A Pluralistic Universe
William James

Part 1 out of 4

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Hibbert Lectures at Manchester College on the Present Situation in






Our age is growing philosophical again, 3. Change of tone since 1860, 4.
Empiricism and Rationalism defined, 7. The process of Philosophizing:
Philosophers choose some part of the world to interpret the whole by, 8.
They seek to make it seem less strange, 11. Their temperamental
differences, 12. Their systems must be reasoned out, 13. Their tendency
to over-technicality, 15. Excess of this in Germany, 17. The type of
vision is the important thing in a philosopher, 20. Primitive thought,
21. Spiritualism and Materialism: Spiritualism shows two types, 23.
Theism and Pantheism, 24. Theism makes a duality of Man and God, and
leaves Man an outsider, 25. Pantheism identifies Man with God, 29. The
contemporary tendency is towards Pantheism, 30. Legitimacy of our demand
to be essential in the Universe, 33. Pluralism versus Monism: The 'each-
form' and the 'all-form' of representing the world, 34. Professor Jacks
quoted, 35. Absolute Idealism characterized, 36. Peculiarities of the
finite consciousness which the Absolute cannot share, 38. The finite
still remains outside of absolute reality, 40.



Recapitulation, 43. Radical Pluralism is to be the thesis of these
lectures, 44. Most philosophers contemn it, 45. Foreignness to us of
Bradley's Absolute, 46. Spinoza and 'quatenus,'47. Difficulty of
sympathizing with the Absolute, 48. Idealistic attempt to interpret it,
50. Professor Jones quoted, 52. Absolutist refutations of Pluralism, 54.
Criticism of Lotze's proof of Monism by the analysis of what interaction
involves, 55. Vicious intellectualism defined, 60. Royce's alternative:
either the complete disunion or the absolute union of things, 61.
Bradley's dialectic difficulties with relations, 69. Inefficiency of the
Absolute as a rationalizing remedy, 71. Tendency of Rationalists to fly
to extremes, 74. The question of 'external' relations, 79. Transition to
Hegel, 91.



Hegel's influence. 85. The type of his vision is impressionistic, 87.
The 'dialectic' element in reality, 88. Pluralism involves possible
conflicts among things, 90. Hegel explains conflicts by the mutual
contradictoriness of concepts, 91. Criticism of his attempt to transcend
ordinary logic, 92. Examples of the 'dialectic' constitution of things,
95. The rationalistic ideal: propositions self-securing by means of
double negation, 101. Sublimity of the conception, 104. Criticism of
Hegel's account: it involves vicious intellectualism, 105. Hegel is a
seer rather than a reasoner, 107. 'The Absolute' and 'God' are two
different notions, 110. Utility of the Absolute in conferring mental
peace, 114. But this is counterbalanced by the peculiar paradoxes which
it introduces into philosophy, 116. Leibnitz and Lotze on the 'fall'
involved in the creation of the finite, 119. Joachim on the fall of
truth into error, 121. The world of the absolutist cannot be perfect,
123. Pluralistic conclusions, 125.



Superhuman consciousness does not necessarily imply an absolute
mind, 134. Thinness of contemporary absolutism, 135. The
tone of Fechner's empiricist pantheism contrasted with that of the
rationalistic sort, 144. Fechner's life, 145. His vision, the 'daylight
view,' 150. His way of reasoning by analogy, 151. The whole universe
animated, 152. His monistic formula is unessential, 153. The
Earth-Soul, 156. Its differences from our souls, 160. The earth as
an angel, 164. The Plant-Soul, 165. The logic used by Fechner,
168. His theory of immortality, 170. The 'thickness' of his imagination,
173. Inferiority of the ordinary transcendentalist pantheism,
to his vision, 174.


The assumption that states of mind may compound themselves, 181. This
assumption is held in common by naturalistic psychology, by
transcendental idealism, and by Fechner, 184. Criticism of it by the
present writer in a former book, 188. Physical combinations, so-called,
cannot be invoked as analogous, 194. Nevertheless, combination must be
postulated among the parts of the Universe, 197. The logical objections
to admitting it, 198. Rationalistic treatment of the question brings us
to an _impasse_, 208. A radical breach with intellectualism is required,
212. Transition to Bergson's philosophy, 214. Abusive use of concepts,



Professor Bergson's personality, 225. Achilles and the tortoise, 228.
Not a sophism, 229. We make motion unintelligible when we treat it by
static concepts, 233. Conceptual treatment is nevertheless of immense
practical use, 235. The traditional rationalism gives an essentially
static universe, 237. Intolerableness of the intellectualist view, 240.
No rationalist account is possible of action, change, or immediate life,
244. The function of concepts is practical rather than theoretical, 247.
Bergson remands us to intuition or sensational experience for the
understanding of how life makes itself go, 252. What Bergson means by
this, 255. Manyness in oneness must be admitted, 256. What really exists
is not things made, but things in the making, 263. Bergson's
originality, 264. Impotence of intellectualist logic to define a
universe where change is continuous, 267. Livingly, things _are_ their
own others, so that there is a sense in which Hegel's logic is true,



Green's critique of Sensationalism, 278. Relations are as immediately
felt as terms are, 280. The union of things is given in the immediate
flux, not in any conceptual reason that overcomes the flux's aboriginal
incoherence, 282. The minima of experience as vehicles of continuity,
284. Fallacy of the objections to self-compounding, 286. The concrete
units of experience are 'their own others,' 287. Reality is confluent
from next to next, 290. Intellectualism must be sincerely renounced,
291. The Absolute is only an hypothesis, 292. Fechner's God is not the
Absolute, 298. The Absolute solves no intellectualist difficulty, 296.
Does superhuman consciousness probably exist? 298.



Specifically religious experiences occur, 303. Their nature, 304.
They corroborate the notion of a larger life of which we are a part,
308. This life must be finite if we are to escape the paradoxes of
monism, 310. God as a finite being, 311. Empiricism is a better
ally than rationalism, of religion, 313. Empirical proofs of larger
mind may open the door to superstitions, 315. But this objection
should not be deemed fatal, 316. Our beliefs form parts of reality,
317. In pluralistic empiricism our relation to God remains least
foreign, 318. The word 'rationality' had better be replaced by the
word 'intimacy,' 319. Monism and pluralism distinguished and
defined, 321. Pluralism involves indeterminism, 324. All men use
the 'faith-ladder' in reaching their decision, 328. Conclusion, 330.









As these lectures are meant to be public, and so few, I have assumed
all very special problems to be excluded, and some topic of general
interest required. Fortunately, our age seems to be growing
philosophical again--still in the ashes live the wonted fires. Oxford,
long the seed-bed, for the english world, of the idealism inspired by
Kant and Hegel, has recently become the nursery of a very different
way of thinking. Even non-philosophers have begun to take an interest
in a controversy over what is known as pluralism or humanism. It
looks a little as if the ancient english empirism, so long put out of
fashion here by nobler sounding germanic formulas, might be repluming
itself and getting ready for a stronger flight than ever. It looks as
if foundations were being sounded and examined afresh.

Individuality outruns all classification, yet we insist on classifying
every one we meet under some general head. As these heads usually
suggest prejudicial associations to some hearer or other, the life
of philosophy largely consists of resentments at the classing, and
complaints of being misunderstood. But there are signs of clearing up,
and, on the whole, less acrimony in discussion, for which both Oxford
and Harvard are partly to be thanked. As I look back into the sixties,
Mill, Bain, and Hamilton were the only official philosophers in
Britain. Spencer, Martineau, and Hodgson were just beginning. In
France, the pupils of Cousin were delving into history only, and
Renouvier alone had an original system. In Germany, the hegelian
impetus had spent itself, and, apart from historical scholarship,
nothing but the materialistic controversy remained, with such men as
Buechner and Ulrici as its champions. Lotze and Fechner were the sole
original thinkers, and Fechner was not a professional philosopher at

The general impression made was of crude issues and oppositions, of
small subtlety and of a widely spread ignorance. Amateurishness was
rampant. Samuel Bailey's 'letters on the philosophy of the human
mind,' published in 1855, are one of the ablest expressions of english
associationism, and a book of real power. Yet hear how he writes of
Kant: 'No one, after reading the extracts, etc., can be surprised to
hear of a declaration by men of eminent abilities, that, after years
of study, they had not succeeded in gathering one clear idea from the
speculations of Kant. I should have been almost surprised if they had.
In or about 1818, Lord Grenville, when visiting the Lakes of England,
observed to Professor Wilson that, after five years' study of Kant's
philosophy, he had not gathered from it one clear idea. Wilberforce,
about the same time, made the same confession to another friend of
my own. "I am endeavoring," exclaims Sir James Mackintosh, in the
irritation, evidently, of baffled efforts, "to understand this
accursed german philosophy."[1]

What Oxford thinker would dare to print such _naif_ and
provincial-sounding citations of authority to-day?

The torch of learning passes from land to land as the spirit bloweth
the flame. The deepening of philosophic consciousness came to us
english folk from Germany, as it will probably pass back ere long.
Ferrier, J.H. Stirling, and, most of all, T.H. Green are to be
thanked. If asked to tell in broad strokes what the main doctrinal
change has been, I should call it a change from the crudity of the
older english thinking, its ultra-simplicity of mind, both when it was
religious and when it was anti-religious, toward a rationalism
derived in the first instance from Germany, but relieved from german
technicality and shrillness, and content to suggest, and to remain
vague, and to be, in, the english fashion, devout.

By the time T.H. Green began at Oxford, the generation seemed to
feel as if it had fed on the chopped straw of psychology and of
associationism long enough, and as if a little vastness, even though
it went with vagueness, as of some moist wind from far away, reminding
us of our pre-natal sublimity, would be welcome.

Green's great point of attack was the disconnectedness of the reigning
english sensationalism. _Relating_ was the great intellectual activity
for him, and the key to this relating was believed by him to
lodge itself at last in what most of you know as Kant's unity of
apperception, transformed into a living spirit of the world.

Hence a monism of a devout kind. In some way we must be fallen angels,
one with intelligence as such; and a great disdain for empiricism
of the sensationalist sort has always characterized this school of
thought, which, on the whole, has reigned supreme at Oxford and in the
Scottish universities until the present day.

But now there are signs of its giving way to a wave of revised
empiricism. I confess that I should be glad to see this latest wave
prevail; so--the sooner I am frank about it the better--I hope to
have my voice counted in its favor as one of the results of this

What do the terms empiricism and rationalism mean? Reduced to their
most pregnant difference, _empiricism means the habit of explaining
wholes by parts, and rationalism means the habit of explaining parts
by wholes_. Rationalism thus preserves affinities with monism, since
wholeness goes with union, while empiricism inclines to pluralistic
views. No philosophy can ever be anything but a summary sketch, a
picture of the world in abridgment, a foreshortened bird's-eye view of
the perspective of events. And the first thing to notice is this, that
the only material we have at our disposal for making a picture of the
whole world is supplied by the various portions of that world of
which we have already had experience. We can invent no new forms of
conception, applicable to the whole exclusively, and not suggested
originally by the parts. All philosophers, accordingly, have conceived
of the whole world after the analogy of some particular feature of it
which has particularly captivated their attention. Thus, the theists
take their cue from manufacture, the pantheists from growth. For one
man, the world is like a thought or a grammatical sentence in which a
thought is expressed. For such a philosopher, the whole must logically
be prior to the parts; for letters would never have been invented
without syllables to spell, or syllables without words to utter.

Another man, struck by the disconnectedness and mutual accidentality
of so many of the world's details, takes the universe as a whole to
have been such a disconnectedness originally, and supposes order to
have been superinduced upon it in the second instance, possibly
by attrition and the gradual wearing away by internal friction of
portions that originally interfered.

