sanctity, which might be attained at the summit of experience through reason and speculative dominion. It accordingly mistakes vitality, both in itself and in the universe, for spiritual life. It rebels, for instance, against the Catholic system of measurable sins and merits, with rewards and punishments legally adjusted and controlled by priestly as well as by divine prerogative.
Such a supernatural mechanism seems to an independent and uncowed nature a profanation and an imposture. Away, it says, with all intermediaries between the soul and God, with all meddlesome priestcraft and all mechanical salvation. Salvation shall be by faith alone, that is, by an attitude and sentiment private to the spirit, by an inner co-operation of man with the world. The Church shall be invisible, constituted by all those who possess this necessary faith and by no others.
It really follows from this, although the conclusion may not be immediately drawn, that religion is not an adjustment to other facts or powers, or to other possibilities, than those met with in daily life and in surrounding nature, but is rather a spiritual adjustment to natural life, an insight into its principles, by which a man learns to identify himself with the cosmic power and to share its multifarious business no less than its ulterior security and calm.
Protestantism, in this perfectly instinctive trustfulness and self-assertion, is not only prior to Christianity but more primitive than reason and even than man. The plants and animals, if they could speak, would express their attitude to their destiny in the Protestant fashion. He has sealed a covenant with us, to stand by us if we are faithful and strenuous in following the suggestions he whispers in our hearts. With fidelity to ourselves and, what is the same thing, to him, we are bound to prosper and to have life more and more abundantly for ever.
A myth is an inverted image of things, wherein their moral effects are turned into their dramatic antecedents—as when the wind's rudeness is turned into his anger. So the good, which in itself is spiritual only, is transposed [in myth] into a natural power. The existence of any evil. For we wish to. To pious feeling, the free-will of creatures, their power, active or passive, of independent origination, is the explanation of all defects; and everything which is not helpful to men's purposes must be assigned to their own irrationality as its cause.
Herein lies the explanation of that paradox in religious feeling which attributes sin to the free will, but repentance and every good work to divine grace. There is accordingly. Value is attributed to rival forms of life. When this imaginative expansion ends in neutralising the will altogether, we have mysticism; but when it serves merely to co-ordinate felt interests with other actual interests conceived sympathetically, and to make them converge, we have justice and charity. As common morality itself falls easily into mythical expressions and speaks of a fight between conscience and nature, reason and the passions, as if these were independent in their origin or could be divided in their operation, so spiritual life even more readily opposes the ideal to the real, the revealed and heavenly truth to the extant reality, as if the one could be anything but an expression and fulfillment of the other.
Being equally convinced that spiritual life is authoritative and possible, and that it is opposed to all that earthly experience has as yet supplied, the prophet almost inevitably speaks of another world above the clouds and another existence beyond the grave; he thus seeks to clothe in concrete and imaginable form the ideal to which natural existence seem to him wholly rebellious. Spiritual life comes to mean life abstracted from politics, from art, from sense, even in the end from morality.
Natural motives and natural virtues are contrasted with those which are henceforth called supernatural, and all the grounds and sanctions of right living are transferred to another life. It is hard to convince people that they have such a gift as intelligence. If they perceive its animal basis they cannot conceive its ideal affinities or understand what is meant by calling it divine; if they perceive its ideality and see the immortal essences that swim into its ken, they hotly deny that it is an animal faculty, and invent ultramundane places and bodiless persons in which it is to reside; as if those celestial substances could be, in respect to thought, any less material than matter or, in respect to vision and life, any less instrumental than bodily organs.
It never occurs to them that if nature has added intelligence to animal life it is because they belong together. Intelligence is a natural emanation of vitality. All that is scientific or Darwinian in the theory of evolution is accordingly an application of mechanism, a proof that mechanism lies at the basis of life and morals. The Aristotelian notion of development, however, was too deeply rooted in tradition for it to disappear at a breath.
