II. A World of Pure Experience (1904/1911)

Essay II, n. 1: [Reprint­ed from the Jour­nal of Phi­los­o­phy, Psy­chol­o­gy, and Sci­en­tif­ic Meth­ods, vol. I, 1904, No. 20, Sep­tem­ber 29, and No. 21, Oc­to­ber 13. §§ 3—5 have also been reprint­ed, with some omis­sions, al­ter­ations and ad­di­tions, in The Mean­ing of Truth, Essay IV. The al­ter­ations have been adopt­ed in the pre­sent text. This essay is re­ferred to in A Plu­ral­is­tic Uni­verse, p. 280, note 5. Ed.] (e2n1 ¶ 1)

It is dif­fi­cult not to no­tice a cu­ri­ous un­rest in the philo­soph­ic at­mos­phere of the time, al­ways loos­en­ing of old land­marks, a soft­en­ing of op­po­si­tions, a mu­tu­al bor­row­ing from one an­oth­er re­flect­ing on the part of sys­tems an­cient­ly closed, and an in­ter­est in new sug­ges­tions, how­ev­er vague, as if the one thing sure were the in­ad­e­qua­cy of the ex­tant school-so­lu­tions. The dis­sat­is­fac­tion with these seems due for the most part to a feel­ing that they are too ab­stract and aca­d­e­m­ic. Life is con­fused and su­per­abun­dant, and what the younger gen­er­a­tion ap­pears to crave is more of the tem­pera­ment of life in its phi­los­o­phy, even thought it were at some cost of log­i­cal rigor and of for­mal pu­ri­ty. Tran­scen­den­tal ide­al­ism is in­clin­ing to let the world wag in­com­pre­hen­si­bly, in spite of its Ab­solute Sub­ject and his unity of pur­pose. Berke­leyan ide­al­ism is aban­don­ing the prin­ci­ple of par­si­mo­ny and dab­bling in panpsy­chic spec­u­la­tions. Em­piri­cism flirts with tele­ol­o­gy; and, strangest of all, nat­ur­al re­al­ism, so long de­cent­ly buried, rais­es its head above the turf, and finds glad hands out­stretched from the most un­like­ly quar­ters to help it to its feet again. We are all bi­ased by our per­son­al feel­ings, I know, and I am per­son­al­ly dis­con­tent­ed with ex­tant so­lu­tions; so I seem to read the signs of a great un­set­tle­ment, as if the up­heaval of more real con­cep­tions and more fruit­ful meth­ods were im­mi­nent, as if a true land­scape might re­sult, less clipped, straight-edged and ar­ti­fi­cial. (Essay II ¶ 1)

If phi­los­o­phy be re­al­ly on the eve of any con­sid­er­able re­arrange­ment, the time should be pro­pi­tious for any one who has sug­ges­tions of his own to bring for­ward. For many years past my mind has bee grow­ing into a cer­tain type of Weltan­schau­ung. Right­ly or wrong­ly, I have got to the point where I can hard­ly see things in any other pat­tern. I pro­pose, there­fore, to de­scribe the pat­tern as clear­ly as I can con­sis­tent­ly with great brevi­ty, and to throw my de­scrip­tion into the bub­bling vat of pub­lic­i­ty where, jos­tled by ri­vals and torn by crit­ics, it will even­tu­al­ly ei­ther dis­ap­pear from no­tice, or else, if bet­ter luck be­fall it, qui­et­ly sub­side to the pro­fun­di­ties, and serve as a pos­si­ble fer­ment of new growths or a nu­cle­us of new crys­tal­liza­tion. (Essay II ¶ 2)

I. Rad­i­cal Em­piri­cism

I give the name of rad­i­cal em­piri­cism to my Weltan­schau­ung. Em­piri­cism is known as the op­po­site of ra­tio­nal­ism. Ra­tio­nal­ism tends to em­pha­size uni­ver­sals and to make wholes prior to parts in the order of logic as well as in that of being. Em­piri­cism, on the con­trary, lays the ex­plana­to­ry stress upon the part, the el­e­ment, the in­di­vid­ual, and treats the whole as a col­lec­tion and the uni­ver­sal as an ab­strac­tion. My de­scrip­tion of things, ac­cord­ing­ly, starts with the parts and makes of the whole a being of the sec­ond order. It is es­sen­tial­ly a mo­sa­ic phi­los­o­phy, a phi­los­o­phy of plur­al facts, like that of Hume and his de­scen­dants, who refer these facts nei­ther to Sub­stances in which they in­here nor to an Ab­solute Mind that cre­ates them as its ob­jects. But it dif­fers from the Hu­mi­an type of em­piri­cism in one par­tic­u­lar which makes me add the ep­i­thet rad­i­cal. (Essay II § 1 ¶ 1)

To be rad­i­cal, an em­piri­cism must nei­ther admit into its con­struc­tions any el­e­ment that is not di­rect­ly ex­pe­ri­enced, nor ex­clude from them any el­e­ment that is di­rect­ly ex­pe­ri­enced. For such a phi­los­o­phy, the re­la­tions that con­nect ex­pe­ri­ences must them­selves be ex­pe­ri­enced re­la­tions, and any kind of re­la­tion ex­pe­ri­enced must be ac­count­ed as real as any­thing else in the sys­tem. El­e­ments may in­deed be re­dis­trib­uted, the orig­i­nal plac­ing of things get­ting cor­rect­ed, but a real place must be found for every kind of thing ex­pe­ri­enced, whether term or re­la­tion, in the final philo­soph­ic arrange­ment. (Essay II § 1 ¶ 2)

Now, or­di­nary em­piri­cism, in spite of the fact that con­junc­tive and dis­junc­tive re­la­tions pre­sent them­selves as being fully co-or­di­nate parts of ex­pe­ri­ence, has al­ways shown a ten­den­cy to do away with the con­nec­tions of things, and to in­sist most on the dis­junc­tions. Berke­ley’s nom­i­nal­ism, Hume’s state­ment that what­ev­er things we dis­tin­guish are as loose and sep­a­rate as if they had no man­ner of con­nec­tion. James Mill’s de­nial that sim­i­lars have any­thing re­al­ly in com­mon, the res­o­lu­tion of the causal tie into ha­bit­u­al se­quence, John Mill’s ac­count of both phys­i­cal things and selves as com­posed of dis­con­tin­u­ous pos­si­bil­i­ties, and the gen­er­al pul­ver­iza­tion of all Ex­pe­ri­ence by as­so­ci­a­tion and the mind-dust the­o­ry, are ex­am­ples of what I mean. (Essay II § 1 ¶ 3)

The nat­ur­al re­sult of such a world-pic­ture has been the ef­forts of ra­tio­nal­ism to cor­rect its in­co­heren­cies by the ad­di­tion of trans- ex­pe­ri­en­tial agents of uni­fi­ca­tion, sub­stances, in­tel­lec­tu­al cat­e­gories and pow­ers, or Selves; where­as, if em­piri­cism had only been rad­i­cal and taken every­thing that comes with­out dis­fa­vor, con­junc­tion as well as sep­a­ra­tion, each at its face value, the re­sults would have called for no such ar­ti­fi­cial cor­rec­tion. Rad­i­cal em­piri­cism, as I un­der­stand it, does full jus­tice to con­junc­tive re­la­tions, with­out, how­ev­er, treat­ing them as ra­tio­nal­ism al­ways tends to treat them, as being true in some su­per­nal way, as if the unity of things and their va­ri­ety be­longed to dif­fer­ent or­ders of truth and vi­tal­i­ty al­to­geth­er. (Essay II § 1 ¶ 4)

Essay II § 1, n. 1: [Cf. Berke­ley: Prin­ci­ples of Human Knowl­edge, In­tro­duc­tion; Hume: An En­quiry Con­cern­ing Human Un­der­stand­ing, sect. VII, part II (Sel­by-Bigge’s edi­tion, p. 74); James Mill: Analy­sis of the Phe­nom­e­na of the Human Mind, ch. VIII; J. S. Mill: An Ex­am­i­na­tion of Sir William Hamil­ton’s Phi­los­o­phy, ch. XI, XII; W. K. Clif­ford: Lec­tures and Es­says, pp. 274 ff.] (e2 § 1n1 ¶ 1)

II. Con­junc­tive Re­la­tions

Re­la­tions are of dif­fer­ent de­grees of in­ti­ma­cy. Mere­ly to be with one an­oth­er in a uni­verse of dis­course is the most ex­ter­nal re­la­tion that terms can have, and seems to in­volve noth­ing what­ev­er as to far­ther con­se­quences. Si­mul­tane­ity and time-in­ter­val come next, and then space-ad­ja­cen­cy and dis­tance. After them, sim­i­lar­i­ty and dif­fer­ence, car­ry­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of many in­fer­ences. Then re­la­tions of ac­tiv­i­ty, tying terms into se­ries in­volv­ing change, ten­den­cy, re­sis­tance, and the causal order gen­er­al­ly. Fi­nal­ly, the re­la­tion ex­pe­ri­enced be­tween terms that form states of mind, and are im­me­di­ate­ly con­scious of con­tin­u­ing each other. The or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Self as a sys­tem of mem­o­ries, pur­pos­es, striv­ings, ful­fil­ments or dis­ap­point­ments, is in­ci­den­tal to this most in­ti­mate of all re­la­tions, the terms of which seem in many cases ac­tu­al­ly to com­pen­e­trate and suf­fuse each other’s being. (Essay II § 2 ¶ 1)