Another will conceive the order as only a statistical appearance, and
the universe will be for him like a vast grab-bag with black and white
balls in it, of which we guess the quantities only probably, by the
frequency with which we experience their egress.

For another, again, there is no really inherent order, but it is we
who project order into the world by selecting objects and tracing
relations so as to gratify our intellectual interests. We _carve out_
order by leaving the disorderly parts out; and the world is conceived
thus after the analogy of a forest or a block of marble from which
parks or statues may be produced by eliminating irrelevant trees or
chips of stone.

Some thinkers follow suggestions from human life, and treat the
universe as if it were essentially a place in which ideals are
realized. Others are more struck by its lower features, and for them,
brute necessities express its character better.

All follow one analogy or another; and all the analogies are with some
one or other of the universe's subdivisions. Every one is nevertheless
prone to claim that his conclusions are the only logical ones, that
they are necessities of universal reason, they being all the while, at
bottom, accidents more or less of personal vision which had far better
be avowed as such; for one man's vision may be much more valuable than
another's, and our visions are usually not only our most interesting
but our most respectable contributions to the world in which we play
our part. What was reason given to men for, said some eighteenth
century writer, except to enable them to find reasons for what they
want to think and do?--and I think the history of philosophy largely
bears him out, 'The aim of knowledge,' says Hegel,[2] 'is to divest
the objective world of its strangeness, and to make us more at home
in it.' Different men find their minds more at home in very different
fragments of the world.

Let me make a few comments, here, on the curious antipathies which
these partialities arouse. They are sovereignly unjust, for all the
parties are human beings with the same essential interests, and no one
of them is the wholly perverse demon which another often imagines him
to be. Both are loyal to the world that bears them; neither wishes to
spoil it; neither wishes to regard it as an insane incoherence; both
want to keep it as a universe of some kind; and their differences are
all secondary to this deep agreement. They may be only propensities to
emphasize differently. Or one man may care for finality and security
more than the other. Or their tastes in language may be different.
One may like a universe that lends itself to lofty and exalted
characterization. To another this may seem sentimental or rhetorical.
One may wish for the right to use a clerical vocabulary, another a
technical or professorial one. A certain old farmer of my acquaintance
in America was called a rascal by one of his neighbors. He immediately
smote the man, saying,'I won't stand none of your diminutive
epithets.' Empiricist minds, putting the parts before the whole,
appear to rationalists, who start from the whole, and consequently
enjoy magniloquent privileges, to use epithets offensively diminutive.
But all such differences are minor matters which ought to be
subordinated in view of the fact that, whether we be empiricists or
rationalists, we are, ourselves, parts of the universe and share the
same one deep concern in its destinies. We crave alike to feel more
truly at home with it, and to contribute our mite to its amelioration.
It would be pitiful if small aesthetic discords were to keep honest
men asunder.

I shall myself have use for the diminutive epithets of empiricism. But
if you look behind the words at the spirit, I am sure you will not
find it matricidal. I am as good a son as any rationalist among you to
our common mother. What troubles me more than this misapprehension is
the genuine abstruseness of many of the matters I shall be obliged
to talk about, and the difficulty of making them intelligible at one
hearing. But there two pieces, 'zwei stuecke,' as Kant would have said,
in every philosophy--the final outlook, belief, or attitude to which
it brings us, and the reasonings by which that attitude is reached and
mediated. A philosophy, as James Ferrier used to tell us, must indeed
be true, but that is the least of its requirements. One may be true
without being a philosopher, true by guesswork or by revelation.
What distinguishes a philosopher's truth is that it is _reasoned_.
Argument, not supposition, must have put it in his possession. Common
men find themselves inheriting their beliefs, they know not how. They
jump into them with both feet, and stand there. Philosophers must
do more; they must first get reason's license for them; and to the
professional philosophic mind the operation of procuring the license
is usually a thing of much more pith and moment than any particular
beliefs to which the license may give the rights of access. Suppose,
for example, that a philosopher believes in what is called free-will.
That a common man alongside of him should also share that belief,
possessing it by a sort of inborn intuition, does not endear the man
to the philosopher at all--he may even be ashamed to be associated
with such a man. What interests the philosopher is the particular
premises on which the free-will he believes in is established, the
sense in which it is taken, the objections it eludes, the difficulties
it takes account of, in short the whole form and temper and manner
and technical apparatus that goes with the belief in question.
A philosopher across the way who should use the same technical
apparatus, making the same distinctions, etc., but drawing opposite
conclusions and denying free-will entirely, would fascinate the first
philosopher far more than would the _naif_ co-believer. Their common
technical interests would unite them more than their opposite
conclusions separate them. Each would feel an essential consanguinity
in the other, would think of him, write _at_ him, care for his good
opinion. The simple-minded believer in free-will would be disregarded
by either. Neither as ally nor as opponent would his vote be counted.

In a measure this is doubtless as it should be, but like all
professionalism it can go to abusive extremes. The end is after all
more than the way, in most things human, and forms and methods may
easily frustrate their own purpose. The abuse of technicality is
seen in the infrequency with which, in philosophical literature,
metaphysical questions are discussed directly and on their own merits.
Almost always they are handled as if through a heavy woolen curtain,
the veil of previous philosophers' opinions. Alternatives are wrapped
in proper names, as if it were indecent for a truth to go naked. The
late Professor John Grote of Cambridge has some good remarks about
this. 'Thought,' he says,'is not a professional matter, not something
for so-called philosophers only or for professed thinkers. The best
philosopher is the man who can think most _simply_. ... I wish that
people would consider that thought--and philosophy is no more than
good and methodical thought--is a matter _intimate_ to them, a portion
of their real selves ... that they would _value_ what they think, and
be interested in it.... In my own opinion,' he goes on, 'there is
something depressing in this weight of learning, with nothing that can
come into one's mind but one is told, Oh, that is the opinion of such
and such a person long ago. ... I can conceive of nothing more noxious
for students than to get into the habit of saying to themselves about
their ordinary philosophic thought, Oh, somebody must have thought it
all before.'[3] Yet this is the habit most encouraged at our seats of
learning. You must tie your opinion to Aristotle's or Spinoza's; you
must define it by its distance from Kant's; you must refute your
rival's view by identifying it with Protagoras's. Thus does all
spontaneity of thought, all freshness of conception, get destroyed.
Everything you touch is shopworn. The over-technicality and consequent
dreariness of the younger disciples at our american universities is
appalling. It comes from too much following of german models and
manners. Let me fervently express the hope that in this country you
will hark back to the more humane english tradition. American students
have to regain direct relations with our subject by painful individual
effort in later life. Some of us have done so. Some of the younger
ones, I fear, never will, so strong are the professional shop-habits

In a subject like philosophy it is really fatal to lose connexion with
the open air of human nature, and to think in terms of shop-tradition
only. In Germany the forms are so professionalized that anybody who
has gained a teaching chair and written a book, however distorted and
eccentric, has the legal right to figure forever in the history of the
subject like a fly in amber. All later comers have the duty of quoting
him and measuring their opinions with his opinion. Such are the rules
of the professorial game--they think and write from each other and for
each other and at each other exclusively. With this exclusion of the
open air all true perspective gets lost, extremes and oddities count
as much as sanities, and command the same attention; and if by chance
any one writes popularly and about results only, with his mind
directly focussed on the subject, it is reckoned _oberflaechliches
zeug_ and _ganz unwissenschaftlich_. Professor Paulsen has recently
written some feeling lines about this over-professionalism, from
the reign of which in Germany his own writings, which sin by being
'literary,' have suffered loss of credit. Philosophy, he says, has
long assumed in Germany the character of being an esoteric and
occult science. There is a genuine fear of popularity. Simplicity of
statement is deemed synonymous with hollowness and shallowness. He
recalls an old professor saying to him once: 'Yes, we philosophers,
whenever we wish, can go so far that in a couple of sentences we can
put ourselves where nobody can follow us.' The professor said this
with conscious pride, but he ought to have been ashamed of it. Great
as technique is, results are greater. To teach philosophy so that the
pupils' interest in technique exceeds that in results is surely a
vicious aberration. It is bad form, not good form, in a discipline
of such universal human interest. Moreover, technique for technique,
doesn't David Hume's technique set, after all, the kind of pattern
most difficult to follow? Isn't it the most admirable? The english
mind, thank heaven, and the french mind, are still kept, by their
aversion to crude technique and barbarism, closer to truth's natural
probabilities. Their literatures show fewer obvious falsities and
monstrosities than that of Germany. Think of the german literature of
aesthetics, with the preposterousness of such an unaesthetic personage
as Immanuel Kant enthroned in its centre! Think of german books on
_religions-philosophie_, with the heart's battles translated into
conceptual jargon and made dialectic. The most persistent setter of
questions, feeler of objections, insister on satisfactions, is the
religious life. Yet all its troubles can be treated with absurdly
little technicality. The wonder is that, with their way of working
philosophy, individual Germans should preserve any spontaneity of
mind at all. That they still manifest freshness and originality in so
eminent a degree, proves the indestructible richness of the german
cerebral endowment.

Let me repeat once more that a man's vision is the great fact about
him. Who cares for Carlyle's reasons, or Schopenhauer's, or Spencer's?
A philosophy is the expression of a man's intimate character, and all
definitions of the universe are but the deliberately adopted reactions
of human characters upon it. In the recent book from which I quoted
the words of Professor Paulsen, a book of successive chapters by
various living german philosophers,[4] we pass from one idiosyncratic
personal atmosphere into another almost as if we were turning over a
photograph album.

If we take the whole history of philosophy, the systems reduce
themselves to a few main types which, under all the technical verbiage
in which the ingenious intellect of man envelops them, are just so
many visions, modes of feeling the whole push, and seeing the whole
drift of life, forced on one by one's total character and experience,
and on the whole _preferred_--there is no other truthful word--as
one's best working attitude. Cynical characters take one general
attitude, sympathetic characters another. But no general attitude
is possible towards the world as a whole, until the intellect has
developed considerable generalizing power and learned to take pleasure
in synthetic formulas. The thought of very primitive men has hardly
any tincture of philosophy. Nature can have little unity for savages.
It is a Walpurgis-nacht procession, a checkered play of light and
shadow, a medley of impish and elfish friendly and inimical
powers. 'Close to nature' though they live, they are anything but
Wordsworthians. If a bit of cosmic emotion ever thrills them, it is
likely to be at midnight, when the camp smoke rises straight to the
wicked full moon in the zenith, and the forest is all whispering with
witchery and danger. The eeriness of the world, the mischief and the
manyness, the littleness of the forces, the magical surprises, the
unaccountability of every agent, these surely are the characters most
impressive at that stage of culture, these communicate the thrills
of curiosity and the earliest intellectual stirrings. Tempests and
conflagrations, pestilences and earthquakes, reveal supramundane
powers, and instigate religious terror rather than philosophy. Nature,
more demonic than divine, is above all things _multifarious_. So many
creatures that feed or threaten, that help or crush, so many beings
to hate or love, to understand or start at--which is on top and which
subordinate? Who can tell? They are co-ordinate, rather, and to adapt
ourselves to them singly, to 'square' the dangerous powers and keep
the others friendly, regardless of consistency or unity, is the chief
problem. The symbol of nature at this stage, as Paulsen well says,
is the sphinx, under whose nourishing breasts the tearing claws are

But in due course of time the intellect awoke, with its passion for
generalizing, simplifying, and subordinating, and then began those
divergences of conception which all later experience seems rather
to have deepened than to have effaced, because objective nature has
contributed to both sides impartially, and has let the thinkers
emphasize different parts of her, and pile up opposite imaginary

Perhaps the most interesting opposition is that which results from the
clash between what I lately called the sympathetic and the cynical
temper. Materialistic and spiritualistic philosophies are the rival
types that result: the former defining the world so as to leave man's
soul upon it as a soil of outside passenger or alien, while the latter
insists that the intimate and human must surround and underlie the
brutal. This latter is the spiritual way of thinking.

