John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey is one of the primary figures associated with the philosophy of pragmatism and is considered one of the founders of functional psychology. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Dewey as the 93rd most cited psychologist of the 20th century. A well-known public intellectual, he was also a major voice of progressive education and liberalism. Although Dewey is known best for his publications about education, he also wrote about many other topics, including epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, art, logic, social theory, and ethics.
The overriding theme of Dewey's works was his profound belief in democracy, be it in politics, education or communication and journalism. As Dewey himself stated in 1888, while still at the University of Michigan, "Democracy and the one, ultimate, ethical ideal of humanity are to my mind synonymous."
Known for his advocacy of democracy, Dewey considered two fundamental elements—schools and civil society—to be major topics needing attention and reconstruction to encourage experimental intelligence and plurality. Dewey asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully formed public opinion, accomplished by communication among citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.
Experimentalism: Dewey believes that the pattern of inquiry, in knowing, should be modern scientific methods. Since the method of modern science culminates in experimentation, Dewey's theory of knowledge becomes experimentalism. Experimentalism focuses on problem solving and concerns with the conditions of the problems and experimental methods. Thus, theories are tested by consequences and knowledge is conditional and can only be understood within its context.
Instrumentalism: Dewey’s doctrine that hypotheses (ideas) are mere instruments of inquiry and that their value is measured by how effective they are in solving the problem which evokes the inquiry. Thus, instrumentalism refers to the use of human knowledge and intelligence in one’s interaction with their environment.
Types of Instrumentalism: Instrumentalism in the philosophy of science: The view that the value of scientific concepts and theories is determined not by whether they are literally true or correspond to reality in some sense but by the extent to which they help to make accurate empirical predictions or to resolve conceptual problems. Instrumentalism is thus the view that scientific theories should be thought of primarily as tools for solving practical problems rather than as meaningful descriptions of the natural world. Indeed, instrumentalists typically call into question whether it even makes sense to think of theoretical terms as corresponding to external reality. In that sense, instrumentalism is directly opposed to scientific realism, which is the view that the point of scientific theories is not merely to generate reliable predictions but to describe the world accurately. ….. There may nevertheless be a sense in which the instrumentalist and realist positions are not as far apart as they sometimes seem. For it is difficult to say precisely what the distinction is between accepting the usefulness of a theoretical statement and actually believing it to be true. (Encyclopædia Britannica:Instrumentalism) Moral Instrumentalism defines moral rules as mere instruments for the good of the people. Thus, the existing moral code is simply a collection of rules which are perceived as useful by a particular population at a particular period of time. Political Instrumentalism is the view which sees politics as simply means for a good end.
Dewey's naturalistic metaphysics
Excerpt and synopsis from Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy/Richard Field’s article.
According to Dewey, the central aim of the metaphysical tradition had been the quest for certainty and the search for the immutable. The pragmatic theory, by showing that knowledge is a product of an activity directed to the fulfillment of human purposes, and that a true (or warranted) belief is known to be such by the consequences of its employment rather than by any psychological or ontological foundations, rendered this longstanding aim of metaphysics, in Dewey's view, moot, and opened the door to renewed metaphysical discussion grounded firmly on an empirical basis.
Dewey asserts that things experienced empirically "are what they are experienced as." Dewey uses as an example a noise heard in a darkened room that is initially experienced as fearsome. Subsequent inquiry (e.g., turning on the lights and looking about) reveals that the noise was caused by a shade tapping against a window, and thus innocuous. But the subsequent inquiry, Dewey argues, does not change the initial status of the noise: it was experienced as fearsome, and in fact was fearsome. The point stems from the naturalistic roots of Dewey's logic. Our experience of the world is constituted by our interrelationship with it, a relationship that is imbued with practical import. The initial fearsomeness of the noise is the experiential correlate of the uncertain, problematic character of the situation, an uncertainty that is not merely subjective or mental, but a product of the potential inadequacy of previously established modes of behavior to deal effectively with the pragmatic demands of present circumstances. The subsequent inquiry does not, therefore, uncover a reality (the innocuousness of the noise) underlying a mere appearance (its fearsomeness), but by settling the demands of the situation, it effects a change in the inter-dynamics of the organism-environment relationship of the initial situation--a change in reality.
There are two important implications of this line of thought that distinguish it from the metaphysical tradition. First, although inquiry is aimed at resolving the precarious and confusing aspects of experience to provide a stable basis for action, this does not imply the unreality of the unstable and contingent, nor justify its relegation to the status of mere appearance.
Second, the fact that the meanings we attribute to natural events might change in any particular in the future as renewed inquiries lead to more adequate understandings of natural events (as was implied by Dewey's fallibilism) does not entail that our experience of the world at any given time may as a whole be errant. Thus the implicit skepticism that underlies the representational theory of ideas and raises questions concerning the veracity of perceptual experience as such is unwarranted. Dewey stresses the point that sensations, hypotheses, ideas, etc., come into play to mediate our encounter with the world only in the context of active inquiry. Once inquiry is successful in resolving a problematic situation, mediatory sensations and ideas drop out; and things are present to the agent in the most naively realistic fashion.
These contentions positioned Dewey's metaphysics within the territory of a naive realism, and in a number of his articles, such as "The Realism of Pragmatism" (1905), "Brief Studies in Realism" (1911), and "The Existence of the World as a Logical Problem" (1915), it is this view that Dewey expressly avows (a view that he carefully distinguishes from what he calls "presentational realism," which he attributes to a number of the other realists of his day).
Dewey's "Experience and Nature"
Excerpt and synopsis from Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy/Richard Field’s article.
Dewey offered a fuller statement of his metaphysics in 1925, with the publication of one of his most significant philosophical works, Experience and Nature. In the introductory chapter, Dewey stresses a familiar theme from his earlier writings: that previous metaphysicians, guided by unavowed biases for those aspects of experience that are relatively stable and secure, have illicitly reified these biases into narrow ontological presumptions, such as the temporal identity of substance, or the ultimate reality of forms or essences. Dewey finds this procedure so pervasive in the history of thought that he calls it simply the philosophic fallacy, and signals his intention to eschew the disastrous consequences of this approach by offering a descriptive account of all of the various generic features of human experience, whatever their character.
Dewey begins with the observation that the world as we experience it both individually and collectively is an admixture of the precarious, the transitory and contingent aspect of things, and the stable, the patterned regularity of natural processes that allows for prediction and human intervention. Honest metaphysical description must take into account both of these elements of experience. Dewey endeavors to do this by an event ontology. The world, rather than being comprised of things or, in more traditional terms, substances, is comprised of happenings or occurrences that admit of both episodic uniqueness and general, structured order. Intrinsically events have an ineffable qualitative character by which they are immediately enjoyed or suffered, thus providing the basis for experienced value and aesthetic appreciation. Extrinsically events are connected to one another by patterns of change and development; any given event arises out of determinant prior conditions and leads to probable consequences. The patterns of these temporal processes is the proper subject matter of human knowledge--we know the world in terms of causal laws and mathematical relationships--but the instrumental value of understanding and controlling them should not blind us to the immediate, qualitative aspect of events; indeed, the value of scientific understanding is most significantly realized in the facility it affords for controlling the circumstances under which immediate enjoyments may be realized.
It is in terms of the distinction between qualitative immediacy and the structured order of events that Dewey understands the general pattern of human life and action. This understanding is captured by James' suggestive metaphor that human experience consists of an alternation of flights and perchings, an alternation of concentrated effort directed toward the achievement of foreseen aims, what Dewey calls "ends-in-view," with the fruition of effort in the immediate satisfaction of "consummatory experience." Dewey's insistence that human life follows the patterns of nature, as a part of nature, is the core tenet of his naturalistic outlook.
The Quest for Certainty by John Dewey
The Gifford Lectures at University of Edinburgh, 1928 to 1929.
chapter1: Escape from Peril
chapter2: Philosophy’s Search for the Immutable
chapter3: Conflict of Authorities
chapter4: The Art of Acceptance and The Art of Control
chapter5: Ideas at Work
chapter6: The Play of Ideas
chapter7: The Seat of Intellectual Authority
chapter8: The Naturalization of Intelligence
chapter9: The Supremacy of Method
chapter10: The Construction of Good
chapter11: The Copernican Revolution
The first chapter, ‘Escape from Peril’, argues that the uncertainty of life in primitive times necessitated looking for certainty in the realm of the true Being or through manipulation by magic. Knowledge of the former became viewed as superior, while the practice of the latter was viewed as lesser. Thus, a division between theory and practice formed which hampered human progress. The development of philosophy came out of a search for the ultimate reality, but has solidified the classification and chasm separating knowledge from belief and practice.
‘Philosophy’s Search for the Immutable’, chapter 2, suggests that delineation between knowledge and action has limited human progress. Dewey argues that a necessary way forward is to re-enlist philosophy to address the ‘interactions of our judgments about ends to be sought with knowledge of the means for achieving them’. In this way the question becomes ascertaining what we need to know to implement proper practice. Rather than seeking knowledge in order to maintain life, he suggests seeking knowledge beyond traditional dogmatic frameworks in order to live and act rightly and with certainty: ‘[J]ust as belief that a magical ceremony will regulate the growth of seeds to full harvest stifles the tendency to investigate natural causes and their workings, so acceptance of dogmatic rules as bases of conduct in education, morals and social matters, lessens the impetus to find out about the conditions which are involved in forming intelligent plans.’ This requires the individual to seek after the corporate good beyond the traditional Christian pursuit of striving for personal salvation.
Chapter 3, ‘Conflict of Authorities’, wrestles with the attempts of Spinoza, Kant and Hegel to rectify the difficulties between ultimate knowing, morals and scientific claims which persist in partitions that keep the two apart. As Dewey understands it, the problem is ‘that knowledge is concerned with the disclosure of the characteristics of antecedent existence and essences, and that properties of value found therein provide the authoritative standards for the conduct of life’.
‘The Arts of Acceptance and Control’, chapter 4, argues for a reorientation of our traditional conceptions of knowledge to incorporate a more scientific experimental model: ‘if we frame our conception of knowledge on the experimental model, we find that it is a way of operating upon and with things of ordinary experience so that we can frame our ideas of them in terms of their interactions with one another’. In so doing, Dewey argues that upon reflective appraisal, actions can be judged in a moral sense by their outcomes and in turn knowledge progresses towards enabling better moral choices.
Chapter 5, ‘Ideas at Work’, persists in arguing that knowledge can either be the reduplication of ideas that already exist, like ‘photographs’, or they can take the form of plans of operation which will ‘change the face of the world’. He contends that this is a creative process ‘integral with the course of experience itself, not imported from the external source of a reality beyond’.
Dewey states in his sixth chapter, ‘The Play of Ideas’, that ideas need to be tested in experience. As a result, it is justifiable to pursue idealistic systems of philosophy, but they must be tested by experimental means and measured against actual experience. The value of empirical inquiry within science has demonstrated its value and Dewey challenges ‘philosophy to consider the possibility of the extension of the method of operative intelligence to direction of life in other fields’.
In chapter 7, ‘The Seat of Intellectual Authority’, Dewey articulates that scientific hypotheses are necessary steps in attaining clearer understanding of the natural world, whether they are wholly true or not. They often serve their purpose and then are replaced with better and clearer methods. So it should be with philosophical interpretations. Rather than being utterly disregarded if they prove insufficient in some capacity, they still leave fruits, ‘and these fruits are the abiding advance of knowledge’. He regards his proposed experimental method as a philosophical hypothesis which is generally possible and must be tested in action. This process, however, is not as finite as the scientific experiments in a controlled laboratory.
‘The Naturalization of Intelligence’, chapter 8, states that life experiences must be viewed through ‘reflective knowledge’ in order to make sense of them in the wider context of human life; otherwise, they are simply fragmentary events. Like the astronomer who studies stars from afar and must interpret from general observations, so too is the process of reflective knowledge applied to human experience.
Chapter 9, ‘The Supremacy of Method’, declares ‘uncertainty is primarily a practical matter’, by which Dewey means, ‘only after expertness has been gained in special fields of inquiry does the mind set out at once from problems’. Through experimental inquiry into human experience a reflective knowledge may take root through which goods may be ascertained and acted out. The importance of importing scientific method and empirical analysis is imperative, as ‘it is . . . the most powerful tool we posses for developing other modes of knowledge’. In traditional philosophy, moral and social issues are largely just framed into larger conceptual systems. Dewey calls for the removal of these artificial barriers of classification which ‘would place method and means upon the level of importance that has, in the past, been imputed exclusively to ends’.
‘The Construction of Good’, chapter 10, is Dewey’s call for philosophy to move from trying to accommodate the conclusions of science and long-held belief systems into looking constructively forward to develop achievable paths to what society might become.
Finally, in ‘The Copernican Revolution’ Dewey dispels the possibility of philosophy formulating a complete integrated system of knowledge. Instead, he argues that philosophy ought to endeavour to take the ‘specialized results of science’ and make sense of them in the larger social context, directing it forward ‘in practical action’ for the betterment of humankind. Ultimately, philosophy must ‘search out and disclose the obstructions . . . criticize the habits of mind which stand in the way . . . focus reflection upon needs congruous to present life . . . [and] interpret the conclusions of science with respect to their consequences for our beliefs about purposes and values in all phases of life’.
Dewey's Concept of Truth and Knowledge: Experimentalism, Instrumentalism and Warranted assertiblity
Experimentalism: Dewey believes that the pattern of inquiry, in knowing, should be modern scientific methods. Since the method of modern science culminates in experimentation, Dewey's theory of knowledge becomes experimentalism. Experimentalism focuses on problem solving and concerns with the conditions of the problems and experimental methods. Thus, theories are tested by consequences and knowledge is conditional and can only be understood within its context.
Experimentalism is really just a way of saying that one must learn from one's experience in a fashion that (scientists learn from experimentation) avoids repeating mistakes and that contributes to one's ability to make more informed decisions in the future. The implication is that learning is a process of experiential growth, always in the state of becoming and, if properly managed, improving, but never achieving completeness or finality. Such a view of experience, however, does not emerge idiosyncratically. Some method of thinking or a process of intelligence has to be used to help regulate it. (Peter S. Hlebowits: John Dewey and the Idea of Experimentalism)
Instrumentalism: Dewey’s doctrine that hypotheses (ideas) are mere instruments of inquiry and that their value is measured by how effective they are in solving the problem which evokes the inquiry. Thus, instrumentalism refers to the use of human knowledge and intelligence in one’s interaction with their environment.
Instrumentalism: Propositions are means, instrumentalities, since they are the operational agencies by which beliefs that have adequate grounds for acceptance, are reached as end of inquiry. Thus, the difference between the instrumentality of a proposition as means of attaining a grounded belief and the instrumentality of a belief as means of reaching certain "desired results," should be fairly obvious. (LW14:175)
Propositions are not that about which we are inquiring. As far as we do find it necessary or advisable to inquire about them (as is almost bound to happen in the course of an inquiry), it is not their truth and falsity about which we inquire, but the relevancy and efficacy of their subject-matter with respect to the problem in hand. The "goal" is to resolve the problem which evokes inquiry. (LW14:176)
----- Dewey's Propositions, Warranted Assertibility, and Truth (LW14)
Mr. Russell refers to my theory as one which "substitutes 'warranted assertibility' for truth." Under certain conditions, I should have no cause to object to this reference. But the conditions are absent; and it is possible that this view of "substitution" as distinct from and even opposed to definition, plays an important role in generating what I take to be misconceptions of my theory in some important specific inatters.
Hence, I begin by saying that my analysis of "warranted assertibility" is offered as a definition of the nature of knowledge in the honorific sense according to which only true beliefs are knowledge. The place at which there is pertinency in the idea of "substitution" has to do with words. As I wrote in my Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, "What has been said helps explain why the term "warranted assertibility" is preferred to the terms belief and knowledge. It is free from the ambiguity of the latter terms." But there is involved the extended analysis of the nature of assertion and of warrant. (LW14: 169-170)
(Note: The ambiguities in question -- In the case of belief, the main ambiguity is between it as a state of mind and as what is believed-subject-matter. In the case of knowledge, it concerns the difference between knowledge as an outcome of "competent and controlled inquiry" and knowledge supposed to "have a meaning of its own apart from connection with, and reference to, inquiry.")
Dewey's position is that something of the order of a theory or hypothesis, a meaning entertained as a possible significance in some actual case, is demanded, if there is to be warranted assertibility in the case of a particular matter of fact. This position undoubtedly gives an importance to ideas (theories, hypotheses) and it states the conditions under which we reach warranted assertibility about particular matters of fact. (LW14:170)
The position which Dewey take, namely, that all knowledge, or warranted assertion, depends upon inquiry and that inquiry is, truistically, connected with what is questionable (and questioned) involves a sceptical element, or what Peirce called "fallibilism." But it also provides for probability, and for determination of degrees of probability in rejecting all intrinsically dogmatic statements, where "dogmatic" applies to any statement asserted to possess inherent self-evident truth. (LW14:172)
Dewey's "Warranted assertiblity":
Both Dewey and William James argued that the traditional correspondence theory of truth, according to which the true idea is one that agrees or corresponds to reality, only begs the question of what the "agreement" or "correspondence" of idea with reality is.
Dewey and James maintained that an idea agrees with reality, and is therefore true, if and only if it is successfully employed in human action in pursuit of human goals and interests, that is, if it leads to the resolution of a problematic situation in Dewey's terms.
The pragmatic theory of truth met with strong opposition among its critics, perhaps most notably from the British logician and philosopher Bertrand Russell. Dewey later began to suspect that the issues surrounding the conditions of truth, as well as knowledge, were hopelessly obscured by the accretion of traditional, and in his view misguided, meanings to the terms, resulting in confusing ambiguity. He later abandoned these terms in favor of "warranted assertiblity" to describe the distinctive property of ideas that results from successful inquiry.
(Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy John Dewey)
The index of the Dewey’s Logic: The Theory of Inquiry has only one entry under the word ‘truth’ (Truth, defined, 345n. See Assertiblity Warranted). It refers to the footnote 6 on page 345:
In scientific inquiry, every conclusion reached, whether of fact or conception, is held subject to determination by its fate in further inquiries. Stability or "identity," of meanings is a limiting ideal, as a condition to be progressively satisfied. The conditional status of scientific conclusions (conditional in the sense of subjection to revision in further inquiry) is sometimes used by critics to disparage scientific "truths" in comparison with those which are alleged to be eternal and immutable. In fact, it is anecessary condition of continuous advance in apprehension and in understanding. 6
Footnote 6: The best definition of truth from the logical standpoint which is known to me is that of Peirce: "The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented by this opinion is the real." Op. cit., Vol. V, p. 268 [How to Make Our Ideas Clear (CP 5.407)]. A more complete (and more suggestive) statement is the following: "Truth is that concordance of an abstract statement with the ideal limit towards which endless investigation would tend to bring scientific belief, which concordance the abstract statement may possess by virtue of the confession of its inaccuracy and one-sidedness, and this confession is an essential ingredient of truth." (Ibid., pp. 394-5).
Dewey’s Logic is an experimental logic and as such has more affinity with the philosophy of science than with the formal logic. For Dewey, logic is, as he puts it succinctly in his Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, the “inquiry into inquiry” (LW12:12). Dewey advocated that the experimental method be used in philosophy, including the study of logic. He believes that one could derive norms, rules, and procedures conductive to successful inquiry by studying past inquiries that paid off and reasons for their success. Consequently, Dewey grounded philosophy, including logic and the theory of inquiry, firmly in psychology. Psychology, Dewey writes shortly after he graduated from Johns Hopkins, “is the ultimate science of reality, because it declares what experience in its totality is; it fixes the worth and meaning of its various elements by showing their development and place within this whole. It is, in short, mphilosophic method” (EW 1:144). This approach to logic put Dewey on a collision course not only with the traditional, a priori conception of logic, but also with Peirce’s normative conception of logic.
In the preface of Studies in Logical Theory (1903) by the Chicago pragmatists, Dewey summaries five points that they all agree: judgment is the central problem for logic, logic cannot be separated from psychology, judgments are experienced (so that logic is at least in part an empirical science), reality can only be defined in experiential terms, and there is no universal standard of truth apart from what is required for “readjusting and expanding the means and ends of life” (MW 2:296).
In the Studies, Dewey rejects the traditional way of philosophizing which draw a sharp divide between knowing and acting. Dewey believes that philosophers should embrace the methods used in the experimental sciences, even in traditionally a priori fields like logic, thereby arguing for a thoroughgoing reconstruction of philosophy.
