A Pluralistic Universe
William James

Part 3 out of 4

how long or how short it feels to the sugar? All _felt_ times coexist
and overlap or compenetrate each other thus vaguely, but the artifice
of plotting them on a common scale helps us to reduce their aboriginal
confusion, and it helps us still more to plot, against the same scale,
the successive possible steps into which nature's various changes may
be resolved, either sensibly or conceivably. We thus straighten out
the aboriginal privacy and vagueness, and can date things publicly, as
it were, and by each other. The notion of one objective and 'evenly
flowing' time, cut into numbered instants, applies itself as a common
measure to all the steps and phases, no matter how many, into which we
cut the processes of nature. They are now definitely contemporary,
or later or earlier one than another, and we can handle them
mathematically, as we say, and far better, practically as well as
theoretically, for having thus correlated them one to one with each
other on the common schematic or conceptual time-scale.

Motion, to take a good example, is originally a turbid sensation, of
which the native shape is perhaps best preserved in the phenomenon of
vertigo. In vertigo we feel that movement _is_, and is more or less
violent or rapid, more or less in this direction or that, more or less
alarming or sickening. But a man subject to vertigo may gradually
learn to co-ordinate his felt motion with his real position and that
of other things, and intellectualize it enough to succeed at last in
walking without staggering. The mathematical mind similarly organizes
motion in its way, putting it into a logical definition: motion is now
conceived as 'the occupancy of serially successive points of space
at serially successive instants of time.' With such a definition we
escape wholly from the turbid privacy of sense. But do we not also
escape from sense-reality altogether? Whatever motion really may be,
it surely is not static; but the definition we have gained is of the
absolutely static. It gives a set of one-to-one relations between
space-points and time-points, which relations themselves are as fixed
as the points are. It gives _positions_ assignable ad infinitum, but
how the body gets from one position to another it omits to mention.
The body gets there by moving, of course; but the conceived positions,
however numerously multiplied, contain no element of movement, so
Zeno, using nothing but them in his discussion, has no alternative
but to say that our intellect repudiates motion as a non-reality.
Intellectualism here does what I said it does--it makes experience
less instead of more intelligible.

We of course need a stable scheme of concepts, stably related with
one another, to lay hold of our experiences and to co-ordinate them
withal. When an experience comes with sufficient saliency to stand
out, we keep the thought of it for future use, and store it in our
conceptual system. What does not of itself stand out, we learn to
_cut_ out; so the system grows completer, and new reality, as it
comes, gets named after and conceptually strung upon this or that
element of it which we have already established. The immutability
of such an abstract system is its great practical merit; the same
identical terms and relations in it can always be recovered and
referred to--change itself is just such an unalterable concept. But
all these abstract concepts are but as flowers gathered, they are only
moments dipped out from the stream of time, snap-shots taken, as by
a kinetoscopic camera, at a life that in its original coming is
continuous. Useful as they are as samples of the garden, or to
re-enter the stream with, or to insert in our revolving lantern, they
have no value but these practical values. You cannot explain by them
what makes any single phenomenon be or go--you merely dot out the path
of appearances which it traverses. For you cannot make continuous
being out of discontinuities, and your concepts are discontinuous. The
stages into which you analyze a change are _states_, the change itself
goes on between them. It lies along their intervals, inhabits what
your definition fails to gather up, and thus eludes conceptual
explanation altogether.

'When the mathematician,' Bergson writes, 'calculates the state of
a system at the end of a time _t_, nothing need prevent him from
supposing that betweenwhiles the universe vanishes, in order suddenly
to appear again at the due moment in the new configuration. It is
only the _t_-th moment that counts--that which flows throughout the
intervals, namely real time, plays no part in his calculation.... In
short, the world on which the mathematician operates is a world which
dies and is born anew at every instant, like the world which Descartes
thought of when he spoke of a continued creation.' To know adequately
what really _happens_ we ought, Bergson insists, to see into the
intervals, but the mathematician sees only their extremities. He
fixes only a few results, he dots a curve and then interpolates, he
substitutes a tracing for a reality.

This being so undeniably the case, the history of the way in which
philosophy has dealt with it is curious. The ruling tradition in
philosophy has always been the platonic and aristotelian belief that
fixity is a nobler and worthier thing than change. Reality must be one
and unalterable. Concepts, being themselves fixities, agree best with
this fixed nature of truth, so that for any knowledge of ours to be
quite true it must be knowledge by universal concepts rather than
by particular experiences, for these notoriously are mutable and
corruptible. This is the tradition known as rationalism in philosophy,
and what I have called intellectualism is only the extreme application
of it. In spite of sceptics and empiricists, in spite of Protagoras,
Hume, and James Mill, rationalism has never been seriously questioned,
for its sharpest critics have always had a tender place in their
hearts for it, and have obeyed some of its mandates. They have not
been consistent; they have played fast and loose with the enemy; and
Bergson alone has been radical.

To show what I mean by this, let me contrast his procedure with that
of some of the transcendentalist philosophers whom I have lately
mentioned. Coming after Kant, these pique themselves on being
'critical,' on building in fact upon Kant's 'critique' of pure reason.
What that critique professed to establish was this, that concepts do
not apprehend reality, but only such appearances as our senses
feed out to them. They give immutable intellectual forms to these
appearances, it is true, but the reality _an sich_ from which in
ultimate resort the sense-appearances have to come remains forever
unintelligible to our intellect. Take motion, for example. Sensibly,
motion comes in drops, waves, or pulses; either some actual amount of
it, or none, being apprehended. This amount is the datum or _gabe_
which reality feeds out to our intellectual faculty; but our intellect
makes of it a task or _aufgabe_--this pun is one of the most memorable
of Kant's formulas--and insists that in every pulse of it an infinite
number of successive minor pulses shall be ascertainable. These minor
pulses _we_ can indeed _go on_ to ascertain or to compute indefinitely
if we have patience; but it would contradict the definition of an
infinite number to suppose the endless series of them to have actually
counted _themselves_ out piecemeal. Zeno made this manifest; so the
infinity which our intellect requires of the sense-datum is thus
a future and potential rather than a past and actual infinity of
structure. The datum after it has made itself must be decompos_able_
ad infinitum by our conception, but of the steps by which that
structure actually got composed we know nothing. Our intellect casts,
in short, no ray of light on the processes by which experiences _get

Kant's monistic successors have in general found the data of immediate
experience even more self-contradictory, when intellectually treated,
than Kant did. Not only the character of infinity involved in the
relation of various empirical data to their 'conditions,' but the very
notion that empirical things should be related to one another at all,
has seemed to them, when the intellectualistic fit was upon them, full
of paradox and contradiction. We saw in a former lecture numerous
instances of this from Hegel, Bradley, Royce, and others. We saw also
where the solution of such an intolerable state of things was sought
for by these authors. Whereas Kant had placed it outside of and
_before_ our experience, in the _dinge an sich_ which are the causes
of the latter, his monistic successors all look for it either _after_
experience, as its absolute completion, or else consider it to be even
now implicit within experience as its ideal signification. Kant and
his successors look, in short, in diametrically opposite directions.
Do not be misled by Kant's admission of theism into his system.
His God is the ordinary dualistic God of Christianity, to whom his
philosophy simply opens the door; he has nothing whatsoever in common
with the 'absolute spirit' set up by his successors. So far as this
absolute spirit is logically derived from Kant, it is not from his
God, but from entirely different elements of his philosophy. First
from his notion that an unconditioned totality of the conditions of
any experience must be assignable; and then from his other notion that
the presence of some witness, or ego of apperception, is the most
universal of all the conditions in question. The post-kantians make
of the witness-condition what is called a concrete universal, an
individualized all-witness or world-self, which shall imply in its
rational constitution each and all of the other conditions put
together, and therefore necessitate each and all of the conditioned

Abridgments like this of other men's opinions are very unsatisfactory,
they always work injustice; but in this case those of you who are
familiar with the literature will see immediately what I have in mind;
and to the others, if there be any here, it will suffice to say that
what I am trying so pedantically to point out is only the fact that
monistic idealists after Kant have invariably sought relief from the
supposed contradictions of our world of sense by looking forward
toward an _ens rationis_ conceived as its integration or logical
completion, while he looked backward toward non-rational _dinge an
sich_ conceived as its cause. Pluralistic empiricists, on the other
hand, have remained in the world of sense, either naively and because
they overlooked the intellectualistic contradictions, or because, not
able to ignore them, they thought they could refute them by a superior
use of the same intellectualistic logic. Thus it is that John Mill
pretends to refute the Achilles-tortoise fallacy.

The important point to notice here is the intellectualist logic. Both
sides treat it as authoritative, but they do so capriciously: the
absolutists smashing the world of sense by its means, the empiricists
smashing the absolute--for the absolute, they say, is the quintessence
of all logical contradictions. Neither side attains consistency.
The Hegelians have to invoke a higher logic to supersede the purely
destructive efforts of their first logic. The empiricists use their
logic against the absolute, but refuse to use it against finite
experience. Each party uses it or drops it to suit the vision it has
faith in, but neither impugns in principle its general theoretic

Bergson alone challenges its theoretic authority in principle. He
alone denies that mere conceptual logic can tell us what is impossible
or possible in the world of being or fact; and he does so for reasons
which at the same time that they rule logic out from lordship over the
whole of life, establish a vast and definite sphere of influence where
its sovereignty is indisputable. Bergson's own text, felicitous as
it is, is too intricate for quotation, so I must use my own inferior
words in explaining what I mean by saying this.

In the first place, logic, giving primarily the relations between
concepts as such, and the relations between natural facts only
secondarily or so far as the facts have been already identified with
concepts and defined by them, must of course stand or fall with the
conceptual method. But the conceptual method is a transformation which
the flux of life undergoes at our hands in the interests of practice
essentially and only subordinately in the interests of theory. We
live forward, we understand backward, said a danish writer; and to
understand life by concepts is to arrest its movement, cutting it up
into bits as if with scissors, and immobilizing these in our logical
herbarium where, comparing them as dried specimens, we can ascertain
which of them statically includes or excludes which other. This
treatment supposes life to have already accomplished itself, for the
concepts, being so many views taken after the fact, are retrospective
and post mortem. Nevertheless we can draw conclusions from them and
project them into the future. We cannot learn from them how life made
itself go, or how it will make itself go; but, on the supposition that
its ways of making itself go are unchanging, we can calculate what
positions of imagined arrest it will exhibit hereafter under given
conditions. We can compute, for instance, at what point Achilles
will be, and where the tortoise will be, at the end of the twentieth
minute. Achilles may then be at a point far ahead; but the full detail
of how he will have managed practically to get there our logic never
gives us--we have seen, indeed, that it finds that its results
contradict the facts of nature. The computations which the other
sciences make differ in no respect from those of mathematics. The
concepts used are all of them dots through which, by interpolation or
extrapolation, curves are drawn, while along the curves other dots are
found as consequences. The latest refinements of logic dispense
with the curves altogether, and deal solely with the dots and their
correspondences each to each in various series. The authors of these
recent improvements tell us expressly that their aim is to abolish the
last vestiges of intuition, _videlicet_ of concrete reality, from the
field of reasoning, which then will operate literally on mental dots
or bare abstract units of discourse, and on the ways in which they may
be strung in naked series.