Evolution as conceived by Hegel, for instance, or even Spencer, retained Aristotelian elements, though these were disguised and hidden under a cloud of new words. Both identify evolution with progress, with betterment; a notion which would naturally be prominent in any one with enlightened sympathies living in the nineteenth century, when a new social and intellectual order was forcing itself on a world that happened largely to welcome the change, but a notion that has nothing to do with natural science.
The fittest to live need not be those with the most harmonious inner life nor the best possibilities. The fitness might be due to numbers, as in a political election, or to tough fibre, as in a tropical climate. Of course a form of being that circumstances make impossible or hopelessly laborious had better dive under and cease for the moment to be; but the circumstances that render it inopportune do not render it essential inferior. Circumstances have no power of that kind; and perhaps the worst incident in the popular acceptance of evolution has been a certain brutality thereby introduced into moral judgment, an abdication of human ideals, a mocking indifference to justice, under cover of respect for what is bound to be, and for the rough economy of the world.
Disloyalty to the good in the guise of philosophy had appeared also among the ancients, when their political ethics had lost its authority, just as it appeared among us when the prestige of religion had declined. The Epicureans sometimes said that one should pursue pleasure because all the animals did so, and the Stoics that one should fill one's appointed place in nature, because such was the practice of the clouds and rivers. The thoughts of men are incredibly evanescent, merely the foam of their labouring natures.
Aristotle called the soul the first entelechy of such a body. This first entelechy is what we should call life, since it is possessed by a man asleep. The French I know but do not use is in its first entelechy; the French I am actually speaking is in its second. Consciousness is therefore the second or actualised entelechy of its body. The sincere dialectician, the genuine moralist, must stand upon human, Socratic ground.
Though art be long, it must take a short life for its basis and an actual interest for its guide.
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The liberal dialectician has the gift of conversation; he does not pretend to legislate from the throne of Jehovah about the course of affairs, but asks the ingenuous heart to speak for itself, guiding and checking it only in its own interest. The result is to express a given nature and to cultivate it; so that whenever any one possessing such a nature is born into the world he may use this calculation, and more easily understand and justify his mind. Of course, if experience were no longer the same, and faculties had entirely varied, the former interpretation could no longer serve.
Where nature shows a new principle of growth the mind must find a new method of expression, and move toward other goals. Ideals are not forces stealthily undermining the will; they are possible forms of being that would frankly express it. These forms are invulnerable, eternal, and free; and he who finds them divine and congenial and is able to embody them at least in part and for a season, has to that extent transfigured life, turning it from a fatal process into a liberal art.
Philosophers would do a great discourtesy to estimation if they sought to justify it. It is all other acts that need justification by this one. The good greets us initially in every experience and in every object. Remove from anything its share of excellence and you have made it utterly insignificant, irrelevant to human discourse, and unworthy of even theoretical consideration.
Value is the principle of perspective in science, no less than of rightness in life. The hierarchy of goods, the architecture of values, is the subject that concerns man most. Wisdom is the first philosophy, both in time and in authority. The first philosophers were accordingly sages. They were statesmen and poets who knew the world and cast a speculative glance at the heavens, the better to understand the conditions and limits of human happiness.
Such was philosophy in the beginning and such is philosophy still. In vindicating his ideal [the autonomous moralist] does not recant his human nature. In asserting the initial right of every impulse in others, he remains the spokesman of his own. If the sophist declares that what his nature attaches him to is not 'really' a good, because it would not be a good, perhaps, for a different creature, he is a false interpreter of his own heart, and rather discreditably stultifies his honest feelings and actions by those theoretical valuations which, in guise of a mystical ethics, he gives out to the world.
The autonomous moralist differs from the sophist or ethical sceptic in this: that he retains his integrity. In vindicating his ideal he does not recant his human nature. Knowledge of the world, courtesy, and fairness do not neutralise his positive life. He is thoroughly sincere, as the sophist is not; for every man, while he lives, embodies and enacts some special interest; and this truth, which those who confound psychology with ethics may think destructive of all authority in morals, is in fact what alone renders moral judgment possible and respectable.