Studies in Logical Theory is enthusiastically received by William James. Peirce is more critical. In a letter to Dewey, he accuses the Chicago pragmatists of neglecting the normative aspects of logic in favor of a purely historical account of problem-solving techniques. As Peirce explains, “I do not think anything like a natural history can answer the terrible need that I see of checking the awful waste of thought, of time, of energy, going on, in consequence of men’s not understanding the theory of inference” (CP 8:239). As Peirce sees it, one might as well study the moral practices of Borneo headhunters, Utah Mormons, Wall-Street stockbrokers, and Greek cabdrivers in an attempt to discover the best rules for moral conduct. At best, it is a very roundabout procedure.
The four essays Dewey contributed in Studies in Logical Theory reappeared with only minor changes as the opening chapters of his 1916 Essays in Experimental Logic.
Dewey's Experimental Logic
In Essays in Experimental Logic, Dewey argues that philosophers have pretty much treated all our experiences as if they are mere objects of contemplation. He was in particular attacking what he famously called the “spectator theory of knowledge” – a new realism’s view of knowledge in which the role of the knower is reduced that of a mere onlooker. For instance, in the “Program and First Platform of Six Realists”, E.G. Spaulding stakes out the realist position as follows:
"Realism, while admitting the tautology that every entity which is known is in relation to knowing or experience or consciousness, holds that this knowing, etc., is eliminable, so that the entity is known as it would be if the knowing were not taking place. Briefly, the entity is, in its being, behavior, and character, independent of the knowing."
Central to the new realists’ view is the firm conviction that the process of knowledge acquisition is wholly independent of the knowledge that is obtained. For the new realist, neither the truth nor the meaning of a statement depends in any way on how we arrived at this conclusion. Dewey is of an entirely different opinion. The paradigmatic case of knowledge acquisition is not that of the scientist or philosopher who leisurely contemplating this or that subject in his brown study, but the emergence of a concrete problem that demands a concrete response. “Reflection”, Dewey writes, “appears as the dominant trait of a situation when there is something seriously the matter, some trouble, due to active discordance, dissentiency, conflict among the factors of a prior non-intellectual experience” (MW 10:326). Dewey calls this an indeterminate situation. For Dewey, all reflection is ultimately a product of an indeterminate situation. In a world without trouble there would be no thought.
An indeterminate situation occurs when conflicting responses are elicited, and we can proceed only when this conflict is somehow resolved. By focusing on the indeterminate situation, Dewey follows Peirce’s doubt-belief theory where inquiry is similarly the product of a distress of some kind and comes to conclusion when this distress is relieved.
By recasting the doubt-belief relation in terms of an organism that seeks to maintain homeostatic equilibrium, Dewey expresses the problem of knowledge – more explicitly than Peirce had done – in naturalistic terms. Human behavior, up to the most theoretical endeavors, is continuous with the behavior of the so-called “lower organism”.
Dewey prefers the phrase “indeterminate situation” above “problematic situation”, as the latter already points to the existence of a problem. For Dewey, problems are already products of inquiry. As the saying goes, “A problem well put is a problem half solved”. Furthermore, for Dewey, it is very distinctly the situation that is indeterminate. As he puts it later in his of 1936, “We are doubtful because the situation is inherently doubtful”. And he adds that “personal states of doubt that are not evoked by and are not relative to some existential situation are pathological” (LW 12:109). Moreover, the doubt elicited by indeterminate situations is not a purely subjective affairs that can be resolved by manipulating our personal mental states, but is an objective, public relation of means and ends.
Thus, for Dewey, inquiry relates to the attempt of resolving the objective conditions of an indeterminate or problematic situation.
Dewey’s views on education are based on the same principle. Education should be problem-oriented, not child-oriented. The child must learn to creatively adapt to the problematic situations likely to be encountered in life and which set the boundaries of what can or is to be done.
For Dewey, the acquisition of knowledge is thus always a function of a concrete, indeterminate situation where it is sought for the specific purpose of resolving a particular problem. Hence, for Dewey, knowledge involves the reorganization of an indeterminate situation aimed specifically at resolving conflicting or inhibited responses. Moreover, since for Dewey reflection comes to conclusion only in a successful experimental act, all knowledge is in the end experimental knowledge; there is no pure a priori knowledge.
Since reflection emerges within an indeterminate situation that has been transformed into a specific problem and terminates when this problem is solved, knowledge cannot be seen as independent from the conditions in which it arises and the situation to which it apples. This means that all knowledge is thoroughly contextual. However, saying that knowledge is always contextual does not commit one to hold that all knowledge is dependent on the inquiry of which it is a product. Different inquiries can lead to the same conclusion or give entirely different solutions that are equally satisfactory. Just as there is more than one way to Rome, there is more than one way out of an indeterminate situation.
ALL JUDGMENTS ARE PRACTICAL
In the concluding essay of Essays in Experimental Logic, “The Logic of Judgments of Practice”,
Dewey seeks to elaborate his instrumentalist view and to show that all judgments are practical. Dewey began with the noncontroversial point that science is a mode of practice. … He argues that all scientific judgment had the nature of practical judgments, however far removed they might be from our daily lives and however abstract and theoretical they may sound.
If all judgments are practical ones, thinking would be an art, like boatbuilding or watercolor painting, and all knowledge would be a product of the art of thinking. … Just like boatbuilding, thinking takes certain raw materials (memories, sensory experiences, etc.) and shapes them so as to make them fit a certain purpose, which is, in this case, the purpose of attaining knowledge.
What gives an observation - the raw material we encounter in our dealings with the world – its value, is not something inherent within it, antecedent and independent of any motive we might bring with us, but how it contributes to the purpose at hand. For instance, in the case of boatbuilding we will find that certain types of wood are good for boatbuilding, whereas others are not. That is to say, the antecedent properties of the wood enter into the process of boatbuilding as limiting conditions. You cannot make everything out of just anything. You cannot, for instance, building a steamship from jelly, or a kite from thick slabs of concrete.
The same is true when our purpose is that of attaining knowledge; some observations will contribute to the purpose of attaining knowledge, whereas others will not. The famous distinction between primary and secondary qualities, Dewey maintains, is a case in point. The primary qualities, such as extension, number, and motion have proven far more useful in extending our knowledge of physical objects than secondary qualities, such as colors, smells, and sounds, and hence they are favored by scientists and philosophers alike. It would be incorrect though, Dewy insists, to conclude that primary qualities truly depict reality, whereas secondary qualities do not. This would be to fully misunderstood how inquiry works and what its object is. The orchardist, the woodworker, the painter, and the philosopher all see an apple tree differently, and it makes no sense to ask which of these reflects the real apple tree, or whether there is something like :the true apple tree” of which the above are all partial and partisan impressions.
THE ORIGIN OF LOGIC
Dewey makes a similar argument for the laws of logic. These laws are also products of inquiry. As he points out in the Logic,
"… all logical forms (with their characteristic properties) arise within the operation of inquiry and are concerned with control of inquiry so that it may yield warranted assertions. This conception implies much more than that logical forms are disclosed or come to light when we reflect upon processes of inquiry that are in use. Of course it means that; but it also means that the forms originate in operations of inquiry. To employ a convenient expression, it means that while inquiry into inquiry is the causa cognoscendi of logical forms, primary inquiry is itself causa essendi of the forms which inquiry into inquiry discloses." (Logic: The Theory of Inquiry pp 3-4) (LW 12:11)
"Logic is autonomous. The position taken implies the ultimacy of inquiry in determination of the formal conditions of inquiry. Logic as inquiry into inquiry is … a circular process." (Logic: The Theory of Inquiry p20)
Dewey agrees with Peirce that the aim of inquiry is settled opinion. … Good logical principles ensue when we discover that certain inferences, all other things being equal, give dependable conclusions, i.e., are successful. In this respect, the inquirer is no different than the potter who learns that a certain technique of spinning the potter’s wheel leads to good pots. What makes such principles or techniques regulative, or “normative’, is that they give better results.
"The question concerns their origin and use ... I follow in the main the account given by Peirce of "guiding" or "leading ' principles. According to this view, every inferential conclusion that is drawn involves a habit (either by way of expressing it or initiating it) in the organic sense of habit, since life is impossible without ways of action sufficiently general to be properly named habits. At the outset, the habit that operates in an inference is purely biological. It operates without our being aware of it. We are aware at most of particular acts and particular consequences. Later, we are aware not only of what is done from time to time but of how it is done. Attention to the way of doing is, moreover, indispensable to control of what is done. The craftsman, for example, learns that if he operates in a certain waythe result will take care of itself, certain materials being given. In like fashion, we discover that if we draw our inferences in a certain way, we shall, other things being equal, get dependable conclusions. The idea of a method of inquiry arises as an articulate expression of the habit that is involved in a class of inferences." (Logic: The Theory of Inquiry p12)
In a very Peircean manner, Dewey explains,
“Any habit is a way or manner of action, not a particular act or deed. When it is formulated it becomes, as far as it is accepted, a rule, or more generally, a principle or "law" of action. It can hardly be denied that there are habits of inference and that they may be formulated as rules or principles. If there are such habits as are necessary to conduct every successful inferential inquiry, then the formulations that express them will be logical principles of all inquiries. In this statement "successful" means operative in a manner that tends in the long run, or in continuity of inquiry, to yield results that are either confirmed in further inquiry or that are corrected by use of the same procedures. These guiding logical principles are not premises of inference or argument. They are conditions to be satisfied such that knowledge of them provides a principle of direction and of testing. They are formulations of ways of treating subject-matter that have been found to be so determinative of sound conclusions in the past that they are taken to regulate further inquiry until definite grounds are found for questioning them. While they are derived from examination of methods previously used in their connection with the kind of conclusion they have produced, they are operationally a priori with respect to further inquiry.” (Logic: The Theory of Inquiry p13-14) (LW12:21)
For Dewey, the principles of logic are as objective as the principle that teakwood is the best choice for ship decks (as it is durable, strong, non-absorbent, doesn’t rot, etc.). It is a matter of means and consequences.
Dewey’s reconstruction of philosophy therefore stands the traditional conception of the relation of philosophy to natural science on its head. Previous thinkers have taken the job of philosophy to be that of grounding or justifying the practices and results of science, treating philosophical inquiry as if it were logically and epistemically prior to science. Dewey, by contrast, contends that philosophy must begin with the methods of scientific inquiry, deriving its content and modeling its own practices upon them. Hence, his reconstructed philosophy is fundamentally an experimentalist philosophy.
The project of developing such a position requires, therefore, a careful examination of methods employed in the sciences, with regard to both their successes and their failures. From this examination, a more general pattern of inquiry may be developed that would account not only for procedures employed by natural scientists but also for conceptual methods and means employed in a variety of investigatory contexts—from the physical and social sciences to commonplace inquiries into everyday matters. As part of project, the relation of formal logical and mathematical systems to experimental inquiry must be explicated, though this does not exhaust the °subject matter of a theory of inquiry. Rather, the resulting general theory must be pertinent and applicable to the full range of philosophical subject matters, including problems of explicit moral, political, and social significance.
This complex undertaking is the mission of logical theory, which Dewey appropriately defines as an inquiry into inquiry (1938, LW12:28). Accordingly, logic is the linchpin of his experimentalism. Although his Essays in Experimental Logic and other logical essays of the l920s and 1930s begin to make explicit Dewey’s reconstructive project, his Logic: The Theory of Inquiry records his most comprehensive inquiry into inquiry. It is therefore not only an essential text in the Deweyan corpus but an integral contribution to pragmatic experimentalism in general.
“Four pressing concerns” that are distinctive of Dewey’s later logical theory: these are the turn to experience; the discovery of the biological and social-cultural matrices of inquiry; the relationship of scientific inquiry to social inquiry and to common sense; the interrelationships amongst the tools and techniques within inquiry.
Propositions, Warranted Assertibility, and Truth
Excerpt and Condensation
Mr. Russell refers to my theory as one which "substitutes 'warranted assertibility' for truth." Under certain conditions, I should have no cause to object to this reference. But the conditions are absent; and it is possible that this view of "substitution" as distinct from and even opposed to definition, plays an important role in generating what I take to be misconceptions of my theory in some important specific inatters. Hence, I begin by saying that my analysis of "warranted assertibility" is offered as a definition of the nature of knowledge in the honorific sense according to which only true beliefs are knowledge. The place at which there is pertinency in the idea of "substitution" has to do with words. As I wrote in my Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, "What has been said helps explain why the term "warranted assertibility" is preferred to the terms belief and knowledge. It is free from the ambiguity of the latter terms." But there is involved the extended analysis of the nature of assertion and of warrant. (LW 14: 169-170)
(Note: The ambiguities in question -- In the case of belief, the main ambiguity is between it as a state of mind and as what is believed-subject-matter. In the case of knowledge, it concerns the difference between knowledge as an outcome of "competent and controlled inquiry" and knowledge supposed to "have a meaning of its own apart from connection with, and reference to, inquiry.")
Mr. Russell says "One important difference between us arises, I think, from the fact that Dr. Dewey is mainly concerned with theories and hypotheses, whereas I am mainly concerned with assertions about particular matters of fact." My position is that something of the order of a theory or hypothesis, a meaning entertained as a possible significance in some actual case, is demanded, if there is to be warranted assertibility in the case of a particular matter of fact. This position undoubtedly gives an importance to ideas (theories, hypotheses) they do not have upon Mr. Russell's view. But it is not a position that can be put in opposition to assertions about matters of particular fact, since, in terms of my view, it states the conditions under which we reach warranted assertibility about particular matters of fact. (Note: As will appear later, the matter is inherently connected with the proper interpretation of consequences on my theory, and also with the very fundamental matter of operations, which Mr. Russell only barely alludes to.) (LW 14: 170)
There is nothing peculiarly "pragmatic" about this part of my view, which holds that the presence of an idea-defined as a possible significance of an existent something-is required for any assertion entitled to rank as knowledge or as true; the insistence, however, that the "presence" be by way of an existential operation demarcates it from most other such theories. I may indicate some of my reasons for taking this position by mentioning some difficulties in the contrasting view of Mr. Russell that there are propositions known in virtue of their own immediate direct presence, as in the case of "There is red, " or, as Mr. Russell prefers to say," Redness-here." (LW 14: 170)
1. I do not understand how "here" has a self-contained and self-assured meaning. ... I would even say, with no attempt here to justify the saying, that a theory involving determination or definition of what is called "Space" is involved in the allegedly simple "redness here." Indeed, I would add that since any adequate statement of the matter of particular fact referred to is "redness-here-now," a scientific theory of space-time is involved in a fully warranted assertion about "redness-here-now." (LW 14: 170-171)
2. Mr. Russell holds that the ultimacy and purity of basic propositions is connected with (possibly is guaranteed by) the fact that subject-matters like "redness-here" are of the nature of perceptual experiences, in which perceptual material is reduced to a direct sensible presence, or a sensum. ... However, Mr. Russell goes on to ask: "What can be meant when we say a 'percept' causes a word or sentence? On the face of it, we have to suppose a considerable process in the brain, connecting visual centres with motor centres; the causation, therefore, is by no means direct." It would, then, seem as if upon Mr. Russell's own view a quite elaborate physiological theory intervenes in any given case as condition of assurance that "redness-here" is a true assertion. And I hope it will not appear unduly finicky if I add that a theory regarding causation also seems to be intimately involved. (LW 14: 171)
Any view which holds that all complex propositions depend for their status as knowledge upon prior atomic propositions, of the nature described by Mr. Russell, seems to me the most adequate foundation yet provided for complete scepticism. (LW 14: 171)
The position which I take, namely, that all knowledge, or warranted assertion, depends upon inquiry and that inquiry is, truistically, connected with what is questionable (and questioned) involves a sceptical element, or what Peirce called "fallibilism." But it also provides for probability, and for determination of degrees of probability in rejecting all intrinsically dogmatic statements, where "dogmatic" applies to any statement asserted to possess inherent self-evident truth. That the only alternative to ascribing to some propositions self-sufficient, self-possessed, and self evident truth is a theory which finds the test and mark of truth in consequences of some sort is, I hope, an acceptable view. At all events, it is a position to be kept in mind in assessing my views. (LW 14: 172)
In an earlier passage Mr. Russell ascribes certain views to "instrumentalists" and points out certain errors which undoubtedly (and rather obviously) exist in those views-as he conceives and states them. … The passage reads: There are some schools of philosophy-notably the Hegelians and the instrumentalists-which deny the distinction between data and inference altogether. They maintain that in all our knowledge there is an inferential element, that knowledge is an organic whole, and that the test of truth is coherence rather than conformity with "fact." I do not deny an element of truth in this view, but I think that, if taken as a whole truth, it renders the part played by perception in knowledge inexplicable. It is surely obvious that every perceptive experience, if I choose to notice it, affords me either new knowledge which I could not previously have inferred, or, at least, as in the case of eclipses, greater certainty than I could have previously obtained by means of inference. To this the instrumentalist replies that any statement of the new knowledge obtained from perception is always an interpretation based upon accepted theories, and may need subsequent correction if these theories turn out to be unsuitable.(LW 14: 172-173)
(Note: Dewey maintains that instrumentalists do not believe that "knowledge is an organic whole"; in fact, the idea is meaningless upon their view. They do not believe the test of truth is coherence; in the operational sense, they hold a correspondence view.) (LW 14: 173)
I begin with the ascription to instrumentalists of the idea that "in all our knowledge, there is an inferential element." This statement is, from the standpoint of my view, ambiguous; in one of its meanings, it is incorrect. It is necessary, then, to make a distinction. If it means (as it is apparently intended to mean) that an element due to inference appears in propria persona, so to speak, it is incorrect. For according to my view (if I may take it as a sample of the instrumentalists' view), while to infer something is necessary if a warranted assertion is to be arrived at, this inferred somewhat never appears as such in the latter; that is, in knowledge. The inferred material has to be checked and tested. The means of testing, required to give an inferential element any claim whatsoever to be knowledge instead of conjecture, are the data provided by observation-and only by observation. Moreover, as is stated frequently in my Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, it is necessary that data (provided by observation) be new, or different from those which first suggested the inferential element, if they are to have any value with respect to attaining knowledge. It is important that they be had under as many different conditions as possible so that data due to differential origins may supplement one another. The necessity of both the distinction and the cooperation of inferential and observational subject-matters is, on my theory, the product of an analysis of scientific inquiry; this necessity is, as will be shown in more detail later, the heart of my whole theory that knowledge is warranted assertion. (LW 14: 173)
It should now be clear that the instrumentalist would not dream of making the kind of "reply" attributed to him. Instead of holding that "accepted theories" are always the basis for interpretation of what is newly obtained in perceptual experience, he has not been behind others in pointing out that such a mode of interpretation is a common and serious source of wrong conclusions; of dogmatism and of consequent arrest of advance in knowledge. In my Logic, I have explicitly pointed out that one chief reason why the introduction of experimental methods meant such a great, such a revolutionary, change in natural science, is that they provide data which are new not only in detail but in kind. Hence their introduction compelled new kinds of inference to new kinds of subject-matters, and the formation of new types of theories-in addition to providing more exact means of testing old theories. (LW 14: 173-174)
I am obliged, unfortunately, to form a certain hypothesis as to how and why, in view of the numerous and oft-repeated statements in my Logic of the necessity for distinguishing between inferential elements and observational data (necessary since otherwise there is no approach to warranted assertibility), it could occur to anyone that I denied the distinction. The best guess I can make is that my statements about the necessity of hard data, due to experimental observation and freed from all inferential constituents, were not taken seriously because it was supposed that upon my theory these data themselves represent, or present, cases of knowledge, so that there must be on my theory an inferential element also in them. Whether or not this is the source of the alleged denial thought up by Mr. Russell, it may be used to indicate a highly significant difference between our two views. For Mr. Russell holds, if I understand him, that propositions about these data are in some cases instances of knowledge, and indeed that such cases provide, as basic propositions, the models upon which a theory of truth should be formed. In my view, they are not cases of knowledge, although propositional formulation of them is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition of knowledge. (LW 14: 174)
It brings me to what is meant, in my theory, by the instrumental character of a proposition. I shall, then, postpone consideration of the ascription to me of the view that propositions are true if they are instruments or tools of successful action till I have stated just what, on my theory, a proposition is. The view imputed to me is that "Inquiry uses 'assertions' as its tools, and assertions are 'warranted' insofar as they produce the desired result." I put in contrast with this conception the following statement of my view:
Judgment may be identified as the settled outcome of inquiry. It is concerned with the concluding objects that emerge from inquiry in their status of being conclusive. Judgment in this sense is distinguished from propositions. The content of the latter is intermediate and representative and is carried by symbols; while judgment, as finally made, has direct existential import. The terms affirmation and assertion are employed in current speech interchangeably. But there is a difference, which should have linguistic recognition, between the logical status of intermediate subject-matters that are taken for use in connection with what they lead to as means, and subject-matter which has been prepared to be final. I shall use assertion to designate the latter logical status and affirmation to name the former. . . . However, the important matter is not the words, but the logical properties characteristic of different subject-matters (Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, p. 120). (LW 14:174-175)
(Note: The word "logical," as it occurs in this passage, is, of course, to be understood in the sense given previously; a signification that is determined by connection with operations of inquiry which are undertaken because of the existence of a problem, and which are controlled by the conditions of that problem-since the "goal" is to resolve the problem which evokes inquiry.) (LW 14:175)
Propositions, then, on this view, are what are affirmed but not asserted. They are means, instrumentalities, since they are the operational agencies by which beliefs that have adequate grounds for acceptance, are reached as end of inquiry. As I have intimated, this view may seem even more objectionable than is the one attributed to me, i.e., the one which is not mine. But in any case the difference between the instrumentality of a proposition as means of attaining a grounded belief and the instrumentality of a belief as means of reaching certain "desired results," should be fairly obvious. (LW 14:175)
And Dewey makes his view clear that:
(i) knowledge (in its honorific sense) is in every case connected with inquiry;
(ii) the conclusion or end of inquiry has to be demarcated from the intermediate means by which inquiry goes forward to a warranted or justified conclusion;
(iii) the intermediate means are formulated in discourse, i.e., as propositions, and that as means they have the properties appropriate to means (viz., relevancy and efficacy-including economy). (LW 14:175)
If the view is entertained, even in the most speculative conjectural fashion, it will, I think, be clear that according to it, truth and falsity are properties only of that subject-matter which is the end, the close, of the inquiry by means of which it is reached. The distinction between true and false conclusions is determined by the character of the operational procedures through which propositions about data and propositions about inferential elements (meanings, ideas, hypotheses) are instituted. At all events, I can not imagine that one who says that such things as hammers, looms, chemical processes like dyeing, reduction of ores, when used as means, are marked by properties of fitness and efficacy (and the opposite) rather than by the properties of truth-falsity, will be thought to be saying anything that is not commonplace. (LW 14:176)
My view of the nature of propositions, as distinct from that held by Mr. Russell, may be further illustrated by commenting upon the passage in which, referring to my view concerning changes in the matter of hypotheses during the course of inquiry, he writes: "I should say that inquiry begins, as a rule, with an assertion that is vague and complex, but replaces it, when it can, by a number of separate assertions each of which is less vague and less complex than the original assertion." I remark in passing that previous observations of this kind by Mr. Russell were what led me so to misapprehend his views as to impute to him the assumption "that propositions are the subject-matter of inquiry"; an impression, which, if it were not for his present explicit disclaimer, would be strengthened by reading, "When we embark upon an inquiry we assume that the propositions about which we are enquiring are either true or false." Without repeating the ascription repudiated by Mr. Russell, I would say that upon my view "propositions are not that about which we are inquiring," and that as far as we do find it necessary or advisable to inquire about them (as is almost bound to happen in the course of an inquiry), it is not their truth and falsity about which we inquire, but the relevancy and efficacy of their subject-matter with respect to the problem in hand. (LW 14:176)
Coming to the main point at issue, I hold that the first propositions we make as means of resolving a problem of any marked degree of difficulty are indeed likely to be too vague and coarse to be effective, just as in the story of invention of other instrumentalities, the first forms are relatively clumsy, uneconomical, and ineffective. They have then, as means, to be replaced by others which are more effective. Propositions are vague when, for example, they do not delimit the problem sufficiently to indicate what kind of a solution is relevant. It is hardly necessary to say that when we don't know the conditions constituting a problem we are trying to solve, our efforts at solution at best will be fumbling and are likely to be wild. Data serve as tests of any idea or hypothesis that suggests itself, and in this capacity also their definiteness is required. But, upon my view, the degree and the quality of definiteness and of simplicity, or elementariness, required, are determined by the problem that evokes and controls inquiry. However the case may stand in epistemology (as a problem based upon a prior assumption that knowledge is and must be a relation between a knowing subject and an object), upon the basis of a view that takes knowing (inquiry) as it finds it, the idea that simplicity and elementariness are inherent properties of propositions (apart from their place and function in inquiry), has no meaning. If I understand Mr. Russell's view, his test for the simple and definite nature of a proposition applies indifferently to all propositions and hence has no indicative or probative force with respect to any proposition in particular. (LW 14:177)
Accepting, then, Mr. Russell's statement that his "problem has been, throughout, the relation between events and propositions," and regretting that I ascribed to him the view that "propositions are the subject-matter of inquiry," I would point out what seems to be a certain indeterminateness in his view of the relation between events and propositions, and the consequent need of introducing a distinction: viz., the distinction between the problem of the relation of events and propositions in general, and the problem of the relation of a particular proposition to the particular event to which it purports to refer. I can understand that Mr. Russell holds that certain propositions, of a specified kind, are such direct effects of certain events, and of nothing else, that they "must be true." But this view does not, as I see the matter, answer the question of how we know that in a given case this direct relationship actually exists. It does not seem to me that his theory gets beyond specifying the kind of case in general in which the relation between an event, as causal antecedent, and a proposition, as effect, is such as to confer upon instances of the latter the property of being true. But I can not see that we get anywhere until we have means of telling which propositions in particular are instances of the kind in question. (LW 14:177-178)
In the case, previously cited, of redness-here, Mr. Russell asserts, as I understand him, that it is true when it is caused by a simple, atomic event. But how do we know in a given case whether it is so caused? Or if he holds that it must be true because it is caused by such an event, which is then its sufficient verifier, I am compelled to ask how such is known to be the case. These comments are intended to indicate both that I hold a "correspondence" theory of truth, and the sense in which I hold it;-a sense which seems to me free from a fundamental difficulty that Mr. Russell's view of truth can not get over or around.