This is all very esoteric, and my own understanding of it is most
likely misunderstanding. So I speak here only by way of brief reminder
to those who know. For the rest of us it is enough to recognize this
fact, that altho by means of concepts cut out from the sensible flux
of the past, we can re-descend upon the future flux and, making
another cut, say what particular thing is likely to be found there;
and that altho in this sense concepts give us knowledge, and may be
said to have some theoretic value (especially when the particular
thing foretold is one in which we take no present practical interest);
yet in the deeper sense of giving _insight_ they have no theoretic
value, for they quite fail to connect us with the inner life of the
flux, or with the causes that govern its direction. Instead of being
interpreters of reality, concepts negate the inwardness of reality
altogether. They make the whole notion of a causal influence between
finite things incomprehensible. No real activities and indeed no real
connexions of any kind can obtain if we follow the conceptual logic;
for to be distinguishable, according to what I call intellectualism,
is to be incapable of connexion. The work begun by Zeno, and continued
by Hume, Kant, Herbart, Hegel, and Bradley, does not stop till
sensible reality lies entirely disintegrated at the feet of 'reason.'

Of the 'absolute' reality which reason proposes to substitute for
sensible reality I shall have more to say presently. Meanwhile you see
what Professor Bergson means by insisting that the function of the
intellect is practical rather than theoretical. Sensible reality is
too concrete to be entirely manageable--look at the narrow range of it
which is all that any animal, living in it exclusively as he does, is
able to compass. To get from one point in it to another we have to
plough or wade through the whole intolerable interval. No detail is
spared us; it is as bad as the barbed-wire complications at Port
Arthur, and we grow old and die in the process. But with our faculty
of abstracting and fixing concepts we are there in a second, almost as
if we controlled a fourth dimension, skipping the intermediaries as
by a divine winged power, and getting at the exact point we require
without entanglement with any context. What we do in fact is to
_harness up_ reality in our conceptual systems in order to drive it
the better. This process is practical because all the termini to which
we drive are _particular_ termini, even when they are facts of the
mental order. But the sciences in which the conceptual method chiefly
celebrates its triumphs are those of space and matter, where the
transformations of external things are dealt with. To deal with moral
facts conceptually, we have first to transform them, substitute
brain-diagrams or physical metaphors, treat ideas as atoms, interests
as mechanical forces, our conscious 'selves' as 'streams,' and the
like. Paradoxical effect! as Bergson well remarks, if our intellectual
life were not practical but destined to reveal the inner natures.
One would then suppose that it would find itself most at home in the
domain of its own intellectual realities. But it is precisely there
that it finds itself at the end of its tether. We know the inner
movements of our spirit only perceptually. We feel them live in us,
but can give no distinct account of their elements, nor definitely
predict their future; while things that lie along the world of space,
things of the sort that we literally _handle_, are what our intellects
cope with most successfully. Does not this confirm us in the view that
the original and still surviving function of our intellectual life
is to guide us in the practical adaptation of our expectancies and

One can easily get into a verbal mess at this point, and my own
experience with pragmatism' makes me shrink from the dangers that lie
in the word 'practical,' and far rather than stand out against you for
that word, I am quite willing to part company with Professor Bergson,
and to ascribe a primarily theoretical function to our intellect,
provided you on your part then agree to discriminate 'theoretic' or
scientific knowledge from the deeper 'speculative' knowledge aspired
to by most philosophers, and concede that theoretic knowledge,
which is knowledge _about_ things, as distinguished from living or
sympathetic acquaintance with them, touches only the outer surface of
reality. The surface which theoretic knowledge taken in this sense
covers may indeed be enormous in extent; it may dot the whole diameter
of space and time with its conceptual creations; but it does not
penetrate a millimeter into the solid dimension. That inner dimension
of reality is occupied by the _activities_ that keep it going, but the
intellect, speaking through Hume, Kant & Co., finds itself obliged to
deny, and persists in denying, that activities have any intelligible
existence. What exists for _thought_, we are told, is at most the
results that we illusorily ascribe to such activities, strung along
the surfaces of space and time by _regeln der verknuepfung_, laws of
nature which state only coexistences and successions.[1]

Thought deals thus solely with surfaces. It can name the thickness
of reality, but it cannot fathom it, and its insufficiency here is
essential and permanent, not temporary.

The only way in which to apprehend reality's thickness is either to
experience it directly by being a part of reality one's self, or to
evoke it in imagination by sympathetically divining some one else's
inner life. But what we thus immediately experience or concretely
divine is very limited in duration, whereas abstractly we are able to
conceive eternities. Could we feel a million years concretely as we
now feel a passing minute, we should have very little employment for
our conceptual faculty. We should know the whole period fully at every
moment of its passage, whereas we must now construct it laboriously by
means of concepts which we project. Direct acquaintance and conceptual
knowledge are thus complementary of each other; each remedies the
other's defects. If what we care most about be the synoptic treatment
of phenomena, the vision of the far and the gathering of the scattered
like, we must follow the conceptual method. But if, as metaphysicians,
we are more curious about the inner nature of reality or about what
really makes it go, we must turn our backs upon our winged concepts
altogether, and bury ourselves in the thickness of those passing
moments over the surface of which they fly, and on particular points
of which they occasionally rest and perch.

Professor Bergson thus inverts the traditional platonic doctrine
absolutely. Instead of intellectual knowledge being the profounder,
he calls it the more superficial. Instead of being the only adequate
knowledge, it is grossly inadequate, and its only superiority is the
practical one of enabling us to make short cuts through experience
and thereby to save time. The one thing it cannot do is to reveal the
nature of things--which last remark, if not clear already, will become
clearer as I proceed. Dive back into the flux itself, then, Bergson
tells us, if you wish to _know_ reality, that flux which Platonism, in
its strange belief that only the immutable is excellent, has always
spurned; turn your face toward sensation, that flesh-bound thing which
rationalism has always loaded with abuse.--This, you see, is exactly
the opposite remedy from that of looking forward into the absolute,
which our idealistic contemporaries prescribe. It violates our mental
habits, being a kind of passive and receptive listening quite contrary
to that effort to react noisily and verbally on everything, which is
our usual intellectual pose.

What, then, are the peculiar features in the perceptual flux which the
conceptual translation so fatally leaves out?

The essence of life is its continuously changing character; but our
concepts are all discontinuous and fixed, and the only mode of making
them coincide with life is by arbitrarily supposing positions of
arrest therein. With such arrests our concepts may be made congruent.
But these concepts are not _parts_ of reality, not real positions
taken by it, but _suppositions_ rather, notes taken by ourselves, and
you can no more dip up the substance of reality with them than you can
dip up water with a net, however finely meshed.

When we conceptualize, we cut out and fix, and exclude everything
but what we have fixed. A concept means a _that-and-no-other_.
Conceptually, time excludes space; motion and rest exclude each other;
approach excludes contact; presence excludes absence; unity excludes
plurality; independence excludes relativity; 'mine' excludes 'yours';
this connexion excludes that connexion--and so on indefinitely;
whereas in the real concrete sensible flux of life experiences
compenetrate each other so that it is not easy to know just what is
excluded and what not. Past and future, for example, conceptually
separated by the cut to which we give the name of present, and defined
as being the opposite sides of that cut, are to some extent, however
brief, co-present with each other throughout experience. The literally
present moment is a purely verbal supposition, not a position; the
only present ever realized concretely being the 'passing moment' in
which the dying rearward of time and its dawning future forever mix
their lights. Say 'now' and it _was_ even while you say it.

It is just intellectualism's attempt to substitute static cuts
for units of experienced duration that makes real motion so
unintelligible. The conception of the first half of the interval
between Achilles and the tortoise excludes that of the last half, and
the mathematical necessity of traversing it separately before the last
half is traversed stands permanently in the way of the last half ever
being traversed. Meanwhile the living Achilles (who, for the purposes
of this discussion, is only the abstract name of one phenomenon of
impetus, just as the tortoise is of another) asks no leave of logic.
The velocity of his acts is an indivisible nature in them like the
expansive tension in a spring compressed. We define it conceptually as
[_s/t_], but the _s_ and _t_ are only artificial cuts made after the
fact, and indeed most artificial when we treat them in both runners
as the same tracts of 'objective' space and time, for the experienced
spaces and times in which the tortoise inwardly lives are probably
as different as his velocity from the same things in Achilles. The
impetus of Achilles is one concrete fact, and carries space, time, and
conquest over the inferior creature's motion indivisibly in it. He
perceives nothing, while running, of the mathematician's homogeneous
time and space, of the infinitely numerous succession of cuts in both,
or of their order. End and beginning come for him in the one onrush,
and all that he actually experiences is that, in the midst of a
certain intense effort of his own, the rival is in point of fact

We are so inveterately wedded to the conceptual decomposition of life
that I know that this will seem to you like putting muddiest confusion
in place of clearest thought, and relapsing into a molluscoid state
of mind. Yet I ask you whether the absolute superiority of our higher
thought is so very clear, if all that it can find is impossibility in
tasks which sense-experience so easily performs.

What makes you call real life confusion is that it presents, as
if they were dissolved in one another, a lot of differents which
conception breaks life's flow by keeping apart. But _are_ not
differents actually dissolved in one another? Hasn't every bit of
experience its quality, its duration, its extension, its intensity,
its urgency, its clearness, and many aspects besides, no one of which
can exist in the isolation in which our verbalized logic keeps it?
They exist only _durcheinander_. Reality always is, in M. Bergson's
phrase, an endosmosis or conflux of the same with the different: they
compenetrate and telescope. For conceptual logic, the same is nothing
but the same, and all sames with a third thing are the same with each
other. Not so in concrete experience. Two spots on our skin, each of
which feels the same as a third spot when touched along with it, are
felt as different from each other. Two tones, neither distinguishable
from a third tone, are perfectly distinct from each other. The whole
process of life is due to life's violation of our logical axioms.
Take its continuity as an example. Terms like A and C appear to be
connected by intermediaries, by B for example. Intellectualism calls
this absurd, for 'B-connected-with-A' is, 'as such,' a different term
from 'B-connected-with-C.' But real life laughs at logic's veto.
Imagine a heavy log which takes two men to carry it. First A and B
take it. Then C takes hold and A drops off; then D takes hold and B
drops off, so that C and D now bear it; and so on. The log meanwhile
never drops, and keeps its sameness throughout the journey. Even so
it is with all our experiences. Their changes are not complete
annihilations followed by complete creations of something absolutely
novel. There is partial decay and partial growth, and all the while a
nucleus of relative constancy from which what decays drops off, and
which takes into itself whatever is grafted on, until at length
something wholly different has taken its place. In such a process we
are as sure, in spite of intellectualist logic with its 'as suches,'
that it _is_ the same nucleus which is able now to make connexion with
what goes and again with what comes, as we are sure that the same
point can lie on diverse lines that intersect there. Without being one
throughout, such a universe is continuous. Its members interdigitate
with their next neighbors in manifold directions, and there are no
clean cuts between them anywhere.

The great clash of intellectualist logic with sensible experience is
where the experience is that of influence exerted. Intellectualism
denies (as we saw in lecture ii) that finite things can act on one
another, for all things, once translated into concepts, remain shut up
to themselves. To act on anything means to get into it somehow; but
that would mean to get out of one's self and be one's other, which is
self-contradictory, etc. Meanwhile each of us actually _is_ his own
other to that extent, livingly knowing how to perform the trick which
logic tells us can't be done. My thoughts animate and actuate this
very body which you see and hear, and thereby influence your thoughts.
The dynamic current somehow does get from me to you, however numerous
the intermediary conductors may have to be. Distinctions may be
insulators in logic as much as they like, but in life distinct things
can and do commune together every moment.

The conflict of the two ways of knowing is best summed up in the
intellectualist doctrine that 'the same cannot exist in many
relations.' This follows of course from the concepts of the two
relations being so distinct that 'what-is-in-the-one' means 'as such'
something distinct from what 'what-is-in-the-other' means. It is like
Mill's ironical saying, that we should not think of Newton as both an
Englishman and a mathematician, because an Englishman as such is not
a mathematician and a mathematician as such is not an Englishman. But
the real Newton was somehow both things at once; and throughout the
whole finite universe each real thing proves to be many differents
without undergoing the necessity of breaking into disconnected
editions of itself.

