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BERTRAND RUSSELL

OUR KNOWLEDGE
OF THE
EXTERNAL WORLD
AS A FIELD FOR SCIENTIFIC
METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY

GEORGE ALLEN & U N WIN LTD
RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, LONDON

The World of the External of Physics 42 World and the World of Sense V. Current Tendencies 13 Logic as the Essence of Philosophy III. with Applications to the Free-Will Problem Index 214 247 . The 189 VIII.CONTENTS PAGE LECTURE I. Positive Theory of Infinity the Notion of Cause. 70 106 135 The Problem of Infinity Considered Historically 159 VII. On Our Knowledge IV. On VI. The Theory of Continuity . II.

we may distin- . method of philosophy have. philosophers have been ready with glib assertions about the sum-total of things . than any other branch. to indicate wherein the claims of philosophers have been excessive. Ever since Thales said that all is water. by a more patient and more adequate method. while other more neglected but not less important problems can. chiefly by taking certain special problems as examples. The problems and the I believe. and equally glib denials have come from other philosophers ever since Thales was contradicted by Anaximander. I believe that the time has now arrived when this unsatisfactory state of things can be brought to an end. Among present-day philosophies. and achieved fewer results. many of its traditional problems being insoluble with our means of knowledge. and why their achieve- ments have not been greater. In the following course of lectures I shall try. been miscon- ceived by all schools.OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE EXTERNAL WORLD LECTURE I CURRENT TENDENCIES PHILOSOPHY. be solved with all the precision and certainty to which the most advanced sciences have attained. from the earliest times. has made greater ml aim a. of learning.

the same kind of advance as was introduced into physics by Galileo the substitution of : piecemeal. chiefly through William James and M. derived its predominance from Darwin. The second type. I believe. This type of philosophy. gradually crept into philosophy through the critical scrutiny of mathematics. far bolder and far more searching in its innovations than it was in the hands of Herbert Spencer. the classical tradition. we the other two types new criticize has to contend. has not as yet many whole-hearted adherents. Bergson. But before we can understand the changes advocated by this must briefly with which examine and it A. and must be reckoned as having had Herbert Spencer for its first philosophical representative but in recent times it has become. The third type. THE CLASSICAL TRADITION ago. having the opposing tradition of the English vanquished Twenty years . which is the one that I wish to advocate. it represents the attempt to adapt to present needs the methods and results of the great constructive philosophers from Plato downwards. The first of these. often combined in varying by a single philosopher. and verifiable results for large untested generalities recommended only by a certain appeal to imagination. It represents. but the "new realism" which owes its inception to Harvard is very largely impregnated with its spirit. but in essence proportions and tendency distinct. descends in the main from Kant and Hegel . detailed. which may be called " " for want of a better name. has logical atomism . which I shall call the classical tradition. philosophy. which may be called evolutionism.14 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY guish three principal types.

Nevertheless. and it has failed to adapt itself to the temper of the age. opponents combined spite of . in empiricists. it is far stronger than all its and in Germany it had many vigorous advocates. apart from reasoned in the main. in the Middle Ages and almost to our own day. held Anglo-Saxon universities. and the strangeness of their results gave them no qualms because they believed in the correctness of their reasoning. that the world of sense is a world of mere illusion . Bergson. and making our age one of bewildered grouping where our ancestors walked in the clear daylight of unquestioning certainty. They would prove. M.CURRENT TENDENCIES 15 almost unquestioned sway in all At the present day. Its advocates are. There are. Thus it came to be thought that by mere thinking the most surprising and important truths concerning the whole of reality could be established with a certainty which no contrary observations could shake. rather than those who have felt the inspiration of science. that there is no such thing as change. its place was taken by authority and tradition. The it discovery of geometry had intoxicated them. and its a priori deductive method appeared capable of universal application. many of the most prominent teachers still adhere to it. In academic France. . certain general intellectual forces against the same general forces which are breaking down the other great syntheses of the past. whose extra-philosophical knowledge is liteniry. by systematic theology. it represents on the whole a decaying force. that all reality is one. reinforced. The original impulse out of which the classical tradition developed was the naive faith of the Greek philosophers in the omnipotence of reasoning. though it is losing ground. for instance. those arguments. As the vital impulse of the early philosophers died away.

BradThe world appears to be full of ley's method. and could prove reality to be quite different from what. except in Great Britain. it appears to be. All these. or of thought and will as we know them. to direct logic. the first called Appearance. and to leave no tenable alternative to the kind of Absolute which is finally affirmed to be real. qualify reality. Bradley. it still believed. The first part examines and condemns almost all that makes up our everyday world things and qualities. are not real as they appear. observation. but does not consist of souls. let us consider for a moment the doctrines of Mr. . to a scientific attitude in philosophy. though in some sense facts which relations. who is probably the most distinguished British representative of this school. activity. It is this belief. Mr. One brief example may suffice to illustrate Mr. still accepted more or less uncritically the Aristotelian Moreover. classical tradition particular : and time. from Descartes onwards. that a priori reasoning could reveal otherwise undiscoverable secrets about the universe. For this purpose. Bradley's Appearance and Reality is a book consisting of two parts. And all this is established by abstract logical reasoning professing to find self-contradictions in the categories condemned as mere appearance. that I than any particular tenets resulting from regard as the distinguishing characteristic of the and as hitherto the main obstacle classical tradition. indivisible. though not bound by authority like that of the Middle Ages. rather it. What is real is one single. which is in some sense spiritual. timeless whole. space the self. the second Reality. change. called the Absolute. The nature of the philosophy embodied in the may be made clearer by taking a exponent as an illustration.16 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY Modern philosophy. causation.