The event to be known is that which operates, on his view, as cause of the proposition while it is also its verifier; although the proposition is the sole means of knowing the event! Such a view, like any strictly epistemological view, seems to me to assume a mysterious and unverifiable doctrine of pre-established harmony.
How an event can be (i) what-is-to be-known, and hence by description is unknown, and (ii) what is capable of being known only through the medium of a proposition, which, in turn (iii) in order to be a case of knowledge or be true, must correspond to the to-be-known, is to me the epistemological miracle. For the doctrine states that a proposition is true when it conforms to that which is not known save through itself. (LW 14:178)
In contrast with this view, my own view takes correspondence in the operational sense it bears in all cases except the unique epistemological case of an alleged relation between a "subject" and an "object"; the meaning, namely, of answering, as a key answers to conditions imposed by a lock, or as two correspondents "answer" each other; or, in general, as a reply is an adequate answer to a question or a criticism-; as, in short, a solution answers the requirements of a problem. On this view, both partners in "correspondence" are open and above board, instead of one of them being forever out of experience and the other in it by way of a "percept" or whatever. Wondering at how something, in experience could be asserted to correspond to something by definition outside experience, which it is, upon the basis of epistemological doctrine, the sole means of "knowing," is what originally made me suspicious of the whole epistemological industry.
In the sense of correspondence as operational and behavioral (the meaning which has definite parallels in ordinary experience), I hold that my type of theory is the only one entitled to be called a correspondence theory of truth. (LW 14:178-179)
[Note: In noting that my view of truth involves dependence upon consequences (as his depends upon antecedents, not, however, themselves in experience), and in noting that a causal law is involved, Mr. Russell concludes: "These causal laws, if they are to serve their purpose, must be 'true' in the very sense that Dr. Dewey would abolish". It hardly seems unreasonable on my part to expect that my general theory of truth be applied to particular cases, that of the truth of causal laws included. If it was unreasonable to expect that it would be so understood, I am glad to take this opportunity to say that such is the case. I do not hold in this case a view I have elsewhere "abolished." I apply the general view I advance elsewhere. There are few matters with respect to which there has been as much experience and as much testing as in the matter of the connection of means and consequences, since that connection is involved in all the details of every occupation, art, and undertaking. That warranted assertibility is a matter of probability in the case of causal connections is a trait it shares with other instances of warranted assertibility; while, apparently, Mr. Russell would deny the name of knowledge, in its fullest sense, to anything that is not certain to the point of infallibility, or which does not ultimately rest upon some absolute certainty.] (LW 14:179)
Mr. Russell asserts that he has several times asked me what the goal of inquiry is upon my theory, and has seen no answer to the question. There seems to be some reason for inferring that this matter is connected with the belief that I am engaged in substituting something else for "truth," so that truth, as he interprets my position, not being the goal, I am bound to provide some other goal. A person turning to the Index of my Logic: The Theory of Inquiry will find the following heading: "Assertibility, warranted, as end of inquiry." Some fourteen passages of the text are referred to. Unless there is difference which escapes me between "end" and "goal," the following passage would seem to give the answer which Mr. Russell has missed:
Moreover, inference, even in its connection with test, is not logically final and complete. The heart of the entire theory developed in this work is that the resolution of an indeterminate situation is the end, in the sense in which "end" means end-in-view and in the sense in which it means close. (LW 14:179-180)
Inquiry begins in an indeterminate situation, and not only begins in it but is controlled by its specific qualitative nature. Inquiry, as the set of operations by which the situation is resolved (settled, or rendered determinate) has to discover and formulate the conditions that describe the problem in hand. For they are the conditions to be "satisfied" and the determinants of "success." Since these conditions are existential, they can be determined only by observational operations; the operational character of observation being clearly exhibited in the experimental character of all scientific determination of data. (Upon a nonscientific level of inquiry, it is exhibited in the fact that we look and see; listen and hear; or, in general terms, that a motor-muscular, as well as sensory, factor is involved in any perceptual experience.) The conditions discovered, accordingly, in and by operational observation, constitute the conditions of the problem with which further inquiry is engaged; for data, on this view, are always data of some specific problem and hence are not given readymade to an inquiry but are determined in and by it. (The point previously stated, that propositions about data are not cases of knowledge but means of attaining it, is so obviously an integral part of this view that I say nothing further about it in this connection.) As the problem progressively assumes definite shape by means of repeated acts of observation, possible solutions suggest themselves. These possible solutions are, truistically (in terms of the theory), possible meanings of the data determined in observation. The process of reasoning is an elaboration of them. When they are checked by reference to observed materials, they constitute the subject-matter of inferential propositions. The latter are means of attaining the goal of knowledge as warranted assertion, not instances or examples of knowledge. They are also operational in nature since they institute new experimental observations whose subject-matter provides both tests for old hypotheses and starting-points for new ones or at least for modifying solutions previously entertained. And so on until a determinate situation is instituted. (LW 14:180)
There is ascribed to me the view that "the distinction between 'true' and 'false' is to be found in the success or failure of the effects of believings." After what I have already said, I hope it suffices to point out that the question of truth-falsity is not, on my view, a matter of the effects of believing, for my whole theory is determined by the attempt to state what conditions and operations of inquiry warrant a "believing," or justify its assertion as true; that propositions, as such, are so far from being cases of believings that they are means of attaining a warranted believing, their worth as means being determined by their pertinency and efficacy in "satisfying" conditions that are rigorously set by the problem they are employed to resolve. (LW 14:181)
At this stage of the present discussion, I am, however, more interested in the passage quoted as an indication of the difference between us than as a manifestation of the nature of Mr. Russell's wrong understanding of my view.' I believe most decidedly that the distinction between "true" and "false" is to be found in the relation which propositions, as means of inquiry, "have to relevant occurrences." The difference between us concerns, as I see the matter in the light of Mr. Russell's explanation, the question of what occurrences are the relevant ones. And I hope it is unnecessary to repeat by this time that the relevant occurrences on my theory are those existential consequences which, in virtue of operations existentially performed, satisfy (meet, fulfill) conditions set by occurrences that constitute a problem. (LW 14:182)
In an earlier writing, a passage of which is cited by Mr. Russell, I stated my conclusion that Mr. Russell's interpretation of my view in terms of satisfaction of personal desire, of success in activities performed in order to satisfy desires, etc., was due to failure to note the importance in my theory of the existence of indeterminate or problematic situations as not only the source of, but as the control of, inquiry. A part of what I there wrote reads as follows:
Mr. Russell proceeds first by converting a doubtful situation into a personal doubt. . . . Then by changing doubt into private discomfort, truth is identified [upon my view] with removal of this discomfort . . . [but] "Satisfaction" is satisfaction of the conditions prescribed by the problem.
In the same connection reference is made to a sentence in the Preface in which I stated, in view of previous misunderstandings of my position, that consequences are only to be accepted as tests of validity "provided these consequences are operationally instituted." (LW 14:182)
[Note: It is necessary that consequences be "such as to resolve the specific problem evoking the operations."]
The doubtful belonged to the existential situation in which we are caught and implicated. ...as interactivity of organism and environment.
The problematic nature of situations is definitely stated to have its source and prototype in the condition of imbalance or disequilibration that recurs rhythmically in the interactivity of organism and environment;-a condition exemplified in hunger, not as a "feeling" but as a form of organic behavior such as is manifested, for example, in bodily restlessness and bodily acts of search for food. (LW 14:183)
(i) All experiences are interactivities of an organism and an environment; a doubtful or problematic situation is no exception.
(ii) Every such interaction is a temporal process, not a momentary, cross-sectional occurrence. ... Even were existential conditions unqualifiedly determinate in and of themselves, they are indeterminate [are such in certain instances] in significance: that is, in what they import and portendin their interaction with the organism. ... an existential organism is existentially implicated or involved in a situation as interacting with environing conditions. According to my view, the sole way in which a "normal person" figures is that such a person investigates only in the actual presence of a problem.
(iii) All that is necessary upon my view is that an astronomical or geological epoch be an actual constituent of some experienced problematic situation. I am not, logically speaking, obliged to indulge in any cosmological speculation about those epochs, because, on my theory, any proposition about them is of the nature of what A. F. Bentley, in well chosen terms, calls "extrapolation," under certain conditions, be it understood, perfectly legitimate, but nevertheless an extrapolation.
As far as cosmological speculation on the indeterminate situations in astronomical and geological epochs is relevant to my theory (or my theory to it), any view which holds that man is a part of nature, not outside it, will hold that this fact of being part of nature qualifies his "experience" throughout. Hence that view will certainly hold that indeterminancy in human experience, once experience is taken in the objective sense of interacting behavior and not as a private conceit added on to something totally alien to it, is evidence of some corresponding indeterminateness in the processes of nature within which man exists (acts) and out of which he arose. (LW 14:184)
The qualification in my theory relating to the necessity of consequences being "operationally instituted" is, of course, an intimate constituent of my whole theory of inquiry. … I cite one passage that indicates the intrinsic connection existing between this part of my theory and … that concerning the place of indeterminate situations in inquiry. "Situations that are disturbed and troubled, confused or obscure, cannot be straightened out, cleared up and put in order, by manipulations of our personal states of mind." This is the negative aspect of the position that operations of an existential sort, operations which are actions, doing something and accomplishing something (a changed state of interactivity in short), are the only means of producing consequences that have any bearing upon warranted assertibility. (LW 14:185)
I am grateful to Mr. Russell for devoting so much space to my views and for thus giving me an opportunity to restate them. …. In particular, I believe that the position he has taken regarding the causal relation between an event and a proposition is the first successful effort to set forth a clear interpretation of what "correspondence" must mean in current realistic epistemologies. Statement in terms of a causal relation between an event and a proposition gets rid, in my opinion, of much useless material that encumbers the ordinary statement made about the "epistemological" relation. (LW 14:186)
The experimental Theory of Knowing
According to Dewey, traditional philosophies feature a metaphysical dualism between a changeless, eternal Reality and the changing, imperfect world of ordinary affairs. This initial dualism generates an epistemological dualism between the kind of knowledge associated with these different metaphysical realms. The realm of perfect Being is accessed only through the rational contemplation associated with philosophical speculation. Experience and observation, by contrast, provides knowledge of the inferior realm of physical objects and ordinary affairs. With true Reality elevated to a metaphysical realm which could not be accessed by scientific observation, but is revealed only to the philosopher, the objects in the world of experience and methods employed by the scientist were rendered subordinate.
Dewey’s criticism is that now, in light of the overwhelming success of the scientific method, philosophy must take the opposite path. Traditionally, philosophy is to perform the social function of integrating cultural values with developing science and technology, but a reconstructed philosophy must pursue this integration through the extension of the methods and attitudes of science to culture itself. Philosophy must become the mode of social criticism by which traditional culture becomes more scientific. Consequently, philosophy itself must become more scientific by purging itself of the scientifically presuppositions it has inherited from its past.
Since a reconstructed philosophy must align itself with science, philosophers can no longer take epistemology to be independent of science. A reconstructed epistemology must model its conception of knowledge on the methods of experimentation employed in the science. Hence Dewey referred to his view “experimentalism”.
Dewey described his epistemology as a “theory of inquiry”.
What is inquiry?
Dewey understands experience to be the activity of an organism interacting with certain factors within an environment that is both precarious and stable. In his principal work on inquiry, Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, Dewey introduces the term ‘situation’ to denote the physical and social aspects of the environment, the “contextual whole” within which experience occurs. As situations are dynamic and prone to fluctuation, the live creature is occasionally confronted with instability, danger, and obstruction. In such cases, the organism is operating within what Dewey calls an “indeterminate situation”. On Dewey’s view, inquiry is a certain kind of activity within experience which occurs when the organism encounters an indeterminate situation. Precisely, inquiry is,
"Inquiry is the controlled or directed transformation of an indeterminate situation into one that is so determinate in its constituent distinctions and relations as to convert the elements of the original situation into a unified whole."
That is, the indeterminate situation presents the organism with a problem. The activity of addressing the problem by means of action directed towards the transformation of the existing situation is inquiry. Inquiry is successful if it transforms the problematic situation into a “unified whole”, a “determinate situation”.
Despite the varying subject-matter and gravity of different inquiries, Dewey maintains that there is a general pattern which all successful inquiry follows. The general pattern of inquiry can be expressed in five steps, they are:
(1) Perplexity, confusion, doubt, due to the fact that one is implicated in an incomplete situation whose full character is not yet determined;
(2) A conjectural anticipation – a tentative interpretation of the given elements, attributing to them a tendency to effect certain consequences;
(3) A careful survey (examination, inspection, exploration, analysis) of all attainable consideration which will define and clarify the problem in hand;
(4) A consequent elaboration of the tentative hypothesis to make it more precise and more consistent, because squaring it with a wider range of facts;
(5) Taking one stand upon the projected hypothesis as a plan of action which is applied to the existing state of affairs: doing something overtly to bring about the anticipated result, and thereby testing the hypothesis.
Dewey is not suggesting that in every inquiry, one performs five distinct operations, nor is Dewy proposing that the phases occur in a serial order. Different steps may “telescope together” and inform each other. In some cases, the distinct phases are easily discriminated whereas in others they occur all at once.
Truth and Warranted Assertibility
In the logic of 1938, Dewey introduces the phrase “warranted assertibility” to replace “belief” and “knowledge”. (LW 12:15)
Dewey tries to stay away from “belief” because of its ambiguity, as it can refer either to the object of belief or to the state of belief. The distinction between Peircean pragmatism, with its emphasis on the object of belief, and Jamesian pragmatism, with its emphasis on the state of belief, is at least at some level a product of this confusion. The term “knowledge” is similarly ambiguous, as it can refer to the outcome of an inquiry that satisfactorily came to an end or to the object to which inquiry gravitates. In the second case, “knowledge” has, as Dewey puts it, “a meaning of its own apart from connection with and reference to inquiry”. (LW 12:15)
The phrase “warranted assertibility” also has the advantage of making a clear connection with inquiry as what warrants the assertion. What we should be on the lookout for, Dewey observes, are “the conditions under which we reach warranted assertibility about particular matters of fact”. (LW 14:169)
Dewey’s prime inspiration came from judicial language and proceeding. he remarks in the Logic,”When it is ruled that certain evidence is admissible and that certain rules of law (conceptual material) are applicable rather than others, something is settled,” and the final settlement is in part a product of such intermediary and partial settlements. (LW 12:125)
Dewey notes further that “in resolution of problems that are of a looser quality than legal cases we call them opinions to distinguish them from a warranted judgment or assertion”. Hence, the notion of warranted assertibility has much to do with having the (procedural) right to assert something (e.g., to propose something as true or false), where these rights are themselves an intrinsic part of the procedure in question.