Now there are two very distinct types or stages in spiritualistic
philosophy, and my next purpose in this lecture is to make their
contrast evident. Both types attain the sought-for intimacy of view,
but the one attains it somewhat less successfully than the other.

The generic term spiritualism, which I began by using merely as the
opposite of materialism, thus subdivides into two species, the more
intimate one of which is monistic and the less intimate dualistic. The
dualistic species is the _theism_ that reached its elaboration in the
scholastic philosophy, while the monistic species is the _pantheism_
spoken of sometimes simply as idealism, and sometimes as
'post-kantian' or 'absolute' idealism. Dualistic theism is professed
as firmly as ever at all catholic seats of learning, whereas it has
of late years tended to disappear at our british and american
universities, and to be replaced by a monistic pantheism more or less
open or disguised. I have an impression that ever since T.H. Green's
time absolute idealism has been decidedly in the ascendent at Oxford.
It is in the ascendent at my own university of Harvard.

Absolute idealism attains, I said, to the more intimate point of view;
but the statement needs some explanation. So far as theism represents
the world as God's world, and God as what Matthew Arnold called a
magnified non-natural man, it would seem as if the inner quality of
the world remained human, and as if our relations with it might be
intimate enough--for what is best in ourselves appears then also
outside of ourselves, and we and the universe are of the same
spiritual species. So far, so good, then; and one might consequently
ask, What more of intimacy do you require? To which the answer is
that to be like a thing is not as intimate a relation as to be
substantially fused into it, to form one continuous soul and body with
it; and that pantheistic idealism, making us entitatively one with
God, attains this higher reach of intimacy.

The theistic conception, picturing God and his creation as entities
distinct from each other, still leaves the human subject outside of
the deepest reality in the universe. God is from eternity complete, it
says, and sufficient unto himself; he throws off the world by a free
act and as an extraneous substance, and he throws off man as a third
substance, extraneous to both the world and himself. Between them, God
says 'one,' the world says 'two,' and man says 'three,'--that is the
orthodox theistic view. And orthodox theism has been so jealous of
God's glory that it has taken pains to exaggerate everything in the
notion of him that could make for isolation and separateness. Page
upon page in scholastic books go to prove that God is in no sense
implicated by his creative act, or involved in his creation. That his
relation to the creatures he has made should make any difference to
him, carry any consequence, or qualify his being, is repudiated as a
pantheistic slur upon his self-sufficingness. I said a moment ago that
theism treats us and God as of the same species, but from the orthodox
point of view that was a slip of language. God and his creatures
are _toto genere_ distinct in the scholastic theology, they have
absolutely _nothing_ in common; nay, it degrades God to attribute to
him any generic nature whatever; he can be classed with nothing. There
is a sense, then, in which philosophic theism makes us outsiders and
keeps us foreigners in relation to God, in which, at any rate, his
connexion with us appears as unilateral and not reciprocal. His action
can affect us, but he can never be affected by our reaction. Our
relation, in short, is not a strictly social relation. Of course in
common men's religion the relation is believed to be social, but that
is only one of the many differences between religion and theology.

This essential dualism of the theistic view has all sorts of
collateral consequences. Man being an outsider and a mere subject to
God, not his intimate partner, a character of externality invades the
field. God is not heart of our heart and reason of our reason, but our
magistrate, rather; and mechanically to obey his commands, however
strange they may be, remains our only moral duty. Conceptions of
criminal law have in fact played a great part in defining our
relations with him. Our relations with speculative truth show the
same externality. One of our duties is to know truth, and rationalist
thinkers have always assumed it to be our sovereign duty. But in
scholastic theism we find truth already instituted and established
without our help, complete apart from our knowing; and the most we
can do is to acknowledge it passively and adhere to it, altho such
adhesion as ours can make no jot of difference to what is adhered to.
The situation here again is radically dualistic. It is not as if the
world came to know itself, or God came to know himself, partly through
us, as pantheistic idealists have maintained, but truth exists _per
se_ and absolutely, by God's grace and decree, no matter who of us
knows it or is ignorant, and it would continue to exist unaltered,
even though we finite knowers were all annihilated.

It has to be confessed that this dualism and lack of intimacy has
always operated as a drag and handicap on Christian thought. Orthodox
theology has had to wage a steady fight within the schools against the
various forms of pantheistic heresy which the mystical experiences
of religious persons, on the one hand, and the formal or aesthetic
superiorities of monism to dualism, on the other, kept producing. God
as intimate soul and reason of the universe has always seemed to some
people a more worthy conception than God as external creator. So
conceived, he appeared to unify the world more perfectly, he made
it less finite and mechanical, and in comparison with such a God an
external creator seemed more like the product of a childish fancy. I
have been told by Hindoos that the great obstacle to the spread
of Christianity in their country is the puerility of our dogma
of creation. It has not sweep and infinity enough to meet the
requirements of even the illiterate natives of India.

Assuredly most members of this audience are ready to side with
Hinduism in this matter. Those of us who are sexagenarians have
witnessed in our own persons one of those gradual mutations of
intellectual climate, due to innumerable influences, that make the
thought of a past generation seem as foreign to its successor as if
it were the expression of a different race of men. The theological
machinery that spoke so livingly to our ancestors, with its finite age
of the world, its creation out of nothing, its juridical morality and
eschatology, its relish for rewards and punishments, its treatment of
God as an external contriver, an 'intelligent and moral governor,'
sounds as odd to most of us as if it were some outlandish savage
religion. The vaster vistas which scientific evolutionism has opened,
and the rising tide of social democratic ideals, have changed the type
of our imagination, and the older monarchical theism is obsolete or
obsolescent. The place of the divine in the world must be more organic
and intimate. An external creator and his institutions may still be
verbally confessed at Church in formulas that linger by their mere
inertia, but the life is out of them, we avoid dwelling on them, the
sincere heart of us is elsewhere. I shall leave cynical materialism
entirely out of our discussion as not calling for treatment before
this present audience, and I shall ignore old-fashioned dualistic
theism for the same reason. Our contemporary mind having once for all
grasped the possibility of a more intimate _Weltanschauung_, the only
opinions quite worthy of arresting our attention will fall within the
general scope of what may roughly be called the pantheistic field of
vision, the vision of God as the indwelling divine rather than the
external creator, and of human life as part and parcel of that deep

As we have found that spiritualism in general breaks into a more
intimate and a less intimate species, so the more intimate species
itself breaks into two subspecies, of which the one is more monistic,
the other more pluralistic in form. I say in form, for our vocabulary
gets unmanageable if we don't distinguish between form and substance
here. The inner life of things must be substantially akin anyhow to
the tenderer parts of man's nature in any spiritualistic philosophy.
The word 'intimacy' probably covers the essential difference.
Materialism holds the foreign in things to be more primary and
lasting, it sends us to a lonely corner with our intimacy. The brutal
aspects overlap and outwear; refinement has the feebler and more
ephemeral hold on reality.

From a pragmatic point of view the difference between living against
a background of foreignness and one of intimacy means the difference
between a general habit of wariness and one of trust. One might call
it a social difference, for after all, the common _socius_ of us all
is the great universe whose children we are. If materialistic, we
must be suspicious of this socius, cautious, tense, on guard. If
spiritualistic, we may give way, embrace, and keep no ultimate fear.

The contrast is rough enough, and can be cut across by all sorts
of other divisions, drawn from other points of view than that of
foreignness and intimacy. We have so many different businesses with
nature that no one of them yields us an all-embracing clasp. The
philosophic attempt to define nature so that no one's business is left
out, so that no one lies outside the door saying 'Where do _I_ come
in?' is sure in advance to fail. The most a philosophy can hope for is
not to lock out any interest forever. No matter what doors it closes,
it must leave other doors open for the interests which it neglects.
I have begun by shutting ourselves up to intimacy and foreignness
because that makes so generally interesting a contrast, and because it
will conveniently introduce a farther contrast to which I wish this
hour to lead.

The majority of men are sympathetic. Comparatively few are cynics
because they like cynicism, and most of our existing materialists are
such because they think the evidence of facts impels them, or because
they find the idealists they are in contact with too private and
tender-minded; so, rather than join their company, they fly to the
opposite extreme. I therefore propose to you to disregard materialists
altogether for the present, and to consider the sympathetic party

It is normal, I say, to be sympathetic in the sense in which I use the
term. Not to demand intimate relations with the universe, and not to
wish them satisfactory, should be accounted signs of something wrong.
Accordingly when minds of this type reach the philosophic level, and
seek some unification of their vision, they find themselves compelled
to correct that aboriginal appearance of things by which savages are
not troubled. That sphinx-like presence, with its breasts and claws,
that first bald multifariousness, is too discrepant an object for
philosophic contemplation. The intimacy and the foreignness cannot be
written down as simply coexisting. An order must be made; and in that
order the higher side of things must dominate. The philosophy of the
absolute agrees with the pluralistic philosophy which I am going
to contrast with it in these lectures, in that both identify human
substance with the divine substance. But whereas absolutism thinks
that the said substance becomes fully divine only in the form of
totality, and is not its real self in any form but the _all_-form, the
pluralistic view which I prefer to adopt is willing to believe that
there may ultimately never be an all-form at all, that the substance
of reality may never get totally collected, that some of it may
remain outside of the largest combination of it ever made, and that
a distributive form of reality, the _each_-form, is logically as
acceptable and empirically as probable as the all-form commonly
acquiesced in as so obviously the self-evident thing. The contrast
between these two forms of a reality which we will agree to suppose
substantially spiritual is practically the topic of this course of
lectures. You see now what I mean by pantheism's two subspecies. If
we give to the monistic subspecies the name of philosophy of the
absolute, we may give that of radical empiricism to its pluralistic
rival, and it may be well to distinguish them occasionally later by
these names.

As a convenient way of entering into the study of their differences,
I may refer to a recent article by Professor Jacks of Manchester
College. Professor Jacks, in some brilliant pages in the 'Hibbert
Journal' for last October, studies the relation between the universe
and the philosopher who describes and defines it for us. You may
assume two cases, he says. Either what the philosopher tells us is
extraneous to the universe he is accounting for, an indifferent
parasitic outgrowth, so to speak; or the fact of his philosophizing
is itself one of the things taken account of in the philosophy, and
self-included in the description. In the former case the philosopher
means by the universe everything _except_ what his own presence
brings; in the latter case his philosophy is itself an intimate
part of the universe, and may be a part momentous enough to give a
different turn to what the other parts signify. It may be a
supreme reaction of the universe upon itself by which it rises to
self-comprehension. It may handle itself differently in consequence of
this event.

Now both empiricism and absolutism bring the philosopher inside
and make man intimate, but the one being pluralistic and the other
monistic, they do so in differing ways that need much explanation. Let
me then contrast the one with the other way of representing the status
of the human thinker.