These few indications will perhaps suffice to put you at the
bergsonian point of view. The immediate experience of life solves the
problems which so baffle our conceptual intelligence: How can what is
manifold be one? how can things get out of themselves? how be their
own others? how be both distinct and connected? how can they act on
one another? how be for others and yet for themselves? how be absent
and present at once? The intellect asks these questions much as we
might ask how anything can both separate and unite things, or how
sounds can grow more alike by continuing to grow more different. If
you already know space sensibly, you can answer the former question by
pointing to any interval in it, long or short; if you know the musical
scale, you can answer the latter by sounding an octave; but then you
must first have the sensible knowledge of these realities. Similarly
Bergson answers the intellectualist conundrums by pointing back to our
various finite sensational experiences and saying, 'Lo, even thus;
even so are these other problems solved livingly.'

When you have broken the reality into concepts you never can
reconstruct it in its wholeness. Out of no amount of discreteness
can you manufacture the concrete. But place yourself at a bound, or
_d'emblee_, as M. Bergson says, inside of the living, moving, active
thickness of the real, and all the abstractions and distinctions
are given into your hand: you can now make the intellectualist
substitutions to your heart's content. Install yourself in phenomenal
movement, for example, and velocity, succession, dates, positions, and
innumerable other things are given you in the bargain. But with only
an abstract succession of dates and positions you can never patch up
movement itself. It slips through their intervals and is lost.

So it is with every concrete thing, however complicated. Our
intellectual handling of it is a retrospective patchwork, a
post-mortem dissection, and can follow any order we find most
expedient. We can make the thing seem self-contradictory whenever
we wish to. But place yourself at the point of view of the thing's
interior _doing_, and all these back-looking and conflicting
conceptions lie harmoniously in your hand. Get at the expanding centre
of a human character, the _elan vital_ of a man, as Bergson calls it,
by living sympathy, and at a stroke you see how it makes those who see
it from without interpret it in such diverse ways. It is something
that breaks into both honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice,
stupidity and insight, at the touch of varying circumstances, and you
feel exactly why and how it does this, and never seek to identify
it stably with any of these single abstractions. Only your
intellectualist does that,--and you now also feel why _he_ must do it
to the end.

Place yourself similarly at the centre of a man's philosophic vision
and you understand at once all the different things it makes him write
or say. But keep outside, use your post-mortem method, try to build
the philosophy up out of the single phrases, taking first one and then
another and seeking to make them fit, and of course you fail. You
crawl over the thing like a myopic ant over a building, tumbling
into every microscopic crack or fissure, finding nothing but
inconsistencies, and never suspecting that a centre exists. I hope
that some of the philosophers in this audience may occasionally have
had something different from this intellectualist type of criticism
applied to their own works!

What really _exists_ is not things made but things in the making. Once
made, they are dead, and an infinite number of alternative conceptual
decompositions can be used in defining them. But put yourself _in the
making_ by a stroke of intuitive sympathy with the thing and, the
whole range of possible decompositions coming at once into your
possession, you are no longer troubled with the question which of
them is the more absolutely true. Reality _falls_ in passing into
conceptual analysis; it _mounts_ in living its own undivided life--it
buds and bourgeons, changes and creates. Once adopt the movement of
this life in any given instance and you know what Bergson calls the
_devenir reel_ by which the thing evolves and grows. Philosophy should
seek this kind of living understanding of the movement of reality,
not follow science in vainly patching together fragments of its dead

Thus much of M. Bergson's philosophy is sufficient for my purpose in
these lectures, so here I will stop, leaving unnoticed all its other
constituent features, original and interesting tho they be. You may
say, and doubtless some of you now are saying inwardly, that his
remanding us to sensation in this wise is only a regress, a return to
that ultra-crude empiricism which your own idealists since Green
have buried ten times over. I confess that it is indeed a return to
empiricism, but I think that the return in such accomplished shape
only proves the latter's immortal truth. What won't stay buried must
have some genuine life. _Am anfang war die tat_; fact is a _first_; to
which all our conceptual handling comes as an inadequate second,
never its full equivalent. When I read recent transcendentalist
literature--I must partly except my colleague Royce!--I get nothing
but a sort of marking of time, champing of jaws, pawing of the ground,
and resettling into the same attitude, like a weary horse in a stall
with an empty manger. It is but turning over the same few threadbare
categories, bringing the same objections, and urging the same answers
and solutions, with never a new fact or a new horizon coming into
sight. But open Bergson, and new horizons loom on every page you read.
It is like the breath of the morning and the song of birds. It tells
of reality itself, instead of merely reiterating what dusty-minded
professors have written about what other previous professors have
thought. Nothing in Bergson is shop-worn or at second hand.

That he gives us no closed-in system will of course be fatal to him in
intellectualist eyes. He only evokes and invites; but he first annuls
the intellectualist veto, so that we now join step with reality with
a philosophical conscience never quite set free before. As a french
disciple of his well expresses it: 'Bergson claims of us first of all
a certain inner catastrophe, and not every one is capable of such a
logical revolution. But those who have once found themselves flexible
enough for the execution of such a psychological change of front,
discover somehow that they can never return again to their ancient
attitude of mind. They are now Bergsonians ... and possess the
principal thoughts of the master all at once. They have understood in
the fashion in which one loves, they have caught the whole melody and
can thereafter admire at their leisure the originality, the fecundity,
and the imaginative genius with which its author develops, transposes,
and varies in a thousand ways by the orchestration of his style and
dialectic, the original theme.'[2]

This, scant as it is, is all I have to say about Bergson on this
occasion--I hope it may send some of you to his original text. I must
now turn back to the point where I found it advisable to appeal to his
ideas. You remember my own intellectualist difficulties in the last
lecture, about how a lot of separate consciousnesses can at the same
time be one collective thing. How, I asked, can one and the same
identical content of experience, of which on idealist principles the
_esse_ is to be felt, be felt so diversely if itself be the only
feeler? The usual way of escape by 'quatenus' or 'as such' won't
help us here if we are radical intellectualists, I said, for
appearance-together is as such _not_ appearance-apart, the world _qua_
many is not the world _qua_ one, as absolutism claims. If we hold to
Hume's maxim, which later intellectualism uses so well, that whatever
things are distinguished are as separate as if there were no manner of
connexion between them, there seemed no way out of the difficulty save
by stepping outside of experience altogether and invoking different
spiritual agents, selves or souls, to realize the diversity required.
But this rescue by 'scholastic entities' I was unwilling to accept any
more than pantheistic idealists accept it.

Yet, to quote Fechner's phrase again, 'nichts wirkliches kann
unmoeglich sein,' the actual cannot be impossible, and what _is_ actual
at every moment of our lives is the sort of thing which I now
proceed to remind you of. You can hear the vibration of an electric
contact-maker, smell the ozone, see the sparks, and feel the thrill,
co-consciously as it were or in one field of experience. But you can
also isolate any one of these sensations by shutting out the rest. If
you close your eyes, hold your nose, and remove your hand, you can get
the sensation of sound alone, but it seems still the same sensation
that it was; and if you restore the action of the other organs, the
sound coalesces with the feeling, the sight, and the smell sensations
again. Now the natural way of talking of all this[3] is to say that
certain sensations are experienced, now singly, and now together
with other sensations, in a common conscious field. Fluctuations of
attention give analogous results. We let a sensation in or keep it out
by changing our attention; and similarly we let an item of memory in
or drop it out. [Please don't raise the question here of how these
changes _come to pass_. The immediate condition is probably cerebral
in every instance, but it would be irrelevant now to consider it, for
now we are thinking only of results, and I repeat that the natural way
of thinking of them is that which intellectualist criticism finds so

The absurdity charged is that the self-same should function so
differently, now with and now without something else. But this it
sensibly seems to do. This very desk which I strike with my hand
strikes in turn your eyes. It functions at once as a physical object
in the outer world and as a mental object in our sundry mental worlds.
The very body of mine that _my_ thought actuates is the body whose
gestures are _your_ visual object and to which you give my name. The
very log which John helped to carry is the log now borne by James. The
very girl you love is simultaneously entangled elsewhere. The very
place behind me is in front of you. Look where you will, you gather
only examples of the same amid the different, and of different
relations existing as it were in solution in the same thing. _Qua_
this an experience is not the same as it is _qua_ that, truly enough;
but the _quas_ are conceptual shots of ours at its post-mortem
remains, and in its sensational immediacy everything is all at once
whatever different things it is at once at all. It is before C and
after A, far from you and near to me, without this associate and with
that one, active and passive, physical and mental, a whole of
parts and part of a higher whole, all simultaneously and without
interference or need of doubling-up its being, so long as we keep to
what I call the 'immediate' point of view, the point of view in which
we follow our sensational life's continuity, and to which all living
language conforms. It is only when you try--to continue using the
hegelian vocabulary--to 'mediate' the immediate, or to substitute
concepts for sensational life, that intellectualism celebrates
its triumph and the immanent-self-contradictoriness of all this
smooth-running finite experience gets proved.

Of the oddity of inventing as a remedy for the inconveniences
resulting from this situation a supernumerary conceptual object
called an absolute, into which you pack the self-same contradictions
unreduced, I will say something in the next lecture. The absolute is
said to perform its feats by taking up its other into itself. But
that is exactly what is done when every individual morsel of the
sensational stream takes up the adjacent morsels by coalescing with
them. This is just what we mean by the stream's sensible continuity.
No element _there_ cuts itself off from any other element, as concepts
cut themselves from concepts. No part _there_ is so small as not to be
a place of conflux. No part there is not really _next_ its neighbors;
which means that there is literally nothing between; which means
again that no part goes exactly so far and no farther; that no part
absolutely excludes another, but that they compenetrate and are
cohesive; that if you tear out one, its roots bring out more with
them; that whatever is real is telescoped and diffused into other
reals; that, in short, every minutest thing is already its hegelian
'own other,' in the fullest sense of the term.