to the qualities. unintelligible. For the relation hardly can be the mere adjective of one or both of its terms . and this bond of union is a link which also has two ends . then clearly we shall require a new connecting relation. He first argues that. that it is calculated to produce bewilderment rather than conviction. 32-33. pp. and so on. then they are not related at all. : since we are forced to go on finding new relations without end. if it does not itself bear a relation to the terms. in what intelligible way will it succeed in being anything to them ? But here again we are hurried off into the eddy of a hopeless process.CURRENT TENDENCIES 17 things with various relations to each other right and left. before and after. or. as we saw. But relations. being something itself. as such it seems indefensible. if so. of method. if there are relations. or to 1 Appearance and Reality. and this problem is I insoluble. they have ceased to be qualities. there must be qualities between which they hold. I think. according to Mr. And. and. at least. This part of his argument need not detain He then proceeds us. But if it is to be something to them. and their relation is a nonentity. The links are united by a link. "But how the relation can stand to the qualities If it is nothing is. father and son. on the other side. and these require each a fresh IfriTr to connect them with the old. axe many found on examination to be self-contradictory and therefore impossible. The problem is to find how the relation can stand to its qualities." do not propose to examine this argument in show the exact points where. because there is more likelihood of error I detail. 2 . I have quoted it only as an example it is fallacious. Most people will admit. in my opinion. Bradley.

To the early Greeks. It is easy to carry such suspicion too far. to whom geometry was practically the only known science. logic is made to condemn all of them except one. abstract. it. was possible to follow reasoning with assent even when it led to the strangest conclusions. but I do not think is that which it has in the classiIn that tradition. it has become natural to suspect a fallacy in any deduction of which the conclusion appears to contradict patent facts. that has diminished the hold of the classical tradition upon students of philosophy and the instructed public this. generally. logic becomes con- function its cal tradition. and that one actual world. and difficult argument than in so patent a fact as the interrelatedness of the things in the world. it . taken possibility of hitherto unsusmore alternatives often than the impossibility pected priori. then pronounced to be realized in the Thus the world is constructed by means is of logic. our knowledge of the long history of a priori errors refuted by empirical science. to be equally possible.SCIENTIFIC i8 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY in a very subtle. and it is very desirable. But there is no doubt that what we may call the empirical outlook has become part of most educated people's habit of mind and it is error . But to us. is all-important . with our methods of experiment and observation. if possible. The true function of logic is. rather than any definite argument. actually to discover the exact nature of the when it exists. Where a number of alternatives seem. structive through negation. it is analytic rather a shows the than constructive . As applied to matters of experi- my ence. at first sight. in opinion. as I shall try to show at a later stage. The function of logic in philosophy. exactly the opposite of this. with little or no appeal to concrete experience.

even for those whose faith in logic is greatest . The universe. roughly speaking. and even the philosophical world tends more and more to pass them by. according to this know everything. perhaps the whole contents of the space and time in which we live form only one of many universes. has swept away the ambitious constructions of traditional metaphysics. Thus." like an animal or a perfect work of art. By this it means. while it liberates imagination as to what the world may be. while to the many who regard logic as a chimera the paradoxical systems to which it has given rise do not seem worthy even of refutation. And thus the conception of the necessary unity of all that is . it refuses to legislate as to what the world is. This change. each seeming to itself complete. while at other times it is defended by certain logical If it is true. This belief is sometimes advanced dogmatically.CURRENT TENDENCIES of alternatives which seemed prima fade 19 possible. a miniature reflection of the whole. But further. every part of the universe arguments. is a microcosm. Thus on all sides these systems have ceased to attract. it tells us. that all the different parts fit together and co-operate. One or two of the favourite doctrines of the school we are considering may be mentioned to illustrate the nature of its claims. and are what they are because of their place in the whole. which has been brought about by an internal revolution in logic. is " an organic unity. ourselves thoroughly. If we knew we doctrine. If there in China with whom are living beings in Mars or in more distant parts of the universe. the same argument becomes even stronger. Common sense should would naturally object that there are people say our relations are so indirect and trivial that we cannot infer anything important as to them from any fact about ourselves.