As a consequence, Dewey rejects the idea that the truth or falsity of a belief is determined by the effects of having the belief on the believer, a view to which James and Schiller lean:
“The question of truth-falsity is not, on my view, a matter of the effects of believing, for my whole theory is determined by the attempt to state what conditions and operations of inquiry warrant a 'believing’, or justify its assertion are true.” (LW 14:183)
For Dewey, the issue of truth and falsity is thus not related to whether a belief is good for us, or whether it satisfies our desires, but to the indeterminate situation that spurred the inquiry, and the rules and restrictions intrinsic to that inquiry. Whether a belief is warranted, Dewey observes, is determined by “their pertinency and efficacy in ‘satisfying’ conditions that are rigorously set by the problem they are employed to resolve”. (LW 14:183f)
The result is a correspondence theory of truth, but one that is more sophisticated than the traditional variant that trades on the metaphor of the disinterested spectator. A better metaphor is that of a key that corresponds with a lock; it is a congruity, a fitting in. Hence, Dewey concludes, “In the sense of correspondence as operational and behavioral … I hold that my type of theory is the only one entitled to be called a correspondence theory of truth”. (LW 14:180) The disinterested spectator, who is wholly detached from her subjected, does not correspond with what she perceives, and neither do her beliefs.
An important motivation for preferring warranted assertibility above truth is Dewey’s embracing of Peirce’s fallibilism. As Dewey explains:
"The position which I take, namely, that all knowledge, or warranted assertion, depends upon inquiry and that inquiry is, truistically, connected with what is questionable (and questioned) involves a sceptical element, or what Peirce called 'fallibilism'. But it also provides for probability, and for determination of degrees of probability in rejecting all intrinsically dogmatic statements, where “dogmatic” applies to any statement asserted to possess inherent self-evident truth. That the only alternative to ascribing to some propositions self-sufficient, self-possessed, and self-evident truth is a theory which finds the test and mark of truth in consequences of some sort is, I hope, an acceptable view." (LW 14:172)
Dewey relates this fallibilism in a fairly Peircean way to what may be called a probabilistic theory of truth. We can never be certain that something is true, but given the appropriate conditions, we can be warranted in holding it for true. Although Dewey hesitated to equate truth with warranted assertibility, he did maintain that there is no practical difference between the two.
Logic: The Theory of Inquiry
Excerpt and Condensation
PART 1 INTRODUCTION: THE MATRIX OF INQUIRY
I THE PROBLEM OF LOGICAL SUBJECT-MATTER … 1
II THE EXISTENTIAL MATRIX OF INQUIRY: BIOLOGICAL … 23
III THE EXISTENTIAL MATRIX OF INQUIRY: CULTURAL … 42
IV COMMON SENSE AND SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY … 60
V THE NEEDED REFORM OF LOGIC ... 81
PART II THE STRUCTURE OF INQUIRY AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF JUDGMENTS
VI THE PATTERN OF INQUIRY . . . . 101
VII THE CONSTRUCTION OF JUDGMENT ... 120
VIII IMMEDIATE KNOWLEDGE: UNDERSTANDING AND INFERENCE … 139
IX JUDGMENTS OF PRACTICE: EVALUATION … 159
X AFFIRMATION AND NEGATION: JUDGMENT AS REQUALIFICATION . . . 181
XI THE FUNCTION OF PROPOSITIONS OF QUANTITY IN JUDGMENT . . . . 199
XII JUDGMENT AS SPATIAL-TEMPORAL DETERMINATION: NARRATION-DESCRIPTION … 220
XIII THE CONTINUUM OF JUDGMENT: GENERAL PROPOSITIONS ....245
XIV GENERIC AND UNIVERSAL PROPOSITIONS … 264
PART III PROPOSITIONS AND TERMS
XV GENERAL THEORY OF PROPOSITIONS ... 283
XVI PROPOSITIONS ORDERED IN SETS AND SERIES … 311
XVII FORMAL FUNCTIONS AND CANONS ... 328
XVIII TERMS OR MEANINGS … 349
PART IV THE LOGIC OF SCIENTIFIC METHOD
XIX LOGIC AND NATURAL SCIENCE: FORM AND MATTER … 371
XX MATHEMATICAL DISCOURSE ....394
XXI SCIENTIFIC METHOD: INDUCTION AND DEDUCTION … 419
XXII SCIENTIFIC LAWS— CAUSATION AND SEQUENCES … 442
XXIII SCIENTIFIC METHOD AND SCIENTIFIC SUBJECT-MATTER … 463
XXIV SOCIAL INQUIRY … 487
XXV THE LOGIC OF INQUIRY AND PHILOSOPHIES OF KNOWLEDGE … 513
The word "Pragmatism" does not, I think, occur in the text. Perhaps the word lends itself to misconception. At all events, so much misunderstanding and relatively futile controversy have gathered about the word that it seemed advisable to avoid its use. But in the proper interpretation of "pragmatic," namely the function of consequences as necessary tests of the validity of propositions, provided these consequences are operationally instituted and are such as to resolve the specific problem evoking the operations, the text that follows is thoroughly pragmatic.
The first chapter set forth the fundamental thesis: Logical forms accrue to subject-matter when the latter is subjected to controlled inquiry. It also set forth some of the implications of this thesis for the nature of logical theory.
The second chapter and third chapters stated the independent grounds, biological and cultural, for holding that logic is a theory of experiential naturalistic subject-matter.
The fourth chapter developed the theme with reference to the relations of the logic of common sense and science.
The fifth chapter discussed Aristotelian logic as the organized formulation of the language of Greek life, when that language is regarded as the expression of the meanings of Greek culture and of the significance attributed to various forms of natural existence.
It was held throughout these chapters that inquiry, in spite of the diverse subjects to which it applies, and the consequent diversity of its special techniques has a common structure or pattern: that this common structure is applied both in common sense and science, although because of the nature of the problems with which they are concerned, the emphasis upon the factors involved varies widely in the two modes.
The fifth chapter concluded that the demand for reform of logic is the demand for a unified theory of inquiry through which the authentic pattern of experimental and operational inquiry of science shall become available for regulation of the habitual methods by which inquiries in the field of common sense are carried on; by which conclusions are reached and beliefs are formed and tested.
THE PROBLEM OF LOGICAL SUBJECT-MATTER
It is said that logic is the science of necessary laws of thought, and that it is the theory of ordered relations— relations which are wholly independent of thought. There are at least three views held as to the nature of these latter relations: They are held (1) to constitute a realm of pure possibilities as such, where pure means independent of actuality; (2) to be ultimate invariant relations forming the order of nature; and (3) to constitute the rational structure of the universe. In the latter status, while independent of human thought, they are said to embody the rational structure of the universe which is re- produced in part by human reason. There is also the view that logic is concerned with processes of inference by which knowledge, especially scientific knowledge, is attained.
Of late, ... Logic is said to be concerned with the formal structure of language as a system of symbols. (p2)
From these preliminary remarks I turn to statement of the position regarding logical subject-matter that is developed in this work. The theory, in summary form, is that all logical forms (with their characteristic properties) arise within the operation of inquiry and are concerned with control of inquiry so that it may yield warranted assertions. This conception implies much more than that logical forms are disclosed or come to light when we reflect upon processes of inquiry that are in use. Of course it means that; but it also means that the forms originate in operations of inquiry. To employ a convenient expression, it means that while inquiry into inquiry is the causa cognoscendi of logical forms, primary inquiry is itself causa essendi of the forms which inquiry into inquiry discloses. (pp3-4)
The plausibility of the view that sets up a dualism between logic and the methodology of inquiry, between logic and scientific method, is due to a fact that is not denied.
Inquiry in order to reach valid conclusions must itself satisfy logical requirements. It is an easy inference from this fact to the idea that the logical requirements are imposed upon methods of inquiry from without.
Since inquiries and methods are better and worse, logic involves a standard for criticizing and evaluating them. How, it will be asked, can inquiry which has to be evaluated by reference to a standard be itself the source of the standard? How can inquiry originate logical forms (as it has been stated that it does) and yet be subject to the requirements of these forms? The question is one that must be met. It can be adequately answered only in the course of the entire discussion that follows. But the meaning of the position taken may be clarified by indicating the direction in which the answer will be sought.
The problem reduced to its lowest terms is whether inquiry can develop in its own ongoing course the logical standards and forms to which further inquiry shall submit. One might reply by saying that it can because it has. One might even challenge the objector to produce a single instance of improvement in scientific methods not produced in and by the self-corrective process of inquiry; a single instance that is due to application of standards ab extra.
But such a retort needs to be justified. Some kind of inquiry began presumably as soon as man appeared on earth. Of prehistoric methods of inquiry our knowledge is vague and speculative. But we know a good deal about different methods that have been used in historic times. We know that the methods which now control science are of comparatively recent origin in both physical and mathematical science.
Moreover, different methods have been not only tried, but they have been tried out; that is, tested. The developing course of science thus presents us with an immanent criticism of methods previously tried. Earlier methods failed in some important respect. In consequence of this failure, they were modified so that more dependable results were secured. Earlier methods yielded conclusions that could not stand the strain put upon them by further investigation. It is not merely that conclusions were found to be inadequate or false but that they were found to be so because of methods employed. Other methods of inquiry were found to be such that persistence in them not only produced conclusions that stood the strain of further inquiry but that tended to be self-rectifying. They were methods that improved with and by use. (pp5-6)
It may be instructive to compare the improvement of scientific methods within inquiry with the improvement that has taken place in the progress of the arts. Is there any reason to suppose that advance in the art of metallurgy has been due to application of an external standard? The "norms" used at present have developed out of the processes by which metallic ores were formerly treated. There were needs to be satisfied; consequences to be reached. As they were reached, new needs and new possibilities opened to view and old processes were re-made to satisfy them. In short, some procedures worked; some succeeded in reaching the end intended; others failed. The latter were dropped; the former were retained and extended. It is quite true that modern improvements in technologies have been determined by advance in mathematics and physical science. But these advances in scientific knowledge are not external canons to which the arts have had automatically to submit themselves. They provided new instrumentalities, but the instrumentalities were nor self-applying. They were used; and it was the result of their use, their failure and success in accomplishing ends and effecting consequences, that provided the final criterion of the value of scientific principles for carrying on determinate technological operations. What is said is not intended as proof that the logical principles involved in scientific method have themselves arisen in the progressive course of inquiry. But it is meant to show that the hypothesis that they have so arisen has a prima facie claim to be entertained, final decision being reserved. (pp6-7)
Belief may be so understood as to be a fitting designation for the outcome of inquiry. Doubt is uneasy; it is tension that finds expression and outlet in the processes of inquiry. Inquiry terminates in reaching that which is settled. This settled condition is a demarcating characteristic of genuine belief. In so far, belief is an appropriate name for the end of inquiry. But belief is a "double-barreled" word. It is used objectively to name what is believed. In this sense, the outcome of inquiry is a settled objective state of affairs, so settled that we are ready to act upon it, overtly or in imagination. Belief here names the settled condition of objective subject-matter, together with readiness to act in a given way when, if, and as, that subject-matter is present in existence. But in popular usage, belief also means a personal matter; something that some human being entertains or holds; a position, which under the influence of psychology, is converted into the notion that belief is merely a mental or psychical state. Associations from this signification of the word belief are likely to creep in when it is said that the end of inquiry is settled belief. The objective meaning of subject-matter as that is settled through inquiry is then dimmed or even shut out. The ambiguity of the word thus renders its use inadvisable for the purpose in hand. (p7)
The word knowledge is also a suitable term to designate the objective and close of inquiry. But it, too, suffers from ambiguity. When it is said that attainment of knowledge, or truth, is the end of inquiry the statement, according to the position here taken, is a truism. That which satisfactorily terminates inquiry is, by definition, knowledge; it is knowledge because it is the appropriate close of inquiry. But the statement may be supposed, and has been supposed, to enunciate something significant instead of a tautology. As a truism, it defines knowledge as the outcome of competent and controlled inquiry. When, however, the statement is thought to enunciate something significant, the case is reversed. Knowledge is then supposed to have a meaning of its own apart from connection with and reference to inquiry. The theory of inquiry is then necessarily subordinated to this meaning as a fixed external end. The opposition between the two views is basic. The idea that any knowledge in particular can be instituted apart from its being the consummation of inquiry, and that knowledge in general can be defined apart from this connection is, moreover, one of the sources of confusion in logical theory. For the different varieties of realism, idealism and dualism have their diverse conceptions of what "knowledge" really is. In consequence, logical theory is rendered subservient to metaphysical and epistemological preconceptions, so that interpretation of logical forms varies with underlying metaphysical assumptions. (pp7-8)
The position here taken holds that since every special case of knowledge is constituted as the outcome of some special inquiry, the conception of knowledge as such can only be a generalization of the properties discovered to belong to conclusions which are outcomes of inquiry. Knowledge, as an abstract term, is a name for the product of competent inquiries. Apart from this relation, its meaning is so empty that any content or filling may be arbitrarily poured in. The general conception of knowledge, when formulated in terms of the outcome of inquiry, has something important to say regarding the meaning of inquiry itself. For it indicates that inquiry is a continuing process in every field with which it is engaged. The "settlement" of a particular situation by a particular inquiry is no guarantee that that settled conclusion will always remain settled. The attainment of settled beliefs is a progressive matter; there is no belief so settled as not to be exposed to further inquiry. It is the convergent and cumulative effect of continued inquiry that defines knowledge in its general meaning. In scientific inquiry, the criterion of what is taken to be settled, or to be knowledge, is being so settled that it is available as a resource in further inquiry; not being settled in such a way as not to be subject to revision in further inquiry. (pp8-9)
What has been said helps to explain why the term "warranted assertion" is preferred to the terms belief and knowledge. It is free from the ambiguity of these latter terms, and it involves reference to inquiry as that which warrants assertion. When knowledge is taken as a general abstract term related to inquiry in the abstract, it means "warranted assertibility." The use of a term that designates a potentiality rather than an actuality involves recognition that all special conclusions of special inquiries are parts of an enterprise that is continually renewed, or is a going concern. (p9)
(Note: C. S. Peirce, after noting that our scientific propositions are subject to being brought in doubt by the results of further inquiries, adds, "We ought to construct our theories so as to provide for such [later] discoveries ... by leaving room for the modifications that cannot be foreseen but which are pretty sure to prove needful." (Collected Papers, Vol. V., p. 376 n.) The readers who are acquainted with the logical writings of Peirce will note my great indebtedness to him in the general position taken. As far as I am aware, he was the first writer on logic to make inquiry and its methods the primary and ultimate source of logical subject- matter.) (p9)
Up to this point, it may seem as if the criteria that emerge from the processes of continuous inquiry were only descriptive, and in that sense empirical. That they are empirical in one sense of that ambiguous word is undeniable. They have grown out of the experiences of actual inquiry. But they are not empirical in the sense in which "empirical" means devoid of rational standing. Through examination of the relations which exist between means (methods) employed and conclusions attained as their consequence, reasons are discovered why some methods succeed and other methods fail. It is implied in what has been said (as a corollary of the general hypothesis) that rationality is an affair of the relation of means and consequences, not of fixed first principles as ultimate premises or as contents of what the Neo-scholastics call criteriology. (p9)
Reasonableness or rationality is, according to the position here taken, as well as in its ordinary usage, an affair of the relation of means and consequences. In framing ends-in-view, it is unreasonable to set up those which have no connection with available means and without reference to the obstacles standing in the way of attaining the end. It is reasonable to search for and select the means that will, with the maximum probability, yield the con- sequences which are intended. It is highly unreasonable to cm- ploy as means, materials and processes which would be found, if they were examined, to be such that they produce consequences which are different from the intended end; so different that they preclude its attainment. Rationality as an abstract conception is precisely the generalized idea of the means-consequence relation as such. Hence, from this point of view, the descriptive statement of methods that achieve progressively stable beliefs, or warranted assertibility, is also a rational statement in case the relation between them as means and assertibility as consequence is ascertained. (pp9-10)
Reasonableness or rationality has, however, been hypostatized. One of the oldest and most enduring traditions in logical theory has converted rationality into a faculty which, when it is actualized in perception of first truths, was called reason and later, Intellectus Purus. The idea of reason as the power which intuitively apprehends a priori ultimate first principles persists in logical philosophy. Whether explicitly affirmed or not, it is the ground of even' view which holds that scientific method is dependent upon logical forms that are logically prior and external to inquiry. The original ground for this conception of reason has now been destroyed. This ground was the necessity for postulating a faculty that had the power of direct apprehension of "truths" that were axiomatic in the sense of being self-evident, or self-verifying, and self- contained, as the necessary grounds of all demonstrative reasoning. The notion was derived from the subject-matter that had attained the highest scientific formulation at the time the classic logic was formulated; namely, Euclidean geometry. (p10)
This conception of the nature of axioms is no longer held in mathematics nor in the logic of mathematics. Axioms are now held to be postulates, neither true nor false in themselves, and to have their meaning determined by the consequences that follow because of their implicatory relations to one another. The greatest freedom is permitted, or rather encouraged, in laying" down postulates— a freedom subject only to the condition that\hey be rigorously fruitful of implied consequences. (p10)
The same principle holds in physics. Mathematical formulae have now taken the place in physics once occupied by propositions about eternal essences and the fixed species defined by these essences. The formulae are deductively developed by means of rules of implication. But the value of the deduced result for physical science is not determined by the correctness of the deduction. (p11)
The deductive conclusion is used to instigate and direct operations of experimental observation. The observable consequences of these operations in their systematic correlation with one an- other finally determine the scientific worth of the deduced principle. The latter takes its place as a means necessary to obtain the consequence of warranted assertibility. The position here taken, the general hypothesis advanced, is a generalization of the means-consequence relation characteristic of mathematical and physical inquiry. According to it, all logical forms, such as are represented by what has been called proximate logical subject-matter, are instances of a relation between means and consequences in properly controlled inquiry, the word "controlled" in this statement standing for the methods of inquiry that are developed and perfected in the processes of continuous inquiry. In this continuity, the conclusions of any special inquiry are subordinate to use in substantiation and maturation of methods of further inquiry. The general character of knowledge as an abstract term is determined by the nature of the methods used, not vice-versa. (p11)
THE ORIGIN AND NATURE OF LOGIC
Neither the existence nor the indispensability of primary logical principles is, then, denied. The question concerns their origin and use. In what is said upon this matter I follow in the main the account given by Peirce of "guiding" or "leading ' principles. According to this view, every inferential conclusion that is drawn involves a habit (either by way of expressing it or initiating it) in the organic sense of habit, since life is impossible without ways of action sufficiently general to be properly named habits. At the outset, the habit that operates in an inference is purely biological. It operates without our being aware of it. We are aware at most of particular acts and particular consequences. Later, we are aware not only of what is done from time to time but of how it is done. Attention to the way of doing is, moreover, indispensable to control of what is done. The craftsman, for example, learns that if he operates in a certain waythe result will take care of itself, certain materials being given. In like fashion, we discover that if we draw our inferences in a certain way, we shall, other things being equal, get dependable conclusions. The idea of a method of inquiry arises as an articulate expression of the habit that is involved in a class of inferences.
Since, moreover, the habits that operate are narrower and wider in scope, the formulations of methods that result from observing them have either restricted or extensive breadth. Peirce illustrates the narrower type of habit by the following case: A person has seen a rotating disk of copper come to rest when it is placed be- tween magnets. He infers that another piece of copper will be- have similarly under like conditions. At first such inferences are made without formulation of a principle. (Note: Peirce does not recall that Peirce alludes to Hume's doctrine of habit, or to Mill's "propensity" to generalize. The fact involved seems to be the same. Bur Peirce connects the fact, as Hume and Mill did not, with basic organic or biological functions instead of leaving habit as an ultimate "mysterious" tie. ) The disposition that operates is limited in scope. It does not extend beyond pieces of copper. But when it is found that there are habits involved in every inference, in spite of differences of subject-matter, and when these habits are noted and formulated, then the formulations are guiding or leading principles. The principles state habits operative in every inference that tend to yield conclusions that are stable and productive in further inquiries. Being free from connection with any particular subject-matter, they are formal, not material, though they are forms of material that is subjected to authentic inquiry.
Validity of the principles is determined by the coherency of the consequences produced by the habits they articulate. If the habit in question is such as generally produces conclusions that are sustained and developed in further inquiry, then it is valid even if in an occasional case it yields a conclusion that turns out invalid. In such cases, the trouble lies in the material dealt with rather than with the habit and general principle. This distinction obviously corresponds to the ordinary distinction between form and matter. But it does not involve the complete separation between them that is often set up in logical theories.