Of course this _sounds_ self-contradictory, but as the immediate facts
don't sound at all, but simply _are_, until we conceptualize and name
them vocally, the contradiction results only from the conceptual
or discursive form being substituted for the real form. But if, as
Bergson shows, that form is superimposed for practical ends only, in
order to let us jump about over life instead of wading through it;
and if it cannot even pretend to reveal anything of what life's inner
nature is or ought to be; why then we can turn a deaf ear to its
accusations. The resolve to turn the deaf ear is the inner crisis or
'catastrophe' of which M. Bergson's disciple whom I lately quoted
spoke. We are so subject to the philosophic tradition which treats
_logos_ or discursive thought generally as the sole avenue to truth,
that to fall back on raw unverbalized life as more of a revealer, and
to think of concepts as the merely practical things which Bergson
calls them, comes very hard. It is putting off our proud maturity of
mind and becoming again as foolish little children in the eyes of
reason. But difficult as such a revolution is, there is no other way,
I believe, to the possession of reality, and I permit myself to hope
that some of you may share my opinion after you have heard my next



I fear that few of you will have been able to obey Bergson's call upon
you to look towards the sensational life for the fuller knowledge of
reality, or to sympathize with his attempt to limit the divine right
of concepts to rule our mind absolutely. It is too much like looking
downward and not up. Philosophy, you will say, doesn't lie flat on its
belly in the middle of experience, in the very thick of its sand and
gravel, as this Bergsonism does, never getting a peep at anything from
above. Philosophy is essentially the vision of things from above.
It doesn't simply feel the detail of things, it comprehends their
intelligible plan, sees their forms and principles, their categories
and rules, their order and necessity. It takes the superior point of
view of the architect. Is it conceivable that it should ever forsake
that point of view and abandon itself to a slovenly life of immediate
feeling? To say nothing of your traditional Oxford devotion to
Aristotle and Plato, the leaven of T.H. Green probably works still
too strongly here for his anti-sensationalism to be outgrown quickly.
Green more than any one realized that knowledge _about_ things was
knowledge of their relations; but nothing could persuade him that our
sensational life could contain any relational element. He followed
the strict intellectualist method with sensations. What they were not
expressly defined as including, they must exclude. Sensations are not
defined as relations, so in the end Green thought that they could
get related together only by the action on them from above of a
'self-distinguishing' absolute and eternal mind, present to that which
is related, but not related itself. 'A relation,' he said, 'is not
contingent with the contingency of feeling. It is permanent with
the permanence of the combining and comparing thought which alone
constitutes it.'[1] In other words, relations are purely conceptual
objects, and the sensational life as such cannot relate itself
together. Sensation in itself, Green wrote, is fleeting, momentary,
unnameable (because, while we name it, it has become another), and for
the same reason unknowable, the very negation of knowability. Were
there no permanent objects of conception for our sensations to be
'referred to,' there would be no significant names, but only noises,
and a consistent sensationalism must be speechless.[2] Green's
intellectualism was so earnest that it produced a natural and an
inevitable effect. But the atomistic and unrelated sensations which he
had in mind were purely fictitious products of his rationalist fancy.
The psychology of our own day disavows them utterly,[3] and Green's
laborious belaboring of poor old Locke for not having first seen that
his ideas of sensation were just that impracticable sort of thing, and
then fled to transcendental idealism as a remedy,--his belaboring of
poor old Locke for this, I say, is pathetic. Every examiner of the
sensible life _in concreto_ must see that relations of every sort, of
time, space, difference, likeness, change, rate, cause, or what not,
are just as integral members of the sensational flux as terms are, and
that conjunctive relations are just as true members of the flux as
disjunctive relations are.[4] This is what in some recent writings of
mine I have called the 'radically empiricist' doctrine (in distinction
from the doctrine of mental atoms which the name empiricism so
often suggests). Intellectualistic critics of sensation insist that
sensations are _disjoined_ only. Radical empiricism insists
that conjunctions between them are just as immediately given as
disjunctions are, and that relations, whether disjunctive or
conjunctive, are in their original sensible givenness just as fleeting
and momentary (in Green's words), and just as 'particular,' as terms
are. Later, both terms and relations get universalized by being
conceptualized and named.[5] But all the thickness, concreteness, and
individuality of experience exists in the immediate and relatively
unnamed stages of it, to the richness of which, and to the standing
inadequacy of our conceptions to match it, Professor Bergson so
emphatically calls our attention. And now I am happy to say that we
can begin to gather together some of the separate threads of our
argument, and see a little better the general kind of conclusion
toward which we are tending. Pray go back with me to the lecture
before the last, and recall what I said about the difficulty of seeing
how states of consciousness can compound themselves. The difficulty
seemed to be the same, you remember, whether we took it in psychology
as the composition of finite states of mind out of simpler finite
states, or in metaphysics as the composition of the absolute mind out
of finite minds in general. It is the general conceptualist difficulty
of any one thing being the same with many things, either at once or
in succession, for the abstract concepts of oneness and manyness must
needs exclude each other. In the particular instance that we have
dwelt on so long, the one thing is the all-form of experience, the
many things are the each-forms of experience in you and me. To call
them the same we must treat them as if each were simultaneously
its own other, a feat on conceptualist principles impossible of

On the principle of going behind the conceptual function altogether,
however, and looking to the more primitive flux of the sensational
life for reality's true shape, a way is open to us, as I tried in my
last lecture to show. Not only the absolute is its own other, but the
simplest bits of immediate experience are their own others, if that
hegelian phrase be once for all allowed. The concrete pulses of
experience appear pent in by no such definite limits as our conceptual
substitutes for them are confined by. They run into one another
continuously and seem to interpenetrate. What in them is relation and
what is matter related is hard to discern. You feel no one of them as
inwardly simple, and no two as wholly without confluence where they
touch. There is no datum so small as not to show this mystery, if
mystery it be. The tiniest feeling that we can possibly have comes
with an earlier and a later part and with a sense of their continuous
procession. Mr. Shadworth Hodgson showed long ago that there is
literally no such object as the present moment except as an unreal
postulate of abstract thought.[6] The 'passing' moment is, as I
already have reminded you, the minimal fact, with the 'apparition of
difference' inside of it as well as outside. If we do not feel both
past and present in one field of feeling, we feel them not at all. We
have the same many-in-one in the matter that fills the passing time.
The rush of our thought forward through its fringes is the everlasting
peculiarity of its life. We realize this life as something always off
its balance, something in transition, something that shoots out of a
darkness through a dawn into a brightness that we feel to be the dawn
fulfilled. In the very midst of the continuity our experience comes as
an alteration. 'Yes,' we say at the full brightness, '_this_ is what I
just meant.' 'No,' we feel at the dawning, 'this is not yet the full
meaning, there is more to come.' In every crescendo of sensation, in
every effort to recall, in every progress towards the satisfaction
of desire, this succession of an emptiness and fulness that have
reference to each other and are one flesh is the essence of the
phenomenon. In every hindrance of desire the sense of an ideal
presence which is absent in fact, of an absent, in a word, which the
only function of the present is to _mean_, is even more notoriously
there. And in the movement of pure thought we have the same
phenomenon. When I say _Socrates is mortal_, the moment _Socrates_ is
incomplete; it falls forward through the _is_ which is pure movement,
into the _mortal_ which is indeed bare mortal on the tongue, but
for the mind is _that mortal_, the _mortal Socrates_, at last
satisfactorily disposed of and told off.[7]

Here, then, inside of the minimal pulses of experience, is realized
that very inner complexity which the transcendentalists say only the
absolute can genuinely possess. The gist of the matter is always the
same--something ever goes indissolubly with something else. You cannot
separate the same from its other, except by abandoning the real
altogether and taking to the conceptual system. What is immediately
given in the single and particular instance is always something pooled
and mutual, something with no dark spot, no point of ignorance. No one
elementary bit of reality is eclipsed from the next bit's point of
view, if only we take reality sensibly and in small enough pulses--and
by us it has to be taken pulse-wise, for our span of consciousness is
too short to grasp the larger collectivity of things except nominally
and abstractly. No more of reality collected together at once is
extant anywhere, perhaps, than in my experience of reading this page,
or in yours of listening; yet within those bits of experience as
they come to pass we get a fulness of content that no conceptual
description can equal. Sensational experiences _are_ their 'own
others,' then, both internally and externally. Inwardly they are one
with their parts, and outwardly they pass continuously into their next
neighbors, so that events separated by years of time in a man's life
hang together unbrokenly by the intermediary events. Their _names_,
to be sure, cut them into separate conceptual entities, but no cuts
existed in the continuum in which they originally came.

If, with all this in our mind, we turn to our own particular
predicament, we see that our old objection to the self-compounding of
states of consciousness, our accusation that it was impossible for
purely logical reasons, is unfounded in principle. Every smallest
state of consciousness, concretely taken, overflows its own
definition. Only concepts are self-identical; only 'reason' deals with
closed equations; nature is but a name for excess; every point in
her opens out and runs into the more; and the only question, with
reference to any point we may be considering, is how far into the
rest of nature we may have to go in order to get entirely beyond its
overflow. In the pulse of inner life immediately present now in each
of us is a little past, a little future, a little awareness of our own
body, of each other's persons, of these sublimities we are trying to
talk about, of the earth's geography and the direction of history,
of truth and error, of good and bad, and of who knows how much more?
Feeling, however dimly and subconsciously, all these things, your
pulse of inner life is continuous with them, belongs to them and they
to it. You can't identify it with either one of them rather than with
the others, for if you let it develop into no matter which of those
directions, what it develops into will look back on it and say, 'That
was the original germ of me.'

In _principle_, then, the real units of our immediately-felt life are
unlike the units that intellectualist logic holds to and makes its
calculations with. They are not separate from their own others, and
you have to take them at widely separated dates to find any two of
them that seem unblent. Then indeed they do appear separate even as
their concepts are separate; a chasm yawns between them; but the chasm
itself is but an intellectualist fiction, got by abstracting from the
continuous sheet of experiences with which the intermediary time was
filled. It is like the log carried first by William and Henry, then
by William, Henry, and John, then by Henry and John, then by John and
Peter, and so on. All real units of experience _overlap_. Let a row of
equidistant dots on a sheet of paper symbolize the concepts by which
we intellectualize the world. Let a ruler long enough to cover at
least three dots stand for our sensible experience. Then the conceived
changes of the sensible experience can be symbolized by sliding the
ruler along the line of dots. One concept after another will apply to
it, one after another drop away, but it will always cover at least two
of them, and no dots less than three will ever adequately cover _it_.
You falsify it if you treat it conceptually, or by the law of dots.

What is true here of successive states must also be true of
simultaneous characters. They also overlap each other with their
being. My present field of consciousness is a centre surrounded by a
fringe that shades insensibly into a subconscious more. I use three
separate terms here to describe, this fact; but I might as well use
three hundred, for the fact is all shades and no boundaries. Which
part of it properly is in my consciousness, which out? If I name what
is out, it already has come in. The centre works in one way while the
margins work in another, and presently overpower the centre and are
central themselves. What we conceptually identify ourselves with and
say we are thinking of at any time is the centre; but our _full_ self
is the whole field, with all those indefinitely radiating subconscious
possibilities of increase that we can only feel without conceiving,
and can hardly begin to analyze. The collective and the distributive
ways of being coexist here, for each part functions distinctly, makes
connexion with its own peculiar region in the still wider rest of
experience and tends to draw us into that line, and yet the whole is
somehow felt as one pulse of our life,--not conceived so, but felt so.

In principle, then, as I said, intellectualism's edge is broken; it
can only approximate to reality, and its logic is inapplicable to our
inner life, which spurns its vetoes and mocks at its impossibilities.
Every bit of us at every moment is part and parcel of a wider self, it
quivers along various radii like the wind-rose on a compass, and the
actual in it is continuously one with possibles not yet in our present
sight.[8] And just as we are co-conscious with our own momentary
margin, may not we ourselves form the margin of some more really
central self in things which is co-conscious with the whole of us? May
not you and I be confluent in a higher consciousness, and confluently
active there, tho we now know it not?

I am tiring myself and you, I know, by vainly seeking to describe
by concepts and words what I say at the same time exceeds either
conceptualization or verbalization. As long as one continues
_talking_, intellectualism remains in undisturbed possession of the
field. The return to life can't come about by talking. It is an _act_;
to make you return to life, I must set an example for your imitation,
I must deafen you to talk, or to the importance of talk, by showing
you, as Bergson does, that the concepts we talk with are made for
purposes of _practice_ and not for purposes of insight. Or I must
_point_, point to the mere _that_ of life, and you by inner sympathy
must fill out the _what_ for yourselves. The minds of some of you,
I know, will absolutely refuse to do so, refuse to think in
non-conceptualized terms. I myself absolutely refused to do so
for years together, even after I knew that the denial of
manyness-in-oneness by intellectualism must be false, for the same
reality does perform the most various functions at once. But I hoped
ever for a revised intellectualist way round the difficulty, and it
was only after reading Bergson that I saw that to continue using the
intellectualist method was itself the fault. I saw that philosophy had
been on a false scent ever since the days of Socrates and Plato, that
an _intellectual_ answer to the intellectualist's difficulties will
never come, and that the real way out of them, far from consisting in
the discovery of such an answer, consists in simply closing one's ears
to the question. When conceptualism summons life to justify itself
in conceptual terms, it is like a challenge addressed in a foreign
language to some one who is absorbed in his own business; it is
irrelevant to him altogether--he may let it lie unnoticed. I went thus
through the 'inner catastrophe' of which I spoke in the last lecture;
I had literally come to the end of my conceptual stock-in-trade, I was
bankrupt intellectualistically, and had to change my base. No words
of mine will probably convert you, for words can be the names only of
concepts. But if any of you try sincerely and pertinaciously on your
own separate accounts to intellectualize reality, you may be similarly
driven to a change of front. I say no more: I must leave life to teach
the lesson.