In their idealising dreams. Another very important doctrine held by most. it was safety and order that they sought : the universe of Thomas Aquinas or Dante is as small and neat as a Dutch interior. decide as to The classical tradition in philosophy is the last sur- viving child of two very diverse parents : the Greek and the mediaeval belief in the tidiness of the universe. of the school we are examining is the " " doctrine that all reality is what is called mental or "spiritual. but what is not known to any mind. to whom safety has become monotony. amid wars. while the older logic shut out possibilities and imprisoned imagination within the walls of the familiar. and a freer logic emancipates us from the strait-waistcoated benevolent institution which idealism palms off as the totality of being. And when I speak of the unknown. and refuses to what must happen. though not all.20 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY resolves itself into the poverty of imagination. and that nothing can exist unless it either knows or is known. to whom the . Here as elsewhere." or that. I do not mean merely what we personally do not know. who lived belief in reason. at any rate. the newer reality. Here again the same legislative function is ascribed to a priori argumentation it is thought that there are contradictions in an unknown : am not mistaken. the argument show that no limits can be set to the extent and nature of the unknown. This view is often particularized into the form which states that the relation of knower and known is funda- mental. Again. is fallacious. To the schoolmen. logic if I and a better logic will shows rather what may happen. and pestilences. nothing appeared so delightful as safety and order. all reality is dependent for its existence upon what is mental. To us. massacres.

The barbaric substratum of human nature. a sure antidote to the ratiocinative authority of the Greeks and the dogmatic authority of mediaeval systems. Something of Hellenism 1 Written before August 1914. Nietzsche. Against so fashionable and so agreeable a creed it may seem useless to raise a protest . that has thrust aside the classical tradition for a philosophy which fancies itself more . the world of dreams is very different from what Hence it was amid the wars of Guelf and Ghibelline. and vital to a true understanding of the universe has been forgotten. vailing creed of our time. in one form or another. pragmatism. much that is important. a liberator of hopes. as finds an outlet in imagination. and with much of its spirit of every modern man must be in sympathy. hence the verbal bloodthirstiness of many quiet literary men.CURRENT TENDENCIES 21 primeval savageries of nature are so remote as to become a mere pleasing condiment to our ordered routine. William James's protest against what he calls the " " block universe of the classical tradition . the prepolitics. rather than formal argument. virile and more vital. and their popularity far beyond the circles of professional philosophers shows its consonance with the spirit of the age. and not least our philosophy. It is dominates our our literature. But I think that. this tendency is visible and it is this. an iospirer an invigorating faith in human power. hence Nietzsche's worship of force . in the intoxication of a quick success. In philosophy. ' . 1 B. are phases in its philosophic development. EVOLUTIONISM Evolutionism. elsewhere. unsatisfied in action. Bergson. It believes itself firmly based on science.

and all sharp outlines were blurred. Things and species lost their boundaries. which was enshrined in the Aristotelian tradition. and requiring a severer disphilosophy. The sun and planets had already been shown by Laplace to be very probably derived from a primitive more or less undifferentiated nebula. was shown to be a gradual achievement. involving intermediate beings who could not with certainty be placed either within or without the human family. which had rendered classification easy and definite. appealing to less mundane hopes. And it is time to remember that biology is neither the only science. it soon found a way to " reassert itself. nor yet the model to which all other sciences must adapt themselves. The difference between man and the lower animals. as I shall try to show. was suddenly swept away for ever out of the biological world. Thus the old fixed landmarks became wavering and indistinct. and that way is the " of philosophy evolution. Darwin's Origin of Species persuaded the world that the difference between different species of animals and plants is not the fixed. A process which led from the amoeba to . But if human conceit was staggered for a moment by its kinship with the ape. either in its which it considers. and none could say where they began or where they ended. immutable difference that it appears to be. cipline for its successful practice. which to our human conceit appears enormous. and protected by its supposed necessity for orthodox dogma.22 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY must be combined with the new spirit before it can emerge from the ardour of youth into the wisdom of manhood. Evolutionism. is not a truly scientific method or in the problems The true scientific philosophy is something more arduous and more aloof. The doctrine of natural kinds.

CURRENT TENDENCIES 23 man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a though whether the amoeba would agree with this opinion is not known. The older kind of teleology. and its reasonings which seem able to compel even the most unwilling assent. those whom " " tender-minded William James described as the have been engaged in a desperate struggle with the mechanical view of the course of nature which physical science seems to impose. Not only the aspirations. An ideal to which the world continuously approaches is. but the whole apparently immutable apparatus of logic. must change and develop with the course of evolution . though it might itself satisfy Spencer and those whom we may call Hegelian be accepted as adequate by evolutionists. too dead and static to be inspiring. but a continual fashioning of fresh needs by the impulse which is life and which alone gives unity to the process. there must be no fixed goal. with its fixed concepts. the believe that a more radical escape is possible. could not the more whole-hearted votaries of change. " " tender-minded with the influence of biology. already partially visible. Hence the cycle of changes which science had shown to be the probable history of the past was welcomed as revealing a law of development towards good in the universe an progress evolution or unfolding of an ideal slowly embodying in the actual. which regarded the End as a fixed goal. towards which we were gradually approaching. is rejected by M. Ever since the seventeenth century. therefore. A great part of the attractiveness of the classical tradition was due to the partial escape from mechanism which it provided. But such a view. sweeping aside not merely the laws of physics. Bergson as not allowing enough for . its general principles. to these minds. but the ideal too. But now.