Phi­los­o­phy has al­ways turned on gram­mat­i­cal par­ti­cles. With, near, next, like, from, to­wards, against, be­cause, for, through, my — these words des­ig­nate types of con­junc­tive re­la­tion arranged in a rough­ly as­cend­ing order of in­ti­ma­cy and in­clu­sive­ness. A pri­ori, we can imag­ine a uni­verse of with­ness but no nextness; or one of nextness but no like­ness, or of like­ness with no ac­tiv­i­ty, or of ac­tiv­i­ty with no pur­pose, or of pur­pose with no ego. These would be uni­vers­es, each with its own grade of unity. The uni­verse of human ex­pe­ri­ence is, by one or an­oth­er of its parts, of each and all these grades. Whether or not it pos­si­bly en­joys some still more ab­solute grade of union does not ap­pear upon the sur­face. (Essay II § 2 ¶ 2)

Taken as it does ap­pear, our uni­verse is to a large ex­tent chaot­ic. No one sin­gle type of con­nec­tion runs through all the ex­pe­ri­ences that com­pose it. If we take space-re­la­tions, they fail to con­nect minds into any reg­u­lar sys­tem. Caus­es and pur­pos­es ob­tain only among spe­cial se­ries of facts. The self-re­la­tion seems ex­treme­ly lim­it­ed and does not link two dif­fer­ent selves to­geth­er. Prima facie, if you should liken the uni­verse of ab­solute ide­al­ism to an aquar­i­um, a crys­tal globe in which gold­fish are swim­ming, you would have to com­pare the em­piri­cist uni­verse to some­thing more like one of those dried human heads with which the Dyaks of Bor­neo deck their lodges. The skull forms a solid nu­cle­us; but in­nu­mer­able feath­ers, leaves, strings, beads, and loose ap­pen­dices of every de­scrip­tion float and dan­gle from it, and, save that they ter­mi­nate in it, seem to have noth­ing to do with one an­oth­er. Even so my ex­pe­ri­ences and yours float and dan­gle, ter­mi­nat­ing, it is true, in a nu­cle­us of com­mon per­cep­tion, but for the most part out of sight and ir­rel­e­vant and unimag­in­able to one an­oth­er. This im­per­fect in­ti­ma­cy, this bare re­la­tion of with­ness be­tween some parts of the sum total of ex­pe­ri­ence and other parts, is the fact that or­di­nary em­piri­cism over-em­pha­sizes against ra­tio­nal­ism, the lat­ter al­ways tend­ing to ig­nore it un­du­ly. Rad­i­cal em­piri­cism, on the con­trary, is fair to both the unity and the dis­con­nec­tion. It finds no rea­son for treat­ing ei­ther as il­lu­so­ry. It al­lots to each its def­i­nite sphere of de­scrip­tion, and agrees that there ap­pear to be ac­tu­al forces at work which tend, as time goes on, to make the unity greater. (Essay II § 2 ¶ 3)

The con­junc­tive re­la­tion that has given most trou­ble to phi­los­o­phy is the co-con­scious tran­si­tion, so to call it, by which one ex­pe­ri­ence pass­es into an­oth­er when both be­long to the same self. My ex­pe­ri­ences and your ex­pe­ri­ences are with each other in var­i­ous ex­ter­nal ways, but mine pass into mine, and yours pass into yours in a way in which yours and mine never pass into one an­oth­er. With­in each of our per­son­al his­to­ries, sub­ject, ob­ject, in­ter­est and pur­pose are con­tin­u­ous or may be con­tin­u­ous. Per­son­al his­to­ries are process­es of change in time, and the change it­self is one of the things im­me­di­ate­ly ex­pe­ri­enced. Change in this case means con­tin­u­ous as op­posed to dis­con­tin­u­ous tran­si­tion. But con­tin­u­ous tran­si­tion is one sort of a con­junc­tive re­la­tion; and to be a rad­i­cal em­piri­cist means to hold fast to this con­junc­tive re­la­tion of all oth­ers, for this is the strate­gic point, the po­si­tion through which, if a hole be made, all the cor­rup­tions of di­alec­tics and all the meta­phys­i­cal fic­tions pour into our phi­los­o­phy. The hold­ing fast to this re­la­tion means tak­ing it at its face value, nei­ther less nor more; and to take it at its face value means first of all to take it just as we feel it, and not to con­fuse our­selves with ab­stract talk about it, in­volv­ing words that drive us to in­vent sec­ondary con­cep­tions in order to neu­tral­ize their sug­ges­tions and to make our ac­tu­al ex­pe­ri­ence again seem ra­tio­nal­ly pos­si­ble. (Essay II § 2 ¶ 4)

What I do feel sim­ply when a later mo­ment of my ex­pe­ri­ence suc­ceeds an ear­li­er one is that though they are two mo­ments, the tran­si­tion from the one to the other is con­tin­u­ous. Con­ti­nu­ity here is a def­i­nite sort of ex­pe­ri­ence; just as def­i­nite as is the dis­con­ti­nu­ity-ex­pe­ri­ence which I find it im­pos­si­ble to avoid when I seek to make the tran­si­tion from an ex­pe­ri­ence of my own to one of yours. In this lat­ter case I have to get on and off again, to pass from a thing lived to an­oth­er thing only con­ceived, and the break is pos­i­tive­ly ex­pe­ri­enced and noted. Though the func­tions ex­ert­ed by my ex­pe­ri­ence and by yours may be the same (e.g., the same ob­jects known and the same pur­pos­es fol­lowed), yet the same­ness has in this case to be as­cer­tained ex­press­ly (and often with dif­fi­cul­ty and un­cer­tain­ly) after the break has been felt; where­as in pass­ing from one of my own mo­ments to an­oth­er the same­ness of ob­ject and in­ter­est is un­bro­ken, and both the ear­li­er and the later ex­pe­ri­ence are of things di­rect­ly lived. (Essay II § 2 ¶ 5)

There is no other na­ture, no other what­ness than this ab­sence of break and this sense of con­ti­nu­ity in that most in­ti­mate of all con­junc­tive re­la­tions, the pass­ing of one ex­pe­ri­ence into an­oth­er when the be­long to the same self. And this what­ness is real em­pir­i­cal con­tent, just as the what­ness of sep­a­ra­tion and dis­con­ti­nu­ity is real con­tent in the con­trast­ed case. Prac­ti­cal­ly to ex­pe­ri­ence one’s per­son­al con­tin­u­um in this liv­ing way is to know the orig­i­nals of the ideas of con­ti­nu­ity and same­ness, to know what the words stand for con­crete­ly, to own all that they can ever mean. But all ex­pe­ri­ences have their con­di­tions; and over-sub­tle in­tel­lects, think­ing about the facts here, and ask­ing how they are pos­si­ble, have ended by sub­sti­tut­ing a lot of sta­t­ic ob­jects of con­cep­tion for the di­rect per­cep­tu­al ex­pe­ri­ences. Same­ness, they have said, must be a stark nu­mer­i­cal iden­ti­ty; it can’t run on from next to next. Con­ti­nu­ity can’t mean mere ab­sence of gap; for if you say two things are in im­me­di­ate con­tact, at the con­tact how can they be two? If, on the other hand, you put a re­la­tion of tran­si­tion be­tween them, that it­self is a third thing, and needs to be re­lat­ed or hitched to its terms. An in­fi­nite se­ries is in­volved, and so on. The re­sult is that from dif­fi­cul­ty to dif­fi­cul­ty, the plain con­junc­tive ex­pe­ri­ence has been dis­cred­it­ed by both schools, the em­piri­cists leav­ing things per­ma­nent­ly dis­joined, and the ra­tio­nal­ist rem­e­dy­ing the loose­ness by their Ab­solutes or Sub­stances, or what­ev­er other fic­ti­tious agen­cies of union may have em­ployed. From all which ar­ti­fi­cial­i­ty we can be saved by a cou­ple of sim­ple-re­flec­tions: first, that con­junc­tions and sep­a­ra­tions are, at all events, co-or­di­nate phe­nom­e­na which, if we take ex­pe­ri­ences at their face value, must be ac­count­ed equal­ly real; and sec­ond, that if we in­sist on treat­ing things as re­al­ly sep­a­rate when they are given as con­tin­u­ous­ly joined, in­vok­ing, when union is re­quired, tran­scen­den­tal prin­ci­ples to over­come the sep­a­rate­ness we have as­sumed, then we ought to stand ready to per­form the con­verse act. We ought to in­voke high­er prin­ci­ples of disunion, also, to make our mere­ly ex­pe­ri­enced disjunc­tions more truly real. Fail­ing thus, we ought to let the orig­i­nal­ly given con­ti­nu­ities stand on their own bot­tom. We have no right to be lop­sided or to blow capri­cious­ly hot and cold. (Essay II § 2 ¶ 6)