We have now reached a point of view from which the self-compounding of
mind in its smaller and more accessible portions seems a certain
fact, and in which the speculative assumption of a similar but wider
compounding in remoter regions must be reckoned with as a legitimate
hypothesis. The absolute is not the impossible being I once thought
it. Mental facts do function both singly and together, at once, and we
finite minds may simultaneously be co-conscious with one another in a
superhuman intelligence. It is only the extravagant claims of coercive
necessity on the absolute's part that have to be denied by _a priori_
logic. As an hypothesis trying to make itself probable on analogical
and inductive grounds, the absolute is entitled to a patient hearing.
Which is as much as to say that our serious business from now onward
lies with Fechner and his method, rather than with Hegel, Royce, or
Bradley. Fechner treats the superhuman consciousness he so fervently
believes in as an hypothesis only, which he then recommends by all the
resources of induction and persuasion.

It is true that Fechner himself is an absolutist in his books, not
actively but passively, if I may say so. He talks not only of the
earth-soul and of the star-souls, but of an integrated soul of all
things in the cosmos without exception, and this he calls God just
as others call it the absolute. Nevertheless he _thinks_ only of
the subordinate superhuman souls, and content with having made his
obeisance once for all to the august total soul of the cosmos, he
leaves it in its lonely sublimity with no attempt to define its
nature. Like the absolute, it is 'out of range,' and not an object for
distincter vision. Psychologically, it seems to me that Fechner's
God is a lazy postulate of his, rather than a part of his system
positively thought out. As we envelop our sight and hearing, so the
earth-soul envelops us, and the star-soul the earth-soul, until--what?
Envelopment can't go on forever; it must have an _abschluss_, a total
envelope must terminate the series, so God is the name that Fechner
gives to this last all-enveloper. But if nothing escapes this
all-enveloper, he is responsible for everything, including evil, and
all the paradoxes and difficulties which I found in the absolute
at the end of our third lecture recur undiminished. Fechner tries
sincerely to grapple with the problem of evil, but he always solves it
in the leibnitzian fashion by making his God non-absolute, placing
him under conditions of 'metaphysical necessity' which even his
omnipotence cannot violate. His will has to struggle with conditions
not imposed on that will by itself. He tolerates provisionally what he
has not created, and then with endless patience tries to overcome it
and live it down. He has, in short, a history. Whenever Fechner tries
to represent him clearly, his God becomes the ordinary God of theism,
and ceases to be the absolutely totalized all-enveloper.[9] In this
shape, he represents the ideal element in things solely, and is our
champion and our helper and we his helpers, against the bad parts of
the universe.

Fechner was in fact too little of a metaphysician to care for perfect
formal consistency in these abstract regions. He believed in God in
the pluralistic manner, but partly from convention and partly from
what I should call intellectual laziness, if laziness of any kind
could be imputed to a Fechner, he let the usual monistic talk about
him pass unchallenged. I propose to you that we should discuss the
question of God without entangling ourselves in advance in the
monistic assumption. Is it probable that there is any superhuman
consciousness at all, in the first place? When that is settled, the
further question whether its form be monistic or pluralistic is in

Before advancing to either question, however, and I shall have to deal
with both but very briefly after what has been said already, let me
finish our retrospective survey by one more remark about the curious
logical situation of the absolutists. For what have they invoked the
absolute except as a being the peculiar inner form of which shall
enable it to overcome the contradictions with which intellectualism
has found the finite many as such to be infected? The many-in-one
character that, as we have seen, every smallest tract of finite
experience offers, is considered by intellectualism to be fatal to the
reality of finite experience. What can be distinguished, it tells us,
is separate; and what is separate is unrelated, for a relation, being
a 'between,' would bring only a twofold separation. Hegel, Royce,
Bradley, and the Oxford absolutists in general seem to agree about
this logical absurdity of manyness-in-oneness in the only places where
it is empirically found. But see the curious tactics! Is the absurdity
_reduced_ in the absolute being whom they call in to relieve it? Quite
otherwise, for that being shows it on an infinitely greater scale, and
flaunts it in its very definition. The fact of its not being related
to any outward environment, the fact that all relations are inside of
itself, doesn't save it, for Mr. Bradley's great argument against the
finite is that _in_ any given bit of it (a bit of sugar, for instance)
the presence of a plurality of characters (whiteness and sweetness,
for example) is self-contradictory; so that in the final end all that
the absolute's name appears to stand for is the persistent claim of
outraged human nature that reality _shall_ not be called
absurd. _Somewhere_ there must be an aspect of it guiltless of
self-contradiction. All we can see of the absolute, meanwhile, is
guilty in the same way in which the finite is. Intellectualism sees
what it calls the guilt, when comminuted in the finite object; but
is too near-sighted to see it in the more enormous object. Yet the
absolute's constitution, if imagined at all, has to be imagined after
the analogy of some bit of finite experience. Take any _real_ bit,
suppress its environment and then magnify it to monstrosity, and you
get identically the type of structure of the absolute. It is obvious
that all your difficulties here remain and go with you. If the
relative experience was inwardly absurd, the absolute experience is
infinitely more so. Intellectualism, in short, strains off the gnat,
but swallows the whole camel. But this polemic against the absolute
is as odious to me as it is to you, so I will say no more about that
being. It is only one of those wills of the wisp, those lights that
do mislead the morn, that have so often impeded the clear progress of
philosophy, so I will turn to the more general positive question of
whether superhuman unities of consciousness should be considered as
more probable or more improbable.

In a former lecture I went over some of the fechnerian reasons for
their plausibility, or reasons that at least replied to our more
obvious grounds of doubt concerning them. The numerous facts of
divided or split human personality which the genius of certain medical
men, as Janet, Freud, Prince, Sidis, and others, have unearthed were
unknown in Fechner's time, and neither the phenomena of automatic
writing and speech, nor of mediumship and 'possession' generally, had
been recognized or studied as we now study them, so Fechner's stock of
analogies is scant compared with our present one. He did the best with
what he had, however. For my own part I find in some of these abnormal
or supernormal facts the strongest suggestions in favor of a superior
co-consciousness being possible. I doubt whether we shall ever
understand some of them without using the very letter of Fechner's
conception of a great reservoir in which the memories of earth's
inhabitants are pooled and preserved, and from which, when the
threshold lowers or the valve opens, information ordinarily shut out
leaks into the mind of exceptional individuals among us. But those
regions of inquiry are perhaps too spook-haunted to interest an
academic audience, and the only evidence I feel it now decorous to
bring to the support of Fechner is drawn from ordinary religious
experience. I think it may be asserted that there _are_ religious
experiences of a specific nature, not deducible by analogy or
psychological reasoning from our other sorts of experience. I think
that they point with reasonable probability to the continuity of
our consciousness with a wider spiritual environment from which
the ordinary prudential man (who is the only man that scientific
psychology, so called, takes cognizance of) is shut off. I shall begin
my final lecture by referring to them again briefly.



At the close of my last lecture I referred to the existence of
religious experiences of a specific nature. I must now explain just
what I mean by such a claim. Briefly, the facts I have in mind may
all be described as experiences of an unexpected life succeeding upon
death. By this I don't mean immortality, or the death of the body. I
mean the deathlike termination of certain mental processes within the
individual's experience, processes that run to failure, and in some
individuals, at least, eventuate in despair. Just as romantic love
seems a comparatively recent literary invention, so these experiences
of a life that supervenes upon despair seem to have played no great
part in official theology till Luther's time; and possibly the best
way to indicate their character will be to point to a certain contrast
between the inner life of ourselves and of the ancient Greeks and

Mr. Chesterton, I think, says somewhere, that the Greeks and Romans,
in all that concerned their moral life, were an extraordinarily solemn
set of folks. The Athenians thought that the very gods must admire the
rectitude of Phocion and Aristides; and those gentlemen themselves
were apparently of much the same opinion. Cato's veracity was so
impeccable that the extremest incredulity a Roman could express of
anything was to say, 'I would not believe it even if Cato had told
me.' Good was good, and bad was bad, for these people. Hypocrisy,
which church-Christianity brought in, hardly existed; the naturalistic
system held firm; its values showed no hollowness and brooked no
irony. The individual, if virtuous enough, could meet all possible
requirements. The pagan pride had never crumbled. Luther was the first
moralist who broke with any effectiveness through the crust of all
this naturalistic self-sufficiency, thinking (and possibly he was
right) that Saint Paul had done it already. Religious experience of
the lutheran type brings all our naturalistic standards to bankruptcy.
You are strong only by being weak, it shows. You cannot live on pride
or self-sufficingness. There is a light in which all the naturally
founded and currently accepted distinctions, excellences, and
safeguards of our characters appear as utter childishness. Sincerely
to give up one's conceit or hope of being good in one's own right is
the only door to the universe's deeper reaches.

These deeper reaches are familiar to evangelical Christianity and
to what is nowadays becoming known as 'mind-cure' religion or 'new
thought.' The phenomenon is that of new ranges of life succeeding on
our most despairing moments. There are resources in us that naturalism
with its literal and legal virtues never recks of, possibilities that
take our breath away, of another kind of happiness and power, based on
giving up our own will and letting something higher work for us, and
these seem to show a world wider than either physics or philistine
ethics can imagine. Here is a world in which all is well, in _spite_
of certain forms of death, indeed _because_ of certain forms of
death--death of hope, death of strength, death of responsibility,
of fear and worry, competency and desert, death of everything that
paganism, naturalism, and legalism pin their faith on and tie their
trust to.

Reason, operating on our other experiences, even our psychological
experiences, would never have inferred these specifically religious
experiences in advance of their actual coming. She could not suspect
their existence, for they are discontinuous with the 'natural'
experiences they succeed upon and invert their values. But as they
actually come and are given, creation widens to the view of their
recipients. They suggest that our natural experience, our strictly
moralistic and prudential experience, may be only a fragment of real
human experience. They soften nature's outlines and open out the
strangest possibilities and perspectives.

This is why it seems to me that the logical understanding, working in
abstraction from such specifically religious experiences, will always
omit something, and fail to reach completely adequate conclusions.
Death and failure, it will always say, _are_ death and failure
simply, and can nevermore be one with life; so religious experience,
peculiarly so called, needs, in my opinion, to be carefully considered
and interpreted by every one who aspires to reason out a more complete

The sort of belief that religious experience of this type naturally
engenders in those who have it is fully in accord with Fechner's
theories. To quote words which I have used elsewhere, the believer
finds that the tenderer parts of his personal life are continuous
with a _more_ of the same quality which is operative in the universe
outside of him and which he can keep in working touch with, and in a
fashion get on board of and save himself, when all his lower being has
gone to pieces in the wreck. In a word, the believer is continuous,
to his own consciousness, at any rate, with a wider self from which
saving experiences flow in. Those who have such experiences distinctly
enough and often enough to live in the light of them remain quite
unmoved by criticism, from whatever quarter it may come, be it
academic or scientific, or be it merely the voice of logical
common sense. They have had their vision and they _know_--that is
enough--that we inhabit an invisible spiritual environment from which
help comes, our soul being mysteriously one with a larger soul whose
instruments we are.