with this sole difference. " Yet finalism is not. It is so extensible. a perception which would vanish. by straying from the path foreseen by mechanics. 41. for a mind seated at the centre of things. . : implies that things and beings merely realize a pro- previously arranged. he proceeds t why " But radical finalism is quite as unacceptable. As in the mechanistic hypo- gramme here again it is supposed that all is given. It springs from the same postulate. Finalism thus understood is only inverted mechanism. like a rising mist. that in the movement of our finite intellects thesis. we It admits of as many inflec- The mechanistic philosophy is to be taken or left it must be left if the least grain of dust. will never be definitively refuted. in its extreme form. After explaining he does not accept mechanism. In the doctrine of Leibniz. But succession remains none the less a mere appearance. like mechanism. as indeed does movement itself. as we find it in Leibniz for example. Tfrigijgh translation. But if there is nothing unforeseen. should show the slightest trace of spontaneity. Its principle. along successive things.24 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY the absolute dominion of change. relative to the human standpoint. on the contrary. : doctrine of final causes. It substitutes the attraction of the future for the impulsion of the past. If one form of it be put aside. is very flexible. whose successiveness is reduced to a mere appearance. and for the same reason. that one accepts some* Creative Evolution. The doctrine of teleology. no invention or creation in the universe. it holds in front of us the light with which it claims to guide us. instead of putting it behind. The tions as like. p. and thereby so comprehensive. it will take another. a doctrine with fixed rigid outlines. time is useless again. time is reduced to a confused perception. which is essentially psychological.

because they are too " " static what is real is an impulse and movement . imaginary congealings of the stream reality flows on in spite : and though it can be lived. in his philosophy. that its truth does not follow from what science has rendered probable concerning the facts of evolution. and secondly. unbroken transition. and makes every place different when we reach it from what it appeared to be at a distance. physics. disappear in this philosophy. will be better than the the reader is like the child who past or the present though we cannot foresee : expects a sweet because it has been told to open its mouth and shut its eyes. in which all divisions are artificial and unreal. At present I wish to make only two criticisms of it first. without explicit of all our fictions. the assurance is slipped in that the future. Bergson's form of finalism depends upon his conception of life. statement. it cannot be conceived in thought. and the problems with it deals are so special. are mere convenient fictions there is only smooth. Somehow. and must be replaced by new beliefs to meet the new situation. Now I do not propose at present to enter upon a technical examination of this philosophy. that the motives and interests which inspire it are so exclusively practical. thinking consists of convenient fictions." M. shall put forward in this book will The theory we therefore necessarily partake of finalism to a certain extent. Life. like the rainbow. The beliefs of to-day may count : as true to-day. mathematics. is a continuous stream. beginnings and endings. that it can hardly be which . towards a goal which. it. All our . Separate things. if they cany us along the stream but to-morrow they will be false. Logic.CURRENT TENDENCIES thing of it 25 as soon as one rejects pure mechanism. recedes as we advance.

matter on the earth's surface are very important to us but to us as philosophers than other changes in interest have no greater they portions of matter elsewhere. is that we cannot understand the world unless we can understand change and continuity. a question to be solved by appeals to particular facts. This is even more evident in physics than it is in biology. yet it is only in touching on this question as active sentient beings . rendered probable is that the (i) What biology has diverse species arose by adaptation from a less differentiated ancestry. from biology. Philosophy is general. that evolutionism reaches the subject-matter of philo . no one would admit for a moment so crude a generalization from such a tiny What does result. In assuming dogmatically a certain answer to this question. that gives no ground for believing that progress is a general law of the universe. Except under the influence of desire.26 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY regarded as really touching any of the questions that to my mind constitute genuine philosophy. but it is not the kind of fact from which philosophical consequences follow. therefore. This fact is in itself exceedingly interesting. But the analysis of change and continuity is not a problem upon which either physics or biology throws any light: it is a problem of a new kind. but from all the sciences which deal with what exists. and takes an impartial interest in all that The changes suffered by minute portions of exists. not specially selection of facts. And if the changes on the earth's surface during the last few minions of years appear to our present ethical notions to be in the nature of a progress. evolutionism ceases to be scientific. belonging to a different kind of study. The question whether evolutionism offers a true or a false answer to this problem is not. such as biology and physics reveal.

But what is evident is that any proposition about the future belongs by its subject-matter to some particular science. and is to be ascertained. it must have a province consideration that philosophy.CURRENT TENDENCIES 27 sophy. the other not scientific. It must be admitted that the same may be said of the question of other philosophies. Knowledge concerning the future which is the kind of knowledge that must be sought if we are to know about human destiny is possible within It is impossible to say how certain narrow limits. but a mere unsupported dogma. The predominant interest of evolutionism is in human destiny. if at is : of its own. belonging to philosophy by its subject-matter. and it is our object to discover how this can be achieved it is necessary first and foremost that philosophers should acquire the disinterested intellectual curiosity which characterizes the genuine man of science. is destiny and happiness than in knowledge for its own sake. much the limits may be 'enlarged with the progress many of science. all. is one which has very . by the methods of that science. if there is such a study. or at least of the more of It interested in morality life. and that a desire for the kind of knowledge which philosophy really can give But if philosophy is to become scientific is very rare. Evolutionism thus consists of two parts one not philosophical. Philosophy not a short cut to the same kind of results as those of the other sciences if it is to be a genuine study. must consist of propositions which could The not occur in the other sciences. and aim at results which the other sciences can neither prove nor disprove. but in no way deducible from the : facts (2) upon which evolutionism relies. but only a hasty generalization of the kind which the special sciences might hereafter confirm or confute.