Essay II § 2, n. 1: [See The Ex­pe­ri­ence of Ac­tiv­i­ty, below, pp. 155-189.] (e2 § 2n1 ¶ 1)

Essay II § 2, n. 2: The psy­chol­o­gy books have of late de­scribed the facts here with ap­prox­i­mate ad­e­qua­cy. I may refer to the chap­ters on The Stream of Thought and on the Self in my own Prin­ci­ples of Psy­chol­o­gy, as well as to S.H. Hodg­son’s Meta­physics of Ex­pe­ri­ence, vol I., ch. VII and VIII. (e2 § 2n2 ¶ 1)

Essay II § 3, n. 3: [See The Thing and its Re­la­tions, below, pp. 92-122.] (e2 § 2n3 ¶ 1)

III. The Cog­ni­tive Re­la­tion

The first great pit­fall from which such a rad­i­cal stand­ing by ex­pe­ri­ence will save us is an ar­ti­fi­cial con­cep­tion of the re­la­tions be­tween know­er and known. Through­out the his­to­ry of phi­los­o­phy the sub­ject and its ob­ject have been treat­ed as ab­solute­ly dis­con­tin­u­ous en­ti­ties; and there­upon the pres­ence of the lat­ter to the for­mer, or the ap­pre­hen­sion by the for­mer of the lat­ter, has as­sumed a para­dox­i­cal char­ac­ter which all sorts of the­o­ries had to be in­vent­ed to over­come. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive the­o­ries put a men­tal rep­re­sen­ta­tion, image, or con­tent into the gap, as a sort of in­ter­me­di­ary. Com­mon-sense the­o­ries left the gap un­touched, de­clar­ing our mind able to clear it by a self-tran­scend­ing leap. Tran­scen­den­tal­ist the­o­ries left it im­pos­si­ble to tra­verse by fi­nite know­ers, and brought an Ab­solute in to per­form the salta­to­ry act. All the while, in the very bosom of the fi­nite ex­pe­ri­ence, every con­junc­tion re­quired to make the re­la­tion in­tel­li­gi­ble is given in full. Ei­ther the know­er and the known are: (Essay II § 3 ¶ 1)

  1. the self-same piece of ex­pe­ri­ence taken twice over in dif­fer­ent con­texts; or they are (Essay II § 3 ¶ 2)

  2. two pieces of ac­tu­al ex­pe­ri­ence be­long­ing to the same sub­ject, with def­i­nite tracts of con­junc­tive tran­si­tion­al ex­pe­ri­ence be­tween them; or (Essay II § 3 ¶ 3)

  3. the known is a pos­si­ble ex­pe­ri­ence ei­ther of that sub­ject or an­oth­er, to which the said con­junc­tive tran­si­tions would lead, if suf­fi­cient­ly pro­longed. (Essay II § 3 ¶ 4)

To dis­cuss all the ways in which one ex­pe­ri­ence may func­tion as the know­er of an­oth­er, would be in­com­pat­i­ble with the lim­its of this essay. I have just treat­ed of type 1, the kind of knowl­edge called per­cep­tion. This is the type of case in which the mind en­joys di­rect ac­quain­tance with a pre­sent ob­ject. In the other types the mind has knowl­edge-about an ob­ject not im­me­di­ate­ly there. Of type 2, the sim­plest sort of con­cep­tu­al knowl­edge, I have given some ac­count in two [ear­li­er] ar­ti­cles. Type 3 can al­ways for­mal­ly and hy­po­thet­i­cal­ly be re­duced to type 2, so that a brief de­scrip­tion of that type will put the pre­sent read­er suf­fi­cient­ly at my point of view, and make him see what the ac­tu­al mean­ings of the mys­te­ri­ous cog­ni­tive re­la­tion may be. (Essay II § 3 ¶ 5)

Sup­pose me to be sit­ting here in my li­brary at Cam­bridge, at ten min­utes’ walk from Memo­r­i­al Hall, and to be think­ing truly of the lat­ter ob­ject. My mind may have be­fore it only the name, or it may have a clear image, or it may have a very dim image of the hall, but such in­trin­sic dif­fer­ences in the image make no dif­fer­ence in its cog­ni­tive func­tion. Cer­tain ex­trin­sic phe­nom­e­na, spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ences of con­junc­tion, are what im­part to the image, be it what it may, its know­ing of­fice. (Essay II § 3 ¶ 6)

For in­stance, if you ask me what hall I mean by my image, and I call tell you noth­ing; or if I fail to point or lead you to­wards the Har­vard Delta; or if, being led by you, I am un­cer­tain whether the Hall I see be what I had in mind or not; you would right­ly deny that I had meant that par­tic­u­lar hall at all, even though my men­tal image might to some de­gree have re­sem­bled it. The re­sem­blance would count in that case as co­in­ci­den­tal mere­ly, for all sorts of things of a kind re­sem­ble one an­oth­er in this world with­out being held for that rea­son to take cog­nizance of one an­oth­er. (Essay II § 3 ¶ 7)

On the other hand, if I can lead you to the hall, and tell you of its his­to­ry and pre­sent uses; if in its pres­ence I feel my idea, how­ev­er im­per­fect it may have been, to have led hith­er and to be now ter­mi­nat­ed; if the as­so­ci­ates of the image and of the felt hall run par­al­lel, so that each term of the one con­text cor­re­sponds se­ri­al­ly, as I walk, with an an­swer­ing term of the oth­ers; why then my soul was prophet­ic, and my idea must be, and by com­mon con­sent would be, called cog­nizant of re­al­i­ty. That per­cept was what I meant, for into it my idea has passed by con­junc­tive ex­pe­ri­ences of same­ness and ful­filled in­ten­tion. Nowhere is there jar, but every later mo­ment con­tin­ues and cor­rob­o­rates an ear­li­er one. (Essay II § 3 ¶ 8)

In this con­tin­u­ing and cor­rob­o­rat­ing, taken in no tran­scen­den­tal sense, but de­not­ing def­i­nite­ly felt tran­si­tions, lies all that the know­ing of a per­cept by an idea can pos­si­bly con­tain or sig­ni­fy. Wher­ev­er such tran­si­tions are felt, the first ex­pe­ri­ence knows that last one. Where they do not, or where even as pos­si­bles they can not, in­ter­vene, there can be no pre­tence of know­ing. In this lat­ter case the ex­tremes will be con­nect­ed, if con­nect­ed at all, by in­fe­ri­or re­la­tions — bare like­ness or suc­ces­sion, or by with­ness alone. Knowl­edge of sen­si­ble re­al­i­ties thus comes to life in­side the tis­sue of ex­pe­ri­ence. It is made; and made by re­la­tions that un­roll them­selves in time. When­ev­er cer­tain in­ter­me­di­aries are given, such that, as they de­vel­op to­wards their ter­mi­nus, there is ex­pe­ri­ence from point to point of one di­rec­tion fol­lowed, and fi­nal­ly of one process ful­filled, the re­sult is that their start­ing-point there­by be­comes a know­er and their ter­mi­nus an ob­ject meant or known. That is all that know­ing (in the sim­ple case con­sid­ered) can be known-as, that is the whole of its na­ture, put into ex­pe­ri­en­tial terms. When­ev­er such is the se­quence of our ex­pe­ri­ences we may freely say that we had the ter­mi­nal ob­ject in mind from the out­set, even al­though at the out­set noth­ing was there in us but a flat piece of sub­stan­tive ex­pe­ri­ence like any other, with no self-tran­scen­den­cy about it, and ny mys­tery save the mys­tery of com­ing into ex­is­tence and of being grad­u­al­ly fol­lowed by other pieces of sub­stan­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, with con­junc­tive­ly tran­si­tion­al ex­pe­ri­ences be­tween. That is what we mean here by the ob­ject’s being in mind. Of any deep­er more real way of being in mind we have no pos­i­tive con­cep­tion, and we have no right to dis­cred­it our ac­tu­al ex­pe­ri­ence by talk­ing of such a way at all. (Essay II § 3 ¶ 9)

I know that many a read­er will rebel at this. Mere in­ter­me­di­aries, he will say, even though they be feel­ings of con­tin­u­ous­ly grow­ing ful­fil­ment, only sep­a­rate the know­er from the known, where­as what we have in knowl­edge is a kind of im­me­di­ate touch of the one by the other, an ap­pre­hen­sion in the et­y­mo­log­i­cal sense of the word, a leap­ing of the chasm as by light­ning, an act by which two terms are smit­ten into one, over the head of their dis­tinct­ness. All these dead in­ter­me­di­aries of yours are out of each other, and out­side of their ter­mi­ni still. (Essay II § 3 ¶ 10)