For monism the world is no collection, but one great all-inclusive
fact outside of which is nothing--nothing is its only alternative.
When the monism is idealistic, this all-enveloping fact is represented
as an absolute mind that makes the partial facts by thinking them,
just as we make objects in a dream by dreaming them, or personages in
a story by imagining them. To _be_, on this scheme, is, on the part of
a finite thing, to be an object for the absolute; and on the part of
the absolute it is to be the thinker of that assemblage of objects. If
we use the word 'content' here, we see that the absolute and the world
have an identical content. The absolute is nothing but the knowledge
of those objects; the objects are nothing but what the absolute knows.
The world and the all-thinker thus compenetrate and soak each other
up without residuum. They are but two names for the same identical
material, considered now from the subjective, and now from the
objective point of view--gedanke and gedachtes, as we would say if we
were Germans. We philosophers naturally form part of the material, on
the monistic scheme. The absolute makes us by thinking us, and if we
ourselves are enlightened enough to be believers in the absolute, one
may then say that our philosophizing is one of the ways in which the
absolute is conscious of itself. This is the full pantheistic scheme,
the _identitaetsphilosophie_, the immanence of God in his creation, a
conception sublime from its tremendous unity. And yet that unity is
incomplete, as closer examination will show.

The absolute and the world are one fact, I said, when materially
considered. Our philosophy, for example, is not numerically distinct
from the absolute's own knowledge of itself, not a duplicate and copy
of it, it is part of that very knowledge, is numerically identical
with as much of it as our thought covers. The absolute just _is_ our
philosophy, along with everything else that is known, in an act of
knowing which (to use the words of my gifted absolutist colleague
Royce) forms in its wholeness one luminously transparent conscious

But one as we are in this material sense with the absolute substance,
that being only the whole of us, and we only the parts of it, yet in a
formal sense something like a pluralism breaks out. When we speak of
the absolute we _take_ the one universal known material collectively
or integrally; when we speak of its objects, of our finite selves,
etc., we _take_ that same identical material distributively and
separately. But what is the use of a thing's _being_ only once if it
can be _taken_ twice over, and if being taken in different ways makes
different things true of it? As the absolute takes me, for example, I
appear _with_ everything else in its field of perfect knowledge. As
I take myself, I appear _without_ most other things in my field
of relative ignorance. And practical differences result from its
knowledge and my ignorance. Ignorance breeds mistake, curiosity,
misfortune, pain, for me; I suffer those consequences. The absolute
knows of those things, of course, for it knows me and my suffering,
but it doesn't itself suffer. It can't be ignorant, for simultaneous
with its knowledge of each question goes its knowledge of each answer.
It can't be patient, for it has to wait for nothing, having everything
at once in its possession. It can't be surprised; it can't be guilty.
No attribute connected with succession can be applied to it, for it
is all at once and wholly what it is, 'with the unity of a single
instant,' and succession is not of it but in it, for we are
continually told that it is 'timeless.'

Things true of the world in its finite aspects, then, are not true of
it in its infinite capacity. _Qua_ finite and plural its accounts of
itself to itself are different from what its account to itself _qua_
infinite and one must be.

With this radical discrepancy between the absolute and the relative
points of view, it seems to me that almost as great a bar to intimacy
between the divine and the human breaks out in pantheism as that which
we found in monarchical theism, and hoped that pantheism might not
show. We humans are incurably rooted in the temporal point of view.
The eternal's ways are utterly unlike our ways. 'Let us imitate the
All,' said the original prospectus of that admirable Chicago quarterly
called the 'Monist.' As if we could, either in thought or conduct!
We are invincibly parts, let us talk as we will, and must always
apprehend the absolute as if it were a foreign being. If what I mean
by this is not wholly clear to you at this point, it ought to grow
clearer as my lectures proceed.



Let me recall to you the programme which I indicated to you at our
last meeting. After agreeing not to consider materialism in any
shape, but to place ourselves straightway upon a more spiritualistic
platform, I pointed out three kinds of spiritual philosophy between
which we are asked to choose. The first way was that of the older
dualistic theism, with ourselves represented as a secondary order of
substances created by God. We found that this allowed of a degree of
intimacy with the creative principle inferior to that implied in the
pantheistic belief that we are substantially one with it, and that the
divine is therefore the most intimate of all our possessions, heart of
our heart, in fact. But we saw that this pantheistic belief could be
held in two forms, a monistic form which I called philosophy of the
absolute, and a pluralistic form which I called radical empiricism,
the former conceiving that the divine exists authentically only when
the world is experienced all at once in its absolute totality, whereas
radical empiricism allows that the absolute sum-total of things may
never be actually experienced or realized in that shape at all, and
that a disseminated, distributed, or incompletely unified appearance
is the only form that reality may yet have achieved.

I may contrast the monistic and pluralistic forms in question as
the 'all-form' and the 'each-form.' At the end of the last hour I
animadverted on the fact that the all-form is so radically different
from the each-form, which is our human form of experiencing the
world, that the philosophy of the absolute, so far as insight and
understanding go, leaves us almost as much outside of the divine being
as dualistic theism does. I believe that radical empiricism, on the
contrary, holding to the each-form, and making of God only one of the
caches, affords the higher degree of intimacy. The general thesis of
these lectures I said would be a defence of the pluralistic against
the monistic view. Think of the universe as existing solely in the
each-form, and you will have on the whole a more reasonable and
satisfactory idea of it than if you insist on the all-form being
necessary. The rest of my lectures will do little more than make this
thesis more concrete, and I hope more persuasive.

It is curious how little countenance radical pluralism has ever had
from philosophers. Whether materialistically or spiritualistically
minded, philosophers have always aimed at cleaning up the litter with
which the world apparently is filled. They have substituted economical
and orderly conceptions for the first sensible tangle; and whether
these were morally elevated or only intellectually neat they were
at any rate always aesthetically pure and definite, and aimed at
ascribing to the world something clean and intellectual in the way of
inner structure. As compared with all these rationalizing pictures,
the pluralistic empiricism which I profess offers but a sorry
appearance. It is a turbid, muddled, gothic sort of an affair, without
a sweeping outline and with little pictorial nobility. Those of you
who are accustomed to the classical constructions of reality may be
excused if your first reaction upon it be absolute contempt--a
shrug of the shoulders as if such ideas were unworthy of explicit
refutation. But one must have lived some time with a system to
appreciate its merits. Perhaps a little more familiarity may mitigate
your first surprise at such a programme as I offer.

First, one word more than what I said last time about the relative
foreignness of the divine principle in the philosophy of the absolute.
Those of you who have read the last two chapters of Mr. Bradley's
wonderful book, 'Appearance and reality,' will remember what an
elaborately foreign aspect _his_ absolute is finally made to assume.
It is neither intelligence nor will, neither a self nor a collection
of selves, neither truthful, good, nor beautiful, as we understand
these terms. It is, in short, a metaphysical monster, all that we are
permitted to say of it being that whatever it is, it is at any rate
_worth_ more (worth more to itself, that is) than if any eulogistic
adjectives of ours applied to it. It is us, and all other appearances,
but none of us _as such_, for in it we are all 'transmuted,' and its
own as-suchness is of another denomination altogether.

Spinoza was the first great absolutist, and the impossibility of being
intimate with _his_ God is universally recognized. _Quatenus infinitus
est_ he is other than what he is _quatenus humanam mentem constituit_.
Spinoza's philosophy has been rightly said to be worked by the word
_quatenus_. Conjunctions, prepositions, and adverbs play indeed the
vital part in all philosophies; and in contemporary idealism the words
'as' and 'qua' bear the burden of reconciling metaphysical unity with
phenomenal diversity. Qua absolute the world is one and perfect, qua
relative it is many and faulty, yet it is identically the self-same
world--instead of talking of it as many facts, we call it one fact in
many aspects.

_As_ absolute, then, or _sub specie eternitatis_, or _quatenus
infinitus est_, the world repels our sympathy because it has no
history. _As such_, the absolute neither acts nor suffers, nor loves
nor hates; it has no needs, desires, or aspirations, no failures or
successes, friends or enemies, victories or defeats. All such things
pertain to the world qua relative, in which our finite experiences
lie, and whose vicissitudes alone have power to arouse our interest.
What boots it to tell me that the absolute way is the true way, and
to exhort me, as Emerson says, to lift mine eye up to its style, and
manners of the sky, if the feat is impossible by definition? I am
finite once for all, and all the categories of my sympathy are knit up
with the finite world _as such_, and with things that have a history.
'Aus dieser erde quellen meine freuden, und ihre sonne scheinet meinen
leiden.' I have neither eyes nor ears nor heart nor mind for anything
of an opposite description, and the stagnant felicity of the
absolute's own perfection moves me as little as I move it. If we were
_readers_ only of the cosmic novel, things would be different: we
should then share the author's point of view and recognize villains to
be as essential as heroes in the plot. But we are not the readers but
the very personages of the world-drama. In your own eyes each of you
here is its hero, and the villains are your respective friends or
enemies. The tale which the absolute reader finds so perfect, we spoil
for one another through our several vital identifications with the
destinies of the particular personages involved.

The doctrine on which the absolutists lay most stress is the
absolute's 'timeless' character. For pluralists, on the other hand,
time remains as real as anything, and nothing in the universe is great
or static or eternal enough not to have some history. But the world
that each of us feels most intimately at home with is that of beings
with histories that play into our history, whom we can help in their
vicissitudes even as they help us in ours. This satisfaction the
absolute denies us; we can neither help nor hinder it, for it stands
outside of history. It surely is a merit in a philosophy to make the
very life we lead seem real and earnest. Pluralism, in exorcising the
absolute, exorcises the great de-realizer of the only life we are
at home in, and thus redeems the nature of reality from essential
foreignness. Every end, reason, motive, object of desire or aversion,
ground of sorrow or joy that we feel is in the world of finite
multifariousness, for only in that world does anything really happen,
only there do events come to pass.

In one sense this is a far-fetched and rather childish objection, for
so much of the history of the finite is as formidably foreign to us as
the static absolute can possibly be--in fact that entity derives its
own foreignness largely from the bad character of the finite which it
simultaneously is--that this sentimental reason for preferring the
pluralistic view seems small.[1] I shall return to the subject in my
final lecture, and meanwhile, with your permission, I will say no more
about this objection. The more so as the necessary foreignness of the
absolute is cancelled emotionally by its attribute of _totality_,
which is universally considered to carry the further attribute of
_perfection_ in its train. 'Philosophy,' says a recent american
philosopher, 'is humanity's hold on totality,' and there is no doubt
that most of us find that the bare notion of an absolute all-one is
inspiring. 'I yielded myself to the perfect whole,' writes Emerson;
and where can you find a more mind-dilating object? A certain loyalty
is called forth by the idea; even if not proved actual, it must be
believed in somehow. Only an enemy of philosophy can speak lightly
of it. Rationalism starts from the idea of such a whole and builds
downward. Movement and change are absorbed into its immutability as
forms of mere appearance. When you accept this beatific vision of
what _is_, in contrast with what _goes on_, you feel as if you had
fulfilled an intellectual duty. 'Reality is not in its truest nature
a process,' Mr. McTaggart tells us, 'but a stable and timeless
state.'[2] 'The true knowledge of God begins,' Hegel writes, 'when
we know that things as they immediately are have no truth.'[3] 'The
consummation of the infinite aim,' he says elsewhere, 'consists merely
in removing the illusion which makes it seem yet unaccomplished. Good
and absolute goodness is eternally accomplishing itself in the world:
and the result is that it needs not wait upon _us_, but is already ...
accomplished. It is an illusion under which we live. ... In the course
of its process the Idea makes itself that illusion, by setting an
antithesis to confront it, and its action consists in getting rid of
the illusion which it has created.'[4]

But abstract emotional appeals of any kind sound amateurish in the
business that concerns us. Impressionistic philosophizing, like
impressionistic watchmaking or land-surveying, is intolerable to
experts. Serious discussion of the alternative before us forces
me, therefore, to become more technical. The great _claim_ of the
philosophy of the absolute is that the absolute is no hypothesis, but
a presupposition implicated in all thinking, and needing only a little
effort of analysis to be seen as a logical necessity. I will therefore
take it in this more rigorous character and see whether its claim is
in effect so coercive.