You have seen all you probably care to see of this attitude in my "Interpretations of poetry and religion". The attitude of my new book is exactly the same. Is there any "modernist" movement or party in Spain? I believe I have always been a "modernist"; only it never crossed my mind that such an attitude was compatible with being a practical Catholic, much less a priest. How can they be so blind? You ask me what "modernism" is precisely. It is not anything precise; but as a general tendency, it consists in accepting all the rationalistic views current or possible in matters of history and science, and then saying that, in a different sense, the dogmas of the Church may still be true.
For instance, all miracles, including the Incarnation and Resurrection, are denied to be historical facts; but they remain, in some symbolic sense, theological truths. It sometimes looks to me as if by existence you meant substance; in that case I should readily agree that appearances did not exist. They are certainly not substances, but they exist as truly as your opinions and mine upon this subject exist: opinions which again are not substances, but mental phenomena the substance of which is something in our brain and in the mechanical world that plays upon our brains.
But it is one thing to see the arbitrary and ultimately unstable character of a civilization every civilization is essentially unstable and another to set about destroying it by blind force. This latter system is hateful, because inspired only by hate; it has no ideal of a positive sort to inspire it, nor, if it had, could it attain that ideal merely by destroying what now exists.
The want of intelligence is immense, that does not see that everything we have that makes or might make life worth living is an incident to the irrational, traditional civilization in which we have been reared. All things are like language, which we must use, beautify, but not worship; and your anarchists are mere blundering dumb beasts, that sputter and howl, because they find the rules of grammar absurd and inconvenient.
So they are, for people who are too stupid or too ill-bred to use them: but that does not make these people martyrs, or heralds of progress. After all, the use of opium is that it is a narcotic; no matter why, physically, it is one. The use of the body is the mind, whatever the origin of the body may be. Observation must yield to dialectic [under the Socratic philosophy]. But universal terms or natures existed also in particulars, since the particulars illustrated them. Nevertheless, the universals existed also after the particulars: for the discursive mind of man.
To deny any of the three theories, and not to see their consistency, is to miss the medieval point of view, which, in every sense of the word, was Catholic. Faust is, then, no philosophical poem, after an open or deliberate fashion; and yet it offers a solution to the moral problem of existence as truly as do the poems of Lucretius and Dante. Spinoza has an admirable doctrine, or rather insight, which he calls seeing things under the form of eternity.
This faculty is fundamental in the human mind; ordinary perception and memory are cases of it. Therefore, when we use it to deal with ultimate issues, we are not alienated from experience, but, on the contrary, endowed with experience and with its fruits. A thing is seen under the form of eternity when all its parts or stages are conceived in their true relations, and thereby conceived together. The complete biography of Caesar is Caesar seen under the form of eternity. Hence the whole Platonic and Christian scheme, in making the good independent of private will and opinion, by no means makes it independent of the direction of nature in general and of human nature in particular; for all things have been created with an innate predisposition towards the creative good, and are capable of finding happiness in nothing else.
Obligation, in this system, remains internal and vital. Bertrand Russell [ ]. Transcendentalism is the philosophy which the romantic era produced in Germany, and independently, I believe, in America also. Transcendentalism proper, like romanticism, is not any particular set of dogmas about what things exist; it is not a system of the universe regarded as a fact, or as a collection of facts.
It is a method, a point of view, from which any world, no matter what it might contain, could be approached by a self-conscious observer. Transcendentalism is systematic subjectivism. In other words, transcendentalism is the critical logic of science. I regard it as the chief contribution made in modern times to speculation. But it is a method only.