But do not such di­alec­tic dif­fi­cul­ties re­mind us of the dog drop­ping his bone and snap­ping at its image in the water? If we knew any more real kind of union al­i­unde, we might be en­ti­tled to brand all our em­pir­i­cal unions as a sham. But unions by con­tin­u­ous tran­si­tion are the only ones we know of, whether in this mat­ter of a knowl­edge-about that ter­mi­nates in an ac­quain­tance, whether in per­son­al iden­ti­ty, in log­i­cal pred­i­ca­tion through the cop­u­la is, or else­where. If any­where there were more ab­solute unions re­al­ized, they could only re­veal them­selves to us by just such con­junc­tive re­sults. These are what the unions are worth, these are all that we can ever prac­ti­cal­ly mean by union, by con­ti­nu­ity. Is it not time to re­peat what Lotze said of sub­stances, that to act like one is to be one? Should we not say here that to be ex­pe­ri­enced as con­tin­u­ous is to be re­al­ly con­tin­u­ous, in a world where ex­pe­ri­ence and re­al­i­ty come to the same thing? In a pic­ture gallery a paint­ed hook will serve to hang a paint­ed chain by, a paint­ed cable will hold a paint­ed ship. In a world where both the terms and their dis­tinc­tions are af­fairs of ex­pe­ri­ence, con­junc­tions that are ex­pe­ri­enced must be at least as real as any­thing else. They will be ab­solute­ly real con­junc­tions, if we have no transphe­nom­e­nal Ab­solute ready, to de­re­al­ize the whole ex­pe­ri­enced world by, at a stroke. If, on the other hand, we had such an Ab­solute, not one of our op­po­nents’ the­o­ries of knowl­edge could re­main stand­ing any bet­ter than ours could; for the dis­tinc­tions as well as the con­junc­tions of ex­pe­ri­ence would im­par­tial­ly fall its prey. The whole ques­tion of how one thing can know an­oth­er would cease to be a real one at all in a world where oth­er­ness it­self was an il­lu­sion. (Essay II § 3 ¶ 11)

So much for the es­sen­tials of the cog­ni­tive re­la­tion, where the knowl­edge is con­cep­tu­al in type, or forms knowl­edge about an ob­ject. It con­sists in in­ter­me­di­ary ex­pe­ri­ences (pos­si­ble, if not ac­tu­al) of con­tin­u­ous­ly de­vel­op­ing progress, and, fi­nal­ly, of ful­fil­ment, when the sen­si­ble per­cept, which is the ob­ject, is reached. The per­cept here not only ver­i­fies the con­cept, proves its func­tion of know­ing that per­cept to be true, but the per­cept’s ex­is­tence as the ter­mi­nus of the chain of in­ter­me­di­aries cre­ates the func­tion. What­ev­er ter­mi­nates that chain was, be­cause it now proves it­self to be, what the con­cept had in mind. (Essay II § 3 ¶ 12)

The tow­er­ing im­por­tance for human life of this kind of know­ing lies in the fact that an ex­pe­ri­ence that knows an­oth­er can fig­ure as its rep­re­sen­ta­tive, not in any qua­si-mirac­u­lous epis­te­mo­log­i­cal sense, but in the def­i­nite prac­ti­cal sense of being its sub­sti­tute in var­i­ous op­er­a­tions, some­times phys­i­cal and some­times men­tal, which lead us to its as­so­ci­ates and re­sults. By ex­per­i­ment­ing on our ideas of re­al­i­ty, we may save our­selves the trou­ble of ex­per­i­ment­ing on the real ex­pe­ri­ences which they sev­er­al­ly mean. The ideas form re­lat­ed sys­tems, cor­re­spond­ing point for point to the sys­tems which the re­al­i­ties form; and by let­ting an ideal term call up its as­so­ci­ates sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly, we may be led to a ter­mi­nus which the cor­re­spond­ing real term would have led to in case we had op­er­at­ed on the real world. And this brings us to the gen­er­al ques­tion of sub­sti­tu­tion. (Essay II § 3 ¶ 13)

Essay II § 3, n. 1: For brevi­ty’s sake I al­to­geth­er omit men­tion of the type con­sti­tut­ed by knowl­edge of the truth of gen­er­al propo­si­tions. This type has been thor­ough­ly and, so far as I can see, sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly, elu­ci­dat­ed in Dewey’s Stud­ies in Log­i­cal The­o­ry. Such propo­si­tions are re­ducible to the S-is-P form; and the ter­mi­nus that ver­i­fies and ful­fils is the SP in com­bi­na­tion. Of course per­cepts may be in­volved in the me­di­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, or in the sat­is­fac­tori­ness of the P in its new po­si­tion. (e2 § 3n1 ¶ 1)

Essay II § 3, n. 3: [On the Func­tion of Cog­ni­tion, Mind, vol. X, 1885, and The Know­ing of Things To­geth­er, Psy­cho­log­i­cal Re­view, vol. II, 1895. These ar­ti­cles are reprint­ed, the for­mer in full, the lat­ter in part, in The Mean­ing of Truth, pp. 1-50. Ed.] These ar­ti­cles and their doc­trine, un­no­ticed ap­par­ent­ly by any one else, have late­ly gained fa­vor­able com­ment from Pro­fes­sor Strong. [A Nat­u­ral­is­tic The­o­ry of the Ref­er­ence of Thought to Re­al­i­ty, Jour­nal of Phi­los­o­phy, Psy­chol­o­gy, and Sci­en­tif­ic Meth­ods, vol. I, 1904.] Dr. Dick­in­son S. Miller has in­de­pen­dent­ly thought out the same re­sults [The Mean­ing of Truth and Error, Philo­soph­i­cal Re­view, vol. II, 1893; The Con­fu­sion of Func­tion and Con­tent in Men­tal Analy­sis, Psy­cho­log­i­cal Re­view, vol. II, 1895], which Strong ac­cord­ing­ly dubs the James-Miller the­o­ry of cog­ni­tion. (e2 § 3n3 ¶ 1)

Essay II § 3, n. 4: [Cf. H. Lotze: Meta­physik, §§ 37-39, 97, 98, 243.] (e2 § 3n4 ¶ 1)

Essay II § 3, n. 5: Mr. Bradley, not pro­fess­ing to know his ab­solute al­i­unde, nev­er­the­less de­re­al­izes Ex­pe­ri­ence by al­leg­ing it to be every­where in­fect­ed with self-con­tra­dic­tion. His ar­gu­ments seem al­most pure­ly ver­bal, but this is no place for ar­gu­ing that point out. [Cf. F. H. Bradley; Ap­pear­ance and Re­al­i­ty, pas­sim; and below, pp. 106-122.] (e2 § 3n5 ¶ 1)

IV. Sub­sti­tu­tion

In Taine’s bril­liant book on In­tel­li­gence, sub­sti­tu­tion was for the first time named as a car­di­nal log­i­cal func­tion, though of course the facts had al­ways been fa­mil­iar enough. What, ex­act­ly, in a sys­tem of ex­pe­ri­ences, does the sub­sti­tu­tion of one of them for an­oth­er mean? (Essay II § 4 ¶ 1)

Ac­cord­ing to my view, ex­pe­ri­ence as a whole is a process in time, where­by in­nu­mer­able par­tic­u­lar terms lapse and are su­per­seded by oth­ers that fol­low upon them by tran­si­tions which, whether dis­junc­tive or con­junc­tive in con­tent, are them­selves ex­pe­ri­ences, and must in gen­er­al be ac­count­ed at least as real as the terms which they re­late. What the na­ture of the event called su­per­sed­ing sig­ni­fies, de­pends al­to­geth­er on the kind of tran­si­tion that ob­tains. Some ex­pe­ri­ences sim­ply abol­ish their pre­de­ces­sors with­out con­tin­u­ing them in any way. Oth­ers are felt to in­crease or to en­large their mean­ing, to carry out their pur­pose, or to bring us near­er to their goal. They rep­re­sent them, and may ful­fil their func­tion bet­ter than they ful­filled it them­selves. But to ful­fil a func­tion in a world of pure ex­pe­ri­ence can be con­ceived and de­fined in only one pos­si­ble way. In such a world tran­si­tions and ar­rivals (or ter­mi­na­tions) are the only events that hap­pen, though they hap­pen by so many sorts of path. The only ex­pe­ri­ence that one ex­pe­ri­ence can per­form is to lead into an­oth­er ex­pe­ri­ence; and the only ful­fil­ment we can speak of is the reach­ing of a cer­tain ex­pe­ri­enced end. When one ex­pe­ri­ence leads to (or can lead to) the same end as an­oth­er, they agree in func­tion. But the whole sys­tem of ex­pe­ri­ences as they are im­me­di­ate­ly given pre­sents it­self as a qua­si-chaos through which one can pass out of an ini­tial term in many di­rec­tions and yet end in the same ter­mi­nus, mov­ing from next to next by a great many pos­si­ble paths. (Essay II § 4 ¶ 2)