therefore. at least in theory. the kind of satisfaction which the other sciences offer. Evolutionism. All the questions which have what is called a human interest such. or of the destiny of the universe. to special sciences. in disastrous conflict with well-attested facts. We must. of being decided by empirical Philosophers have too often. What evidence. accompanied of all attempts at analysis. as a result. it cannot be regarded as any more*genuinely scientific than the classical tradition which it has replaced. it may be indirectly useful in notably mathematics. and found themselves. and But a genuinely scientific philosophy cannot hope to appeal to any except those who have other sciences. It offers. when it is purified from all practical taint. of fruitful hypotheses. in its own domain. But it does not offer. . physics. a solution of the problem of human destiny. therefore. of its appeal to detailed results in various sciences. at least in theory. permitted can do. and are capable.28 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY far-reaching consequences. How philosophy is to be rendered scientific. by the suggestion things. is to be regarded as a hasty generalization from certain rather special facts. themselves to pronounce on empirical questions. and what is the true subject-matter of philosophy. renounce the hope that philosophy can promise satisfaction to our mundane desires. by a dogmatic rejection and inspired by interests which are practical rather than theoretical. In spite. the wish to understand. in the past. as the question of a future life belong. for example. or attempt to offer. psychology. to help us to understand the general aspects of the world and the logical analysis of familiar but complex it is Through this achievement. to escape from intellectual bewilderment. if what has been said is true.

and is indeed increasingly urged by physicists themselves. starting from what. the lonians were more scientific. 85 ff. 1 But among the latter. We will begin I shall try to results. which. are challenged by the contentions of the evolutionists.CURRENT TENDENCIES 29 show first by examples of certain achieved and then more generally. That these conceptions stand in need of reconstruction will be admitted. from the first. But I do not think the reconstruction required is on Bergsonian lines. Pythagoras. Among the earliest Greek philosophers. Burnet. nor do I think that his rejection of logic can be anything but harmful. for example. as we have seen. and keeping always as dose to these initial data as the requirements of consistency will permit. yet it seems necessary to say something at the outset in justification of the scientific as against the mystical attitude. It will also be admitted that the reconstruction must take more account of change and the universal flux than is done in the older mechanics with its fundamental conception of an indestructible matter. has been developed by the union or the conflict of these two attitudes. was in himself a curious mixture of the two tendencies: the scientific attitude led him to his proposition on right-angled triangles. I shall not. with the problem of the physical conceptions of space and time and matter. pp. but rather the explicit method of independent inquiry. while his mystic insight showed him that it is wicked to eat beans. Metaphysics. Although explicit controversy is almost fruitless in philosophy. * Cf. appear to be facts. in a prephilosophic stage. owing to the fact that always no two ever understand one another. adopt the method of controversy. . however. Early Greek Philosophy. and the Sicilians more philosophers mystical.

things. adopted from the Eleatics the device of using logic to defeat common sense. and secures ultimate victory whenever the conflict is sharp. and thus to leave the field clear for mysticism a device still employed in our own day by the adherents of the classical tradition. and in a later lecture I shall criticize But the more thoroughgoing it on this ground. the lovers of right-angled triangles and the but the former sect died out. but the mystical attitude is distinctly the stronger of the two. rather than. some tincture of it colours the thoughts of many people. mystics do not employ logic. his followers divided into two sects. is to them the way of wisdom. which alone give anything worthy to be called real knowledge of truth. and in particular over Plato's views on mathematics. over much Greek mathematical speculation. they feel something quite different obscurely shimmers. Plato. of course. In all who seek passionately for the fugitive and difficult goods. Plato. shining forth clearly in the great moments of illumination. moreover. particularly as regards matter on which they have strong convictions not based on evidence. which they despise: they appeal instead directly to the immediate deliverance of their insight. abhorrers of beans flavour of mysticism a however. the conviction is almost irresistible that there is in the world something deeper. although fully developed mysticism is rare in the West. Now. more significant. To seek such moments. attitudes in a higher form than his predecessors.30 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY Naturally enough. haunting leaving. embodies both the scientific and mystical . therefore. like the . than the multiplicity of little facts chronicled and Behind the mundane veil of these classified by science. The logic used in defence of mysticism seems to me faulty as logic.