Any habit is a way or manner of action, not a particular act or deed. When it is formulated it becomes, as far as it is accepted, a rule, or more generally, a principle or "law" of action. It can hardly be denied that there are habits of inference and that they may be formulated as rules or principles. If there are such habits as are necessary to conduct every successful inferential inquiry, then the formulations that express them will be logical principles of all inquiries. In this statement "successful" means operative in a manner that tends in the long run, or in continuity of inquiry, to yield results that are either confirmed in further inquiry or that are corrected by use of the same procedures. These guiding logical principles are not premises of inference or argument. They are conditions to be satisfied such that knowledge of them provides a principle of direction and of testing. They are formulations of ways of treating subject-matter that have been found to be so determinative of sound conclusions in the past that they are taken to regulate further inquiry until definite grounds are found for questioning them. While they are derived from examination of methods previously used in their connection with the kind of conclusion they have produced, they are operationally a priori with respect to further inquiry. (Note: As has been indicated, the above account is a free rendering of Peirce. See particularly his Collected Papers, Vol. Ill, pp. 154-68, and Vol. V. pp. 36% 370.)
THE NATURE OF LOGIC
1. Logic is a progressive discipline. The reason for this is that logic rests upon analysis of the best methods of inquiry (being judged "best" by their results with respect to continued inquiry) that exist at a given time. As the methods of the sciences improve, corresponding changes take place in logic. An enormous change has taken place in logical theory since the classic logic formulated the methods of the science that existed in its period. It has occurred in consequence of the development of mathematical and physical science. If, however, present theory provided a coherent formulation of existing scientific methods, freed from a doctrine of logical forms inherited from a science that is no longer held, this treatise would have no reason for existence. When in the future methods of inquiry are further changed, logical theory will also change. There is no ground for supposing that logic has been or ever will be so perfected that, save, perhaps, for minor details, it will require no further modification. The idea that logic is capable of final formulation is an eidolon of the theater.
2. The subject-matter of logic is determined operationally. (Note: The word "operational" is not a substitute for what is designated by the word "instrumental." It expresses the way in and by which the subject-matter of inquiry is rendered the means to the end of inquiry, the institution of determinate existential situations. As a general term, "instrumental" stands for the relation of means-consequence, as the basic category for interpretation of logical forms, while "operational" stands for the conditions by which subject-matter is (1) rendered fit to serve as means and (2) actually functions as such means in effecting the objective transformation which is the end of inquiry.)
This thesis is a verbal restatement of what was earlier said. The methods of inquiry are operations performed or to be performed. Logical forms are the conditions that inquiry, qua inquiry, has to meet. Operations, to anticipate, fall into two general types. There are operations that are performed upon and with existential material — as in experimental observation. There are operations performed with and upon symbols. But even in the latter case, "operation" is to be taken in as literal a sense as possible. There are operations like hunting for a lost coin or measuring land, and there are operations like drawing up a balance-sheet. The former is performed upon existential conditions; the latter upon symbols. But the symbols in the latter case stand for possible final existential conditions while the conclusion, when it is stated in symbols, is a pre-condition of further operations that deal with existences. Moreover, the operations involved in making a balance-sheet for a bank or any other business involve physical activities. The so-called "mental" element in operations of both these kinds has to be defined in terms of existential conditions and consequences, not vice-versa.
Operations involve both material and instrumentalities, including in the latter tools and techniques. The more material and instrumentalities are shaped in advance with a view to their operating in conjunction with each other as means to consequences, the better the operations performed are controlled. Refined steel, which is the matter of the operations by which a watch-spring is formed, is itself the product of a number of preparatory operations executed with reference to getting the material into the state that fits it to be the material of the final operation. The material is thus as instrumental, from an operational point of view, as are the tools and techniques by which it is brought into a required condition. On the other hand, old tools and techniques are modified in order that they may apply more effectively to new materials. The introduction, for example, of the lighter metals demanded different methods of treatment from those to which the heavier metals previously used were subjected. Or, stated from the other side, the development of electrolytic operations made possible the use of new materials as means to new consequences.
The illustration is drawn from the operations of industrial arts. But the principle holds of operations of inquiry. The latter also proceed by shaping on one hand subject-matter so that it lends itself to the application of conceptions as modes of operation; and, on the other hand, by development of such conceptual structures as are applicable to existential conditions. Since, as in the arts, both movements take place in strict correspondence with each other, the conceptions employed are to be understood as directly operational, while the existential material, in the degree in which the conditions of inquiry are satisfied, is determined both by operations and with an eye to operations still to be executed.
3. Logical forms are postulational. Inquiry in order to be inquiry in the complete sense has to satisfy certain demands that are capable of formal statement. According to the view that makes a basic difference between logic and methodology, the requirements in question subsist prior to and independent (if inquiry. Upon that view, they are final in themselves, not intrinsically postulational. This conception of them is the ultimate ground of the idea that they are completely and inherently a priori and are disclosed to a faculty called pure reason. The position here taken holds that they are intrinsically postulates of and for inquiry, being formulations of conditions, discovered in the course of inquiry itself, which further inquiries must satisfy if the}' are to yield warranted assertibility as a consequence.
Stated in terms of the means-consequence relation, they are a generalization of the nature of the means that must be employed if assertibility is to be attained as an end. Certain demands have to be met by the operations that occur in the arts. A bridge is to be built to span a river under given conditions, so that thebridge, as the consequence of the operations, will sustain certain loads. There are local conditions set by the state of the banks, etc. But there are general conditions of distance, weights, stresses and strains, changes of temperature, etc. These are formal conditions. As such they are demands, requirements, postulates, to be fulfilled.
A postulate is also a stipulation. To engage in an inquiry is like entering into a contract. It commits the inquirer to observance of certain conditions. A stipulation is a statement of conditions that are agreed to in the conduct of some affair. The stipulations involved are at first implicit in the undertaking of inquiry. As they are formally acknowledged (formulated), they become logical forms of various degrees of generality. They make definite what is involved in a demand. Every demand is a request, but not every request is a postulate. For a postulate involves the assumption of responsibilities. The responsibilities that are assumed are stated in stipulations. They involve readiness to act in certain specified ways. On this account, postulates are not arbitrarily chosen. They present claims to be met in the sense in which a claim presents a title or has authority to receive due consideration.
In engaging in transactions, human beings are not at first aware of the responsibilities that are implicit; for laws, in the legal sense, are explicit statements of what was previously only implicit in customs: namely, formal recognition of duties and rights that were practically involved in acceptance of the customs. One of the highly generalized demands to be met in inquiry is the following: "If anything has a certain property, and whatever has this property has a certain other property, then the thing in question has this certain other property/' This logical "law" is a stipulation. If you are going to inquire in a way which meets the requirements of inquiry, you must proceed in a way which observes this rule, just as when you make a business contract there are certain conditions to be fulfilled.
A postulate is thus neither arbitrary nor externally a priori. It is not the former because it issues from the relation of means to the end to be reached. It is not the latter, because it is not imposed upon inquiry from without, but is an acknowledgement of that to which the undertaking of inquiry commits us. It is empirically and temporally a priori in the same sense in which the law of contracts is a rule regulating in advance the making of certain kinds of business engagements. While it is derived from what is involved in inquiries that have been successful in the past, it imposes a condition to be satisfied in future inquiries, until the results of such inquiries show reason for modifying it.
Terming logical forms postulates is, thus, on the negative side, a way of calling attention to the fact that they are not given and imposed from without. Just as the postulates of, say, geometry are not self-evident first truths that are externally imposed premises but are formulations of the conditions that have to be satisfied in procedures that deal with a certain subject-matter, so with logical forms which hold for every inquiry. In a contract, the agreement involved is that between the consequences of the activities of two or more parties with respect to some specified affair. In inquiry, the agreement is between the consequences of a series of inquiries. But inquiry as such is not carried on by one person rather than another. When any one person engages in it, he is committed, in as far as his inquiry is genuinely such and not an insincere bluff, to stand by the results of similar inquiries by whomever conducted. "Similar" in this phrase means inquiries that submit to the same conditions or postulates.
The postulational character of logical theory requires, accordingly, the most complete and explicit formulation that is attainable of not only the subject-matter that is taken as evidential in a given inference, but also of general conditions, stated in the rules and principles of inference and discourse. A distinction of matter and form is thus instituted. But it is one in which subject-matter and form correspond strictly to each other. Hence, once more, postulates are not arbitrary or mere linguistic conventions. They must be such as control the determination and arrangement of subject- matter with respect to achieving cnduringly stable beliefs. Only after inquiry has proceeded for a considerable time and has hit upon methods that work successfully, is it possible to extract the postulates that are involved. They are not presuppositions at large. They are abstract in the sense that the}' are derived from analytic survey of the relations between methods as means and conclusions as consequences — a principle that exemplifies the meaning of rationality.
The postulational nature of logical theory thus agrees with what has been said about logic as progressive and operational Postulates alter as methods of inquiry are perfected; the logical forms that express modern scientific inquiry are in many respects quite unlike those that formulated the procedures of C J reek science. An experimenter in the laboratory who publishes his results states the materials used, the setup of apparatus and the procedures employed. These specifications are limited postulates, demands and stipulations, for any inquirer who wishes to test the conclusion reached. Generalize this performance for procedures of inquiry as such, that is, with respect to the form of every inquiry, and logical forms as postulates are the outcome.
4. Logic is a naturalistic theory. The term "naturalistic" has many meanings. As it is here employed it means, on one side, that there is no breach of continuity between operations of inquiry and biological operations and physical operations. "Continuity," on the other side, means that rational operations grow out of organic activities, without being identical with that from which they emerge. There is an adjustment of means to consequences in the activities of living creatures, even though not directed by deliberate purpose. Human beings in the ordinary or "natural" processes of living come to make these adjustments purposely, the purpose being limited at first to local situations as they arise. In the course of time (to repeat a principle already set forth) the intent is so generalized that inquiry is freed from limitation to special circumstances. The logic in question is also naturalistic in the sense of the observability, in the ordinary sense of the word, of activities of inquiry. Conceptions derived from a mystical faculty of intuition or anything that is so occult as not to be open to public inspection and verification (such as the purely psychical for example) are excluded.
5. Logic is a social discipline. One ambiguity attending the word "naturalistic" is that it may be understood to involve reduction of human behavior to the behavior of apes, amebae, or electrons and protons. But man is naturally a being that lives in association with others in communities possessing language, and therefore enjoying a transmitted culture. Inquiry is a mode of activity that is socially conditioned and that has cultural con- sequences. This fact has a narrower and a wider import. Its more limited import is expressed in the connection of logic with symbols. Those who are concerned with "symbolic logic" do not always recognize the need for giving an account of the reference and function of symbols. While the relations of symbols to one another is important, symbols as such must be finally understood in terms of the function which symbolization serves. The fact that all languages (which include much more than speech) consist of symbols, does not of itself settle the nature of symbolism as that is used in inquiry. But, upon any naturalistic basis, it assuredly forms the point of departure for the logical theory of symbols. Any theory of logic has to take some stand on the question whether symbols are ready-made clothing for meanings that subsist independently, or whether the}- are necessary conditions for the existence of meanings— in terms often used, whether language is the dress of "thought" or is something without which "thought" cannot be.
The wider import is found in the fact that every inquiry grows out of a background of culture and takes effect in greater or less modification of the conditions out of which it arises. Merely physical contacts with physical surroundings occur. But in every interaction that involves intelligent direction, the physical environment is part of a more inclusive social or cultural environment. Just as logical texts usually remark incidentally that reflection grows out of the presence of a problem and then proceed as if this fact had no further interest for the theory of reflection, so they observe that science itself is culturally conditioned and then dismiss the fact from further consideration. (Note: "Not even the physicist is wholly independent of die context of experience provided for him by the society within which he works." Stebbing, A Modem Introduction to Logic, p. 16. If one includes in "society" the community of scientific workers, it would seem as if "even" should be changed to read, "the physicist almost more than anyone else." ) This wider aspect of the matter is connected with what was termed the narrower. Language in its widest sense — that is, including all means of communication such as, for example, monuments, rituals, and formalized arts — is the medium in which culture exists and through which it is transmitted. Phenomena that are not recorded cannot be even discussed. Language is the record that perpetuates occurrences and renders them amenable to public consideration. On the other hand, ideas or meanings that exist only in symbols that are not communicable are fantastic beyond imagination. The naturalistic conception of logic, which underlies the position here taken, is thus cultural naturalism. Neither inquiry nor the most abstractly formal set of symbols can escape from the cultural matrix in which they live, move and have their being.
6. Logic is autonomous. The position taken implies the ultimacy of inquiry in determination of the formal conditions of inquiry. Logic as inquiry into inquiry is, if you please, a circular process; it does not depend upon anything extraneous to inquiry. The force of this proposition may perhaps be most readily under- stood by noting what it precludes. It precludes the determination and selection of logical first principles by an a priori intuitional act, even when the intuition in question is said to be that of Intellects Purus. It precludes resting logic upon metaphysical and epistemological assumptions and presuppositions. The latter are to be determined, if at all, by means of what is disclosed as the outcome of inquiry; they are not to be shoved under inquiry as its "foundation." On the epistemological side, it precludes, as was noted earlier in another connection, the assumption of a prior ready-made definition of knowledge which determines the character of inquiry. Knowledge is to be defined in terms of inquiry, not vice-versa, both in particular and universally.
The autonomy of logic also precludes the idea that its "foundations" are psychological. It is not necessary to reach conclusions about sensations, sense-data, ideas and thought, or mental faculties generally, as material that preconditions logic. On the contrary, just as the specific meaning of these matters is determined in specific inquiries, so generally their relation to the logic of inquiry is determined by discovering the relation that the subject-matters to which these names are given bear to the effective conduct of inquiry as such. The point may be illustrated by reference to "thought." It would have been possible in the preceding pages to use the term "reflective thought" where the word "inquiry" has been used. But if that word had been used, it is certain that some readers would have supposed that "reflective thought" designated something already sufficiently known so that "inquiry" was equated to a preexisting definition of thought. The opposite view is implied in the position taken. We do not know what meaning is to be assigned to "reflective thought" except in terms of what is discovered by inquiry into inquiry; at least we do not know what it means for the purposes of logic. Personally, I doubt whether there exists anything that may be called thought as a strictly psychical existence. But it is not necessary to go into that question here. For even if there be such a thing, it does not determine the meaning of "thought" for logic.
Either the word "thought" has no business at all in logic or else it is a synonym of "inquiry" and its meaning is determined by what we find out about inquiry. The latter would seem to be the reasonable alternative. These statements do not mean that a sound psychology may not be of decided advantage to logical theory. For history demonstrates that unsound psychology has done great damage. But its general relation to logic is found in the light that it, as a branch of inquiry, may throw upon what is involved in inquiry. Its generic relation to logic is similar to that of physics or biology. Specifically, for reasons that will appear in subsequent chapters, its findings stand closer to logical theory than do those of the other sciences. Occasional reference to psychological subject-matter is inevitable in any case; for, as will be shown later, some logical positions that pride themselves upon their complete indifference to psychological considerations in fact rest upon psychological notions that have become so current, so embedded in intellectual tradition, that they are accepted uncritically as if they were self-evident.
The remaining chapters of Part One are preparatory to the later and more detailed outline of what is implied in the propositions (1) that logical theory is the systematic formulation of eon- trolled inquiry, and (2) that logical forms accrue in and because of control that yields conclusions which are warrantably assemble. Were the general point of view even moderately represented in current theory these chapters would not be needed. In the present state of logical discussion they seem to me to be necessary. Chapters II and III consider the naturalistic background of the theory, one upon its biological side, the other upon the cultural. Chapters IV and V endeavor to state the need and importance of a revision of logical theory in the direction that has been set forth.
Dewey's Definition of "Situation"
A situation is a whole in virtue of its immediately pervasive quality. When we describe it from the psychological side, we have to say that the situation as a qualitative whole is sensed or felt. Such an expression is, however, valuable only as it is taken negatively to indicate that it is not, as such, an object in discourse. Stating that it is felt is wholly misleading if it gives the impression that the situation is a feeling or an emotion or anything mentalistic. On the contrary, feeling, sensation and emotion have themselves to be identified and described in terms of the immediate presence of a total qualitative situation.
The pervasively qualitative is not only that which binds all constituents into a whole but it is also unique; it constitutes in each situation an individual situation, indivisible and unduplicablc. Distinctions and relations are instituted within a situation; they are recurrent and repeatable in different situations. Discourse that is not controlled by reference to a situation is not discourse, but a meaningless jumble, just as a mass of pied type is not a font much less a sentence. A universe of experience is the precondition of a universe of discourse. Without its controlling presence, there is no way to determine the relevancy, weight or coherence of any designated distinction or relation. The universe of experience surrounds and regulates the universe of discourse but never appears as such within the latter. It may be objected that what was previously said contradicts this statement. For we have been discoursing about universes of experience and situations, so that the latter have been brought within the domain of symbols. The objection, when examined, serves to elicit an important consideration. It is a commonplace that a universe of discourse cannot be a term or element within itself. One universe of discourse may, however, be a term of discourse within another universe. The same principle applies in the case of universes of experience.
The reader, whether he agrees or not with what has been said, whether he understands it or not, has, as he reads the above passages, a uniquely qualified experienced situation, and his reflective understanding of what is said is controlled by the nature of that immediate situation. One cannot decline to have a situation for that is equivalent to having no experience, not even one of disagreement. The most that can be refused or declined is the having of that specific situation in which there is reflective recognition (discourse) of the presence of former situations of the kind stated. This very declination is, nevertheless, identical with initiation of another encompassing qualitative experience as a unique whole.
In other words, it "would be a contradiction if I attempted to demonstrate by means of discourse, the existence of universes of experience. It is not a contradiction by means of discourse to invite the reader to have for himself that kind of an immediately experienced situation in which the presence of a situation as a universe of discourse is seen to be the encompassing and regulating condition of all discourse.
There is another difficulty in grasping the meaning of what has been said. It concerns the use of the word "quality." The word is usually associated with something specific, like red, hard, sweet; that is, with distinctions made within a total experience. The intended contrasting meaning may be suggested, although not adequately exemplified, by considering such qualities as are designated by the terms distressing, perplexing, cheerful, disconsolate. For these words do not designate specific qualities in the way in which hard, say, designates a particular quality of a rock. For such qualities permeate and color all the objects and events that are involved in an experience. The phrase "tertiary qualities," happily introduced by Santayana, does not refer to a third quality like in kind to the "primary" and "secondary" qualities of Locke and merely happening to differ in content. For a tertiary quality qualifies all the constituents to which it applies in thoroughgoing fashion.
Probably the meaning of quality, in the sense in which quality is said to pervade all elements and relations that are or can be instituted in discourse and thereby to constitute them an individual whole, can be most readily apprehended by referring to the esthetic use of the word. A painting is said to have quality, or a particular painting to have a Titian or Rembrandt quality. The word thus used most certainly does not refer to any particular line, color or part of the painting. It is something that affects and modifies all the constituents of the picture and all of their relations. It is not anything that can be expressed in words for it is something that must be had. Discourse may, however, point out the qualities, lines and relations by means of which pervasive and unifying quality is achieved. But so far as this discourse is separated from having the immediate total experience, a reflective object takes the place of an esthetic one. Esthetic experience, in its emphatic sense, is mentioned as a way of calling attention to situations and universes of experience. The intended force of the illustration would be lost if esthetic experience as such were supposed to exhaust the scope and significance of a ''situation." As has been said, a qualitative and qualifying situation is present as the background and the control of every experience. It was for a similar reason that it was earlier stated that reference to tertiary qualities was not adequately exemplary. For such qualities as arc designated by "distressing," "cheerful," etc., are general, while the quality of distress and cheer that marks an existent situation is not general but is unique and inexpressible in words.
I give one further illustration from a different angle of approach. It is more or less a commonplace that it is possible to carry on observations that amass facts tirelessly and yet the observed "facts" lead nowhere. On the other hand, it is possible to have the work of observation so controlled by a conceptual framework fixed in advance that the very things which are genuinely decisive in the problem in hand and its solution, are completely overlooked. Everything is forced into the predetermined conceptual and theoretical scheme. The way, and the only way, to escape these two evils, is sensitivity to the quality of a situation as a whole. In ordinary language, a problem must be felt before it can be stated. If the unique quality of the situation is had immediately, then there is something that regulates the selection and the weighing of observed facts and their conceptual ordering.