Ei­ther one of these paths might be a func­tion­al sub­sti­tute for an­oth­er, and to fol­low one rather than an­oth­er might on oc­ca­sion be an ad­van­ta­geous thing to do. As a mat­ter of fact, and in a gen­er­al way, the paths that run through con­cep­tu­al ex­pe­ri­ences, that is, through thoughts or ideas that know the things in which they ter­mi­nate, are high­ly ad­van­ta­geous paths to fol­low. Not only do they yield in­con­ceiv­ably rapid tran­si­tions; but, owing to the uni­ver­sal char­ac­ter which they fre­quent­ly pos­sess, and to their ca­pac­i­ty for as­so­ci­a­tion with one an­oth­er in great sys­tems, they out­strip the tardy con­se­cu­tions of the things them­selves, and sweep us on to­wards our ul­ti­mate ter­mi­ni in a far more la­bor-sav­ing way than the fol­low­ing of trains of sen­si­ble per­cep­tion ever could. Won­der­ful are the new cuts and the short-cir­cuits which the thought- paths make. Most thought-paths, it is true, are sub­sti­tutes for noth­ing ac­tu­al; they end out­side the real world al­to­geth­er, in way­ward fan­cies, utopias, fic­tions or mis­takes. But where they do re-en­ter re­al­i­ty and ter­mi­nate there­in, we sub­sti­tute them al­ways; and with these sub­sti­tutes we pass the greater num­ber of our hours. (Essay II § 4 ¶ 3)

This is why I called our ex­pe­ri­ences, taken to­geth­er, a qua­si-chaos. There is vast­ly more dis­con­ti­nu­ity in the sum total of ex­pe­ri­ences than we com­mon­ly sup­pose. The ob­jec­tive nu­cle­us of every man’s ex­pe­ri­ence, his own body, is, it is true, a con­tin­u­ous per­cept; and equal­ly con­tin­u­ous as a per­cept (thought we may be inat­ten­tive to it) is the ma­te­r­i­al en­vi­ron­ment of that body, chang­ing by grad­ual tran­si­tion when the body moves. But the dis­tant parts of the phys­i­cal world are at all times ab­sent from us, and form con­cep­tu­al ob­jects mere­ly, into the per­cep­tu­al re­al­i­ty of which our life in­serts it­self at points dis­crete and rel­a­tive­ly rare. Round their sev­er­al ob­jec­tive nu­clei, part­ly shared and com­mon and part­ly dis­crete, of the real phys­i­cal world, in­nu­mer­able thinkers, pur­su­ing their sev­er­al lines of phys­i­cal­ly true cog­i­ta­tion, trace paths that in­ter­sect one an­oth­er only at dis­con­tin­u­ous per­cep­tu­al points, and the rest of the time are quite in­con­gru­ent; and around all the nu­clei of shared re­al­i­ty, as around the Dyak’s head of my late metaphor, floats the vast cloud of ex­pe­ri­ences that are whol­ly sub­jec­tive, that are non-sub­sti­tu­tion­al, that find not even an even­tu­al end­ing for them­selves in the per­cep­tu­al world — there mere day-dreams and joys and suf­fer­ings and wish­es of the in­di­vid­ual minds. These exist with one an­oth­er, in­deed, and with the ob­jec­tive nu­clei, but out of them it is prob­a­ble that to all eter­ni­ty no in­ter­re­lat­ed sys­tem of any kind will every be made. (Essay II § 4 ¶ 4)

This no­tion of the pure­ly sub­sti­tu­tion­al or con­cep­tu­al phys­i­cal world brings us to the most crit­i­cal of all steps in the de­vel­op­ment of a phi­los­o­phy of pure ex­pe­ri­ence. The para­dox of self-tran­scen­den­cy in knowl­edge comes back upon us here, but I think that our no­tions of pure ex­pe­ri­ence and of sub­sti­tu­tion, and our rad­i­cal­ly em­pir­i­cal view of con­junc­tive tran­si­tions, are Denkmit­tel that will carry us safe­ly through the pass. (Essay II § 4 ¶ 5)

Essay II § 4, n. 1: Of which all that need be said in this essay is that it also can be con­ceived as func­tion­al, and de­fined in terms of tran­si­tions, or of the pos­si­bil­i­ty of such. [Cf. Prin­ci­ples of Psy­chol­o­gy, vol. I, pp. 473-480, vol. II, pp. 337-340; Prag­ma­tism, p. 265; Some Prob­lems of Phi­los­o­phy, pp. 63-74; Mean­ing of Truth, pp. 246-247, etc. Ed.] (e2 § 4n1 ¶ 1)

V. What Ob­jec­tive Ref­er­ence Is.

Whoso­ev­er feels his ex­pe­ri­ence to be some­thing sub­sti­tu­tion­al even while he has it, may be said to have an ex­pe­ri­ence that reach­es be­yond it­self. From in­side of its own en­ti­ty it says more, and pos­tu­lates re­al­i­ty ex­ist­ing else­where. For the tran­scen­den­tal­ist, who holds know­ing to con­sist in a salto mor­tale across an epis­te­mo­log­i­cal chasm, such an idea pre­sents no dif­fi­cul­ty; but it seems at first sight as if it might be in­con­sis­tent with an em­piri­cism like our own. Have we not ex­plained that con­cep­tu­al knowl­edge is made such whol­ly by the ex­is­tence of things that fall out­side of the know­ing ex­pe­ri­ence it­self — by in­ter­me­di­ary ex­pe­ri­ence and by a ter­mi­nus that ful­fils? Can the knowl­edge be there be­fore these el­e­ments that con­sti­tute its being have come? And, if knowl­edge be not there, how can ob­jec­tive ref­er­ence occur? (Essay II § 5 ¶ 1)

The key to this dif­fi­cul­ty lies in the dis­tinc­tion be­tween know­ing as ver­i­fied and com­plet­ed, and the same know­ing as in tran­sit and on its way. To recur to the Memo­r­i­al Hall ex­am­ple late­ly used, it is only when our idea of the Hall has ac­tu­al­ly ter­mi­nat­ed in the per­cept that we know for cer­tain that from the be­gin­ning it was truly cog­ni­tive of that. Until es­tab­lished by the end of the process, its qual­i­ty of know­ing that, or in­deed of know­ing any­thing, could still be doubt­ed; and yet the know­ing re­al­ly was there, as the re­sult now shows. We were vir­tu­al know­ers of the Hall long be­fore we were cer­ti­fied to have been its ac­tu­al know­ers, by the per­cept’s retroac­tive val­i­dat­ing power. Just so we are mor­tal all the time, by rea­son of the vir­tu­al­i­ty of the in­evitable event which will make us so when it shall have come. (Essay II § 5 ¶ 2)

Now the im­mense­ly greater part of all our know­ing never gets be­yond this vir­tu­al stage. It never is com­plet­ed or nailed down. I speak not mere­ly of our ideas of im­per­cep­ti­bles like ether-waves or dis­so­ci­at­ed ions, or of ejects like the con­tents of our neigh­bors’ minds; I speak also of ideas which we might ver­i­fy if we would take the trou­ble, but which we hold for true al­though un­ter­mi­nat­ed per­cep­tu­al­ly, be­cause noth­ing says no to us, and there is no con­tra­dict­ing truth in sight. To con­tin­ue think­ing un­chal­lenged is, nine­ty-nine times out of a hun­dred, our prac­ti­cal sub­sti­tute for know­ing in the com­plet­ed sense. As each ex­pe­ri­ence runs by cog­ni­tive tran­si­tion into the next one, and we nowhere feel a col­li­sion with what we else­where count as truth or fact, we com­mit our­selves to the cur­rent as if the port were sure. We live, as it were, upon the front edge of an ad­vanc­ing wave-crest, and our sense of a de­ter­mi­nate di­rec­tion in falling for­ward is all we cover of the fu­ture of our path. It is as if a dif­fer­en­tial quo­tient should be con­scious and treat it­self as an ad­e­quate sub­sti­tute for a traced-out curve. Our ex­pe­ri­ence, inter alia, is of vari­a­tions of rate and of di­rec­tion, and lives in these tran­si­tions more than in the jour­ney’s end. The ex­pe­ri­ences of ten­den­cy are suf­fi­cient to act upon — what more could we have done at those mo­ments even if the later ver­i­fi­ca­tion comes com­plete? (Essay II § 5 ¶ 3)

This is what, as a rad­i­cal em­piri­cist, I say to the charge that the ob­jec­tive ref­er­ence which is so fla­grant a char­ac­ter of our ex­pe­ri­ence in­volves a chasm and a mor­tal leap. A pos­i­tive­ly con­junc­tive tran­si­tion in­volves nei­ther chasm nor leap. Being the very orig­i­nal of what we mean by con­ti­nu­ity, it makes a con­tin­u­um wher­ev­er it ap­pears. I know full well that such brief words as these will leave the hard­ened tran­scen­den­tal­ist un­shak­en. Con­junc­tive ex­pe­ri­ences sep­a­rate their terms, he will still say: they are third things in­ter­posed, that have them­selves to be con­joined by new links, and to in­voke them makes our trou­ble in­fi­nite­ly worse. To feel our mo­tion for­ward is im­pos­si­ble. Mo­tion im­plies ter­mi­nus; and how can ter­mi­nus be felt be­fore we have ar­rived? The barest start and sally for­wards, the barest ten­den­cy to leave the in­stant, in­volves the chasm and the leap. Con­junc­tive tran­si­tions are the most su­per­fi­cial of ap­pear­ances, il­lu­sions of our sen­si­bil­i­ty which philo­soph­i­cal re­flec­tion pul­ver­izes at a touch. Con­cep­tion is our only trust­wor­thy in­stru­ment, con­cep­tion and the Ab­solute work­ing hand in hand. Con­cep­tion dis­in­te­grates ex­pe­ri­ence ut­ter­ly, but its dis­junc­tions are eas­i­ly over­come again when the Ab­solute takes up the task. (Essay II § 5 ¶ 4)