Even in the most purely logical realms. to analyse without emotion. It is common to speak of an between instinct and reason. and to accept without question the equal reality of the trivial and the important. of agreement with other beliefs no less instinctive. as the purely rationalistic defence of traditional theology became increasingly difficult. Berg" son. in the last analysis. to observe coolly. or insight is what first leads to the beliefs which subsequent reason confirms or confutes . by all who felt in science a menace to creeds which they associated with a spiritual outlook on life and the world. first by those who rebelled against artificial forms of government and thought. Instinct. it is insight that first arrives at what is new. Where instinct and reason do sometimes conflict is in regard to single beliefs. Of the reality or unreality of the mystic's world I know nothing. nor even to declare that the insight which reveals it is not a genuine insight.CURRENT TENDENCIES 31 man of science. controlling force rather than a creative one. where it is possible. in the its eighteenth century. in spite of the fact of the most important truth is first sug- much gested by opposition means. untested and unsupported. I have no wish to deny it." has raised instinct to the position of sole arbiter of metaphysical truth. but under the influence of Rousseau and the romantic movement instinct was given the preference. is an that insufficient guarantee of truth. the opposition was drawn in favour of reason. under the name of intuition. consists. held instinctively. and then. Reason is a harmonizing. intuition. But in fact the opposition of instinct and reason is mainly illusory. What I do wish to maintain and it is here that the scientific attitude becomes imperative is that insight. and . but the confirmation.

in doubtful cases. and examines. but only to blind reliance upon some one interesting aspect of instinct to the exclusion of other more commonplace but not less trustworthy aspects. The first implies that we move round the object . It is such onesidedness. deals with." There are. It is such considerations that necessitate the harmonizing mediation of reason. least liable to error is in practical matters as to which right judgment is a help to survival. that reason aims at correcting. is liable to Those in whom reason is weak are often unwilling to admit this as regards themselves.SCIENTIFIC 32 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY held with such determination that no degree of inconsistency with other beliefs leads to their abandon- ment. "two by profoundly different ways of knowing a thing. very strong instinctive beliefs may be wholly mistaken. Instinct. though Where instinct is all admit it in regard to others. like all human faculties. such as philosophy . In this there is no opposition to instinct as a whole. the second that we enter into it. are often felt error with extraordinary discrimination through very careful disguises. But even in such matters a wrong imand pression may be given by reserve or flattery in matters less directly practical. These more or less trite maxims may be illustrated " " intuition application to Bergson's advocacy of as against "intellect. friendship and hostility in others. The second . he says. the possible sources of error on the one side and on the other. which tests our beliefs by their mutual compatibility. not instinct itself. for instance. as we may come to know through their perceived inconsistency with other equally strong beliefs. The first depends on the point of view at which we are placed and on the symbols by which we express ourselves.

3 i. by explaining that intellect is a purely practical faculty designed to secure biological success . first. in those cases The it is possible. This procedure. Bergson attempts this justification in two ways first. and by pointing out world which. through the imperis : medium of words. consequent complete condemnation of all the pretended knowledge derived from science and fect common sense. since it takes sides in a conflict of instinctive beliefs. . by mentioning remarkable feats of instinct in animals. 8). stands in need of justification by proving the greater trustworthiness of the beliefs on one side than of those on the other. is. he mentions self-knowledge (p. the second. that tical faculty and it is only through intellect that we know of the struggle and of the biological ancestry of man if for survival : i Introduction to Metaphysics. " there is one reality. though intuition can apprehend them. kind of intellectual sympathy by which one places oneself within an object in order to coincide with where what unique in it and therefore inexpressible" In illustration.CURRENT TENDENCIES 33 neither depends on a point of view nor relies on any symbol. we may say. which is intuition. 6). philosophy consists in reporting. the knowledge gained by intuiand the tion. by intuition and not by simple analysis. p. Of Bergson's theory that intellect is a purely prac- developed in the struggle for survival. is our own personality in its flowing through time " our self which endures The rest of Bergson's (p. at least. secondly. to attain the absolute" z " the second of these. not a source of true beliefs. axe baffling to intellect as he characteristics of the interprets it. he says. which we all seize from It within. The first kind of knowledge may be said to stop at the relative .

in the uneducated than in the educated. Yet the savage deceived by false friendship is likely to pay for his mistake with his life . Bergson apparently holds that capacity for this kind of knowledge is less explicable by the struggle for existence than. on the other hand. that and intellect have been developed because they axe useful. whereas even in the most men are not put to death for mathematical incompetence. on the other hand. speaking broadly. but all our faculties. has occasionally been developed beyond the point where it is useful to the individual . dyeing themselves with woad and living on hips and haws. in civilized man. that have been developed under the stress of practical utility. The best . Let us next examine whether intuition possesses any such infaJlibiJity as Bergson claims for it. Probably in dogs it exceeds anything to be found in human beings. Speaking broadly. intuition. then it is not only intellect. seems on the whole to tuition diminish as civilization increases. Intellect. All the most striking of his civilized societies instances of intuition in animals have survival value. greater in children than in adults. Bergson in thinking that evolution took place as Darwin believed. like artistic capacity. a very direct both in- of course. capacity for pure mathematics. and that. they are useful when they give truth and become harmful when they give falsehood. in regard to other people's characters and dispositions. for example. The fact is. If. we agree with M.34 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY the intellect is misleading. But those who find in these facts a recommendation of it is intuition ought to return to running wild in the woods. Intuition is seen at its best where it is directly useful for example. the whole of this merely inferred history is presumably untrue.