COMMON SENSE AND SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY
It is not intimated that the incorporation of scientific conclusions and operations into the common sense attitudes, beliefs and intellectual methods of what is now taken for granted as matters of common sense is as yet complete or coherent. The opposite is the case. In the most important matters the effect of science upon the content and procedures of common sense has been disintegrative. This disintegrative influence is a social, not a logical, fact. But it is the chief reason why it seems so easy, so "natural/' to make a sharp division between common sense inquiry and its logic and scientific inquiry and its logic.
Two aspects of the disintegration which creates the semblance of complete opposition and conflict will be noted. One of them is the fact, already noted, that common sense is concerned with a field that is dominantly qualitative, while science is compelled by its own problems and goals to state its subject-matter in terms of magnitude and other mathematical relations which are non- qualitative. The other fact is that since common sense is concerned, directly and indirectly, with problems of use and enjoyment, it is inherently teleological. Science, on the other hand, has progressed by elimination of "final causes" from every domain with which it is concerned, substituting measured correspondences of change. It operates, to use the old terminology, in terms of "efficient causation," irrespective of ends and values. Upon the basis of the position here taken, these differences are due to the fact that different types of problems demand different modes of inquiry for their solution, not to any ultimate division in existential subject-matter.
The subject-matter of science is stated in symbol-constellations that are radically unlike those familiar to common sense; in what, in effect, is a different language. Moreover, there is much highly technical material that has not been incorporated into common sense even by way of technological application in "material" affairs. In the region of highest importance to common sense, namely, that of moral, political, economic ideas and beliefs, and the methods of forming and confirming them, science has had even less effect. Conceptions and methods in the field of human relationships are in much the same state as were the beliefs and methods of common sense in relation to physical nature before the rise of experimental science. These considerations fix the meaning of the statement that the difference that now exists between common sense and science is a social, rather than a logical, matter. If the word "language" is used not just formally, but to include its content of substantial meanings, the difference is a difference of languages.
The problems of science demand a set of data and a system of meanings and symbols so differentiated that science cannot rightly be called "organized common sense." But it is a potential organ for organizing common sense in its dealing with its own subject- matter and problems and this potentiality is far from actualization. In the techniques which affect human use of the materials of physical nature in production, science has become a powerful agency of organization. As far as issues of enjoyment, of consumption, are concerned, it has taken little effect. Morals and the problems of social control are hardly touched. Beliefs, conceptions, customs and institutions, whose rise antedated the modern period, still have possession of the field. The union of this fact with the highly technical and remote language of science creates and maintains the feeling and idea of a complete gap. The paths of communication between common sense and science are as yet largely one-way lanes. Science takes its departure from common sense, but the return road into common sense is devious and blocked by existing social conditions.
In the things of greatest import there is little intercommunication. Pre-scientific ideas and beliefs in morals and politics are, moreover, so deeply ingrained in tradition and habit and institutions, that the impact of scientific method is feared as something profoundly hostile to mankind's dearest and deepest interests and values. On the side of philosophical formulation, highly influential schools of thought are devoted to maintaining the domain of values, ideas and ideals as something wholly apart from any possibility of application of scientific methods. Earlier philosophic conceptions of the necessary separation between reason and experience, theory and practice, higher and lower activities, are used to justify the necessity of the division.
With respect to the second point, that of a seeming fundamental difference due to the fact that common sense is profoundly teleological in its controlling ideas and methods while science is deliberately indifferent to teleology, it must be noted that in spite of the theoretical difference, physical science has, in practical fact, liberated and vastly extended the range of ends open to common sense and has enormously increased the range and power of the means available for attaining them. In ancient thought, ends were fixed by nature; departure from those ends that were antecedently set and fixed by the very nature of things, was impossible; the attempt to institute ends of human devising was taken to be the sure road to confusion and chaos. In the moral field, this conception still exists and is even probably dominant. But in respect to "material" affairs, it has been completely abandoned. Invention of new agencies and instruments create new ends; they create new consequences which stir men to form new purposes.
The original philosophical meaning of "ends" as fixed completions is almost forgotten. Instead of science eliminating ends and inquiries controlled by teleological considerations, it has, on the contrary, enormously freed and expanded activity and thought in telic matters. This effect is not a matter of opinion but of facts too obvious to be denied. The same sort of thing holds of the qualities with which common sense is inextricably concerned. Multitudes of new qualities have been brought into existence by the applications of physical science, and, what is even more important, our power to bring qualities within actual experience when we so desire, has been intensified almost beyond the possibility of estimate. Consider, as one instance alone, our powers with respect to qualities generated by light and electricity.
The foregoing survey is made for a double purpose. On the one hand the outstanding problem of our civilization is set by the fact that common sense in its content, its "world" and methods, is a house divided against itself. It consists in part, and that part the most vital, of regulative meanings and procedures that antedate the rise of experimental science in its conclusions and methods. In another part, it is what it is because of application of science. This cleavage marks every phase and aspect of modern life: religious, economic, political, legal, and even artistic.
The existence of this split is put in evidence by those who condemn the "modern" and who hold that the only solution of the chaos in civilization is to revert to the intellectual beliefs and methods that were authoritative in past ages, as well as by radicals and "revolutionaries." Between the two stand the multitude that is confused and insecure. It is for this reason that it is here affirmed that the basic problem of present culture and associated living is that of effecting integration where division now exists. The problem cannot be solved apart from a unified logical method of attack and procedure. The attainment of unified method means that the fundamental unity of the structure of inquiry in common sense and science be recognized, their difference being one in the problems with which they are directly concerned, not to their respective logics. It is not urged that attainment of a unified logic, a theory of inquiry, will resolve the split in our beliefs and procedures. But it is affirmed that it will not be resolved without it.
On the other hand, the problem of unification is one in and for logical theory itself. At the present time logics in vogue do not claim for the most part to be logics of inquiry. In the main, we are asked to take our choice between the traditional logic, which was formulated not only long before the rise of science but when also the content and methods of science were in radical opposition to those of present science, and the new purely "symbolistic logic" that recognizes only mathematics, and even at that is not so much concerned with methods of mathematics as with linguistic formulation of its results. The logic of science is not only separated from common sense, but the best that can be done is to speak of logic and scientific method as two different and independent matters. Logic in being "purified" from all experiential taint has become so formalistic that it applies only to itself.
The next chapter deals explicitly with the traditional logic as derived from Aristotle, with a view to showing (1) that of necessity the scientific conditions under which it was formulated are so different from those of existing knowledge that it has been transformed from what it originally was, a logic of knowledge, into a purely formal affair, and (2) that there is a necessity for a logical theory based upon scientific conclusions and methods. These are so unlike those of classic science that the need is not revision and extension of the old logic here and there, but a radically different standpoint and a different treatment to be carried through all logical subject matter.
THE NEEDED REFORM OF LOGIC
Difference in conception of Nature and Logic between the Greek and modern science.
I come now to the fundamental difference between the Greek conception of Nature as it is expressed in Aristotelian cosmology, ontology and logic, and the modern conception as that has been determined in the scientific revolution. The most evident point of difference concerns the entirely different position given to the qualitative and the quantitative in their relations to one another. It is not merely that classic cosmology and science were constituted in terms of qualities, beginning with the four qualitative elements, earth, air, fire and water (themselves constituted by combinations of the contraries wet-dry, cold-hot, heavy-light) , but that all quantitative determinations were relegated to the state of accidents, so that apprehension of them had no scientific standing. "Accident" is, of course, here a technical term. It does not imply that there is no cause for things existing in one amount rather than another, but that the cause is so external to the thing in question as not to be a ground or reason in knowledge.
The meaning of "accident" is determined by contrast with essence. That which is accidental is no part of essence and does not follow in any way from essence. Since the latter is the proper subject of knowledge, and since quantity (magnitude, amount) is wholly irrelevant to essence, consideration of it is outside the scope of knowledge in any grade except that of sense. As matter of sense it tends, moreover, to prevent ascent above sense to understanding. There was, therefore, on the basis of the Aristotelian theory of Nature and knowledge no point or purpose in making measurements except for lower "practical" ends. Quantity, the thing to be measured, fell wholly within the scope of more and less, fewer and greater, larger and smaller, or the changing. Measuring was useful to the artisan in dealing with physical things, but that very fact indicated the gulf which separated quantity and measuring from science and rationality. Observe by contrast the place occupied by measuring in modern knowledge. Is it then credible that the logic of Greek knowledge has relevance to the logic of modern knowledge?
Another closely connected difference is found in the fact that because of the qualitative nature of the subject-matter of knowledge in the Greek conception of Nature, heterogeneity was postulated, as a matter of course, where modern science postulates homogeneity, endeavoring to substitute homogeneity for qualitative diversity. The difference is illustrated in the contrast between the present theory of "chemical" elements and the four qualitative elements (five, including the etherial substance of the fixed stars). The most striking instance, however, is found in the conception of qualitatively different kinds of movement that controlled science until, say, the sixteenth century. Instead of motion as measured change of position in space occupying a measured amount of time, circular movement, to and fro, and up and down, movements were conceived to be qualitatively exclusive of one another. They marked substances of different natures occupying places of different values in the hierarchy of species; different ends or completions respectively controlled them. Earth comes down or falls by its nature and by the nature of its proper place; fire and light move up for a similar reason. Levity is as much an inherent quality as is gravity, and so with the "essences" of other modes of movement.
Because of the teleological principle that knowable change tends toward a limiting fixed end, all motion was thought to tend naturally to come to a state of rest. This notion controlled science till, say, the time of Galileo. Note in contrast the place of homogeneous motion in modern science, a homogeneity differentiated by angular direction, momentum and velocity, which are all capable of measurement. The difference cannot be dismissed as simply a difference in the details of subject-matter and without relevance for logic. Self-returning qualitative movement is at the heart of the classic conception of reason and rational subjects. Its qualitative difference from other kinds of movement is the criterion by which forms of knowledge are graded. In addition, the difference of scientific concern with measurement and magnitude is involved.
A third closely connected difference is found in the fact that modern science is concerned with institution of relations, while classic logic is based on a theory of nature which treated all relations — save that of inclusion and exclusion of species (which was not conceived to be a relation) as accidental, in the same sense in which quantity is accidental. To be related meant in the Aristotelian scheme to be dependent upon something outside itself. But this dependence was not generalized and regarded as forming the very structure of a scientific object. On the contrary, it was put in sharp opposition to the independence, self-sufficiency and self-activity of "subjects" (substances) that are the only objects of scientific and demonstrative knowledge. Now to be here and then to be somewhere else was dismissed once for all as the sign of inferior matter, while in modern science such a change sets the problems of scientific inquiry.
Taking both measurement and relations into account, it is not too much to say that what Greek science and logic rejected are now the head corner-stone of science — although not yet of the theory of logical forms. Contemporary logic has moved far enough to criticize the old logic form. To recognition, for example, of propositions of the subject (substance) -predicate form it has added relational propositions. This is a marked advance. But up to a certain point the addition has increased confusion in logical theory as a whole, since no consistency of theory can be attained as long as the theory of antecedent subjects given ready-made to predication is retained.
(Note: Some specific instances of this confusion will be pointed out later. The underlying logical point at issue is not the special Aristotelian conception of substance, but the idea that any kind of subject, such as "this" or a sense datum, can be given ready-made to predication. )
The next difference to be mentioned is found in the central place occupied by ends and teleology in Aristotelian logic. In converting that logic into a merely formal logic the teleological factor has disappeared. But teleology was so central in classic logic that it may be affirmed that with its disappearance, the reason for the Aristotelian logic has also vanished. Nothing is left but an empty shell; forms without subject-matter. In concluding this phase of the discussion I shall refer to the foundation of all the differences that have been mentioned — the reversed attitude of science toward change. Completion of the cycle of scientific reversal may be conveniently dated from the appearance of Darwin's Origin of Species. The very title of the book expresses a revolution in science, for the conception of biological species had been a conspicuous manifestation of the assumption of complete immutability. This conception had been banished before Darwin from every scientific subject save botany and zoology. But the latter had remained the bulwark of the old logic in scientific subject-matter.
When eternal essences and species are banished from scientific subject-matter, the forms that are appropriate to them have nothing left to which they apply; of necessity they are merely formal. They remain in historic fact as monuments of a culture and science that have disappeared, while in logic they remain as barren formalities to be formally manipulated. A striking illustration is afforded in the change that has taken place in the status of mathematics. In Greek logical theory, mathematics was an existential science. The discovery that the relation of the hypothenusc of a right-angled triangle whose other sides have the value of one is not numerically expressible, showed that magnitude and number as such are completely "irrational" or illogical. The fact that a ratio remained constant, no matter what the magnitude of the size and area of the triangle, together with the paradoxes of Zeno, helped to produce the doctrine of the "accidental" nature of quantity. It led to the notion that true number, as distinct from quantity, is geometrical in essence. For geometry was based on the conception of limiting measures, which determined the forms of objects in the sense of their configurations. The movement, represented at first in Cartesian algebraic geometry, that effected determination of all figures by formulae of generalized numerical coordinates was more than a new instrument of scientific analysis and record. It marked the beginning of the logical movement by which all mathematical propositions became formulae for dealing with possible objects, not descriptions of their existing properties — so that they are logically non-existential in their content, save when taken to prescribe operations of experimental observation.
The entire matter may be summed up by reference to the different conceptions of Nature that are involved respectively in ancient and modern science. In Greek science, Nature was a qualitative, a bounded and closed, whole. To know any special subject was to know it as a whole in its proper place in the comprehensively inclusive whole, Nature. It is not true that ancient science attempted to deduce knowledge of the included wholes from the conception of the final and complete whole. The notion that Greek science was deductive in this sense is a profound misapprehension. In the Greek scheme, knowledge consisted in placing each relative species, or whole, defined and identified by its own essence, in relation to other species within Nature as the final whole. The necessity of referring all special kinds and modes of knowledge to Nature as a closed whole explains why, in the classic conception, there could be no sharp distinction between science and philosophy. The subject-matter of modern natural science consists of changes formulated in correspondence with one another. This fact not only gives a radically different status to change but it radically affects the conception of Nature.
The formulation of correlated correspondences becomes more and more comprehensive in scope. But no scientist today would dream of setting up an all-inclusive formula for the universe as a whole. That job has been taken over by certain philosophic schools. The change in the conception of Nature is expressed in summary form in the idea that the universe is now conceived as open and in process while classical Greece thought of it as finite in the sense in which finite means finished, complete and perfect. The infinite was the indefinite in Greek science, and the indefinite, as such, could not be known.
It would be completely erroneous to regard the foregoing as a criticism of the Aristotelian logic in its original formulation in the common sense and the science of his day. The unification was effected in a way which is no longer possible. We can no longer take the contents and procedures of both common sense and science as inherently fixed, differing only in qualitative grade and rank in a qualitatively fixed hierarchy. The fixity of the contents and logical forms of both common sense and science in the Aristotelian scheme precluded the possibility of the reaction of science back into common sense and the possibility of the ever-continuing rise of new scientific problems and conceptions out of the material of common sense activities and materials. All that science could do was to accept what was given and established in common sense and formulate it in its relation to the fixed subjects of higher rational knowledge. The present need is for a unified logic that takes account of a two-way movement between common sense and science.
The common sense culture which was formulated was of a high order. As far as free citizens — those who freely shared in the culture — were concerned, it was dominated by esthetic and artistic categories of harmony, measure, proportion, objective design and wholeness. In addition, the leading conceptions of philosophic science were but translations into philosophic vocabulary of conceptions that dominate common sense in every period. ( 1 ) The category of substance is the reflection of the conception that things exist in stable form in the world — an idea not only familiar to, but basic in, all those common sense beliefs that have not been modified by the impact of modern science. These things are designated by the common nouns in general use. (2) The category of fixed species corresponds to common sense belief in natural kinds, some of which are inclusive of others, while some are exclusive. For common sense these natural kinds do not permit of transition from one to another nor of any overlapping. The evidence for the existence of fixed natural kinds and of substantial objects is over- whelming from the standpoint of ordinary common sense. (3) Common sense ideas, beliefs and judgments in every culture are controlled by teleological conceptions, by ends; in modern language, by considerations of value. (4) Common sense thinks of the world of things and social relations in terms which, when they are reflectively organized, become the doctrine of graded ranks or hierarchies. Distinctions of low and high, inferior and superior, base and noble, and all manner of similar qualitative opposites of value, are almost the stuff of common sense beliefs which have not been transformed by the impact of science. They seem to be guaranteed by the obviously perceived structures of both nature and human society.
When I say that the philosophic science, of which logical theory was an integral member, organized these and like beliefs and ideas of common sense, it is not meant that the former merely mirrored the latter. The very idea of reflective organization negates such a notion. Not only were implications of which common sense was unaware made explicit, but the framework of conceptions was vastly extended by investigations of subjects with which common sense held no commerce. Above all, the very fact of organization involved an ordered arrangement foreign to common sense. Common sense, for example, would hardly have entertained the idea that the philosopher-scientist was higher in rank as to his objects and activities than the general and the statesman; or that the happiness of the former was> of a godlike character in comparison with the happiness open to others. But none the less there were things involved in Athenian culture which, when they were put in ordered arrangement with one another, took the form of this conclusion.
We are brought back to the conclusions of the last chapter. The subject-matter and methods of modern science have no such direct affinity with those of common sense as existed when classic science and logic were formulated. Science is no longer an organization of meanings and modes of action that have their presence in the meanings and syntactical structures of ordinary language. Yet scientific conclusions and techniques have enormously altered the common sense relation of man to nature and to fellow-man. It can no longer be believed that they do not profoundly react to modify common sense, any more than it can now be supposed that they are but an intellectual organization of the latter.
Science has, however, affected the actual conditions under which men live, use, enjoy and suffer much more than (aside from material technologies) it has affected their habits of belief and inquiry. Especially is this true about the uses and enjoyments of final concern: religious, moral, legal, economic, political. The demand for reform of logic is the demand for a unified theory of inquiry through which the authentic pattern of experimental and operational inquiry of science shall become available for regulation of the habitual methods by which inquiries in the field of common sense are carried on; by which conclusions are reached and beliefs are formed and tested. In the next chapter the nature of this common pattern forms the theme of discussion.
The nature of the pattern of inquiry
The nature of the pattern of inquiry is a development out of certain aspects of the pattern of life-activities.
1. Environmental conditions and energies are inherent in inquiry as a special mode of organic behavior. Any account of inquiry that supposes the factors involved in it, say, doubt, belief, observed qualities and ideas, to be referable to an isolated organism (subject, self, mind) is bound to destroy all ties between inquiry as reflective thought and as scientific method. Such isolation logically entails a view of inquiry which renders absurd the idea that there is a necessary connection between inquiry and logical theory. But the absurdity rests upon the acceptance of an unexamined premise which is the product of a local "subjectivistic" phase of European philosophy. If what is designated by such terms as doubt, belief, idea, conception, is to have any objective meaning, to say nothing of public verifiability, it must be located and described as behavior in which organism and environment act together, or inter-act.
2. The structure and course of life-behavior has a definite pattern, spatial and temporal. This pattern definitely foreshadows the general pattern of inquiry. For inquiry grows out of an earlier state of settled adjustment, which, because of disturbance, is indeterminate or problematic (corresponding to the first phase of tensional activity), and then passes into inquiry proper, (corresponding to the searching and exploring activities of an organism); when the search is successful, belief or assertion is the counterpart, upon this level, of redintegration upon the organic level.