One may therefore plead, I think, that Fechner's ideas are not without
direct empirical verification. There is at any rate one side of life
which would be easily explicable if those ideas were true, but of
which there appears no clear explanation so long as we assume either
with naturalism that human consciousness is the highest consciousness
there is, or with dualistic theism that there is a higher mind in the
cosmos, but that it is discontinuous with our own. It has always been
a matter of surprise with me that philosophers of the absolute should
have shown so little interest in this department of life, and so
seldom put its phenomena in evidence, even when it seemed obvious that
personal experience of some kind must have made their confidence in
their own vision so strong. The logician's bias has always been too
much with them. They have preferred the thinner to the thicker method,
dialectical abstraction being so much more dignified and academic than
the confused and unwholesome facts of personal biography.

In spite of rationalism's disdain for the particular, the personal,
and the unwholesome, the drift of all the evidence we have seems to
me to sweep us very strongly towards the belief in some form
of superhuman life with which we may, unknown to ourselves, be
co-conscious. We may be in the universe as dogs and cats are in our
libraries, seeing the books and hearing the conversation, but having
no inkling of the meaning of it all. The intellectualist objections
to this fall away when the authority of intellectualist logic is
undermined by criticism, and then the positive empirical evidence
remains. The analogies with ordinary psychology and with the facts of
pathology, with those of psychical research, so called, and with those
of religious experience, establish, when taken together, a decidedly
_formidable_ probability in favor of a general view of the world
almost identical with Fechner's. The outlines of the superhuman
consciousness thus made probable must remain, however, very vague, and
the number of functionally distinct 'selves' it comports and carries
has to be left entirely problematic. It may be polytheistically or
it may be monotheistically conceived of. Fechner, with his distinct
earth-soul functioning as our guardian angel, seems to me clearly
polytheistic; but the word 'polytheism' usually gives offence, so
perhaps it is better not to use it. Only one thing is certain, and
that is the result of our criticism of the absolute: the only way
to escape from the paradoxes and perplexities that a consistently
thought-out monistic universe suffers from as from a species of
auto-intoxication--the mystery of the 'fall' namely, of reality
lapsing into appearance, truth into error, perfection into
imperfection; of evil, in short; the mystery of universal determinism,
of the block-universe eternal and without a history, etc.;--the only
way of escape, I say, from all this is to be frankly pluralistic and
assume that the superhuman consciousness, however vast it may be, has
itself an external environment, and consequently is finite. Present
day monism carefully repudiates complicity with spinozistic monism. In
that, it explains, the many get dissolved in the one and lost, whereas
in the improved idealistic form they get preserved in all their
manyness as the one's eternal object. The absolute itself is thus
represented by absolutists as having a pluralistic object. But if even
the absolute has to have a pluralistic vision, why should we ourselves
hesitate to be pluralists on our own sole account? Why should we
envelop our many with the 'one' that brings so much poison in its

The line of least resistance, then, as it seems to me, both in
theology and in philosophy, is to accept, along with the superhuman
consciousness, the notion that it is not all-embracing, the notion,
in other words, that there is a God, but that he is finite, either in
power or in knowledge, or in both at once. These, I need hardly tell
you, are the terms in which common men have usually carried on their
active commerce with God; and the monistic perfections that make the
notion of him so paradoxical practically and morally are the colder
addition of remote professorial minds operating _in distans_ upon
conceptual substitutes for him alone.

Why cannot 'experience' and 'reason' meet on this common ground? Why
cannot they compromise? May not the godlessness usually but needlessly
associated with the philosophy of immediate experience give way to a
theism now seen to follow directly from that experience more widely
taken? and may not rationalism, satisfied with seeing her _a priori_
proofs of God so effectively replaced by empirical evidence, abate
something of her absolutist claims? Let God but have the least
infinitesimal _other_ of any kind beside him, and empiricism and
rationalism might strike hands in a lasting treaty of peace. Both
might then leave abstract thinness behind them, and seek together, as
scientific men seek, by using all the analogies and data within reach,
to build up the most probable approximate idea of what the divine
consciousness concretely may be like. I venture to beg the younger
Oxford idealists to consider seriously this alternative. Few men are
as qualified by their intellectual gifts to reap the harvests that
seem certain to any one who, like Fechner and Bergson, will leave the
thinner for the thicker path.

Compromise and mediation are inseparable from the pluralistic
philosophy. Only monistic dogmatism can say of any of its hypotheses,
'It is either that or nothing; take it or leave it just as it stands.'
The type of monism prevalent at Oxford has kept this steep and brittle
attitude, partly through the proverbial academic preference for thin
and elegant logical solutions, partly from a mistaken notion that the
only solidly grounded basis for religion was along those lines. If
Oxford men could be ignorant of anything, it might almost seem that
they had remained ignorant of the great empirical movement towards
a pluralistic panpsychic view of the universe, into which our own
generation has been drawn, and which threatens to short-circuit their
methods entirely and become their religious rival unless they are
willing to make themselves its allies. Yet, wedded as they seem to
be to the logical machinery and technical apparatus of absolutism,
I cannot but believe that their fidelity to the religious ideal in
general is deeper still. Especially do I find it hard to believe that
the more clerical adherents of the school would hold so fast to its
particular machinery if only they could be made to think that religion
could be secured in some other way. Let empiricism once become
associated with religion, as hitherto, through some strange
misunderstanding, it has been associated with irreligion, and I
believe that a new era of religion as well as of philosophy will be
ready to begin. That great awakening of a new popular interest in
philosophy, which is so striking a phenomenon at the present day in
all countries, is undoubtedly due in part to religious demands. As
the authority of past tradition tends more and more to crumble, men
naturally turn a wistful ear to the authority of reason or to the
evidence of present fact. They will assuredly not be disappointed if
they open their minds to what the thicker and more radical empiricism
has to say. I fully believe that such an empiricism is a more natural
ally than dialectics ever were, or can be, of the religious life. It
is true that superstitions and wild-growing over-beliefs of all
sorts will undoubtedly begin to abound if the notion of higher
consciousnesses enveloping ours, of fechnerian earth-souls and the
like, grows orthodox and fashionable; still more will they superabound
if science ever puts her approving stamp on the phenomena of which
Frederic Myers so earnestly advocated the scientific recognition, the
phenomena of psychic research so-called--and I myself firmly believe
that most of these phenomena are rooted in reality. But ought one
seriously to allow such a timid consideration as that to deter one
from following the evident path of greatest religious promise? Since
when, in this mixed world, was any good thing given us in purest
outline and isolation? One of the chief characteristics of life is
life's redundancy. The sole condition of our having anything, no
matter what, is that we should have so much of it, that we are
fortunate if we do not grow sick of the sight and sound of it
altogether. Everything is smothered in the litter that is fated to
accompany it. Without too much you cannot have enough, of anything.
Lots of inferior books, lots of bad statues, lots of dull speeches, of
tenth-rate men and women, as a condition of the few precious specimens
in either kind being realized! The gold-dust comes to birth with the
quartz-sand all around it, and this is as much a condition of religion
as of any other excellent possession. There must be extrication; there
must be competition for survival; but the clay matrix and the noble
gem must first come into being unsifted. Once extricated, the gem can
be examined separately, conceptualized, defined, and insulated. But
this process of extrication cannot be short-circuited--or if it is,
you get the thin inferior abstractions which we have seen, either
the hollow unreal god of scholastic theology, or the unintelligible
pantheistic monster, instead of the more living divine reality with
which it appears certain that empirical methods tend to connect men in

Arrived at this point, I ask you to go back to my first lecture and
remember, if you can, what I quoted there from your own Professor
Jacks--what he said about the philosopher himself being taken up into
the universe which he is accounting for. This is the fechnerian as
well as the hegelian view, and thus our end rejoins harmoniously our
beginning. Philosophies are intimate parts of the universe, they
express something of its own thought of itself. A philosophy may
indeed be a most momentous reaction of the universe upon itself. It
may, as I said, possess and handle itself differently in consequence
of us philosophers, with our theories, being here; it may trust itself
or mistrust itself the more, and, by doing the one or the other,
deserve more the trust or the mistrust. What mistrusts itself deserves

This is the philosophy of humanism in the widest sense. Our
philosophies swell the current of being, add their character to it.
They are part of all that we have met, of all that makes us be. As
a French philosopher says, 'Nous sommes du reel dans le reel.' Our
thoughts determine our acts, and our acts redetermine the previous
nature of the world.

Thus does foreignness get banished from our world, and far more so
when we take the system of it pluralistically than when we take it
monistically. We are indeed internal parts of God and not external
creations, on any possible reading of the panpsychic system. Yet
because God is not the absolute, but is himself a part when the system
is conceived pluralistically, his functions can be taken as not wholly
dissimilar to those of the other smaller parts,--as similar to our
functions consequently.

Having an environment, being in time, and working out a history just
like ourselves, he escapes from the foreignness from all that is
human, of the static timeless perfect absolute.

Remember that one of our troubles with that was its essential
foreignness and monstrosity--there really is no other word for it than
that. Its having the all-inclusive form gave to it an essentially
heterogeneous _nature_ from ourselves. And this great difference
between absolutism and pluralism demands no difference in the
universe's material content--it follows from a difference in the form
alone. The all-form or monistic form makes the foreignness result, the
each-form or pluralistic form leaves the intimacy undisturbed.

No matter what the content of the universe may be, if you only allow
that it is _many_ everywhere and always, that _nothing_ real escapes
from having an environment; so far from defeating its rationality, as
the absolutists so unanimously pretend, you leave it in possession of
the maximum amount of rationality practically attainable by our minds.
Your relations with it, intellectual, emotional, and active, remain
fluent and congruous with your own nature's chief demands.

It would be a pity if the word 'rationality' were allowed to give us
trouble here. It is one of those eulogistic words that both sides
claim--for almost no one is willing to advertise his philosophy as a
system of irrationality. But like most of the words which people used
eulogistically, the word 'rational' carries too many meanings. The
most objective one is that of the older logic--the connexion between
two things is rational when you can infer one from the other, mortal
from Socrates, _e.g.;_ and you can do that only when they have a
quality in common. But this kind of rationality is just that logic
of identity which all disciples of Hegel find insufficient. They
supersede it by the higher rationality of negation and contradiction
and make the notion vague again. Then you get the aesthetic or
teleologic kinds of rationality, saying that whatever fits in any way,
whatever is beautiful or good, whatever is purposive or gratifies
desire, is rational in so far forth. Then again, according to Hegel,
whatever is 'real' is rational. I myself said awhile ago that whatever
lets loose any action which we are fond of exerting seems rational. It
would be better to give up the word 'rational' altogether than to get
into a merely verbal fight about who has the best right to keep it.

Perhaps the words 'foreignness' and 'intimacy,' which I put forward
in my first lecture, express the contrast I insist on better than the
words 'rationality' and 'irrationality'--let us stick to them, then.
I now say that the notion of the 'one' breeds foreignness and that of
the 'many' intimacy, for reasons which I have urged at only too great
length, and with which, whether they convince you or not, I may
suppose that you are now well acquainted. But what at bottom is meant
by calling the universe many or by calling it one?

Pragmatically interpreted, pluralism or the doctrine that it is
many means only that the sundry parts of reality _may be externally
related_. Everything you can think of, however vast or inclusive, has
on the pluralistic view a genuinely 'external' environment of some
sort or amount. Things are 'with' one another in many ways, but
nothing includes everything, or dominates over everything. The word
'and' trails along after every sentence. Something always escapes.
'Ever not quite' has to be said of the best attempts made anywhere in
the universe at attaining all-inclusiveness. The pluralistic world is
thus more like a federal republic than like an empire or a kingdom.
However much may be collected, however much may report itself as
present at any effective centre of consciousness or action, something
else is self-governed and absent and unreduced to unity.