It has seemed coercive to an enormous number of contemporaneous
thinkers. Professor Henry Jones thus describes the range and influence
of it upon the social and political life of the present time:[5] 'For
many years adherents of this way of thought have deeply interested the
british public by their writings. Almost more important than their
writings is the fact that they have occupied philosophical chairs in
almost every university in the kingdom. Even the professional critics
of idealism are for the most part idealists--after a fashion. And when
they are not, they are as a rule more occupied with the refutation of
idealism than with the construction of a better theory. It follows
from their position of academic authority, were it from nothing else,
that idealism exercises an influence not easily measured upon the
youth of the nation--upon those, that is, who from the educational
opportunities they enjoy may naturally be expected to become the
leaders of the nation's thought and practice.... Difficult as it is
to measure the forces ... it is hardly to be denied that the power
exercised by Bentham and the utilitarian school has, for better or
for worse, passed into the hands of the idealists.... "The Rhine has
flowed into the Thames" is the warning note rung out by Mr. Hobhouse.
Carlyle introduced it, bringing it as far as Chelsea. Then Jowett
and Thomas Hill Green, and William Wallace and Lewis Nettleship, and
Arnold Toynbee and David Eitchie--to mention only those teachers whose
voices now are silent--guided the waters into those upper reaches
known locally as the Isis. John and Edward Caird brought them up the
Clyde, Hutchison Stirling up the Firth of Forth. They have passed up
the Mersey and up the Severn and Dee and Don. They pollute the bay of
St. Andrews and swell the waters of the Cam, and have somehow crept
overland into Birmingham. The stream of german idealism has been
diffused over the academical world of Great Britain. The disaster is

Evidently if weight of authority were all, the truth of absolutism
would be thus decided. But let us first pass in review the general
style of argumentation of that philosophy.

As I read it, its favorite way of meeting pluralism and empiricism is
by a _reductio ad absurdum_ framed somewhat as follows: You contend,
it says to the pluralist, that things, though in some respects
connected, are in other respects independent, so that they are not
members of one all-inclusive individual fact. Well, your position is
absurd on either point. For admit in fact the slightest modicum of
independence, and you find (if you will only think accurately) that
you have to admit more and more of it, until at last nothing but an
absolute chaos, or the proved impossibility of any connexion whatever
between the parts of the universe, remains upon your hands. Admit, on
the other hand, the most incipient minimum of relation between any two
things, and again you can't stop until you see that the absolute unity
of all things is implied.

If we take the latter _reductio ad absurdum_ first, we find a good
example of it in Lotze's well-known proof of monism from the fact of
interaction between finite things. Suppose, Lotze says in effect, and
for simplicity's sake I have to paraphrase him, for his own words are
too long to quote--many distinct beings _a, b, c_, etc., to exist
independently of each other: _can a in that case ever act on b_?

What is it to act? Is it not to exert an influence? Does the influence
detach itself from _a_ and find _b_? If so, it is a third fact, and
the problem is not how _a_ acts, but how its 'influence' acts on _b_.
By another influence perhaps? And how in the end does the chain of
influences find _b_ rather than _c_ unless _b_ is somehow prefigured
in them already? And when they have found _b_, how do they make _b_
respond, if _b_ has nothing in common with them? Why don't they go
right through _b_? The change in _b_ is a _response_, due to _b_'s
capacity for taking account of _a_'s influence, and that again seems
to prove that _b_'s nature is somehow fitted to _a_'s nature in
advance. _A_ and _b_, in short, are not really as distinct as we at
first supposed them, not separated by a void. Were this so they would
be mutually impenetrable, or at least mutually irrelevant. They would
form two universes each living by itself, making no difference to each
other, taking no account of each other, much as the universe of your
day dreams takes no account of mine. They must therefore belong
together beforehand, be co-implicated already, their natures must have
an inborn mutual reference each to each.

Lotze's own solution runs as follows: The multiple independent things
supposed cannot be real in that shape, but all of them, if reciprocal
action is to be possible between them, must be regarded as parts of a
single real being, M. The pluralism with which our view began has
to give place to a monism; and the 'transeunt' interaction,
being unintelligible as such, is to be understood as an immanent

The words 'immanent operation' seem here to mean that the single real
being M, of which _a_ and _b_ are members, is the only thing that
changes, and that when it changes, it changes inwardly and all over at
once. When part _a_ in it changes, consequently, part _b_ must also
change, but without the whole M changing this would not occur.

A pretty argument, but a purely verbal one, as I apprehend it. _Call_
your _a_ and _b_ distinct, they can't interact; _call_ them one,
they can. For taken abstractly and without qualification the words
'distinct' and 'independent' suggest only disconnection. If this be
the only property of your _a_ and _b_ (and it is the only property
your words imply), then of course, since you can't deduce their mutual
influence from _it_, you can find no ground of its occurring between
them. Your bare word 'separate,' contradicting your bare word
'joined,' seems to exclude connexion.

Lotze's remedy for the impossibility thus verbally found is to change
the first word. If, instead of calling _a_ and _b_ independent, we now
call them 'interdependent,' 'united,' or 'one,' he says, _these_ words
do not contradict any sort of mutual influence that may be proposed.
If _a_ and _b_ are 'one,' and the one changes, _a_ and _b_ of course
must co-ordinately change. What under the old name they couldn't do,
they now have license to do under the new name.

But I ask you whether giving the name of 'one' to the former 'many'
makes us really understand the modus operandi of interaction any
better. We have now given verbal permission to the many to change all
together, if they can; we have removed a verbal impossibility
and substituted a verbal possibility, but the new name, with the
possibility it suggests, tells us nothing of the actual process by
which real things that are one can and do change at all. In point
of fact abstract oneness as such _doesn't_ change, neither has it
parts--any more than abstract independence as such interacts. But then
neither abstract oneness nor abstract independence _exists_; only
concrete real things exist, which add to these properties the other
properties which they possess, to make up what we call their total
nature. To construe any one of their abstract names as _making their
total nature impossible_ is a misuse of the function of naming. The
real way of rescue from the abstract consequences of one name is not
to fly to an opposite name, equally abstract, but rather to correct
the first name by qualifying adjectives that restore some concreteness
to the case. Don't take your 'independence' _simpliciter_, as Lotze
does, take it _secundum quid_. Only when we know what the process of
interaction literally and concretely _consists_ in can we tell whether
beings independent _in definite respects_, distinct, for example, in
origin, separate in place, different in kind, etc., can or cannot

_The treating of a name as excluding from the fact named what the
name's definition fails positively to include, is what I call
'vicious intellectualism_.' Later I shall have more to say about this
intellectualism, but that Lotze's argument is tainted by it I hardly
think we can deny. As well might you contend (to use an instance from
Sigwart) that a person whom you have once called an 'equestrian' is
thereby forever made unable to walk on his own feet.

I almost feel as if I should apologize for criticising such subtle
arguments in rapid lectures of this kind. The criticisms have to be as
abstract as the arguments, and in exposing their unreality, take
on such an unreal sound themselves that a hearer not nursed in the
intellectualist atmosphere knows not which of them to accuse. But
_le vin est verse, il faut le boire_, and I must cite a couple more
instances before I stop.

If we are empiricists and go from parts to wholes, we believe that
beings may first exist and feed so to speak on their own existence,
and then secondarily become known to one another. But philosophers of
the absolute tell us that such independence of being from being known
would, if once admitted, disintegrate the universe beyond all hope of
mending. The argument is one of Professor Royce's proofs that the only
alternative we have is to choose the complete disunion of all things
or their complete union in the absolute One.

Take, for instance, the proverb 'a cat may look at a king' and adopt
the realistic view that the king's being is independent of the cat's
witnessing. This assumption, which amounts to saying that it need make
no essential difference to the royal object whether the feline subject
cognizes him or not, that the cat may look away from him or may even
be annihilated, and the king remain unchanged,--this assumption, I
say, is considered by my ingenious colleague to lead to the absurd
practical consequence that the two beings _can_ never later acquire
any possible linkages or connexions, but must remain eternally as if
in different worlds. For suppose any connexion whatever to ensue, this
connexion would simply be a third being additional to the cat and the
king, which would itself have to be linked to both by additional links
before it could connect them, and so on _ad infinitum_, the argument,
you see, being the same as Lotze's about how _a_'s influence does its
influencing when it influences _b_.

In Royce's own words, if the king can be without the cat knowing him,
then king and cat 'can have no common features, no ties, no true
relations; they are separated, each from the other, by absolutely
impassable chasms. They can never come to get either ties or community
of nature; they are not in the same space, nor in the same time, nor
in the same natural or spiritual order.'[7] They form in short two
unrelated universes,--which is the _reductio ad absurdum_ required.

To escape this preposterous state of things we must accordingly revoke
the original hypothesis. The king and the cat are not indifferent to
each other in the way supposed. But if not in that way, then in no
way, for connexion in that way carries connexion in other ways; so
that, pursuing the reverse line of reasoning, we end with the
absolute itself as the smallest fact that can exist. Cat and king are
co-involved, they are a single fact in two names, they can never have
been absent from each other, and they are both equally co-implicated
with all the other facts of which the universe consists.

Professor Royce's proof that whoso admits the cat's witnessing the
king at all must thereupon admit the integral absolute, may be briefly
put as follows:--

First, to know the king, the cat must intend _that_ king, must somehow
pass over and lay hold of him individually and specifically. The cat's
idea, in short, must transcend the cat's own separate mind and somehow
include the king, for were the king utterly outside and independent of
the cat, the cat's pure other, the beast's mind could touch the king
in no wise. This makes the cat much less distinct from the king than
we had at first naively supposed. There must be some prior continuity
between them, which continuity Royce interprets idealistically as
meaning a higher mind that owns them both as objects, and owning them
can also own any relation, such as the supposed witnessing, that may
obtain between them. Taken purely pluralistically, neither of them can
own any part of a _between_, because, so taken, each is supposed shut
up to itself: the fact of a _between_ thus commits us to a higher

But the higher knower that knows the two beings we start with proves
to be the same knower that knows everything else. For assume any third
being, the queen, say, and as the cat knew the king, so let the king
know his queen, and let this second knowledge, by the same reasoning,
require a higher knower as its presupposition. That knower of the
king's knowing must, it is now contended, be the same higher knower
that was required for the cat's knowing; for if you suppose otherwise,
you have no longer the _same king_. This may not seem immediately
obvious, but if you follow the intellectualistic logic employed in all
these reasonings, I don't see how you can escape the admission. If it
be true that the independent or indifferent cannot be related, for
the abstract words 'independent' or 'indifferent' as such imply no
relation, then it is just as true that the king known by the cat
cannot be the king that knows the queen, for taken merely 'as such,'
the abstract term 'what the cat knows' and the abstract term 'what
knows the queen' are logically distinct. The king thus logically
breaks into two kings, with nothing to connect them, until a higher
knower is introduced to recognize them as the self-same king concerned
in any previous acts of knowledge which he may have brought about.
This he can do because he possesses all the terms as his own objects
and can treat them as he will. Add any fourth or fifth term, and you
get a like result, and so on, until at last an all-owning knower,
otherwise called the absolute, is reached. The co-implicated
'through-and-through' world of monism thus stands proved by
irrefutable logic, and all pluralism appears as absurd.