A detailed account of the pattern of inquiry is given in Chapter VI. But the following considerations flow so directly from the pattern of life-behavior that they should be noted here:
a. There is no inquiry that does not involve the making of some change in environing conditions. This fact is exemplified in the indispensable place of experiment in inquiry, since experimentation is deliberate modification of prior conditions. Even in the pre-scientific stage, an individual moves head, eyes, often the entire body, in order to determine the conditions to be taken account of in forming a judgment; such movements effect a change in environmental relations. Active pressure by touch, the acts of pushing, pulling, pounding and manipulating to find out what things "are like" is an even more overt approach to scientific experimentation.
b. The pattern is serial or sequential. This trait of life-behavior becomes more marked with the emergence of distance-receptors and of the neural apparatus necessary for coordinating their excitation with contact-receptors and with the muscular, circulatory and respiratory mechanisms which are involved in behavior. In the human organism, organic retention (or habit-patterns) give rise to recollection. Goals or consequences that are even more remote in time and space are then set up and the intervening process of search becomes more seriated in temporal span and in connecting links than in the case of the simple presence of distance-stimuli. Formation of an end-in-view, or consequence to be brought about, is conditioned by recollection; it requires making plans in conjunction with selection and ordering of the consecutive means by which the plan may become an actuality.
c. The serially connected processes and operations by means of which a consummatory close is brought into being are, by description, intermediate and instrumental. This distinctive characteristic prefigures, on the biological level, the interpretation that must be given, upon the level of inquiry, to operations of inference and discourse in their relation to final judgment as the consummation of inquiry.
d. The basic importance of the serial relation in logic is rooted in the conditions of life itself. Modification of both organic and environmental energies is involved in life-activity. This organic fact foreshadows learning and discovery, with the consequent out- growth of new needs and new problematic situations. Inquiry, in settling the disturbed relation of organism-environment (which defines doubt) does not merely remove doubt by recurrence to a prior adaptive integration. It institutes new environing conditions that occasion new problems. What the organism learns during this process produces new powers that make new demands upon the environment. In short, as special problems are resolved, new ones tend to emerge. There is no such thing as a final settlement, because every settlement introduces the conditions of some degree of a new unsettling. In the stage of development marked by the emergence of science, deliberate institution of problems becomes an objective of inquiry. Philosophy, in case it has not lost touch with science, may play an important role in determining formulation of these problems and in suggesting hypothetical solutions. But the moment philosophy supposes it can find a final and com- prehensive solution, it ceases to be inquiry and becomes either apologetics or propaganda.
e. From the postulate of naturalistic continuity, with its prime corollary that inquiry is a development out of organic-environ- mental integration and interaction, something follows regarding the relation of psychology and logic. The negative side of this conclusion has already been suggested. The assumptions of “mentalistic" psychology have no place in logical theory. The divorce between logic and scientific methodology, discussed in the previous chapter, has its basis largely in the belief that since inquiry involves doubt, suggestion, observation, conjecture, sagacious discernment, etc., and since it is assumed that all these things are "mentalistic," there is a gulf between inquiry (or reflective thinking) and logic.
Given the assumption, the conclusion is just. But the recognition of the natural continuity of inquiry with organic behavior — the fact that it is a developed mode of such behavior — destroys the assumption. The student of intellectual history is aware of how the new scientific standpoint of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries succeeded in setting up a gulf between the mental and the physical. The former was supposed to constitute a domain of existence of psychical "stuff" marked by processes totally unlike those of the external world which confronted "mind." The older Greek conception that the difference was one in the type of organization of common materials and processes, was lost from view. Psychology and epistemology accepted complete dualism, the "bifurcation" of nature, and the theory of thought and ideas was wrought into conformity with the dualistic assumption.
On the positive side, psychology is itself a special branch of inquiry. In general, it bears the same relation to the theory of logical inquiry that is sustained by physics or chemistry. Bur as It is more directly concerned with the focal center of initiation and execution of inquiry than are these other sciences, it may, if employed as servant and not as master of logic, make a contribution to logical theory which they cannot make". Personally, as has just been said, I doubt the existence of anything "mental" in the doctrinal sense alleged. But it is not necessary to go into that question, for, as was stated, if there is anything of this kind it is irrelevant to the theory of inquiry. Moreover, any investigation into it must itself be an inquiry that satisfies the logical conditions of all inquiry. Nevertheless, whatever throws any light upon the organic conditions and processes that are involved in the occurrence and conduct of inquiry (as a sound biological psychology cannot fail to do) can hardly fail to make valuable contributions to the results of inquiry into inquiry.
The points that have been made may be gathered together by consideration of the current meaning of "experience," especially in connection with the intensified ambiguity, due to historical changes, that is attached to "empirical." Experience has a favorable or honorific use, as when it is said that a certain conclusion or theory is experientially verified, and is thereby marked off from a wild fancy, a happy guess and from a merely theoretical construction. On the other hand, because of the influence of psychological epistemology of a subjective, private type, "experience" has been limited to conscious states and processes. The contrast of the two meanings is radical. When it is said that certain conclusions are experientially or empirically confirmed, a scientist means anything but that they rest upon mental and personal states of mind. Again, the word "empirical" is often set in opposition to the rational, and this opposition adds to the confusion. The early meaning of "empirical" limited the application of the word to conclusions that rest upon an accumulation of past experiences to exclusion of in- sight into principles.
Thus a medical practitioner may have skill in recognizing the symptoms of disease and skill in their treatment because of repeated past observations and customary modes of treatment, without understanding the etiology of disease and the reasons for the kind of treatment employed. The same thing holds of the skills of many mechanics and artisans. "Empirical" in this sense describes an actual fact and is justly distinguished from "rational" activity, meaning, by that word, conduct grounded in understanding of principles. But it is evident that when a scientific conclusion is said to be empirically established, no such exclusion of rationality or reasoning is intended or involved. On the contrary, every conclusion scientifically reached as to matters of fact involves reasoning with and from principles, usually mathematically expressed. To say, then, that it is empirically established is to say the opposite of what is said when "empirical" means only observations and habitual response to what is observed. The conversion of a justifiable distinction between empirical as defined in terms of the knowledge and action of artisans and rational as defined in terms of scientific understanding, into something absolute which sets every mode of experience in opposition to reason and the rational, depends accordingly, upon an arbitrary preconception as to what experience and its limits must be. Unfortunately, this arbitrary limitation still operates, as in many interpretations of the distinction between, say, temporal and eternal objects, perception and conception, and, more generally, matter and form.
It may be added that the honorific use of "experience" when it first appeared was undoubtedly overweighted upon the side of observation, as in the case of Bacon and Locke. This overweight
is readily accounted for as a historic occurrence. For the classic tradition had degenerated into a form in which it was supposed that beliefs about matters of fact could and should be reached by reasoning alone; save as they were established by authority. Opposition to this extreme view evoked an equally one-sided notion that mere sense-perception could satisfactorily determine beliefs about matters of fact. It led in Bacon, as later in Mill, to a neglect of the role of mathematics in scientific inquiry, and in Locke to a pretty sharp division between knowledge of matters of fact and of relations between ideas. The latter, moreover, rested finally according to him upon sheer observation, "internal" or "external." The final outcome was a doctrine that reduced "experience" to "sensations" as the constituents of all observation, and "thought" to external associations among these elements, both sensations and associations being supposed to be merely mental or psychical.
The problem of the relation between material that is observed and subject-matter that is conceived or thought of is a real one, especially in respect to its logical equivalents. But the solution of the problem should not be compromised at the outset by a statement of it in terms of a fixed and absolute distinction between the experiential and the rational. Such a statement implies that there is no logical problem, but a separation absolutely and immediately given. Justification cannot be given at this stage of the discussion for the belief that, in a proper conception of experience, inference, reasoning and conceptual structures are as experiential as is observation, and that the fixed separation between the former and the latter has no warrant beyond an episode in the history of culture. Upon the basis of the naturalistic position here taken, there is a problem, which takes the following form: How does it come about that the development of organic behavior into controlled inquiry brings about the differentiation and cooperation of observational and conceptual operations?
The discussion of language and linguistic symbols in the following chapter lays the basis for an answer. But it must be repeated that adherence to a tradition that was formed before modern scientific inquiry (including the biological) had arisen or been subjected to independent analysis, should not be permitted to convert a problem that holds for all schools alike, into an alleged ready-made solution. For such a solution prevents the problem from being seen as a problem. Finally, while the position here taken implies that logic is empirical in that its subject-matter consists of inquiries that are publicly accessible and open to observation, it is not empirical in the sense in which Mill, for example, developed the ideas of Locke and Hume. It is experiential in the same way in which the subject-matter and conclusions of any natural science are empirical: experiential in the way any natural science is experiential, that is, as distinct from the merely speculative and from the a priori and intuitional.
I close with a reference to a predicament in which both organic behavior and deliberate inquiry are caught. There always exists a discrepancy between means that are employed and consequences that ensue; sometimes this discrepancy is so serious that its result is what we call mistake and error. The discrepancy exists because the means used, the organs and habits of biological behavior and the organs and conceptions employed in deliberate inquiry, must be present and actual, while consequences to be attained are future. Present actual means are the result of past conditions and past activities. They operate successfully, or "rightly," in (1) the degree in which existing environing conditions are very similar to those which contributed in the past to formation of the habits, and (2) in the degree in which habits retain enough flexibility to readapt themselves easily to new conditions. The latter condition is not readily fulfilled by lower organisms; when it is fulfilled a case of "evolution" occurs. The potential conditions for its fulfilment are present in the activities of human beings in much larger measure. But the inertial phase of habit is strong, and, so far as it is yielded to, human beings continue to live upon a relatively animal plane. Even the history of science has been marked by epochs in which observation and reflection have operated only within a predetermined conceptual framework — an example of the inertia-phase of habit. That the only way to avoid and avert the mistakes of this fixation is by recognition of the provisional and conditional nature (as respects any inquiry in process) of the facts that enter into it, and the hypothetical nature of the conceptions and theories employed, is a relatively late discovery. The meaning of the discovery has hardly penetrated yet into inquiry about the subjects of the greatest practical importance to man, religion, politics and morals.
The recognition of what Peirce called "fallibilism" in distinction from "infallibilism" is something more than a prudential maxim. It results of necessity from the possibility and probability of a discrepancy between means available for use and consequences that follow; between past and future conditions, not from mere weakness of mortal powers. Because we live in a world in process, the future, although continuous with the past, is not its bare repetition. The principle applies with peculiar force to inquiry about inquiry, including, needless to say, the inquiry presented in this treatise. The very words which must be used are words that have had their meanings fixed in the past to express ideas that arc unlike those which they must now convey if they are to express what is intended. To those who are naturalistically inclined, the attendant "fallibility" will be but a spur to do better the work which this volume attempts to do. The present volume is an approach not a closed treatise. The aim it hopes to fulfil is that of being a sufficiently coherent and systematic approach to move others to undertake the long cooperative work (never-ending in any case as long as inquiry continues) needed to test and fill ithe framework which is outlined in this book.
The important matter is that those who reject the doctrine of the intervention of some supernatural agency should not be led, by the fact that it is not customary to introduce biological considerations into the discussion of logical theory, to dismiss the chapter as irrelevant. Those who believe in such intervention have ground for belief in an a priori Reason upon which logical f onus and principles depend; they are precommitted to belief in the irrelevancy of all considerations of the order of those here presented. But any thoroughgoing naturalist is equally committed by the logic of his position to belief in continuity of development, with its corrollary of community of factors in the respective patterns of logical and biological forms and procedures.
THE PATTERN OF INQUIRY
The fact that new formal properties accrue to subject-matter in virtue of its subjection to certain types of operation is familiar to us in certain fields, even though the idea corresponding to this fact is unfamiliar in logic. Two outstanding instances are provided by art and law. In music, the dance, painting, sculpture, literature and the other fine arts, subject-matters of everyday experience are transformed by the development of forms which render certain products of doing and making objects of fine art. The materials of legal regulations are transactions occurring in the ordinary activities of human beings and groups of human beings; transactions of a sort that are engaged in apart from law. As certain aspects and phases of these transactions are legally formalized, conceptions such as misdemeanor, crime, torts, contracts and so on arise. These formal conceptions arise out of the ordinary trans- actions; they are not imposed upon them from on high or from any external and a priori source. But when they are formed they are also formative; they regulate the proper conduct of the activities out of which they develop.
All of these formal legal conceptions are operational in nature. They formulate and define ways of operation on the part of those engaged in the transactions into which a number of persons or groups enter as "parties," and the ways of operation followed by those who have jurisdiction in deciding whether established forms have been complied with, together with the existential consequences of failure of observation. The forms in question are not fixed and eternal. They change, though as a rule too slowly, with changes in the habitual transactions in which individuals and groups engage and the changes that occur in the consequences of these transactions. However hypothetical may be the conception that logical forms accrue to existential materials in virtue of the control exercised over inquiries in order that they may fulfil their end, the conception is descriptive of something that verifiably exists. The development of forms in consequence of operations is an established fact in some fields; it is not invented ad hoc in relation to logical forms.
The existence of inquiries is not a matter of doubt. They enter into every area of life and into every aspect of every area. In everyday living, men examine; they turn things over intellectually; they infer and judge as "naturally" as they reap and sow, produce and exchange commodities. As a mode of conduct, inquiry is as accessible to objective study as are these other modes of behavior.
Because of the intimate and decisive way in which inquiry and its conclusions enter into the management of all affairs of life, no study of the latter is adequate save as it is noted how they are affected by the methods and instruments of inquiry that currently obtain. Quite apart, then, from the particular hypothesis about logical forms that is put forth, study of the objective facts of inquiry is a matter of tremendous import, practically and intellectually. These materials provide the theory of logical forms with a subject-matter that is not only objective but is objective in a fashion that enables logic to avoid the three mistakes most characteristic of its history.
1. In virtue of its concern with objectively observable subject-matter by reference to which reflective conclusions can be tried and tested, dependence upon subjective and "mentalistic" states and processes is eliminated.
2. The distinctive existence and nature of forms is acknowledged. Logic is not compelled, as historic "empirical" logic felt compelled to do, to reduce logical forms to mere transcripts of the empirical materials that antecede the existence of the former. Just as art-forms and legal forms are capable of independent discussion and development, so are logical forms, even though the "in- dependence" in question is intermediate, not final and complete. As in the case of these other forms, they originate out of experiential material, and when constituted introduce new ways of operating with prior materials, which ways modify the material out of which they develop.
3. Logical theory is liberated from the unobservable, transcendental and "intuitional."
When methods and results of inquiry are studied as objective data, the distinction that has often been drawn between noting and reporting the ways in which men do think, and prescribing the ways in which they ought to think, takes on a very different interpretation from that usually given. The usual interpretation is in terms of the difference between the psychological and the logical, the latter consisting of "norms" provided from some source wholly outside of and independent of "experience."
The way in which men do "think" denotes, as it is here interpreted, simply the ways in which men at a given time carry on their inquiries. So far as it is used to register a difference from the ways in which they ought to think, it denotes a difference like that between good and bad farming or good and bad medical practice. Men think in ways they should not when they follow methods of inquiry that experience of past inquiries shows are not competent to reach the intended end of the inquiries in question.
Everybody knows that today there are in vogue methods of farming generally followed in the past which compare very un- favorably in their results with those obtained by practices that have already been introduced and tested. When an expert tells a farmer he should do thus and so, he is not setting up for a bad farmer an ideal drawn from the blue. He is instructing him in methods that have been tried and that have proved successful in procuring results. In a similar way we are able to contrast various kinds of inquiry that are in use or that have been used in respect to their economy and efficiency in reaching warranted conclusions. We know that some methods of inquiry are better than others in just the same way in which we know that some methods of surgery, farming, road-making, navigating or what-not are better than others. It does not follow in any of these cases that the "better" methods are ideally perfect, or that they are regulative or "normative" because of conformity to some absolute form. They are the methods which experience up to the present time shows to be the best methods available for achieving certain results, while abstraction of these methods does supply a (relative) norm or standard for further undertakings.
The search for the pattern of inquiry is, accordingly, not one instituted in the dark or at large. It is checked and controlled by knowledge of the kinds of inquiry that have and that have not worked; methods which, as was pointed out earlier, can be so compared as to yield reasoned or rational conclusions. For, through comparison-contrast, we ascertain how and why certain means and agencies have provided warrantably assertible conclusions, while others have not and cannot do so in the sense in which "cannot" expresses an intrinsic incompatibility between means used and consequences attained.
We may now ask: What is the definition of Inquiry? That is, what is the most highly generalized conception of inquiry which can be justifiably formulated? The definition that will be expanded, directly in the present chapter and indirectly in the following chapters, is as follows: Inquiry is the controlled or directed transformation of an indeterminate situation into one that is so de- terminate in its constituent distinctions and relations as to convert the elements of the original situation into a unified whole.
The original indeterminate situation is not only "open" to inquiry, but it is open in the sense that its constituents do not hang together. The determinate situation on the other hand, qua outcome of inquiry, is a closed and, as it were, finished situation or "universe of experience." "Controlled or directed" in the above formula refers to the fact that inquiry is competent in any given case in the degree in which the operations involved in it actually do terminate in the establishment of an objectively unified existential situation. In the intermediate course of transition and trans- formation of the indeterminate situation, discourse through use of symbols is employed as means. In received logical terminology, propositions, or terms and the relations between them, are intrinsically involved.
I. The Antecedent Conditions of Inquiry: The Indeterminate Situation.
Inquiry and questioning, up to a certain point, are synonymous terms. We inquire when we question; and we inquire when we seek for whatever will provide an answer to a question asked. Thus it is of the very nature of the indeterminate situation which evokes inquiry to be questionable; or, in terms of actuality instead of potentiality, to be uncertain, unsettled, disturbed.
The peculiar quality of what pervades the given materials, constituting them a situation, is not just uncertainty at large; it is a unique doubtfulness which makes that situation to be just and only the situation it is. It is this unique quality that not only evokes the particular inquiry engaged in but that exercises control over its special procedures. Otherwise, one procedure in inquiry would be as likely to occur and to be effective as any other.
Unless a situation is uniquely qualified in its very indeterminateness, there is a condition of complete panic; response to it takes the form of blind and wild overt activities. Stating the matter from the personal side, we have "lost our heads."
A variety of names serves to characterize indeterminate situations. They are disturbed, troubled, ambiguous, confused, full of conflicting tendencies, obscure, etc.
It is the situation that has these traits. We are doubtful because the situation is inherently doubtful. Personal states of doubt that are not evoked by and are not relative to some existential situation are pathological; when they are extreme they constitute the mania of doubting.
Consequently, situations that are disturbed and troubled, confused or obscure, cannot be straightened out, cleared up and put in order, by manipulation of our personal states of mind. The attempt to settle them by such manipulations involves what psychiatrists call "withdrawal from reality." Such an attempt is pathological as far as it goes, and when it goes far it is the source of some form of actual insanity.
The habit of disposing of the doubtful as if it belonged only to us rather than to the existential situation in which we are caught and implicated is an inheritance from subjectivistic psychology.
The biological antecedent conditions of an unsettled situation are involved in that state of imbalance in organic-environmental interactions which has already been described. Restoration of integration can be effected, in one case as in the other, only by operations which actually modify existing conditions, not by merely "mental" processes.
It is, accordingly, a mistake to suppose that a situation is doubtful only in a "subjective" sense. The notion that in actual existence everything is completely determinate has been rendered questionable by the progress of physical science itself. Even if it had not been, complete determination would not hold of existences as an environment. For Nature is an environment only as it is involved in interaction with an organism, or self, or whatever name be used.
Every such interaction is a temporal process, not a momentary cross-sectional occurrence. The situation in which it occurs is in- determinate, therefore, with respect to its issue.
If we call it confused, then it is meant that its outcome cannot be anticipated. It is called obscure when its course of movement permits of final consequences that cannot be clearly made out. It is called conflicting when it tends to evoke discordant responses.
Even were existential conditions unqualifiedly determinate in and of themselves, they are indeterminate in significance: that is, in what they import and portend in their interaction with the organism. The organic responses that enter into the production of the state of affairs that is temporally later and sequential are just as existential as are environing conditions.
The immediate locus of the problem concerns, then, what kind of responses the organism shall make. It concerns the interaction of organic responses and environing conditions in their movement toward an existential issue. It is a commonplace that in any troubled state of affairs things will come out differently according to what is done.
The farmer won't get grain unless he plants and tills; the general will win or lose the battle according to the way he conducts it, and so on. Neither the grain nor the tilling, neither the outcome of the battle nor the conduct of it, are "mental" events.
Organic interaction becomes inquiry when existential consequences are anticipated; when environing conditions are examined with reference to their potentialities; and when responsive activities are selected and ordered with reference to actualization of some of the potentialities, rather than others, in a final existential situation. Resolution of the indeterminate situation is active and operational. If the inquiry is adequately directed, the final issue is the unified situation that has been mentioned.
II. Institution of a Problem.
The unsettled or indeterminate situation might have been called a problematic situation. This name would have been, however, proleptic and anticipatory. The indeterminate situation becomes problematic in the very process of being subjected to inquiry. The indeterminate situation comes into existence from existential causes, just as does, say, the organic imbalance of hunger. There is nothing intellectual or cognitive in the existence of such situations, although they are the necessary condition of cognitive operations or inquiry. In themselves they are precognitive. The first result of evocation of inquiry is that the situation is taken, adjudged, to be problematic. To see that a situation requires inquiry is the initial step in inquiry.
(Note: If by "two- valued logic" is meant a logic that regards "true and false" as the sole logical values, then such a logic is necessarily so truncated that clearness and consistency in logical doctrine are impossible. Being the matter of a problem is a primary logical property.
Qualification of a situation as problematic does not, however, carry inquiry far. It is but an initial step in institution of a problem. A problem is not a task to be performed which a person puts upon himself or that is placed upon him by others — like a so-called arithmetical "problem" in school work. A problem represents the partial transformation by inquiry of a problematic situation into a determinate situation. It is a familiar and significant saying that a problem well put is half-solved.