Such tran­scen­den­tal­ists I must leave, pro­vi­sion­al­ly at least, in full pos­ses­sion of their creed. I have no space for polemics in this ar­ti­cle, so I shall sim­ply for­mu­late the em­piri­cist doc­trine as my hy­poth­e­sis, leav­ing it to work or not work as it may. (Essay II § 5 ¶ 5)

Ob­jec­tive ref­er­ence, I say then, is an in­ci­dent of the fact that so much of our ex­pe­ri­ence comes as an in­suf­fi­cient and con­sists of process and tran­si­tion. Our fields of ex­pe­ri­ence have no more def­i­nite bound­aries than have our fields of view. Both are fringed for­ev­er by a more that con­tin­u­ous­ly de­vel­ops, and that con­tin­u­ous­ly su­per­sedes them as life pro­ceeds. The re­la­tions, gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, are as real here as the terms are, and the only com­plaint of the tran­scen­den­tal­ist’s with which I could at all sym­pa­thize would be his charge that, by first mak­ing knowl­edge con­sist in ex­ter­nal re­la­tions as I have done, and by then con­fess­ing that nine-tenths of the time these are not ac­tu­al­ly but only vir­tu­al­ly there, I have knocked the solid bot­tom out of the whole busi­ness, and palmed off a sub­sti­tute of knowl­edge for the gen­uine thing. Only the ad­mis­sion, such a crit­ic might say, that our ideas are self-tran­scen­dent and true al­ready, in ad­vance of the ex­pe­ri­ences that are to ter­mi­nate them, can bring so­lid­i­ty back to knowl­edge in a world like this, in which tran­si­tions and ter­mi­na­tions are only by ex­cep­tion ful­filled. (Essay II § 5 ¶ 6)

This seems to me an ex­cel­lent place for ap­ply­ing the prag­mat­ic method. When a dis­pute aris­es, that method con­sists in au­gur­ing what prac­ti­cal con­se­quences would be dif­fer­ent if one side rather than the other were true. If no dif­fer­ence can be thought of, the dis­pute is a quar­rel over words. What then would the self-tran­scen­den­cy af­firmed to exist in ad­vance of all ex­pe­ri­en­tial me­di­a­tion or ter­mi­na­tions, be known-as? What would it prac­ti­cal­ly re­sult in for us, were it true? (Essay II § 5 ¶ 7)

It could only re­sult in our ori­en­ta­tion, in the turn­ing of our ex­pec­ta­tions and prac­ti­cal ten­den­cies into the right path; and the right path here, so long as we and the ob­ject are not yet face to face (or can never get face to face, as in the case of ejects), would be the path that led us into the ob­ject’s near­est neigh­bor­hood. Where di­rect ac­quain­tance is lack­ing, knowl­edge about is the next best thing, and an ac­quain­tance with what ac­tu­al­ly lies about the ob­ject, and is most close­ly re­lat­ed to it, puts such knowl­edge with­in our gasp. Ether-waves and your anger, for ex­am­ple, are things in which my thoughts will never per­cep­tu­al­ly ter­mi­nate, but my con­cepts of them lead me to their very brink, to the chro­mat­ic fringes and to the hurt­ful words and deeds which are their re­al­ly next ef­fects. (Essay II § 5 ¶ 8)

Even if our ideas did in them­selves carry the pos­tu­lat­ed self-tran­scen­den­cy, it would still re­main true that their putting us into pos­ses­sion of such ef­fects would be the sole cash-val­ue of the self-tran­scen­den­cy for us. And this cash-val­ue, it is need­less to say, is ver­ba­tim et lit­er­a­tim what our em­piri­cist ac­count pays in. On prag­ma­tist prin­ci­ples, there­fore, a dis­pute over self-tran­scen­den­cy is a pure lo­go­machy. Call our con­cepts of ejec­tive things self- tran­scen­dent or the re­verse, it makes no dif­fer­ence, so long as we don’t dif­fer about the na­ture of that ex­alt­ed virtue’s fruits — fruits for us, of course, hu­man­is­tic fruits. If an Ab­solute were proved to exist for other rea­sons, it might well ap­pear that his knowl­edge is ter­mi­nat­ed in in­nu­mer­able cases where ours is still in­com­plete. That, how­ev­er, would be a fact in­dif­fer­ent to our knowl­edge. The lat­ter would grow nei­ther worse nor bet­ter, whether we ac­knowl­edged such an Ab­solute or left him out. (Essay II § 5 ¶ 9)

So the no­tion of a knowl­edge still in tran­si­tu and on its way joins hands here with that no­tion of a pure ex­pe­ri­ence which I tried to ex­plain in my [essay] en­ti­tled Does Con­scious­ness Exist? The in­stant field of the pre­sent is al­ways ex­pe­ri­enced in its pure state. plain un­qual­i­fied ac­tu­al­i­ty, a sim­ple that, as yet un­dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed into thing and thought, and only vir­tu­al­ly clas­si­fi­able as ob­jec­tive fact or as some one’s opin­ion about fact. This is as true when the field is con­cep­tu­al as when it is per­cep­tu­al. Memo­r­i­al Hall is there in my idea as much as when I stand be­fore it. I pro­ceed to act on its ac­count in ei­ther case. Only in the later ex­pe­ri­ence that su­per­sedes the pre­sent one is this naïf im­me­di­a­cy ret­ro­spec­tive­ly split into two parts, a con­scious­ness and its con­tent, and the con­tent cor­rect­ed or con­firmed. While still pure, or pre­sent, any ex­pe­ri­ence — mine, for ex­am­ple, of what I write about in these very lines — pass­es for truth. The mor­row may re­duce it to opin­ion. The tran­scen­den­tal­ist in all his par­tic­u­lar knowl­edges is as li­able to this re­duc­tion as I am: his Ab­solute does not save him. Why, then, need he quar­rel with an ac­count of know­ing that mere­ly leaves it li­able to this in­evitable con­di­tion? Why in­sist that know­ing is a sta­t­ic re­la­tion out of time when it prac­ti­cal­ly seems so much a func­tion of our ac­tive life? For a thing to be valid, says Lotze, is the same as to make it­self valid. When the whole uni­verse seems only to be mak­ing it­self valid and to be still in­com­plete (else why its cease­less chang­ing?) why, of all things, should know­ing be ex­empt? Why should it not be mak­ing it­self valid like every­thing else? That some parts of it may be al­ready valid or ver­i­fied be­yond dis­pute, the em­pir­i­cal philoso­pher, of course, like any one else, may al­ways hope. (Essay II § 5 ¶ 10)

Essay II § 5, n. 1: [Cf. below, pp. 93ff.] (e2 § 5n1 ¶ 1)

VI. The Con­ter­mi­nous­ness of Dif­fer­ent Minds

With tran­si­tion and prospect thus en­throned in pure ex­pe­ri­ence, it is im­pos­si­ble to sub­scribe to the ide­al­ism of the Eng­lish school. Rad­i­cal em­piri­cism has, in fact, more affini­ties with nat­ur­al re­al­ism than with the views of Berke­ley or of Mill, and this can be eas­i­ly shown. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 1)

For the Berke­leyan school, ideas (the ver­bal equiv­a­lent of what I term ex­pe­ri­ences) are dis­con­tin­u­ous. The con­tent of each is whol­ly im­ma­nent, and there are no tran­si­tions with which they are con­sub­stan­tial and through which their be­ings may unite. Your Memo­r­i­al Hall and mine, even when both are per­cepts, are whol­ly out of con­nec­tion with each other. Our lives are a con­geries of solip­sisms, out of which in strict logic only a God could com­pose a uni­verse even of dis­course. No dy­nam­ic cur­rents run be­tween my ob­jects and your ob­jects. Never can our minds meet in the same. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 2)

The in­cred­i­bil­i­ty of such a phi­los­o­phy is fla­grant. It is cold, strained, and un­nat­ur­al in a supreme de­gree; and it may be doubt­ed whether even Berke­ley him­self, who took it so re­li­gious­ly, re­al­ly be­lieved, when walk­ing through the streets of Lon­don, that his spir­it and the spir­its of his fel­low way­far­ers had ab­solute­ly dif­fer­ent towns in view. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 3)