Monism, on the other hand, insists that when you come down to reality
as such, to the reality of realities, everything is present
to _everything_ else in one vast instantaneous co-implicated
completeness--nothing can in _any_ sense, functional or substantial,
be really absent from anything else, all things interpenetrate and
telescope together in the great total conflux.

For pluralism, all that we are required to admit as the constitution
of reality is what we ourselves find empirically realized in every
minimum of finite life. Briefly it is this, that nothing real is
absolutely simple, that every smallest bit of experience is a _multum
in parvo_ plurally related, that each relation is one aspect,
character, or function, way of its being taken, or way of its taking
something else; and that a bit of reality when actively engaged in one
of these relations is not _by that very fact_ engaged in all the other
relations simultaneously. The relations are not _all_ what the French
call _solidaires_ with one another. Without losing its identity a
thing can either take up or drop another thing, like the log I spoke
of, which by taking up new carriers and dropping old ones can travel
anywhere with a light escort.

For monism, on the contrary, everything, whether we realize it or not,
drags the whole universe along with itself and drops nothing. The log
starts and arrives with all its carriers supporting it. If a thing
were once disconnected, it could never be connected again, according
to monism. The pragmatic difference between the two systems is thus a
definite one. It is just thus, that if _a_ is once out of sight of _b_
or out of touch with it, or, more briefly, 'out' of it at all, then,
according to monism, it must always remain so, they can never get
together; whereas pluralism admits that on another occasion they may
work together, or in some way be connected again. Monism allows for
no such things as 'other occasions' in reality--in _real_ or absolute
reality, that is.

The difference I try to describe amounts, you see, to nothing more
than the difference between what I formerly called the each-form and
the all-form of reality. Pluralism lets things really exist in the
each-form or distributively. Monism thinks that the all-form or
collective-unit form is the only form that is rational. The all-form
allows of no taking up and dropping of connexions, for in the all the
parts are essentially and eternally co-implicated. In the each-form,
on the contrary, a thing may be connected by intermediary things, with
a thing with which it has no immediate or essential connexion. It
is thus at all times in many possible connexions which are not
necessarily actualized at the moment. They depend on which actual path
of intermediation it may functionally strike into: the word 'or' names
a genuine reality. Thus, as I speak here, I may look ahead _or_ to the
right _or_ to the left, and in either case the intervening space and
air and ether enable me to see the faces of a different portion of
this audience. My being here is independent of any one set of these

If the each-form be the eternal form of reality no less than it is the
form of temporal appearance, we still have a coherent world, and not
an incarnate incoherence, as is charged by so many absolutists. Our
'multiverse' still makes a 'universe'; for every part, tho it may not
be in actual or immediate connexion, is nevertheless in some possible
or mediated connexion, with every other part however remote, through
the fact that each part hangs together with its very next neighbors in
inextricable interfusion. The type of union, it is true, is different
here from the monistic type of _all-einheit_. It is not a universal
co-implication, or integration of all things _durcheinander_. It is
what I call the strung-along type, the type of continuity, contiguity,
or concatenation. If you prefer greek words, you may call it the
synechistic type. At all events, you see that it forms a definitely
conceivable alternative to the through-and-through unity of all things
at once, which is the type opposed to it by monism. You see also that
it stands or falls with the notion I have taken such pains to defend,
of the through-and-through union of adjacent minima of experience, of
the confluence of every passing moment of concretely felt experience
with its immediately next neighbors. The recognition of this fact of
coalescence of next with next in concrete experience, so that all
the insulating cuts we make there are artificial products of the
conceptualizing faculty, is what distinguishes the empiricism which
I call 'radical,' from the bugaboo empiricism of the traditional
rationalist critics, which (rightly or wrongly) is accused of chopping
up experience into atomistic sensations, incapable of union with one
another until a purely intellectual principle has swooped down upon
them from on high and folded them in its own conjunctive categories.

Here, then, you have the plain alternative, and the full mystery of
the difference between pluralism and monism, as clearly as I can
set it forth on this occasion. It packs up into a nutshell:--Is the
manyness in oneness that indubitably characterizes the world we
inhabit, a property only of the absolute whole of things, so that you
must postulate that one-enormous-whole indivisibly as the _prius_
of there being any many at all--in other words, start with the
rationalistic block-universe, entire, unmitigated, and complete?--or
can the finite elements have their own aboriginal forms of manyness in
oneness, and where they have no immediate oneness still be continued
into one another by intermediary terms--each one of these terms being
one with its next neighbors, and yet the total 'oneness' never getting
absolutely complete?

The alternative is definite. It seems to me, moreover, that the two
horns of it make pragmatically different ethical appeals--at least
they _may_ do so, to certain individuals. But if you consider the
pluralistic horn to be intrinsically irrational, self-contradictory,
and absurd, I can now say no more in its defence. Having done what
I could in my earlier lectures to break the edge of the
intellectualistic _reductiones ad absurdum_, I must leave the issue
in your hands. Whatever I may say, each of you will be sure to take
pluralism or leave it, just as your own sense of rationality moves and
inclines. The only thing I emphatically insist upon is that it is a
fully co-ordinate hypothesis with monism. This world _may_, in the
last resort, be a block-universe; but on the other hand it _may_ be a
universe only strung-along, not rounded in and closed. Reality _may_
exist distributively just as it sensibly seems to, after all. On that
possibility I do insist.

One's general vision of the probable usually decides such
alternatives. They illustrate what I once wrote of as the 'will to
believe.' In some of my lectures at Harvard I have spoken of what
I call the 'faith-ladder,' as something quite different from the
_sorites_ of the logic-books, yet seeming to have an analogous form. I
think you will quickly recognize in yourselves, as I describe it, the
mental process to which I give this name.

A conception of the world arises in you somehow, no matter how. Is it
true or not? you ask.

It _might_ be true somewhere, you say, for it is not

It _may_ be true, you continue, even here and now.

It is _fit_ to be true, it would be _well if it were true_, it _ought_
to be true, you presently feel.

It _must_ be true, something persuasive in you whispers next; and
then--as a final result--

It shall be _held for true_, you decide; it _shall be_ as if true, for

And your acting thus may in certain special cases be a means of making
it securely true in the end.

Not one step in this process is logical, yet it is the way in which
monists and pluralists alike espouse and hold fast to their visions.
It is life exceeding logic, it is the practical reason for which the
theoretic reason finds arguments after the conclusion is once there.
In just this way do some of us hold to the unfinished pluralistic
universe; in just this way do others hold to the timeless universe
eternally complete.

Meanwhile the incompleteness of the pluralistic universe, thus assumed
and held to as the most probable hypothesis, is also represented by
the pluralistic philosophy as being self-reparative through us, as
getting its disconnections remedied in part by our behavior. 'We use
what we are and have, to know; and what we know, to be and have still
more.'[1] Thus do philosophy and reality, theory and action, work in
the same circle indefinitely.

I have now finished these poor lectures, and as you look back on them,
they doubtless seem rambling and inconclusive enough. My only hope is
that they may possibly have proved suggestive; and if indeed they have
been suggestive of one point of method, I am almost willing to let
all other suggestions go. That point is that _it is high time for the
basis of discussion in these questions to be broadened and thickened
up_. It is for that that I have brought in Fechner and Bergson, and
descriptive psychology and religious experiences, and have ventured
even to hint at psychical research and other wild beasts of the
philosophic desert. Owing possibly to the fact that Plato and
Aristotle, with their intellectualism, are the basis of philosophic
study here, the Oxford brand of transcendentalism seems to me to have
confined itself too exclusively to thin logical considerations, that
would hold good in all conceivable worlds, worlds of an empirical
constitution entirely different from ours. It is as if the actual
peculiarities of the world that is were entirely irrelevant to the
content of truth. But they cannot be irrelevant; and the philosophy
of the future must imitate the sciences in taking them more and more
elaborately into account. I urge some of the younger members of
this learned audience to lay this hint to heart. If you can do so
effectively, making still more concrete advances upon the path which
Fechner and Bergson have so enticingly opened up, if you can gather
philosophic conclusions of any kind, monistic or pluralistic, from
the _particulars of life_, I will say, as I now do say, with the
cheerfullest of hearts, 'Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes, but
ring the fuller minstrel in.'



Note 1, page 5.--Bailey: _op. cit._, First Series, p. 52.

Note 2, page 11.--_Smaller Logic_, Sec. 194.

Note 3, page 16.--_Exploratio philosophica_, Part I, 1865, pp.
xxxviii, 130.

Note 4, page 20.--Hinneberg: _Die Kultur der Gegenwart: Systematische
Philosophie_. Leipzig: Teubner, 1907.


Note 1, page 50.--The difference is that the bad parts of this finite
are eternal and essential for absolutists, whereas pluralists may hope
that they will eventually get sloughed off and become as if they had
not been.

Note 2, page 51.--Quoted by W. Wallace: _Lectures and Essays_, Oxford,
1898, p. 560.

Note 3, page 51.--_Logic_, tr. Wallace, 1874, p. 181.

Note 4, page 52.--_Ibid._, p. 304.

Note 5, page 53.--_Contemporary Review_, December, 1907, vol. 92, p.

Note 6, page 57.--_Metaphysic_, sec. 69 ff.

Note 7, page 62.--_The World and the Individual_, vol. i, pp. 131-132.

Note 8, page 67.--A good illustration of this is to be found in a
controversy between Mr. Bradley and the present writer, in _Mind_
for 1893, Mr. Bradley contending (if I understood him rightly) that
'resemblance' is an illegitimate category, because it admits of
degrees, and that the only real relations in comparison are absolute
identity and absolute non-comparability.

Note 9, page 75.--_Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic_, p. 184.

Note 10, page 75.--_Appearance and Reality_, 1893, pp. 141-142.

Note 11, page 76.--Cf. _Elements of Metaphysics_, p. 88.

Note 12, page 77.--_Some Dogmas of Religion_, p. 184.

Note 13, page 80.--For a more detailed criticism of Mr. Bradley's
intellectualism, see Appendix A.


Note 1, page 94.--Hegel, _Smaller Logic_, pp. 184-185.

Note 2, page 95.--Cf. Hegel's fine vindication of this function of
contradiction in his _Wissenschaft der Logik_, Bk. ii, sec. 1, chap,
ii, C, Anmerkung 3.

Note 3, page 95--_Hegel_, in _Blackwood's Philosophical Classics_, p.

Note 4, page 95--_Wissenschaft der Logik_, Bk. i, sec. 1, chap, ii, B,

Note 5, page 96--Wallace's translation of the _Smaller Logic_, p. 128.

Note 6, page 101--Joachim, _The Nature of Truth_, Oxford, 1906, pp.
22, 178. The argument in case the belief should be doubted would be
the higher synthetic idea: if two truths were possible, the duality of
that possibility would itself be the one truth that would unite them.

Note 7, page 115.--_The World and the Individual_, vol. ii, pp. 385,
386, 409.

Note 8, page 116.--The best _un_inspired argument (again not
ironical!) which I know is that in Miss M.W. Calkins's excellent book,
_The Persistent Problems of Philosophy_, Macmillan, 1902.

Note 9, page 117.--Cf. Dr. Fuller's excellent article,' Ethical monism
and the problem of evil,' in the _Harvard Journal of Theology_, vol.
i, No. 2, April, 1908.

Note 10, page 120.--_Metaphysic_, sec. 79.

Note 11, page 121.--_Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic_, secs. 150,

Note 12, page 121.--_The Nature of Truth_, 1906, pp. 170-171.

Note 13, page 121.--_Ibid._, p. 179.