have in their nature meannesses. : : something unique and new at every moment. That there is rare and difficult. -and envies of which they are quite unconscious. so far as I can see. and people flifriTr they see into another soul as into their own. while intuition has the power of apprehending the uniqueness and novelty that always belong to each fresh moment. it is also true that this cannot be fully expressed by means of intellectual concepts. one of the most notable examples of intuition is the knowledge people believe themselves to possess of those with whom they are in love the wall between different personalities seems to become transparent. But direct acquaintance of this kind is given fully in sensation. vanities. for example. experience gradually proves. more groping methods of the intellect are in the long run more reliable. its greater subjective certainty becomes a demerit. on examination. and even where there is no intentional deception. that the supposed insight was illusory.CURRENT TENDENCIES instance of it. It is true that intuition has a convincingness which is while it is present. Bergson maintains that intellect can only deal with things in so far as they resemble what has been experienced in the past. But if it should appear. Yet deception in such cases is constantly practised with success . is certainly true . and does not require. though even their best friends can perceive them without any difficulty. as a rule. to be at least as fallible as intellect. it is almost lacking to intellect impossible to doubt its truth. according to him. Only direct acquaintance can give knowledge of what is unique and new. is 35 our acquaintance with ourselves. Apart from self-knowledge. and that the slower. any special faculty of intuition for . making it only the more irresistibly deceptive. yet self-knowledge is proverbially Most men.

36 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY apprehension. is methods of instinct or intuition will find in this field a favourable ground for their application. but when the ducklings take to the water. but totally incompetent as soon as the surroundings are changed in a way which demands some non-habitual mode of action. intuition will act sometimes (though not always) with a swiftness and precision which are astonishing to the critical But philosophy is not one of the pursuits intellect. The hen with a brood of ducklings no doubt has intuitions which seem to place her inside them. that show intuition at its best. it is a which illustrate our affinity with the past : civilized pursuit. is not a matter of great practical importance to animals. and not merely to know them analytically . Intuition. and even. or even to most civilized men. rough and ready aspect instinct. in fact. or to savages. It is the older kinds of activity. which is the aim of philosophy. a certain aloofness from It is not in philosophy. highly refined. all mundane hopes and fears. but sensation. like all admirable in those customary surroundings which have moulded the habits of the animal in question. matters as self-preservation and love. highly for its success. and. and the hen is left helpless on the shore. the whole apparent intuition is seen to be illusory. a certain liberation from the life of instinct. . and development of instinct. intellect is much more capable of dealing with them than intuition would be. which bring out our kinship with remote generations of animal and semi-human In such ancestors. It is neither intellect nor intuition. It is hardly to be supposed. at times. is an its . that supplies new data but when the data are new in any remarkable manner. demanding. therefore. that the rapid. The theoretical understanding of the world.

and remote. The hope of satisfaction to our more human desires the hope of demonstrating that the world has this or that desirable ethical characteristic is not one which. tellect unanalysed convictions are least deserving of uncritical acceptance.CURRENT TENDENCIES therefore. so far as I can see. that inproves superior to intuition. it will be well to take a survey of the hopes we may retain and the hopes we must abandon. more almost than anywhere else. for example. philosophy can do anything whatever to satisfy. and therefore belongs to the rather special science of psychology than to a difference Thus the ethical interests which have philosophy. : view seems at first sight disappointing. and the habits of thought demanded for best. it is here. but the difference between love and hate is not structure of form or structure. often inspired philosophers must remain in the backsome kind of ethical interest may inspire ground the whole study. but to philosophy they are dosely analogous The general form and attitudes towards objects. that we can hope 37 to see intuition at its On the contrary. and that quick their apprehension. philosophy. of those attitudes towards objects which constitute mental phenomena is a problem for philosophy . we remind ourselves that a similar change has been If this may . but none must obtrude in the detail or be expected in the special results which are sought. The difference between a good world and a bad one is a difference in the particular characteristics of the particular things that exist in these worlds it is not a sufficiently abstract difference to come within the province of : Love and hate. Before embarking upon the somewhat difficult and abstract discussions which lie before us. are strange. since the true objects of philosophy. unusual. are ethical opposites.

Driven from the particular sciences. In pre-scientific ages this was not the case. for example. Presumably.38 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY found necessary in all the other sciences. not to consider whether they are good or bad. The physicist or chemist is not now required to prove the ethical importance of his ions or atoms the biologist is not . must be important in theory also. as it appears in Plato's Timaus for example. the scientific attitude is even more recent and more difficult than in the physical sciences of admiration. : : natural to consider that human nature is either good or bad. so all-important in practice. with its ethical tributes he is merely concerned to find out facts. is full of ethical notions it is an essential part of its purpose to show that the earth is worthy : The modern physicist. hitherto. the belief that the notions of good . It is only during the last century that an ethically neutral science of psychology has grown up. and to suppose that the difference between it is good and bad. is not concerned. as physicist. and have judged philosophies in relation to their wishes. and here too ethical neutrality has been essential to scientific success. Astronomy. when this belief decayed and the dis: interested study of astronomy began. ethical neutrality has been seldom sought and hardly ever achieved. was studied because men believed in astrology it was thought that the movements of the planets had the most direct and important bearing upon the lives of human beings. trary. on the conthough he has no wish to deny that the earth is admirable. many who had found astrology absorbingly interesting decided that astronomy had too little human interest to be worthy of study. expected to prove the utility of the plants or animals which he dissects. Men have remembered their wishes. Physics. In psychology. In philosophy.