To find out what the problem and problems are which a problematic situation presents to be inquired into, is to be well along in inquiry. To mistake the problem involved is to cause subsequent inquiry to be irrelevant or to go astray. Without a problem, there is blind groping in the dark. The way in which the problem is conceived decides what specific suggestions are entertained and which are dismissed; what data are selected and which rejected; it is the criterion for relevancy and irrelevancy of hypotheses and conceptual structures.
On the other hand, to set up a problem that does not grow out of an actual situation is to start on a course of dead work, nonetheless dead because the work is "busy work." Problems that are self -set are mere excuses for seeming to do something intellectual, something that has the semblance but not the substance of scientific activity.
III. The Determination of a Problem-Solution.
Statement of a problematic situation in terms of a problem has no meaning save as the problem instituted has, in the very terms of its statement, reference to a possible solution. Just because a problem well stated is on its way to solution, the determining of a genuine problem is a progressive inquiry; the cases in which a problem and its probable solution flash upon an inquirer are cases where much prior ingestion and digestion have occurred. If we assume, prematurely, that the problem involved is definite and clear, subsequent inquiry proceeds on the wrong track. Hence the question arises: How is the formation of a genuine problem so controlled that further inquiries will move toward a solution?
The first step in answering this question is to recognize that no situation which is completely indeterminate can possibly be converted into a problem having definite constituents. The first step then is to search out the constituents of a given situation which, as constituents, are settled.
When an alarm of fire is sounded in a crowded assembly hall, there is much that is indeterminate as regards the activities that may produce a favorable issue. One may get out safely or one may be trampled and burned. The fire is characterized, however, by some settled traits. It is, for example, located somewhere. Then the aisles and exits are at fixed places. Since they are settled or determinate in existence, the first step in institution of a problem is to settle them in observation. There are other factors which, while they are not as temporally and spatially fixed, are yet observable constituents; for example, the behavior and movements of other members of the audience. All of these observed conditions taken together constitute "the facts of the case." They constitute the terms of the problem, because they are conditions that must be reckoned with or taken account of in any relevant solution that is proposed.
A possible relevant solution is then suggested by the determination of factual conditions which are secured by observation. The possible solution presents itself, therefore, as an idea, just as the terms of the problem (which are facts) are instituted by observation.
Ideas are anticipated consequences (forecasts) of what will happen when certain operations are executed under and with respect to observed conditions. Observation of facts and suggested meanings or ideas arise and develop in correspondence with each other. The more the facts of the case come to light in consequence of being subjected to observation, the clearer and more pertinent become the conceptions of the way the problem constituted by these facts is to be dealt with. On the other side, the clearer the idea, the more definite, as a truism, become the operations of observation and of execution that must be performed in order to resolve the situation.
(Note: The theory of ideas that has been held in psychology and epistemology since the time of Locke's successors is completely irrelevant and obstructive in logical theory. For in treating them as copies of perceptions or "impressions," it ignores the prospective and anticipatory character that defines being an idea. Failure to define ideas functionally, in the reference they have to a solution of a problem, is one reason they have been treated as merely "mental." The notion, on the other hand, that ideas are fantasies is a derivative. Fantasies arise when the function an idea performs is ruled out when it is entertained and developed.)
An idea is first of all an anticipation of something that may happen; it marks a possibility. When it is said, as it sometimes is, that science is prediction, the anticipation that constitutes every idea an idea is grounded in a set of controlled observations and of regulated conceptual ways of interpreting them.
Because inquiry is a progressive determination of a problem and its possible solution, ideas differ in grade according to the stage of inquiry reached. At first, save in highly familiar matters, they are vague. They occur at first simply as suggestions; suggestions just spring up, flash upon us, occur to us. They may then become stimuli to direct an overt activity but they have as yet no logical status.
Every idea originates as a suggestion, but not every suggestion is an idea. The suggestion becomes an idea when it is examined with reference to its functional fitness; its capacity as a means of resolving the given situation.
This examination takes the form of reasoning, as a result of which we are able to appraise better than we were at the outset, the pertinency and weight of the meaning now entertained with respect to its functional capacity. But the final test of its possession of these properties is determined when it actually functions — that is, when it is put into operation so as to institute by means of observations facts not previously observed, and is then used to organize them with other facts into a coherent whole.
Because suggestions and ideas are of that which is not present in given existence, the meanings which they involve must be embodied in some symbol. Without some kind of symbol no idea; a meaning that is completely disembodied can not be entertained or used.
Since an existence (which is an existence) is the support and vehicle of a meaning and is a symbol instead of a merely physical existence only in this respect, embodied meanings or ideas are capable of objective survey and development. To "look at an idea" is not a mere literary figure of speech.
"Suggestions" have received scant courtesy in logical theory. It is true that when they just "pop into our heads," because of the workings of the psycho-physical organism, they are not logical. But they are both the conditions and the primary stuff of logical ideas.
The traditional empiristic theory reduced them, as has already been pointed out, to mental copies of physical things and assumed that they were per se identical with ideas. Consequently it ignored the function of ideas in directing observation and in ascertaining relevant facts.
The rationalistic school, on the other hand, saw clearly that "facts'' apart from ideas are trivial, that they acquire import and significance only in relation to ideas. But at the same time it failed to attend to the operative and functional nature of the latter. Hence, it treated ideas as equivalent to the ultimate structure of "Reality."
The Kantian formula that apart from each other "perceptions are blind and conceptions empty" marks a profound logical insight. The insight, however, was radically distorted because perceptual and conceptual contents were supposed to originate from different sources and thus required a third activity, that of synthetic understanding, to bring them together.
In logical fact, perceptual and conceptual materials are instituted in functional correlativity with each other, in such a manner that the former locates and describes the problem while the latter represents a possible method of solution. Both are determinations in and by inquiry of the original problematic situation whose pervasive quality controls their institution and their contents. Both are finally checked by their capacity to work together to introduce a resolved unified situation. As distinctions they represent logical divisions of labor.
The necessity of developing the meaning- contents of ideas in their relations to one another has been incidentally noted. This process, operating with symbols (constituting propositions) is reasoning in the sense of ratiocination or rational discourse. (Note: "Reasoning" is sometimes used to designate inference as well as ratiocination. When so used in logic the tendency is to identify inference and implication and thereby seriously to confuse logical theory.)
When a suggested meaning is immediately accepted, inquiry is cut short. Hence the conclusion reached is not grounded, even if it happens to be correct.
The check upon immediate acceptance is the examination of the meaning as a meaning. This examination consists in noting what the meaning in question implies in relation to other meanings in the system of which it is a member, the formulated relation constituting a proposition. If such and such a relation of meanings is accepted, then we are committed to such and such other relations of meanings because of their membership in the same system. Through a series of intermediate meanings, a meaning is finally reached which is more clearly relevant to the problem in hand than the originally suggested idea.
It indicates operations which can be performed to test its applicability, whereas the original idea is usually too vague to determine crucial operations. In other words, the idea or meaning when developed in discourse directs the activities which, when executed, provide needed evidential material.
The point made can be most readily appreciated in connection with scientific reasoning.
An hypothesis, once suggested and entertained, is developed in relation to other conceptual structures until it receives a form in which it can instigate and direct an experiment that will disclose precisely those conditions which have the maximum possible force in determining whether the hypothesis should be accepted or rejected.
Or it may be that the experiment will indicate what modifications are required in the hypothesis so that it may be applicable, i.e., suited to interpret and organize the facts of the case.
In many familiar situations, the meaning that is most relevant has been settled because of the eventuations of experiments in prior cases so that it is applicable almost immediately upon its occurrence.
But, indirectly, if not directly, an idea or suggestion that is not developed in terms of the constellation of meanings to which it belongs can lead only to overt response. Since the latter terminates inquiry, there is then no adequate inquiry into the meaning that is used to settle the given situation, and the conclusion is in so far logically ungrounded.
V. The Operational Character of Facts-Meanings.
It was stated that the observed facts of the case and the ideational contents expressed in ideas are related to each other, as, respectively, a clarification of the problem involved and the proposal of some possible solution; that they are, accordingly, functional divisions in the work of inquiry. Observed facts in their office of locating and describing the problem are existential; ideational subject- matter is non-existential. How, then, do they cooperate with each other in the resolution of an existential situation?
The problem is insoluble save as it is recognized that both observed facts and entertained ideas are operational. Ideas are operational in that they instigate and direct further operations of observation; they are proposals and plans for acting upon existing conditions to bring new facts to light and to organize all the selected facts into a coherent whole.
What is meant by calling facts operational?
Upon the negative side what is meant is that they are not self-sufficient and complete in themselves.
They are selected and described, as we have seen, for a purpose, namely statement of the problem involved in such a way that its material both indicates a meaning relevant to resolution of the difficulty and serves to test its worth and validity.
In regulated inquiry facts are selected and arranged with the express intent of fulfilling this office. They are not merely results of operations of observation which are executed with the aid of bodily organs and auxiliary instruments of art, but they are the particular facts and kinds of facts that will link up with one another in the definite ways that are required to produce a definite end. Those not found to connect with others in furtherance of this end are dropped and others are sought for. ,br>
Being functional, they are necessarily operational. Their function is to serve as evidence and their evidential quality is judged on the basis of their capacity to form an ordered whole in response to operations prescribed by the ideas they occasion and support. If "the facts of the case" were final and complete in themselves, if they did not have a special operative force in resolution of the problematic situation, they could not serve as evidence.
The operative force of facts is apparent when we consider that no fact in isolation has evidential potency.
Facts are evidential and are tests of an idea in so far as they are capable of being organized with one another. The organization can be achieved only as they interact with one another.
When the problematic situation is such as to require extensive inquiries to effect its resolution, a series of interactions intervenes. Some observed facts point to an idea that stands for a possible solution. This idea evokes more observations.
Some of the newly observed facts link up with those previously observed and are such as to rule out other observed things with respect to their evidential function. The new order of facts suggests a modified idea (or hypothesis) which occasions new observations whose result again determines a new order of facts, and so on until the existing order is both unified and complete.
In the course of this serial process, the ideas that represent possible solutions are tested or "proved."
Meantime, the orders of fact, which present themselves in consequence of the experimental observations the ideas call out and direct, are trial facts. They are provisional. They are "facts" if they are observed by sound organs and techniques. But they are not on that account the facts of the case.
They are tested or "proved" with respect to their evidential function just as much as ideas (hypotheses) are tested with reference to their power to exercise the function of resolution. The operative force of both ideas and facts is thus practically recognized in the degree in which they are connected with experiment. Naming them "operational" is but a theoretical recognition of what is involved when inquiry satisfies the conditions imposed by the necessity for experiment.
I recur, in this connection, to what has been said about the necessity for symbols in inquiry.
It is obvious, on the face of matters, that a possible mode of solution must be earned in symbolic form since it is a possibility, not an assured present existence.
Observed facts, on the other hand, are existentially present. It might seem therefore, that symbols are not required for referring to them.
But if they are not carried and treated by means of symbols, they lose their provisional character, and in losing this character they are categorically asserted and inquiry comes to an end.
The carrying on of inquiry requires that the facts be taken as representative and not just as pre-sented. This demand is met by formulating them in propositions — that is, by means of symbols. Unless they are so represented they relapse into the total qualitative situation.
VI. Common Sense and Scientific Inquiry.
The discussion up to this point has proceeded in general terms which recognizes no distinction between common sense and scientific inquiry. We have now reached a point where the community of pattern in these two distinctive modes of inquiry should receive explicit attention. It was said in earlier chapters that the difference between them resides in their respective subject-matters, not in their basic logical forms and relations; that the difference in subject-matters is due to the difference in the problems respectively involved; and, finally, that this difference sets up a difference in the ends or objective consequences they are concerned to achieve.
Because common sense problems and inquiries have to do with the interactions into which living creatures enter in connection with environing conditions in order to establish objects of use and enjoyment, the symbols employed are those which have been determined in the habitual culture of a group. They form a system but the system is practical rather than intellectual. It is constituted by the traditions, occupations, techniques, interests, and established institutions of the group. The meanings that compose it are carried in the common everyday language of communication between members of the group. The meanings involved in this common language system determine what individuals of the group may and may not do in relation to physical objects and in relations to one another. They regulate what can be used and enjoyed and how use and enjoyment shall occur.
Because the symbol-meaning systems involved are connected directly with cultural life-activities and are related to each other in virtue of this connection, the specific meanings which are present have reference to the specific and limited environing conditions under which the group lives. Only those things of the environment that are taken, according to custom and tradition, as having connection with and bearing upon this life, enter into the meaning system.
There is no such thing as disinterested intellectual concern with either physical or social matters. For, until the rise of science, there were no problems of common sense that called for such inquiry.
Disinterestedness existed practically in the demand that group interests and concerns be put above private needs and interests. But there was no intellectual disinterestedness beyond the activities, interests and concerns of the group. In other words, there was no science as such, although, as was earlier pointed out, there did exist information and techniques which were available for the purposes of scientific inquiry and out of which the latter subsequently grew.
In scientific inquiry, then, meanings are related to one another on the ground of their character as meanings, freed from direct reference to the concerns of a limited group.
Their intellectual abstractness is a product of this liberation, just as the "concrete" is practically identified by directness of connection with environmental interactions. Consequently a new language, a new system of symbols related together on a new basis, conies into existence, and in this new language semantic coherence, as such, is the controlling consideration. To repeat what has already been said, connection with problems of use and enjoyment is the source of the dominant role of qualities, sensible and moral, and of ends in common sense.
In science, since meanings are determined on the ground of their relation as meanings to one another, relations become the objects of inquiry and qualities are relegated to a secondary status, playing a part only as far as they assist in institution of relations. They are subordinate because they have an instrumental office, instead of being themselves, as in prescientific common sense, the matters of final importance.
The enduring hold of common sense is testified to historically by the long time it took before it was seen that scientific objects are strictly relational. First tertiary qualities were eliminated; it was recognized that moral qualities are not agencies in determining the structure of nature. Then secondary qualities, the wet-dry, hot-cold, light-heavy, which were the explanatory principles of physical phenomena in Greek science, were ejected. But so-called primary qualities took their place, as with Newton and the Lockeian formulation of Newtonian existential postulates.
It was not until the threshold of our time was reached that scientific inquiries perceived that their own problems and methods required an interpretation of "primary qualities" in terms of relations, such as position, motion and temporal span. In the structure of distinctively scientific objects these relations are indifferent to qualities.
The foregoing is intended to indicate that the different objectives of common sense and of scientific inquiry demand different subject-matters and that this difference in subject-matters is not incompatible with the existence of a common pattern in both types.
There are, of course, secondary logical forms which reflect the distinction of properties involved in the change from qualitative and teleological subject-matter to non-qualitative and non-teleological relations. But they occur and operate within the described community of pattern. They are explicable, and explicable only, on the ground of the distinctive problems generated by scientific subject-matter.
The independence of scientific objects from limited and fairly direct reference to the environment as a factor in activities of use and enjoyment, is equivalent, as has already been intimated, to their abstract character. It is also equivalent to their general character in the sense in which the generalizations of science are different from the generalizations with which common sense is familiar.
The generality of all scientific subject-matter as such means that it is freed from restriction to conditions which present themselves at particular times and places. Their reference is to any set of time and place conditions — a statement which is not to be confused with the doctrine that they have no reference to actual existential occasions. Reference to time-place of existence is necessarily involved, but it is reference to whatever set of existences fulfils the general relations laid down in and by the constitution of the scientific object.
(Note: The consequences that follow are directly related to the statement in Ch. IV that the elimination of qualities and ends is intermediate; that, in fact, the construction of purely relational objects has enormously liberated and expanded common sense uses and enjoyments by conferring control over production of qualities, by enabling new ends to be realistically instituted, and by providing competent means for achieving them.)
Since a number of points have been discussed, it will be well to round up conclusions reached about them in a summary statement of the structure of the common pattern of inquiry.
Inquiry is the directed or controlled transformation of an indeterminate situation into a determinately unified one.
The transition is achieved by means of operations of two kinds which are in functional correspondence with each other.
One kind of operations deals with ideational or conceptual subject-matter. This subject-matter stands for possible ways and ends of resolution. It anticipates a solution, and is marked off from fancy because, or, in so far as, it becomes operative in instigation and direction of new observations yielding new factual material.
The other kind of operations is made up of activities involving the techniques and organs of observation. Since these operations are existential they modify the prior existential situation, bring into high relief conditions previously obscure, and relegate to the background other aspects that were at the outset conspicuous.
The ground and criterion of the execution of this work of emphasis, selection and arrangement is to delimit the problem in such a way that existential material may be provided with which to test the ideas that represent possible modes of solution.
Symbols, defining terms and propositions, are necessarily required in order to retain and carry forward both ideational and existential subject-matters in order that they may serve their proper functions in the control of inquiry. Otherwise the problem is taken to be closed and inquiry ceases.
One fundamentally important phase of the transformation of the situation which constitutes inquiry is central in the treatment of judgment and its functions- The transformation is existential and hence temporal. The pre-cognitive unsettled situation can be settled only by modification of its constituents.
Experimental operations change existing conditions. Reasoning, as such, can provide means for effecting the change of conditions but by itself cannot effect it.
Only execution of existential operations directed by an idea in which ratiocination terminates can bring about the re-ordering of environing conditions required to produce a settled and unified situation.
Since this principle also applies to the meanings that are elaborated in science, the experimental production and re-arrangement of physical conditions involved in natural science is further evidence of the unity of the pattern of inquiry. The temporal quality of inquiry means, then, something quite other than that the process of inquiry takes time. It means that the objective subject-matter of inquiry under- goes temporal modification.
Were it not that knowledge is related to inquiry as a product to the operations by which it is produced, no distinctions requiring special differentiating designations would exist. Material would merely be a matter of knowledge or of ignorance and error; that would be all that could be said. The content of any given proposition would have the values "true" and "false" as final and exclusive attributes.
But if knowledge is related to inquiry as its warrantable assertible product, and if inquiry is progressive and temporal, then the material inquired into reveals distinctive properties which need to be designated by distinctive names.
As undergoing inquiry, the material has a different logical import from that which it has as the outcome of inquiry. In its first capacity and status, it will be called by the general name subject-matter. When it is necessary to refer to subject-matter in the context of either observation or ideation, the name content will be used, and, particularly on account of its representative character, content of propositions.
The name objects will be reserved for subject-matter so far as it has been produced and ordered in settled form by means of inquiry; proleptically, objects are the objectives of inquiry.
The apparent ambiguity of using "objects" for this purpose (since the word is regularly applied to things that are observed or thought of) is only apparent. For things exist as objects for us only as they have been previously determined as outcomes of inquiries.
When used in carrying on new inquiries in new problematic situations, they are known as objects in virtue of prior inquiries which warrant their assertibility. In the new situation, they are means of attaining knowledge of something else.
In the strict sense, they are part of the contents of inquiry as the word content was defined above. But retrospectively (that is, as products of prior determination in inquiry) they are objects.
At the University of Michigan, Dewey published his first two books, Psychology (1887), and Leibniz's New Essays Concerning the Human Understanding (1888), both of which expressed Dewey's early commitment to British neo-Hegelianism. In Psychology, Dewey attempted a synthesis between idealism and experimental science.
While still professor of philosophy at Michigan, Dewey and his junior colleagues, James Hayden Tufts and George Herbert Mead, together with his student James Rowland Angell, all influenced strongly by the recent publication of William James' Principles of Psychology (1890), began to reformulate psychology, emphasizing the social environment on the activity of mind and behavior rather than the physiological psychology of Wundt and his followers.
By 1894, Dewey had joined Tufts, with whom he would later write Ethics (1908), at the recently founded University of Chicago and invited Mead and Angell to follow him, the four men forming the basis of the so-called "Chicago group" of psychology.
Their new style of psychology, later dubbed functional psychology, had a practical emphasis on action and application. In Dewey's article "The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology" which appeared in Psychological Review in 1896, he reasons against the traditional stimulus-response understanding of the reflex arc in favor of a "circular" account in which what serves as "stimulus" and what as "response" depends on how one considers the situation, and defends the unitary nature of the sensory motor circuit. While he does not deny the existence of stimulus, sensation, and response, he disagreed that they were separate, juxtaposed events happening like links in a chain. He developed the idea that there is a coordination by which the stimulation is enriched by the results of previous experiences. The response is modulated by sensorial experience.
Dewey was elected president of the American Psychological Association in 1899.
To be truthful is to make our statements conform to our sincere beliefs, and our beliefs to the facts.