Note 14, page 123.--The psychological analogy that certain finite
tracts of consciousness are composed of isolable parts added together,
cannot be used by absolutists as proof that such parts are essential
elements of all consciousness. Other finite fields of consciousness
seem in point of fact not to be similarly resolvable into isolable

Note 15, page 128.--Judging by the analogy of the relation which our
central consciousness seems to bear to that of our spinal cord, lower
ganglia, etc., it would seem natural to suppose that in whatever
superhuman mental synthesis there may be, the neglect and elimination
of certain contents of which we are conscious on the human level might
be as characteristic a feature as is the combination and interweaving
of other human contents.


Note 1, page 143.--_The Spirit of Modern Philosophy_, p. 227.

Note 2, page 165.--Fechner: _Ueber die Seelenfrage_, 1861, p. 170.

Note 3, page 168.--Fechner's latest summarizing of his views, _Die
Tagesansicht gegenueber der Nachtansicht_, Leipzig, 1879, is now, I
understand, in process of translation. His _Little Book of Life after
Death_ exists already in two American versions, one published by
Little, Brown & Co., Boston, the other by the Open Court Co., Chicago.

Note 4, page 176.--Mr. Bradley ought to be to some degree exempted
from my attack in these last pages. Compare especially what he says of
non-human consciousness in his _Appearance and Reality_, pp. 269-272.


Note 1, page 182.--Royce: _The Spirit of Modern Philosophy_, p. 379.

Note 2, page 184.--_The World and the Individual_, vol. ii, pp. 58-62.

Note 3, page 190.--I hold to it still as the best description of
an enormous number of our higher fields of consciousness. They
demonstrably do not _contain_ the lower states that know the same
objects. Of other fields, however this is not so true; so, in the
_Psychological Review_ for 1895, vol. ii, p. 105 (see especially pp.
119-120), I frankly withdrew, in principle, my former objection to
talking of fields of consciousness being made of simpler 'parts,'
leaving the facts to decide the question in each special case.

Note 4, page 194.--I abstract from the consciousness attached to the
whole itself, if such consciousness be there.


Note 1, page 250.--For a more explicit vindication of the notion of
activity, see Appendix B, where I try to defend its recognition as
a definite form of immediate experience against its rationalistic

I subjoin here a few remarks destined to disarm some possible critics
of Professor Bergson, who, to defend himself against misunderstandings
of his meaning, ought to amplify and more fully explain his statement
that concepts have a practical but not a theoretical use. Understood
in one way, the thesis sounds indefensible, for by concepts we
certainly increase our knowledge about things, and that seems a
theoretical achievement, whatever practical achievements may follow in
its train. Indeed, M. Bergson might seem to be easily refutable out of
his own mouth. His philosophy pretends, if anything, to give a better
insight into truth than rationalistic philosophies give: yet what is
it in itself if not a conceptual system? Does its author not reason by
concepts exclusively in his very attempt to show that they can give no

To this particular objection, at any rate, it is easy to reply.
In using concepts of his own to discredit the theoretic claims of
concepts generally, Bergson does not contradict, but on the contrary
emphatically illustrates his own view of their practical role, for
they serve in his hands only to 'orient' us, to show us to what
quarter we must _practically turn_ if we wish to gain that completer
insight into reality which he denies that they can give. He directs
our hopes away from them and towards the despised sensible flux. _What
he reaches by their means is thus only a new practical attitude_. He
but restores, against the vetoes of intellectualist philosophy, our
naturally cordial relations with sensible experience and common sense.
This service is surely only practical; but it is a service for which
we may be almost immeasurably grateful. To trust our senses again with
a good philosophic conscience!--who ever conferred on us so valuable a
freedom before?

By making certain distinctions and additions it seems easy to meet the
other counts of the indictment. Concepts are realities of a new order,
with particular relations between them. These relations are just as
much directly perceived, when we compare our various concepts, as the
distance between two sense-objects is perceived when we look at it.
Conception is an operation which gives us material for new acts of
perception, then; and when the results of these are written down,
we get those bodies of 'mental truth' (as Locke called it) known as
mathematics, logic, and _a priori_ metaphysics. To know all this truth
is a theoretic achievement, indeed, but it is a narrow one; for the
relations between conceptual objects as such are only the static
ones of bare comparison, as difference or sameness, congruity or
contradiction, inclusion or exclusion. Nothing _happens_ in the realm
of concepts; relations there are 'eternal' only. The theoretic gain
fails so far, therefore, to touch even the outer hem of the real
world, the world of causal and dynamic relations, of activity and
history. To gain insight into all that moving life, Bergson is right
in turning us away from conception and towards perception.

By combining concepts with percepts, _we can draw maps of the
distribution_ of other percepts in distant space and time. To know
this distribution is of course a theoretic achievement, but the
achievement is extremely limited, it cannot be effected without
percepts, and even then what it yields is only static relations. From
maps we learn positions only, and the position of a thing is but the
slightest kind of truth about it; but, being indispensable for forming
our plans of action, the conceptual map-making has the enormous
practical importance on which Bergson so rightly insists.

But concepts, it will be said, do not only give us eternal truths
of comparison and maps of the positions of things, they bring new
_values_ into life. In their mapping function they stand to perception
in general in the same relation in which sight and hearing stand to
touch--Spencer calls these higher senses only organs of anticipatory
touch. But our eyes and ears also open to us worlds of independent
glory: music and decorative art result, and an incredible enhancement
of life's value follows. Even so does the conceptual world bring new
ranges of value and of motivation to our life. Its maps not only serve
us practically, but the mere mental possession of such vast pictures
is of itself an inspiring good. New interests and incitements, and
feelings of power, sublimity, and admiration are aroused.

Abstractness _per se_ seems to have a touch of ideality. ROYCE'S
'loyalty to loyalty' is an excellent example. 'Causes,' as
anti-slavery, democracy, liberty, etc., dwindle when realized in their
sordid particulars. The veritable 'cash-value' of the idea seems to
cleave to it only in the abstract status. Truth at large, as ROYCE
contends, in his _Philosophy of Loyalty_, appears another thing
altogether from the true particulars in which it is best to believe.
It transcends in value all those 'expediencies,' and is something to
live for, whether expedient or inexpedient. Truth with a big T is a
'momentous issue'; truths in detail are 'poor scraps,' mere 'crumbling
successes.' (_Op. cit._, Lecture VII, especially Sec. v.)

Is, now, such bringing into existence of a new _value_ to be regarded
as a theoretic achievement? The question is a nice one, for altho a
value is in one sense an objective quality perceived, the essence of
that quality is its relation to the will, and consists in its being
a dynamogenic spur that makes our action different. So far as their
value-creating function goes, it would thus appear that concepts
connect themselves more with our active than with our theoretic life,
so here again Bergson's formulation seems unobjectionable. Persons who
have certain concepts are animated otherwise, pursue their own
vital careers differently. It doesn't necessarily follow that they
understand other vital careers more intimately.

Again it may be said that we combine old concepts into new ones,
conceiving thus such realities as the ether, God, souls, or what not,
of which our sensible life alone would leave us altogether ignorant.
This surely is an increase of our knowledge, and may well be called
a theoretical achievement. Yet here again Bergson's criticisms hold
good. Much as conception may tell us _about_ such invisible objects,
it sheds no ray of light into their interior. The completer, indeed,
our definitions of ether-waves, atoms, Gods, or souls become, the less
instead of the more intelligible do they appear to us. The learned
in such things are consequently beginning more and more to ascribe a
solely instrumental value to our concepts of them. Ether and molecules
may be like co-ordinates and averages, only so many crutches by the
help of which we practically perform the operation of getting about
among our sensible experiences.

We see from these considerations how easily the question of whether
the function of concepts is theoretical or practical may grow into
a logomachy. It may be better from this point of view to refuse to
recognize the alternative as a sharp one. The sole thing that is
certain in the midst of it all is that Bergson is absolutely right
in contending that the whole life of activity and change is inwardly
impenetrable to conceptual treatment, and that it opens itself only to
sympathetic apprehension at the hands of immediate feeling. All the
_whats_ as well as the _thats_ of reality, relational as well as
terminal, are in the end contents of immediate concrete perception.
Yet the remoter unperceived _arrangements_, temporal, spatial, and
logical, of these contents, are also something that we need to know as
well for the pleasure of the knowing as for the practical help. We may
call this need of arrangement a theoretic need or a practical need,
according as we choose to lay the emphasis; but Bergson is accurately
right when he limits conceptual knowledge to arrangement, and when he
insists that arrangement is the mere skirt and skin of the whole of
what we ought to know.

Note 2, page 266.--Gaston Rageot, _Revue Philosophique_, vol. lxiv, p.
85 (July, 1907).

Note 3, page 268.--I have myself talked in other ways as plausibly
as I could, in my _Psychology_, and talked truly (as I believe) in
certain selected cases; but for other cases the natural way invincibly
comes back.


Note 1, page 278.--_Introduction to Hume_, 1874, p. 151.

Note 2, page 279.--_Ibid._, pp. 16, 21, 36, _et passim_.

Note 3, page 279.--See, _inter alia_, the chapter on the 'Stream of
Thought' in my own Psychologies; H. Cornelius, _Psychologie_, 1897,
chaps, i and iii; G.H. Luquet, _Idees Generales de Psychologie_, 1906,

Note 4, page 280.--Compare, as to all this, an article by the present
writer, entitled 'A world of pure experience,' in the _Journal of
Philosophy_, New York, vol. i, pp. 533, 561 (1905).

Note 5, page 280.--Green's attempt to discredit sensations by
reminding us of their 'dumbness,' in that they do not come already
_named_, as concepts may be said to do, only shows how intellectualism
is dominated by verbality. The unnamed appears in Green as synonymous
with the unreal.

Note 6, page 283.--_Philosophy of Reflection_, i, 248 ff.

Note 7, page 284.--Most of this paragraph is extracted from an address
of mine before the American Psychological Association, printed in the
_Psychological Review_, vol. ii, p. 105. I take pleasure in the
fact that already in 1895 I was so far advanced towards my present
bergsonian position.

Note 8, page 289.--The conscious self of the moment, the central self,
is probably determined to this privileged position by its functional
connexion with the body's imminent or present acts. It is the present
_acting_ self. Tho the more that surrounds it may be 'subconscious'
to us, yet if in its 'collective capacity' it also exerts an active
function, it may be conscious in a wider way, conscious, as it were,
over our heads.

On the relations of consciousness to action see Bergson's _Matiere
et Memoire, passim_, especially chap. i. Compare also the hints in
Muensterberg's _Grundzuege der Psychologie_, chap, xv; those in my own
_Principles of Psychology_, vol. ii, pp. 581-592; and those in W.
McDougall's _Physiological Psychology_, chap. vii.

Note 9, page 295.--Compare _Zend-Avesta_, 2d edition, vol. i, pp. 165
ff., 181, 206, 244 ff., etc.; _Die Tagesansicht_, etc., chap, v, Sec. 6;
and chap. xv.


Note 1, page 330.--Blondel: _Annales de Philosophie Chretienne_, June,
1906, p. 241.




Experience in its immediacy seems perfectly fluent. The active
sense of living which we all enjoy, before reflection shatters our
instinctive world for us, is self-luminous and suggests no paradoxes.
Its difficulties are disappointments and uncertainties. They are not
intellectual contradictions.

When the reflective intellect gets at work, however, it discovers
incomprehensibilities in the flowing process. Distinguishing its
elements and parts, it gives them separate names, and what it thus
disjoins it cannot easily put together. Pyrrhonism accepts the
irrationality and revels in its dialectic elaboration. Other
philosophies try, some by ignoring, some by resisting, and some by
turning the dialectic procedure against itself, negating its first


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