Yet the Germans who first gained the full transcendental insight were romantic people. Transcendental logic, the method of discovery for the mind, was to become also the method of evolution in nature and history. Transcendental method, so abused, produced transcendental myth. A conscientious critique of knowledge was turned into a sham system of nature. We must therefore distinguish sharply the transcendental grammar of the intellect, which is significant and potentially correct, from the various transcendental systems of the universe, which are chimeras.
I think I see the first principle of objectivism or new realism somewhat more clearly. For as existence is distinguished precisely by presence in a non-dialectical context, and the physical context of the datum and the psychical context, James admits, are two, therefore I say the Existences are also, although the essence realized in each may be the same.
This privilege, native to every creature, of arranging different perfections imagined by it in a scale of ascending values, relieves the naturalist of the charge of indifference and anarchy in morals; for the naturalist has a nature of its own, and if he learns to know himself, he will have a clear and dogmatic system of ethics. Human nature is not altogether fixed, and human goodness and what man can look upon as good vary with it.
Pantheism, in teaching that the world ought to be full of horrors, since so it is, accepts the most savage of ideals. Plotinus, however, was no pantheist, and his God, who created the world by a virtue that flowed, as it were, from the hem of his garment, was not responsible for the world, nor glorified by the evils in it, nor even cognizant of their existence.
Plotinus could not explain the origin of evil ; in fact he could not explain the origin of anything, his whole natural philosophy being unnatural, and merely a moral allegory.
Philosophy - SERIE
But the title of epiphenomenalist is better deserved, and I have only this objection to it: that it is based like the new realism on idealistic prejudices and presuppositions. To call this is [sic] a phenomenon is to presuppose another thing in itself, which is chimerical. Therefore I am no epiphenomenalist, but a naturalist pure and simple, recognizing a material world, not a phenomenon but a substance, and a mental life struck off from it in its operation, like a spark from the flint and steel, having no other substance than that material world, but having a distinct existence of its own as it is emitted continually out of bodily life as music is emitted from an instrument and having a very different kind of being, since it is immaterial and moral and cognitive.
This mental life may be called a phenomenon if you like, either in the platonic sense of being an instance of an essence in which sense every fact, even substance, is a phenomenon or in the modern sense of being an observable effect of latent forces; but it cannot be called an epiphenomenon, unless you use the word phenomenon in the one sense for substance and in the other sense for consciousness. The word consciousness does not seem to me ambiguous. Where there is consciousness there is a shade and beginning of happiness or unhappiness; and there is also a shade or beginning of cognition.
Here my chief conversation is with Bertrand Russell. He has a theory of nature, or rather of the knowledge of nature, which is rather Mill-ish and almost Humean; it is artificial and accurate, and is related to reality like a literal translation in Bohn's library to the original Homer or Aeschylus. But in logic I find him very clear and enlightening, and I hope to profit by his indications in my book. We are very far apart, however, farther than I had supposed, in outlook. He wants certainty, and the narrowest deepest possible foundations for thought; I want judicious opinions and a just balance in the imagination.
Russell says there are some things that it is a fallacy even to mention! They can be only predicates. I understand numbers are among them. Poor infallible arithmetic thus turns out to be guilty of original sin and to have committed a fallacy before it begins to speak. Perhaps the Pope is alone infallible after all.
enter Russell is more English, atomistic, and nominalistic than I had supposed. You say at the very end that Russell should speak of "things as they appear" and not of "sense-data". It may interest you to know that by " sense -data" he means just that, i. He does not mean sensible qualities , but existences of that quality. He denies altogether. And they are all absolutely simple.
Such "essences" as numbers do not exist even in the realm of essence but are mere qualities of things in couples, etc. It remains for me only, the sole "materialist", to be something more as well. But alleged things, supposed existences directly intuited, may not exist in fact, as the mouse didn't in the case of the "psychical" lady. These dreamt-of-things and perception is, I say, just dreaming in itself may not actually be those on which the bodily reaction ensues, they may be illusions. To show that some of them are not we need inference, argument, and above all art , mechanical practice.