To me the de­ci­sive rea­son in favor of our minds meet­ing in some com­mon ob­jects at least is that, un­less I make that sup­po­si­tion, I have no mo­tive for as­sum­ing that your mind ex­ists at all. Why do I pos­tu­late your mind? Be­cause I see your body act­ing in a cer­tain way. Its ges­tures, fa­cial move­ments, words and con­duct gen­er­al­ly, are ex­pres­sive, so I deem it ac­tu­at­ed as my own is, by an inner life like mine. This ar­gu­ment from anal­o­gy is my rea­son, whether an in­stinc­tive be­lief runs be­fore it or not. But what is your body here but a per­cept in my field? It is only as an­i­mat­ing that ob­ject, my ob­ject, that I have any oc­ca­sion to think of you at all. If the body that you ac­tu­ate be not the very body that I see there, but some du­pli­cate body of your own with which that has noth­ing to do, we be­long to dif­fer­ent uni­vers­es, you and I, and for me to speak of you is folly. Myr­i­ads of such uni­vers­es even now may co­ex­ist, ir­rel­e­vant to one an­oth­er; my con­cern is sole­ly with the uni­verse with which my own life is con­nect­ed. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 4)

In that per­cep­tu­al part of my uni­verse which I call your body, your mind and my mind meet and may be called con­ter­mi­nous. Your mind ac­tu­ates that body and mine sees it; my thoughts pass into it as into their har­mo­nious cog­ni­tive ful­fil­ment; your emo­tions and vo­li­tions pass into it as caus­es into their ef­fects. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 5)

But that per­cept hangs to­geth­er with all our other phys­i­cal per­cepts. They are of one stuff with it; and if it be our com­mon pos­ses­sion, they must be so like­wise. For in­stance, your hand lays hold of one end of a rope and my hand lays hold of the other end. We pull against each other. Can our two hands be mu­tu­al ob­jects in this ex­pe­ri­ence, and the rope not be mu­tu­al also? What is true of the rope is true of any other per­cept. Your ob­jects are over and over again the same as mine. If I ask you where some ob­ject of yours is, our old Memo­r­i­al Hall, for ex­am­ple, you point to my Memo­r­i­al Hall with your hand which I see. If you alter an ob­ject in your world, put out a can­dle, for ex­am­ple, when I am pre­sent, my can­dle ipso facto goes out. It is only as al­ter­ing my ob­jects that I guess you to exist. If your ob­jects do not co­a­lesce with my ob­jects, if they be not iden­ti­cal­ly where mine are, they must be proved to be pos­i­tive­ly some­where else. But no other lo­ca­tion can be as­signed for them, so their place must be what it seems to be, the same. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 6)

Prac­ti­cal­ly, then, our minds meet in a world of ob­jects which they share in com­mon, which would still be there, if one or sev­er­al of the minds were de­stroyed. I can see no for­mal ob­jec­tion to this sup­po­si­tion’s being lit­er­al­ly true. On the prin­ci­ples which I am de­fend­ing, a mind or per­son­al con­scious­ness is the name for a se­ries of ex­pe­ri­ences run to­geth­er by cer­tain def­i­nite tran­si­tions, and an ob­jec­tive re­al­i­ty is a se­ries of sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences knit by dif­fer­ent tran­si­tions. If one and the same ex­pe­ri­ence can fig­ure twice, once in a men­tal and once in a phys­i­cal con­text (as I have tried, in my ar­ti­cle on Con­scious­ness, to show that it can), one does not see why it might not fig­ure thrice, or four times, or any num­ber of times, by run­ning into as many dif­fer­ent men­tal con­texts, just as the same point, lying at their in­ter­sec­tion, can be con­tin­ued into many dif­fer­ent lines. Abol­ish­ing any num­ber of con­texts would not de­stroy the ex­pe­ri­ence it­self or its other con­texts, any more than abol­ish­ing some of the point’s lin­ear con­tin­u­a­tions would de­stroy the oth­ers, or de­stroy the point it­self. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 7)

I well know the sub­tle di­alec­tic which in­sists that a term taken in an­oth­er re­la­tion must needs be an in­trin­si­cal­ly dif­fer­ent term. The crux is al­ways the old Greek one, that the same man can’t be tall in re­la­tion to one neigh­bor, and short in re­la­tion to an­oth­er, for that would make him tall and short at once. In this essay I can not stop to re­fute this di­alec­tic, so I pass on, leav­ing my flank for the time ex­posed. But if my read­er will only allow that the same now both ends his past and be­gins his fu­ture; or that, when he buys an acre of land from his neigh­bor, it is the same acre that suc­ces­sive­ly fig­ures in the two es­tates; or that when I pay him a dol­lar, the same dol­lar goes into his pock­et that came out of mine; he will also in con­sis­ten­cy have to allow that the same ob­ject may con­ceiv­ably play a part in, as being re­lat­ed to the rest of, any num­ber of oth­er­wise en­tire­ly dif­fer­ent minds. This is enough for my pre­sent point: the com­mon-sense no­tion of minds shar­ing the same ob­ject of­fers no spe­cial log­i­cal or epis­te­mo­log­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ties of its own; it stands or falls with the gen­er­al pos­si­bil­i­ty of things being in con­junc­tive re­la­tion with other things at all. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 8)

In prin­ci­ple, then, let nat­ur­al re­al­ism pass for pos­si­ble. Your mind and mine may ter­mi­nate in the same per­cept, not mere­ly against it, as if it were a third ex­ter­nal thing, but by in­sert­ing them­selves into it and co­a­lesc­ing with it, for such is the sort of con­junc­tive union that ap­pears to be ex­pe­ri­enced when a per­cep­tu­al ter­mi­nus ful­fils. Even so, two hawsers may em­brace the same pile, and yet nei­ther one of them touch any other part ex­cept that pile, of what the other hawser is at­tached to. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 9)

It is there­fore not a for­mal ques­tion, but a ques­tion of em­pir­i­cal fact sole­ly, whether when you and I are said to know the same Memo­r­i­al Hall, our minds do ter­mi­nate at or in a nu­mer­i­cal­ly iden­ti­cal per­cept. Ob­vi­ous­ly, as a plain mat­ter of fact, they do not. Apart from col­or-blind­ness and such pos­si­bil­i­ties, we see the Hall in dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. You may be on one side of it and I on an­oth­er. The per­cept of each of us, as he sees the sur­face of the Hall, is more­over only his pro­vi­sion­al ter­mi­nus. The next thing be­yond my per­cept is not your mind, but more per­cepts of my own into which my first per­cept de­vel­ops, the in­te­ri­or of the Hall, for in­stance, or the inner struc­ture of its bricks and mor­tar. If our minds were in a lit­er­al sense conter­mi­nous, nei­ther could get be­yond the per­cept which they had in com­mon, it would be an ul­ti­mate bar­ri­er be­tween them — un­less in­deed they flowed over it and be­came co-con­scious over a still larg­er part of their con­tent, which (thought-trans­fer­ence apart) is not sup­posed to be the case. In point of fact the ul­ti­mate com­mon bar­ri­er can al­ways be pushed, by both minds, far­ther than any ac­tu­al per­cept of ei­ther, until at last it re­solves it­self into the mere no­tion of im­per­cep­ti­bles like atoms or ei­ther, so that, where we do ter­mi­nate in per­cepts, our knowl­edge is only spe­cious­ly com­plet­ed, being, in the­o­ret­ic strict­ness, only a vir­tu­al knowl­edge of those re­mot­er ob­jects which con­cep­tion car­ries out. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 10)

Is nat­ur­al re­al­ism, per­mis­si­ble in logic, re­fut­ed then by em­pir­i­cal fact? Do our minds have no ob­ject in com­mon after all? (Essay II § 6 ¶ 11)

Yet, they cer­tain­ly have Space in com­mon. On prag­mat­ic prin­ci­ples we are oblig­ed to pred­i­cate same­ness wher­ev­er we can pred­i­cate no as­sign­a­ble point of dif­fer­ence. If two named things have every qual­i­ty and func­tion in­dis­cernible, and are at the same time in the same place, they must be writ­ten down as nu­mer­i­cal­ly one thing under two dif­fer­ent names. But there is no test dis­cov­er­able, so far as I know, by which it can be shown that the place oc­cu­pied by your per­cept of Memo­r­i­al Hall dif­fers from the place oc­cu­pied by mine. The per­cepts them­selves may be shown to dif­fer; but if each of us be asked to point out where his per­cept is, we point to an iden­ti­cal spot. All the re­la­tions, whether geo­met­ri­cal or causal, of the Hall orig­i­nate or ter­mi­nate in that spot where­in our hands meet, and where each of us be­gins to work if he wish­es to make the Hall change be­fore the other’s eyes. Just so it is with our bod­ies. That body of yours which you ac­tu­ate and feel from with­in must be in the same spot as the body of yours which I see or touch from with­out. There for me means where I place my fin­ger. If you do not feel my fin­ger’s con­tact to be there in my sense, when I place it on your body, where then do you feel it? Your inner ac­tu­a­tions of your body meet my fin­ger there: it is there that you re­sist its push, or shrink back, or sweep the fin­ger aside with your hand. What­ev­er far­ther knowl­edge ei­ther of us may ac­quire of the real con­sti­tu­tion of the body which we thus feel, you from with­in and I from with­out, it is in that same place that the newly con­ceived or per­ceived con­stituents have to be lo­cat­ed, and it is through that space that your and my men­tal in­ter­course with each other has al­ways to be car­ried on, by the me­di­a­tion of im­pres­sions which I con­vey thith­er, and of the re­ac­tions thence which those im­pres­sions may pro­voke from you. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 12)