The reasoning is pleasing from its ingenuity, and it is almost a pity
that so straight a bridge from abstract logic to concrete fact should
not bear our weight. To have the alternative forced upon us of
admitting either finite things each cut off from all relation with
its environment, or else of accepting the integral absolute with no
environment and all relations packed within itself, would be too
delicious a simplification. But the purely verbal character of the
operation is undisguised. Because the _names_ of finite things and
their relations are disjoined, it doesn't follow that the realities
named need a _deus ex machina_ from on high to conjoin them. The same
things disjoined in one respect _appear_ as conjoined in another.
Naming the disjunction doesn't debar us from also naming the
conjunction in a later modifying statement, for the two are absolutely
co-ordinate elements in the finite tissue of experience. When at
Athens it was found self-contradictory that a boy could be both tall
and short (tall namely in respect of a child, short in respect of a
man), the absolute had not yet been thought of, but it might just as
well have been invoked by Socrates as by Lotze or Royce, as a relief
from his peculiar intellectualistic difficulty.

Everywhere we find rationalists using the same kind of reasoning. The
primal whole which is their vision must be there not only as a
fact but as a logical necessity. It must be the minimum that can
exist--either that absolute whole is there, or there is absolutely
nothing. The logical proof alleged of the irrationality of supposing
otherwise, is that you can deny the whole only in words that
implicitly assert it. If you say 'parts,' of _what_ are they parts? If
you call them a 'many,' that very word unifies them. If you suppose
them unrelated in any particular respect, that 'respect' connects
them; and so on. In short you fall into hopeless contradiction. You
must stay either at one extreme or the other.[8] 'Partly this and
partly that,' partly rational, for instance, and partly irrational,
is no admissible description of the world. If rationality be in it at
all, it must be in it throughout; if irrationality be in it anywhere,
that also must pervade it throughout. It must be wholly rational or
wholly irrational, pure universe or pure multiverse or nulliverse; and
reduced to this violent alternative, no one's choice ought long to
remain doubtful. The individual absolute, with its parts co-implicated
through and through, so that there is nothing in any part by which
any other part can remain inwardly unaffected, is the only rational
supposition. Connexions of an external sort, by which the many became
merely continuous instead of being consubstantial, would be an
irrational supposition.

Mr. Bradley is the pattern champion of this philosophy _in extremis_,
as one might call it, for he shows an intolerance to pluralism so
extreme that I fancy few of his readers have been able fully to share
it. His reasoning exemplifies everywhere what I call the vice of
intellectualism, for abstract terms are used by him as positively
excluding all that their definition fails to include. Some Greek
sophists could deny that we may say that man is good, for man, they
said, means only man, and good means only good, and the word _is_
can't be construed to identify such disparate meanings. Mr. Bradley
revels in the same type of argument. No adjective can rationally
qualify a substantive, he thinks, for if distinct from the
substantive, it can't be united with it; and if not distinct, there is
only one thing there, and nothing left to unite. Our whole pluralistic
procedure in using subjects and predicates as we do is fundamentally
irrational, an example of the desperation of our finite intellectual
estate, infected and undermined as that is by the separatist
discursive forms which are our only categories, but which absolute
reality must somehow absorb into its unity and overcome.

Readers of 'Appearance and reality' will remember how Mr. Bradley
suffers from a difficulty identical with that to which Lotze and Royce
fall a prey--how shall an influence influence? how shall a relation
relate? Any conjunctive relation between two phenomenal experiences
_a_ and _b_ must, in the intellectualist philosophy of these authors,
be itself a third entity; and as such, instead of bridging the one
original chasm, it can only create two smaller chasms, each to be
freshly bridged. Instead of hooking _a_ to _b_, it needs itself to be
hooked by a fresh relation _r'_ to _a_ and by another _r"_ to _b_.
These new relations are but two more entities which themselves require
to be hitched in turn by four still newer relations--so behold the
vertiginous _regressus ad infinitum_ in full career.

Since a _regressus ad infinitum_ is deemed absurd, the notion that
relations come 'between' their terms must be given up. No mere
external go-between can logically connect. What occurs must be more
intimate. The hooking must be a penetration, a possession. The
relation must _involve_ the terms, each term must involve _it_, and
merging thus their being in it, they must somehow merge their being in
each other, tho, as they seem still phenomenally so separate, we can
never conceive exactly how it is that they are inwardly one. The
absolute, however, must be supposed able to perform the unifying feat
in his own inscrutable fashion.

In old times, whenever a philosopher was assailed for some
particularly tough absurdity in his system, he was wont to parry the
attack by the argument from the divine omnipotence. 'Do you mean to
limit God's power?' he would reply: 'do you mean to say that God could
not, if he would, do this or that?' This retort was supposed to close
the mouths of all objectors of properly decorous mind. The functions
of the bradleian absolute are in this particular identical with those
of the theistic God. Suppositions treated as too absurd to pass muster
in the finite world which we inhabit, the absolute must be able to
make good 'somehow' in his ineffable way. First we hear Mr. Bradley
convicting things of absurdity; next, calling on the absolute to vouch
for them _quand meme_. Invoked for no other duty, that duty it must
and shall perform.

The strangest discontinuity of our world of appearance with the
supposed world of absolute reality is asserted both by Bradley and
by Royce; and both writers, the latter with great ingenuity, seek to
soften the violence of the jolt. But it remains violent all the same,
and is felt to be so by most readers. Whoever feels the violence
strongly sees as on a diagram in just what the peculiarity of all this
philosophy of the absolute consists. First, there is a healthy faith
that the world must be rational and self-consistent. 'All science, all
real knowledge, all experience presuppose,' as Mr. Ritchie writes, 'a
coherent universe.' Next, we find a loyal clinging to the rationalist
belief that sense-data and their associations are incoherent, and that
only in substituting a conceptual order for their order can truth
be found. Third, the substituted conceptions are treated
intellectualistically, that is as mutually exclusive and
discontinuous, so that the first innocent continuity of the flow of
sense-experience is shattered for us without any higher conceptual
continuity taking its place. Finally, since this broken state of
things is intolerable, the absolute _deus ex machina_ is called on to
mend it in his own way, since we cannot mend it in ours.

Any other picture than this of post-kantian absolutism I am unable
to frame. I see the intellectualistic criticism destroying the
immediately given coherence of the phenomenal world, but unable to
make its own conceptual substitutes cohere, and I see the resort to
the absolute for a coherence of a higher type. The situation has
dramatic liveliness, but it is inwardly incoherent throughout, and the
question inevitably comes up whether a mistake may not somewhere have
crept in in the process that has brought it about. May not the remedy
lie rather in revising the intellectualist criticism than in first
adopting it and then trying to undo its consequences by an arbitrary
act of faith in an unintelligible agent. May not the flux of sensible
experience itself contain a rationality that has been overlooked,
so that the real remedy would consist in harking back to it more
intelligently, and not in advancing in the opposite direction away
from it and even away beyond the intellectualist criticism that
disintegrates it, to the pseudo-rationality of the supposed absolute
point of view. I myself believe that this is the real way to keep
rationality in the world, and that the traditional rationalism has
always been facing in the wrong direction. I hope in the end to make
you share, or at any rate respect, this belief, but there is much to
talk of before we get to that point.

I employed the word 'violent' just now in describing the dramatic
situation in which it pleases the philosophy of the absolute to make
its camp. I don't see how any one can help being struck in absolutist
writings by that curious tendency to fly to violent extremes of which
I have already said a word. The universe must be rational; well
and good; but _how_ rational? in what sense of that eulogistic but
ambiguous word?--this would seem to be the next point to bring up.
There are surely degrees in rationality that might be discriminated
and described. Things can be consistent or coherent in very diverse
ways. But no more in its conception of rationality than in its
conception of relations can the monistic mind suffer the notion of
more or less. Rationality is one and indivisible: if not rational
thus indivisibly, the universe must be completely irrational, and no
shadings or mixtures or compromises can obtain. Mr. McTaggart writes,
in discussing the notion of a mixture: 'The two principles, of
rationality and irrationality, to which the universe is then referred,
will have to be absolutely separate and independent. For if there were
any common unity to which they should be referred, it would be that
unity and not its two manifestations which would be the ultimate
explanation ... and the theory, having thus become monistic,'[9] would
resolve itself into the same alternative once more: is the single
principle rational through and through or not?

'Can a plurality of reals be possible?' asks Mr. Bradley, and answers,
'No, impossible.' For it would mean a number of beings not dependent
on each other, and this independence their plurality would contradict.
For to be 'many' is to be related, the word having no meaning unless
the units are somehow taken together, and it is impossible to take
them in a sort of unreal void, so they must belong to a larger
reality, and so carry the essence of the units beyond their proper
selves, into a whole which possesses unity and is a larger system.[10]
Either absolute independence or absolute mutual dependence--this,
then, is the only alternative allowed by these thinkers. Of course
'independence,' if absolute, would be preposterous, so the only
conclusion allowable is that, in Ritchie's words, 'every single event
is ultimately related to every other, and determined by the whole
to which it belongs.' The whole complete block-universe
through-and-through, therefore, or no universe at all!

Professor Taylor is so _naif_ in this habit of thinking only in
extremes that he charges the pluralists with cutting the ground from
under their own feet in not consistently following it themselves. What
pluralists say is that a universe really connected loosely, after the
pattern of our daily experience, is possible, and that for certain
reasons it is the hypothesis to be preferred. What Professor Taylor
thinks they naturally must or should say is that any other sort of
universe is logically impossible, and that a totality of things
interrelated like the world of the monists is not an hypothesis that
can be seriously thought out at all.[11]

Meanwhile no sensible pluralist ever flies or wants to fly to this
dogmatic extreme.

If chance is spoken of as an ingredient of the universe, absolutists
interpret it to mean that double sevens are as likely to be thrown out
of a dice box as double sixes are. If free-will is spoken of, that
must mean that an english general is as likely to eat his prisoners
to-day as a Maori chief was a hundred years ago. It is as likely--I am
using Mr. McTaggart's examples--that a majority of Londoners will
burn themselves alive to-morrow as that they will partake of food, as
likely that I shall be hanged for brushing my hair as for committing
a murder,[12] and so forth, through various suppositions that no
indeterminist ever sees real reason to make.

This habit of thinking only in the most violent extremes reminds me
of what Mr. Wells says of the current objections to socialism, in his
wonderful little book, 'New worlds for old.' The commonest vice of the
human mind is its disposition to see everything as yes or no, as black
or white, its incapacity for discrimination of intermediate shades.
So the critics agree to some hard and fast impossible definition of
socialism, and extract absurdities from it as a conjurer gets rabbits
from a hat. Socialism abolishes property, abolishes the family, and
the rest. The method, Mr. Wells continues, is always the same: It
is to assume that whatever the socialist postulates as desirable is
wanted without limit of qualification,--for socialist read pluralist
and the parallel holds good,--it is to imagine that whatever proposal
is made by him is to be carried out by uncontrolled monomaniacs, and
so to make a picture of the socialist dream which can be presented to
the simple-minded person in doubt--'This is socialism'--or pluralism,
as the case may be. 'Surely!--SURELY! you don't want _this!_'

How often have I been replied to, when expressing doubts of the
logical necessity of the absolute, of flying to the opposite extreme:
'But surely, SURELY there must be _some_ connexion among things!' As
if I must necessarily be an uncontrolled monomanic insanely denying
any connexion whatever. The whole question revolves in very truth
about the word 'some.' Radical empiricism and pluralism stand out for
the legitimacy of the notion of _some_: each part of the world is in
some ways connected, in some other ways not connected with its other
parts, and the ways can be discriminated, for many of them are
obvious, and their differences are obvious to view. Absolutism, on its
side, seems to hold that 'some' is a category ruinously infected
with self-contradictoriness, and that the only categories inwardly
consistent and therefore pertinent to reality are 'all' and 'none.'