This faith in our intuition of nature, this chastened faith in perception, is science and common-sense; it is a rational form of thought and belief. It is not mere perception, or the animal sense perhaps an illusion that each particular essence intuited is a real thing. You must distinguish the sense of an existing object from the existence of an object such as is perceived.
He hardly differs, in the end, from John Stuart Mill. Yet in philosophy. But this movement, far from being a reawakening of any organising instinct, is simply an extreme expression of romantic anarchy. He will therefore study it conscientiously, yet with a certain irritation and haste to be done with it, somewhat as a Jesuit might study Protestant theology.
Henri Bergson [ ]. Russell has relapsed into English Empiricism: the only point besides the independent existence of the subject he seems to adhere to against them is the connection of sense-data with a mind; for I understand that the new construction out of sense-data is not a subjective construction in Hume's or Mill's-fashion out of actual perceptions, but a mechanical or logical construction out of objective entities such as those given in sense and defined exhaustively by their given qualities.
This is a hopeless air-castle. In inventing the transcendental method, the study of subjective projections and perspectives, [German philosophy] has added a new dimension to human speculation. For favourable as Protestantism is to investigation and learning, it is almost incompatible with clearness of thought and fundamental freedom of attitude. A theoretical materialist, who looks on the natural world as on a soil that he has risen from and feeds on, may perhaps feel a certain piety towards those obscure abysses of nature that have given him birth; but his delight will be rather in the clear things of the imagination, in the humanities, by which the rude forces of nature are at once expressed and eluded.
Not so the transcendentalist. Regarding his mind as the source of everything, he is moved to solemn silence and piety only before himself: on the other hand, what bewitches him, what he loves to fondle, is his progeny, the material environment, the facts, the laws, the blood, and the iron in which he conceives quite truly, perhaps that his spirit perfectly and freely expresses itself. To despise the world and withdraw into the realm of mind, as into a subtler and more congenial sphere, is quite contrary to his idealism. Such a retreat might bring him peace, and he wants war.
His idealism teaches him that strife and contradiction, as Heraclitus said, are the parents of all things; and if he stopped striving, if he grew sick of ambition and material goods, he thinks he would be forsaking life, for he hates as he would death what another kind of idealists have called salvation. Of course an abstract and perpetual happiness is impossible, not merely because events are sure to disturb any equilibrium we may think we have established in our lives, but for the far more fundamental reason that we have no abstract and perpetual instinct to satisfy.
A highest good to be obtained apart from each and every specific interest is more than unattainable; it is unthinkable. That an attitude is foolish, incoherent, disastrous, proves nothing against the depth of the instinct that inspires it. Who could be more intensely unintelligent than Luther or Rousseau? Yet the world followed them, not to turn back. The molecular forces of society, so to speak, had already undermined the systems which these men denounced. If the systems have survived it is only because the reformers, in their intellectual helplessness, could supply nothing to take their place.
So Nietzsche, in his genial imbecility, betrays the shifting of great subterranean forces. What he said may be nothing, but the fact that he said it is all-important. What really offends them may not be what is false in the received orthodoxy, but what though true is uncongenial to them. In that case heathenism, under the guise of a search for a purer wisdom, is working in their souls against wisdom of any sort. Such is the suspicion that Catholics would throw on Protestantism, naturalists on idealism, and conservatives generally on all revolutions.
The rebellion of the heathen soul is unmistakable in the Reformation, but it is not recognised in this simple form, because those who feel that it was justified do not dream that it was heathen, and those who see it was heathen will not admit that it was justified. Externally, of course, it was an effort to recover the original essence of Christianity; [but it] was simply the inertia of established prejudice that made people use tradition to correct tradition; until the whole substance of tradition, worn away by that internal friction, should be dissolved, and impulse and native genius should assert themselves unimpeded.