In gen­er­al terms, then, what­ev­er dif­fer­ing con­tents our minds may even­tu­al­ly fill a place with, the place it­self is a nu­mer­i­cal­ly iden­ti­cal con­tent of the two minds, a piece of com­mon prop­er­ty in which, through which, and over which they join. The re­cep­ta­cle of cer­tain of our ex­pe­ri­ences being thus com­mon, the ex­pe­ri­ences them­selves might some day be­come com­mon also. If that day ever did come, our thoughts would ter­mi­nate in a com­plete em­pir­i­cal iden­ti­ty, there would be an end, so far as those ex­pe­ri­ences went, to our dis­cus­sions about truth. No points of dif­fer­ence ap­pear­ing, they would have to count as the same. (Essay II § 6 ¶ 13)

Essay II § 6, n. 1: [Cf, How Two Minds Can Know One Thing, below, pp. 123-136.] (e2 § 6n1 ¶ 1)

Essay II § 6, n. 2: The no­tions that our ob­jects are in­side of our re­spec­tive heads is not se­ri­ous­ly de­fen­si­ble, so I pass it by. (e2 § 6n2 ¶ 1)

Essay II § 6, n. 3: [The ar­gu­ment is re­sumed below, pp. 101 sq. Ed.] (e2 § 6n3 ¶ 1)

VII. Con­clu­sion

With this we have the out­lines of a phi­los­o­phy of pure ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore us. At the out­set of my essay, I called it a mo­sa­ic phi­los­o­phy. In ac­tu­al mo­saics the pieces are held to­geth­er by their bed­ding, for which bed­ding of the Sub­stances, tran­scen­den­tal Egos, or Ab­solutes of other philoso­phies may be taken to stand. In rad­i­cal em­piri­cism there is no bed­ding; it is as if the pieces clung to­geth­er by their edges, the tran­si­tions ex­pe­ri­enced be­tween them form­ing their ce­ment. Of course such a metaphor is mis­lead­ing, for in ac­tu­al ex­pe­ri­ence the more sub­stan­tive and the more tran­si­tive parts run into each other con­tin­u­ous­ly, there is in gen­er­al no sep­a­rate­ness need­ing to be over­come by an ex­ter­nal ce­ment; and what­ev­er sep­a­rate­ness is ac­tu­al­ly ex­pe­ri­enced is not over­come, it stays and counts as sep­a­rate­ness to the end. But the metaphor serves to sym­bol­ize the fact that Ex­pe­ri­ence it­self, taken at large, can grow by its edges. That one mo­ment of it pro­lif­er­ates into the next by tran­si­tions which, whether con­junc­tive or dis­junc­tive, con­tin­ue the ex­pe­ri­en­tial tis­sue, can no, I con­tend, be de­nied. Life is in the tran­si­tions as much as in the terms con­nect­ed; often, in­deed, it seems to be there more em­phat­i­cal­ly, as if our spurts and sal­lies for­ward were the real fir­ing-line of the bat­tle, were like the thin line of flame ad­vanc­ing across the dry au­tum­nal field which the farmer pro­ceeds to burn. In this line we live prospec­tive­ly as well as ret­ro­spec­tive­ly. It is of the past, inas­much as it comes ex­press­ly as the past’s con­tin­u­a­tion; it is of the fu­ture in so far as the fu­ture, when it comes, will have con­tin­ued it. (Essay II § 7 ¶ 1)

These re­la­tions of con­tin­u­ous tran­si­tion ex­pe­ri­enced are what make our ex­pe­ri­ences cog­ni­tive. In the sim­plest and com­pletest cases the ex­pe­ri­ences are cog­ni­tive of one an­oth­er. When one of them ter­mi­nates a pre­vi­ous se­ries of them with a sense of ful­fil­ment, it, we say, is what those other ex­pe­ri­ences had in view. The knowl­edge, in such a case, is ver­i­fied; the truth is salt­ed down. Main­ly, how­ev­er, we live on spec­u­la­tive in­vest­ments, or on our prospects only. But liv­ing on things in posse is as good as liv­ing in the ac­tu­al, so long as our cred­it re­mains good. It is ev­i­dent that for the most part it is good, and that the uni­verse sel­dom protests our drafts. (Essay II § 7 ¶ 2)

In this sense we at every mo­ment can con­tin­ue to be­lieve in an ex­ist­ing be­yond. It is only in spe­cial cases that our con­fi­dent rush for­ward gets re­buked. The be­yond must, of course, al­ways in our phi­los­o­phy be it­self of an ex­pe­ri­en­tial na­ture. If not a fu­ture ex­pe­ri­ence of our own or a pre­sent one of our neigh­bor, it must be a thing in it­self in Dr. Prince’s and Pro­fes­sor Strong’s sense of the term — that is, it must be an ex­pe­ri­ence for it­self whose re­la­tion to other things we trans­late into the ac­tion of mol­e­cules, ether-waves, or what­ev­er else the phys­i­cal sym­bols may be. This opens the chap­ter of the re­la­tions of rad­i­cal em­piri­cism to panspy­chism, into which I can­not enter now. (Essay II § 7 ¶ 3)

The be­yond can in any case exist si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly — for it can be ex­pe­ri­enced to have ex­ist­ed si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly — with the ex­pe­ri­ence that prac­ti­cal­ly pos­tu­lates it by look­ing in its di­rec­tion, or by turn­ing or chang­ing in the di­rec­tion of which it is the goal. Pend­ing that ac­tu­al­i­ty of union, in the vir­tu­al­i­ty of which the truth, even now, of the pos­tu­la­tion con­sists, the be­yond and its know­er are en­ti­ties split off from each other. The world is in so far forth a plu­ral­ism of which the unity is not fully ex­pe­ri­enced as yet. But, as fast as ver­i­fi­ca­tions come, trains of ex­pe­ri­ence, once sep­a­rate, run into one an­oth­er; and that is why I said, ear­li­er in my ar­ti­cle, that the unity of the world is on the whole un­der­go­ing in­crease. The uni­verse con­tin­u­al­ly grows in quan­ti­ty by new ex­pe­ri­ences that graft them­selves upon the older mass; but these very new ex­pe­ri­ences often help the mass to a more con­sol­i­dat­ed form. These are the main fea­tures of a phi­los­o­phy of pure ex­pe­ri­ence. It has in­nu­mer­able other as­pects and arous­es in­nu­mer­able ques­tions, but the points I have touched on seem enough to make an en­ter­ing wedge. In my own mind such a phi­los­o­phy har­mo­nizes best with a rad­i­cal plu­ral­ism, with nov­el­ty and in­de­ter­min­ism, moral­ism and the­ism, and with the hu­man­ism late­ly sprung upon us by the Ox­ford and the Chica­go schools. I can not, how­ev­er, be sure that all these doc­trines are its nec­es­sary and in­dis­pens­able al­lies. It pre­sents so many points of dif­fer­ence, both from the com­mon sense and from the ide­al­ism that have made our philo­soph­ic lan­guage, that it is al­most dif­fi­cult to state it as it is to think it out clear­ly, and if it is ever to grow into a re­spectable sys­tem, it will have to be built up by the con­tri­bu­tions of many co-op­er­at­ing minds. It seems to me, as I said at the out­set of this essay, that many minds are, in point of fact, now turn­ing in a di­rec­tion that points to­wards rad­i­cal em­piri­cism. If they are car­ried far­ther by my words, and if then they add their stronger voic­es to my fee­bler one, the pub­li­ca­tion of this essay will have been worth while. (Essay II § 7 ¶ 4)

Essay II § 7, n. 1: Our minds and these ejec­tive re­al­i­ties would still have space (or pseu­do-space, as I be­lieve Pro­fes­sor Strong calls the medi­um of in­ter­ac­tion be­tween things-in-them­selves) in com­mon. These would exist where, and begin to act where, we lo­cate the mol­e­cules, etc., and where we per­ceive the sen­si­ble phe­nom­e­na ex­plained there­by. (e2 § 7n1 ¶ 1)

Essay II § 7, n. 2: [Cf. below, p. 188; A Plu­ral­is­tic Uni­verse, Lect. IV-VII.] (e2 § 7n2 ¶ 1)

Essay II § 7, n. 3: I have said some­thing of this lat­ter al­liance in an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled Hu­man­ism and Truth, in Mind, Oc­to­ber, 1904. [Reprint­ed in The Mean­ing of Truth, pp. 51-101. Cf. also Hu­man­ism and Truth Once More, below, pp. 244-265.] (e2 § 7n3 ¶ 1)