The question runs into the still more general one with which Mr.
Bradley and later writers of the monistic school have made us
abundantly familiar--the question, namely, whether all the relations
with other things, possible to a being, are pre-included in its
intrinsic nature and enter into its essence, or whether, in respect to
some of these relations, it can _be_ without reference to them, and,
if it ever does enter into them, do so adventitiously and as it
were by an after-thought. This is the great question as to whether
'external' relations can exist. They seem to, undoubtedly. My
manuscript, for example, is 'on' the desk. The relation of being 'on'
doesn't seem to implicate or involve in any way the inner meaning
of the manuscript or the inner structure of the desk--these objects
engage in it only by their outsides, it seems only a temporary
accident in their respective histories. Moreover, the 'on' fails to
appear to our senses as one of those unintelligible 'betweens' that
have to be separately hooked on the terms they pretend to connect.
All this innocent sense-appearance, however, we are told, cannot pass
muster in the eyes of reason. It is a tissue of self-contradiction
which only the complete absorption of the desk and the manuscript into
the higher unity of a more absolute reality can overcome.

The reasoning by which this conclusion is supported is too subtle and
complicated to be properly dealt with in a public lecture, and you
will thank me for not inviting you to consider it at all.[13] I feel
the more free to pass it by now as I think that the cursory account of
the absolutistic attitude which I have already given is sufficient for
our present purpose, and that my own verdict on the philosophy of
the absolute as 'not proven'--please observe that I go no farther
now--need not be backed by argument at every special point. Flanking
operations are less costly and in some ways more effective than
frontal attacks. Possibly you will yourselves think after hearing my
remaining lectures that the alternative of an universe absolutely
rational or absolutely irrational is forced and strained, and that
a _via media_ exists which some of you may agree with me is to
be preferred. _Some_ rationality certainly does characterize our
universe; and, weighing one kind with another, we may deem that the
incomplete kinds that appear are on the whole as acceptable as
the through-and-through sort of rationality on which the monistic
systematizers insist.

All the said systematizers who have written since Hegel have owed
their inspiration largely to him. Even when they have found no use
for his particular triadic dialectic, they have drawn confidence
and courage from his authoritative and conquering tone. I have said
nothing about Hegel in this lecture, so I must repair the omission in
the next.



Directly or indirectly, that strange and powerful genius Hegel has
done more to strengthen idealistic pantheism in thoughtful circles
than all other influences put together. I must talk a little about him
before drawing my final conclusions about the cogency of the arguments
for the absolute. In no philosophy is the fact that a philosopher's
vision and the technique he uses in proof of it are two different
things more palpably evident than in Hegel. The vision in his case
was that of a world in which reason holds all things in solution and
accounts for all the irrationality that superficially appears by
taking it up as a 'moment' into itself. This vision was so intense in
Hegel, and the tone of authority with which he spoke from out of the
midst of it was so weighty, that the impression he made has never been
effaced. Once dilated to the scale of the master's eye, the disciples'
sight could not contract to any lesser prospect. The technique which
Hegel used to prove his vision was the so-called dialectic method, but
here his fortune has been quite contrary. Hardly a recent disciple has
felt his particular applications of the method to be satisfactory.
Many have let them drop entirely, treating them rather as a sort of
provisional stop-gap, symbolic of what might some day prove possible
of execution, but having no literal cogency or value now. Yet these
very same disciples hold to the vision itself as a revelation that can
never pass away. The case is curious and worthy of our study.

It is still more curious in that these same disciples, altho they are
usually willing to abandon any particular instance of the dialectic
method to its critics, are unshakably sure that in some shape the
dialectic method is the key to truth. What, then, is the dialectic
method? It is itself a part of the hegelian vision or intuition, and
a part that finds the strongest echo in empiricism and common sense.
Great injustice is done to Hegel by treating him as primarily a
reasoner. He is in reality a naively observant man, only beset with a
perverse preference for the use of technical and logical jargon. He
plants himself in the empirical flux of things and gets the impression
of what happens. His mind is in very truth _impressionistic_; and his
thought, when once you put yourself at the animating centre of it, is
the easiest thing in the world to catch the pulse of and to follow.

Any author is easy if you can catch the centre of his vision. From
the centre in Hegel come those towering sentences of his that are
comparable only to Luther's, as where, speaking of the ontological
proof of God's existence from the concept of him as the _ens
perfectissimum_ to which no attribute can be lacking, he says: 'It
would be strange if the Notion, the very heart of the mind, or, in
a word, the concrete totality we call God, were not rich enough
to embrace so poor a category as Being, the very poorest and most
abstract of all--for nothing can be more insignificant than Being.'
But if Hegel's central thought is easy to catch, his abominable habits
of speech make his application of it to details exceedingly difficult
to follow. His passion for the slipshod in the way of sentences,
his unprincipled playing fast and loose with terms; his dreadful
vocabulary, calling what completes a thing its 'negation,' for
example; his systematic refusal to let you know whether he is talking
logic or physics or psychology, his whole deliberately adopted policy
of ambiguity and vagueness, in short: all these things make his
present-day readers wish to tear their hair--or his--out in
desperation. Like Byron's corsair, he has left a name 'to other times,
linked with one virtue and a thousand crimes.'

The virtue was the vision, which was really in two parts. The first
part was that reason is all-inclusive, the second was that things
are 'dialectic.' Let me say a word about this second part of Hegel's

The impression that any _naif_ person gets who plants himself
innocently in the flux of things is that things are off their balance.
Whatever equilibriums our finite experiences attain to are but
provisional. Martinique volcanoes shatter our wordsworthian
equilibrium with nature. Accidents, either moral, mental, or physical,
break up the slowly built-up equilibriums men reach in family life
and in their civic and professional relations. Intellectual enigmas
frustrate our scientific systems, and the ultimate cruelty of the
universe upsets our religious attitudes and outlooks. Of no special
system of good attained does the universe recognize the value as
sacred. Down it tumbles, over it goes, to feed the ravenous appetite
for destruction, of the larger system of history in which it stood
for a moment as a landing-place and stepping-stone. This dogging of
everything by its negative, its fate, its undoing, this perpetual
moving on to something future which shall supersede the present,
this is the hegelian intuition of the essential provisionality, and
consequent unreality, of everything empirical and finite. Take any
concrete finite thing and try to hold it fast. You cannot, for so
held, it proves not to be concrete at all, but an arbitrary extract or
abstract which you have made from the remainder of empirical reality.
The rest of things invades and overflows both it and you together,
and defeats your rash attempt. Any partial view whatever of the world
tears the part out of its relations, leaves out some truth concerning
it, is untrue of it, falsifies it. The full truth about anything
involves more than that thing. In the end nothing less than the whole
of everything can be the truth of anything at all.

Taken so far, and taken in the rough, Hegel is not only harmless, but
accurate. There is a dialectic movement in things, if such it please
you to call it, one that the whole constitution of concrete life
establishes; but it is one that can be described and accounted for in
terms of the pluralistic vision of things far more naturally than in
the monistic terms to which Hegel finally reduced it. Pluralistic
empiricism knows that everything is in an environment, a surrounding
world of other things, and that if you leave it to work there it will
inevitably meet with friction and opposition from its neighbors. Its
rivals and enemies will destroy it unless it can buy them off by
compromising some part of its original pretensions.

But Hegel saw this undeniable characteristic of the world we live in
in a non-empirical light. Let the _mental idea_ of the thing work in
your thought all alone, he fancied, and just the same consequences
will follow. It will be negated by the opposite ideas that dog it,
and can survive only by entering, along with them, into some kind
of treaty. This treaty will be an instance of the so-called 'higher
synthesis' of everything with its negative; and Hegel's originality
lay in transporting the process from the sphere of percepts to that of
concepts and treating it as the universal method by which every kind
of life, logical, physical, or psychological, is mediated. Not to the
sensible facts as such, then, did Hegel point for the secret of what
keeps existence going, but rather to the conceptual way of treating
them. Concepts were not in his eyes the static self-contained things
that previous logicians had supposed, but were germinative, and passed
beyond themselves into each other by what he called their immanent
dialectic. In ignoring each other as they do, they virtually exclude
and deny each other, he thought, and thus in a manner introduce each
other. So the dialectic logic, according to him, had to supersede the
'logic of identity' in which, since Aristotle, all Europe had been
brought up.

This view of concepts is Hegel's revolutionary performance; but so
studiously vague and ambiguous are all his expressions of it that one
can hardly tell whether it is the concepts as such, or the sensible
experiences and elements conceived, that Hegel really means to work
with. The only thing that is certain is that whatever you may say of
his procedure, some one will accuse you of misunderstanding it. I make
no claim to understanding it, I treat it merely impressionistically.

So treating it, I regret that he should have called it by the name of
logic. Clinging as he did to the vision of a really living world, and
refusing to be content with a chopped-up intellectualist picture
of it, it is a pity that he should have adopted the very word that
intellectualism had already pre-empted. But he clung fast to the old
rationalist contempt for the immediately given world of sense and all
its squalid particulars, and never tolerated the notion that the form
of philosophy might be empirical only. His own system had to be a
product of eternal reason, so the word 'logic,' with its suggestions
of coercive necessity, was the only word he could find natural. He
pretended therefore to be using the _a priori_ method, and to be
working by a scanty equipment of ancient logical terms--position,
negation, reflection, universal, particular, individual, and the like.
But what he really worked by was his own empirical perceptions, which
exceeded and overflowed his miserably insufficient logical categories
in every instance of their use.

What he did with the category of negation was his most original
stroke. The orthodox opinion is that you can advance logically through
the field of concepts only by going from the same to the same. Hegel
felt deeply the sterility of this law of conceptual thought; he
saw that in a fashion negation also relates things; and he had the
brilliant idea of transcending the ordinary logic by treating advance
from the different to the different as if it were also a necessity of
thought. 'The so-called maxim of identity,' he wrote, 'is supposed to
be accepted by the consciousness of every one. But the language which
such a law demands, "a planet is a planet, magnetism is magnetism,
mind is mind," deserves to be called silliness. No mind either speaks
or thinks or forms conceptions in accordance with this law, and no
existence of any kind whatever conforms to it. We must never view
identity as abstract identity, to the exclusion of all difference.
That is the touchstone for distinguishing all bad philosophy from what
alone deserves the name of philosophy. If thinking were no more than
registering abstract identities, it would be a most superfluous
performance. Things and concepts are identical with themselves only in
so far as at the same time they involve distinction.'[1]

The distinction that Hegel has in mind here is naturally in the first
instance distinction from all other things or concepts. But in his
hands this quickly develops into contradiction of them, and finally,
reflected back upon itself, into self-contradiction; and the immanent
self-contradictoriness of all finite concepts thenceforth becomes the
propulsive logical force that moves the world.[2] 'Isolate a thing
from all its relations,' says Dr. Edward Caird,[3] expounding Hegel,
'and try to assert it by itself; you find that it has negated itself
as well as its relations. The thing in itself is nothing.' Or, to
quote Hegel's own words: 'When we suppose an existent A, and another,
B, B is at first defined as the other. But A is just as much the other
of B. Both are others in the same fashion.... "Other" is the other by
itself, therefore the other of every other, consequently the other of
itself, the simply unlike itself, the self-negator, the self-alterer,'
etc.[4] Hegel writes elsewhere: 'The finite, as implicitly other than
what it is, is forced to surrender its own immediate or natural being,
and to turn suddenly into its opposite.... Dialectic is the universal
and irresistible power before which nothing can stay.... _Summum jus,
summa injuria_--to drive an abstract right to excess is to commit
injustice.... Extreme anarchy and extreme despotism lead to one
another. Pride comes before a fall. Too much wit outwits itself. Joy
brings tears, melancholy a sardonic smile.'[5] To which one well
might add that most human institutions, by the purely technical and
professional manner in which they come to be administered, end by
becoming obstacles to the very purposes which their founders had in

Once catch well the knack of this scheme of thought and you are lucky
if you ever get away from it. It is all you can see. Let any one
pronounce anything, and your feeling of a contradiction being implied
becomes a habit, almost a motor habit in some persons who symbolize by
a stereotyped gesture the position, sublation, and final reinstatement
involved. If you say 'two' or 'many,' your speech betrayeth you, for
the very name collects them into one. If you express doubt, your
expression contradicts its content, for the doubt itself is not
doubted but affirmed. If you say 'disorder,' what is that but a
certain bad kind of order? if you say 'indetermination,' you are
determining just _that_. If you say 'nothing but the unexpected
happens,' the unexpected becomes what you expect. If you say 'all
things are relative,' to what is the all of them itself relative? If
you say 'no more,' you have said more already, by implying a region
in which no more is found; to know a limit as such is consequently
already to have got beyond it; And so forth, throughout as many
examples as one cares to cite.