But heathenism ignores happiness, despises it, or thinks it impossible. They wish everybody to sacrifice or rather to forget happiness, and to do "deeds. It is in the nature of things that those who are incapable of happiness should have no idea of it. Happiness is not for wild animals, who can only oscillate between apathy and passion. To be happy, even to conceive of happiness, you must be reasonable or if Nietzsche prefers the word you must be tamed. You must have taken the measure of your powers, tasted the fruits of your passions and learned your place in the world and what things in it can really serve you.
To be happy you must be wise. This happiness is sometimes found instinctively, and then the rudest fanatic can hardly fail to see how lovely it is; but sometimes it comes of having learned something by experience which empirical people never do and involves some chastening and renunciation; but it is not less sweet for having this touch of holiness about it, and the spirit of it is healthy and beneficent. The nature of happiness, therefore, dawns upon philosophers when their wisdom begins to report the lessons of experience; an a priori philosophy can have no inkling of it.
Happiness is the union of vitality with art, and in so far as vitality is a spiritual thing and not mere restlessness and vehemence, art increases vitality. Indeed, nothing beside his own purpose will have any value in his eyes, or even any existence.
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He will therefore inevitably act without consideration for others, without courtesy, without understanding. It follows from his egotistical principles that in judging others he should be officious and rude, learned and mistaken. After all, antiquity must have been right in thinking that reasonable self-direction must rest on having a determinate character and knowing what it is, and that only the truth about God and happiness, if we somehow found it, could make us free. But the truth is not to be found by guessing at it, as religious prophets and men of genius have done, and then damning every one who does not agree.
Human nature, for all its substantial fixity, is a living thing with many varieties and variations. All diversity of opinion is therefore not founded on ignorance ; it may express a legitimate change of habit or interest. The classic and Christian synthesis from which we have broken loose was certainly premature, even if the only issue of our liberal experiments should be to lead us back to some such equilibrium.
Let us hope at least that the new morality, when it comes, may be more broadly based than the old on knowledge of the world, not so absolute, not so meticulous, and not chanted so much in the monotone of an abstracted sage. The days of liberalism are numbered. First the horrors of competition discredited it, and now the trial of war, which it foolishly thought it could elude.
The vogue of culture, too, has declined. The rightness of liberalism is exactly proportional to the diversity of human nature, to its vague hold on its ideals. Where this vagueness and play of variation stop, and they stop not far below the surface, the sphere of public organization should begin. It is in the subsoil of uniformity, of tradition, of dire necessity that human welfare is rooted, together with wisdom and unaffected art, and the flowers of culture that do not draw their sap from that soil are only paper flowers.
Philosophy is not a science; it might be a life or a means of artistic expression, but it is not likely to be either at an American college. What enabled Socrates and Plato to apply their personal morality in the gross, and to imagine that they had a political system as well as a spiritual one, was a triple oversight on their part. The orthodox then profess to know the man better a priori than he knows himself by experience; everything that departs from their conventions is set down for a disease, a sin, or a contradiction; and this innate obliquity in man their zeal must hasten to extirpate.
No attempt to do justice to life or society is possible on such a basis. Socrates and Plato] were political philosophers by tradition, being Greeks, but private moralists by vocation, and it is only to private morality that their system really applies. In the 'Republic' the problem is how to save the soul, and the political discussion is introduced only as a great parable, because the public in those pre-Christian days had a keener sense for political than for spiritual perfection. In the first place they thought that scientific knowledge of nature was impossible, or at least irrelevant to the government of life and to the right choice of ideals.
In the next place, unlike the Indians, they overlooked the whole non-human creation. Guides you to smart, interesting podcasts based on category, channel, or even specific topics. Looking for a high-quality podcasts app on Android? Player FM might just be it. Brilliantly useful, fantastically intuitive, beautiful UI. Developers constantly update and improve. Easy and intuitive to use. New features frequently added.
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