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continually bringing within the range of conceivability combinations that were once unthinkable. Moreover, the relations that are known are so differently apprehended as to make any consensus, on the ground of conceivability, impossible. The specialization of knowledge does not tend to draw men of cultivation into such a consensus. On the contrary, it separates individuals and groups, and makes the theoretical inconceivabilities of one group the theoretical conceivabilities of another. To find a ground of agreement, therefore, we must retrace our steps from the widely extended frontiers of theoretical knowledge to that common experience that binds all classes of minds together.
This course commends itself to us, not simply as the sole practicable one, but also as the only rational one. For in referring the question of the truth of concrete existences and agencies back to life, we refer them to the sources from whence our belief in them has sprung. And just as we found it legitimate to test the statements of an abstract science by an appeal to conceivability, because the whole structure of thought in such a science rests upon concepts, so we affirm the legitimate and necessary test of statements about the realities of life to be an appeal to life in which they have originated.
But this account of the origin of our fundamental beliefs may be challenged. On what ground do we say that they have originated in life or experience, rather than in the nature of the mind itself ? I would reply, that the former statement is not the denial of the latter; it is only a more complete expression of the facts. The nature of the mind is not something that has been created outside of experience. It has been developed and made what it is in connection with experience, — not simply the experience of the individual, but also that of the race, handed on from one generation to another.
The process by which our convictions with regard to the reality of things have come to be what they are may be studied to advantage in the developing mind of a child. Every infant has to find out for himself that there are solid things that he cannot walk through, forceful things that he must avoid to escape injury. In short, by an unending series of encounters with the external world he learns to respect it, and to govern himself with reference to agencies that rigidly hold their own. At the same time, he learns his own powers. In his conflicts with things, the growing boy discovers that, within certain limits, he can become their master. If a solid thing is not too heavy he can remove it.
to the reality of anything is measured by the extent to which it enters into life.
It has probably already occurred to the reader that our test of reality is one that admits only of a restricted application. As to the reality of some things it will give only an uncertain answer, and as to the reality of others it will give no answer at all. But we are not looking for a universally applicable test, but only for one that is true in so far as it is applicable. If we can get a foundation for reality, a few ultimate data, it is all we ask.
We have compressed our statement of reality into four propositions, which we assumed to be universally held by unsophisticated men.' And if now we inquire why there is universal assent to these particular propositions, I think we must acknowledge that it is because all men are obliged daily to live the affirmation of them. The truth of this may not be equally apparent with regard to all four of our postulates ; and for the sake of making sure that it is as true of one as of another, it may be worth while to examine the grounds on which the assumption is based. To simplify the matter we may reduce our four propositions to two, as follows:
First, The external world, known to us through our senses, is a world of real agencies that act and react upon us. Second, The human mind is a real originating cause, which to some extent modifies and directs itself and external agencies.
It might, at first sight, seem sufficiently clear that daily life involves the necessity of living the affirmation of both these propositions. But there is this difference between them : when the necessity of living the latter is called in question, the reaffirmation of it is less decisive and absolute than it is in the case of the former. It is more clearly seen that the former abuts, so to speak, on substantial, permanent things. The latter seeks first its verification in a complex process which presents a more yielding front to skepticism. When, for instance, a philosopher, in denial of the reality of the external world, proves satisfactorily to himself that a precipice has no existence except as a subjective phenomenon, the possibility or impossibility of living, his denial may be quickly demonstrated by ascending to the roof of his house and walking off into space. But when the physical realist denies the distinctive reality of mental causation, we do not so quickly bring matters to a reductio ad absurdum.
1 These propositions are as follows : First, I exist. Second, There exists, in time and space, a world external to myself. Third, I can produce changes in myself and in the external world. Fourth, Changes take place in me, and in that world, of which I am not the author.
llows : FirstI third, I can proace in me,
As the agency in question is a subjective one, we are easily drawn into the analysis of self-consciousness for the determination of the controversy. We are told that effects apparently produced through the agency of mind are in reality produced by purely physical causes, — causes that are lost to consciousness because of their complexity. And in the dazed contemplation of this complexity we ourselves get lost. The wielder of physical necessities fixes us with his eye and holds us as with a spell. He bewitches our judgment with the tale of transformations so manifold and intricate that any impossibility is made to seem possible. But under this spell we need not remain. The appeal to experience is just as open to us for the decision of this question as for the demonstration of the reality of the things of the external world; and the answer it will give is just as decisive. Let us see just what it is that we affirm, and what it is also that the physical realist denies.
The belief that the mind has a unique power of influencing the course of events is often so stated as to constitute a palpable absurdity. When, for instance, the will is said to be absolutely untrammeled, the deliverances of experience are disregarded as much as when its freedom is altogether denied. What life really testifies is that the soul has the power of modifying both itself and external events to some extent. Unconscious habit and routine, in response to a proximately uniform environment, constitute the largest part of every man's life; and it is only when we come to that smaller part, where routine is interrupted, that we recognize ourselves as free, intelligent agents. Much of that which is now almost mechanical had, without doubt, its origin in that which was conscious and deliberate. Conscious self-determination first constructed much of the machinery that has subsequently run almost without consciousness. But, so far as current experience is concerned, it is only in a small part of life that we are actively engaged in modifying, with set purpose and by a purely spiritual agency, ourselves and the course of events.
Now, the position of the physical realist involves the unconditional denial of purposive or spiritual modification in any part of life. There can be no half way about it. It is not unfrequently the case that those who deny the freedom of the will, in deference to the mechanical view of things, seek to evade the consequences of their denial when they confront the problem of moral responsibility. The will is held to be powerless to withstand the impulses that urge to immediate action, but, at the same time, it is