Whatever you posit appears thus as one-sided, and negates its other,
which, being equally one-sided, negates _it_; and, since this
situation remains unstable, the two contradictory terms have together,
according to Hegel, to engender a higher truth of which they both
appear as indispensable members, mutually mediating aspects of that
higher concept of situation in thought.

Every higher total, however provisional and relative, thus reconciles
the contradictions which its parts, abstracted from it, prove
implicitly to contain. Rationalism, you remember, is what I called the
way of thinking that methodically subordinates parts to wholes, so
Hegel here is rationalistic through and through. The only whole by
which _all_ contradictions are reconciled is for him the absolute
whole of wholes, the all-inclusive reason to which Hegel himself gave
the name of the absolute Idea, but which I shall continue to call 'the
absolute' purely and simply, as I have done hitherto.

Empirical instances of the way in which higher unities reconcile
contradictions are innumerable, so here again Hegel's vision, taken
merely impressionistically, agrees with countless facts. Somehow life
does, out of its total resources, find ways of satisfying opposites
at once. This is precisely the paradoxical aspect which much of our
civilization presents. Peace we secure by armaments, liberty by laws
and constitutions; simplicity and naturalness are the consummate
result of artificial breeding and training; health, strength, and
wealth are increased only by lavish use, expense, and wear. Our
mistrust of mistrust engenders our commercial system of credit; our
tolerance of anarchistic and revolutionary utterances is the only way
of lessening their danger; our charity has to say no to beggars in
order not to defeat its own desires; the true epicurean has to observe
great sobriety; the way to certainty lies through radical doubt;
virtue signifies not innocence but the knowledge of sin and its
overcoming; by obeying nature, we command her, etc. The ethical and
the religious life are full of such contradictions held in solution.
You hate your enemy?--well, forgive him, and thereby heap coals of
fire on his head; to realize yourself, renounce yourself; to save your
soul, first lose it; in short, die to live.

From such massive examples one easily generalizes Hegel's vision.
Roughly, his 'dialectic' picture is a fair account of a good deal of
the world. It sounds paradoxical, but whenever you once place yourself
at the point of view; of any higher synthesis, you see exactly how
it does in a fashion take up opposites into itself. As an example,
consider the conflict between our carnivorous appetites and hunting
instincts and the sympathy with animals which our refinement is
bringing in its train. We have found how to reconcile these opposites
most effectively by establishing game-laws and close seasons and by
keeping domestic herds. The creatures preserved thus are preserved for
the sake of slaughter, truly, but if not preserved for that reason,
not one of them would be alive at all. Their will to live and our
will to kill them thus harmoniously combine in this peculiar higher
synthesis of domestication.

Merely as a reporter of certain empirical aspects of the actual,
Hegel, then, is great and true. But he aimed at being something far
greater than an empirical reporter, so I must say something about that
essential aspect of his thought. Hegel was dominated by the notion of
a truth that should prove incontrovertible, binding on every one,
and certain, which should be _the_ truth, one, indivisible, eternal,
objective, and necessary, to which all our particular thinking
must lead as to its consummation. This is the dogmatic ideal,
the postulate, uncriticised, undoubted, and unchallenged, of all
rationalizers in philosophy. '_I have never doubted_,' a recent Oxford
writer says, that truth is universal and single and timeless, a single
content or significance, one and whole and complete.[6] Advance in
thinking, in the hegelian universe, has, in short, to proceed by the
apodictic words _must be_ rather than by those inferior hypothetic
words _may be_, which are all that empiricists can use.

Now Hegel found that his idea of an immanent movement through
the field of concepts by way of 'dialectic' negation played most
beautifully into the hands of this rationalistic demand for something
absolute and _inconcussum_ in the way of truth. It is easy to see how.
If you affirm anything, for example that A is, and simply leave the
matter thus, you leave it at the mercy of any one who may supervene
and say 'not A, but B is.' If he does say so, your statement doesn't
refute him, it simply contradicts him, just as his contradicts you.
The only way of making your affirmation about A _self-securing_ is by
getting it into a form which will by implication negate all possible
negations in advance. The mere absence of negation is not enough; it
must be present, but present with its fangs drawn. What you posit as A
must already have cancelled the alternative or made it innocuous, by
having negated it in advance. Double negation is the only form of
affirmation that fully plays into the hands of the dogmatic ideal.
Simply and innocently affirmative statements are good enough for
empiricists, but unfit for rationalist use, lying open as they do to
every accidental contradictor, and exposed to every puff of doubt.
The _final_ truth must be something to which there is no imaginable
alternative, because it contains all its possible alternatives inside
of itself as moments already taken account of and overcome. Whatever
involves its own alternatives as elements of itself is, in a phrase
often repeated, its 'own other,' made so by the _methode der absoluten

Formally, this scheme of an organism of truth that has already fed as
it were on its own liability to death, so that, death once dead
for it, there's no more dying then, is the very fulfilment of the
rationalistic aspiration. That one and only whole, with all its
parts involved in it, negating and making one another impossible if
abstracted and taken singly, but necessitating and holding one another
in place if the whole of them be taken integrally, is the literal
ideal sought after; it is the very diagram and picture of that notion
of _the_ truth with no outlying alternative, to which nothing can be
added, nor from it anything withdrawn, and all variations from which
are absurd, which so dominates the human imagination. Once we have
taken in the features of this diagram that so successfully solves
the world-old problem, the older ways of proving the necessity of
judgments cease to give us satisfaction. Hegel's way we think must
be the right way. The true must be essentially the self-reflecting
self-contained recurrent, that which secures itself by including its
own other and negating it; that makes a spherical system with no loose
ends hanging out for foreignness to get a hold upon; that is forever
rounded in and closed, not strung along rectilinearly and open at its
ends like that universe of simply collective or additive form which
Hegel calls the world of the bad infinite, and which is all that
empiricism, starting with simply posited single parts and elements, is
ever able to attain to.

No one can possibly deny the sublimity of this hegelian conception.
It is surely in the grand style, if there be such a thing as a grand
style in philosophy. For us, however, it remains, so far, a merely
formal and diagrammatic conception; for with the actual content
of absolute truth, as Hegel materially tries to set it forth, few
disciples have been satisfied, and I do not propose to refer at all to
the concreter parts of his philosophy. The main thing now is to grasp
the generalized vision, and feel the authority of the abstract scheme
of a statement self-secured by involving double negation. Absolutists
who make no use of Hegel's own technique are really working by his
method. You remember the proofs of the absolute which I instanced in
my last lecture, Lotze's and Royce's proofs by _reductio ad absurdum_,
to the effect that any smallest connexion rashly supposed in things
will logically work out into absolute union, and any minimal
disconnexion into absolute disunion,--these are really arguments
framed on the hegelian pattern. The truth is that which you implicitly
affirm in the very attempt to deny it; it is that from which every
variation refutes itself by proving self-contradictory. This is the
supreme insight of rationalism, and to-day the best _must-be's_ of
rationalist argumentation are but so many attempts to communicate it
to the hearer.

Thus, you see, my last lecture and this lecture make connexion again
and we can consider Hegel and the other absolutists to be supporting
the same system. The next point I wish to dwell on is the part played
by what I have called vicious intellectualism in this wonderful
system's structure.

Rationalism in general thinks it gets the fulness of truth by turning
away from sensation to conception, conception obviously giving the
more universal and immutable picture. Intellectualism in the vicious
sense I have already defined as the habit of assuming that a concept
_ex_cludes from any reality conceived by its means everything not
included in the concept's definition. I called such intellectualism
illegitimate as I found it used in Lotze's, Royce's, and Bradley's
proofs of the absolute (which absolute I consequently held to be
non-proven by their arguments), and I left off by asserting my own
belief that a pluralistic and incompletely integrated universe,
describable only by the free use of the word 'some,' is a legitimate

Now Hegel himself, in building up his method of double negation,
offers the vividest possible example of this vice of intellectualism.
Every idea of a finite thing is of course a concept of _that_ thing
and not a concept of anything else. But Hegel treats this not being a
concept of anything else as if it were _equivalent to the concept of
anything else not being_, or in other words as if it were a denial
or negation of everything else. Then, as the other things, thus
implicitly contradicted by the thing first conceived, also by the same
law contradict _it_, the pulse of dialectic commences to beat and the
famous triads begin to grind out the cosmos. If any one finds
the process here to be a luminous one, he must be left to the
illumination, he must remain an undisturbed hegelian. What others feel
as the intolerable ambiguity, verbosity, and unscrupulousness of the
master's way of deducing things, he will probably ascribe--since
divine oracles are notoriously hard to interpret--to the 'difficulty'
that habitually accompanies profundity. For my own part, there seems
something grotesque and _saugrenu_ in the pretension of a style so
disobedient to the first rules of sound communication between minds,
to be the authentic mother-tongue of reason, and to keep step more
accurately than any other style does with the absolute's own ways
of thinking. I do not therefore take Hegel's technical apparatus
seriously at all. I regard him rather as one of those numerous
original seers who can never learn how to articulate. His would-be
coercive logic counts for nothing in my eyes; but that does not in
the least impugn the philosophic importance of his conception of the
absolute, if we take it merely hypothetically as one of the great
types of cosmic vision.

Taken thus hypothetically, I wish to discuss it briefly. But before
doing so I must call your attention to an odd peculiarity in the
hegelian procedure. The peculiarity is one which will come before us
again for a final judgment in my seventh lecture, so at present I only
note it in passing. Hegel, you remember, considers that the immediate
finite data of experience are 'untrue' because they are not their own
others. They are negated by what is external to them. The absolute
is true because it and it only has no external environment, and has
attained to being its own other. (These words sound queer enough, but
those of you who know something of Hegel's text will follow them.)
Granting his premise that to be true a thing must in some sort be its
own other, everything hinges on whether he is right in holding that
the several pieces of finite experience themselves cannot be said
to be in any wise _their_ own others. When conceptually or
intellectualistically treated, they of course cannot be their own
others. Every abstract concept as such excludes what it doesn't
include, and if such concepts are adequate substitutes for
reality's concrete pulses, the latter must square themselves with
intellectualistic logic, and no one of them in any sense can claim to
be its own other. If, however, the conceptual treatment of the flow of
reality should prove for any good reason to be inadequate and to have
a practical rather than a theoretical or speculative value, then an
independent empirical look into the constitution of reality's pulses
might possibly show that some of them _are_ their own others, and
indeed are so in the self-same sense in which the absolute is
maintained to be so by Hegel. When we come to my sixth lecture,
on Professor Bergson, I shall in effect defend this very view,
strengthening my thesis by his authority. I am unwilling to say
anything more about the point at this time, and what I have just said
of it is only a sort of surveyor's note of where our present position
lies in the general framework of these lectures.

Let us turn now at last to the great question of fact, _Does the
absolute exist or not_? to which all our previous discussion has been
preliminary. I may sum up that discussion by saying that whether


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