if philosophy is not to remain a set of pleasing dreams. recedes and further beyond the limits of what seems In such a world. each serving. The immense extension of our knowledge of facts had in the Renaissance. man's physical control over natural forces has been increasing with unexampled rapidity. at any rate. The ideal of an all-embracing synthesis. taigne. as it two On the one hand. this belief must be driven forth. nothing seems worth while except the discovery of more and more facts. and becomes slovenly through despair. In thought. On the other hand. ambitious systems go swiftly. in science. it has made men distrustful of the theories come and truth of wide. and further . promises to increase in the future beyond assignable limits- ^m alongside of all easily despair ag . It is a commonplace that happiness is not best achieved by those who seek it directly . such as the Middle who invent Ages believed themselves to have attained. each in turn the deathblow to some cherished theory the ordering intellect grows weary. for a moment. Even those : the theories do not. effects upon the general intellectual outlook. and it would seem that the same is true of the good. regard them as anything but a temporary makeshift. in recent times has had. as in the world of Monfeasible. but each in turn proving inadequate to deal with the new facts when they have been found. those who forget good and evil and seek only to know the facts are more likely to achieve good than those who view the world through the distorting medium of their own desires. the new facts have brought new powers.CURRENT TENDENCIES 39 and evil must afford a key to the understanding of the world has sought a refuge in philosophy. to classify known facts and promote the search for new ones. But even from this last refuge.

such as death. and in the suspicion of dogmatism as regards the universe at large. The old fixed limits of human power. can. and no hard facts are allowed to break in upon the dream of omnipotence. In the welcoming of new fact. though less all-embracing and harder of attainment than it appeared to some philosophers in the past. And on the theoretical side. The philosophy. or the dependence of the race on an : equilibrium of cosmic forces. by the pretence of omnipotence. Most of what is greatest in man is called forth in response to the thwarting of his hopes by immutable natural obstacles.40 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY regards ultimate theory there is an immense optimism what man can do seems almost as regards practice boundless. and must not hope to find an answer to the practical problems of life. and thus the very despair of theory is invoked to silence every whisper of doubt as regards the possi- achievement. and open-mindedness of science with something of the Greek feeling for beauty in the abstract world of logic and for the ultimate intrinsic value in the conbilities of practical templation of truth. the modern spirit should. I believe. But both in its practical pretensions and in its theoretical despair it seems to me to go too far. ultimate metaphysical truth. he becomes trivial and a little absurd. patience. are forgotten. therefore. which is to be genuinely inspired by the scientific spirit. be discovered by those who are willing to combine the hopefulness. I think. To those who wish to understand much of what has in the past been most difficult and obscure in the constitu- . be accepted as wholly an advance. No philosophy is tolerated which sets bounds to man's capacity of gratifying his wishes . must deal with somewhat dry and abstract matters.

And it brings with as a new and powerful method of investigation always does a sense of power and a hope of progress more reliable and better grounded than any that rests on hasty and fallacious generalization as to the nature of the universe at large. deemed possible for human minds. it has great rewards to offer triumphs as noteworthy as those of Newton and Darwin. . in the long run. Many hopes which inspired philosophers in the past it cannot da-im to fulfil but other hopes. it can satisfy more fully than former ages could have it . more purely intellectual. and as important. for the moulding of our mental habits.CURRENT TENDENCIES 41 tion of the universe.

and defended by eminent authori" ties as an excellent a training in are so great a not this that I mean to propaedeutic. or else to be. to prob- lems of This is not due to any accident. Aristotle had spoken. and the topics we shall discuss later. to the fact that every philosophical problem. logical. humbug which help in later life. but logic. all reduce themselves. used in the same sense by two different philosophers. all .LECTURE II LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY THE topics we discussed in our first lecture. But it is Ever praise in saying that all philosophy is logic. in the sense in which we are using the But as the word "logic" is never word.e. in the Middle Ages. is found either to be not really philosophical at all. and it was the part of humbler men merely to repeat the lesson after him. Logic. some explanation of what I mean by the word is indispensable at the outset. and down to the present day in teaching. in so far as they are genuinely philosophical. when it is subjected to the necessary analysis and purification. meant no more than a scholastic collection of technical terms and rules of syllogistic inference. The trivial nonsense embodied in this tradition is still set in examinations. since the beginning of the seventeenth centuiy." those habits of solemn i.

of old which has extension the the logic only probably become familiar to the general educated public. The question is of the scope and validity of induction and of great importance to our of great difficulty. The question which then arises is we which from of inference the principle by pass past The answer given by Mill sunrises to future ones ? knowledge. remain merely as one of the principles according to which deductions are effected. . and in one way or other have widened the scope of logic. Now. I do not myself know whether this does afford a ground or not. " Our first instinctive feeling is rise to-morrow ? that we have abundant reason for saying that it will. but rather the widening of the scope of deduction by pointing out a way of deducing which is certainly not syllogistic. which is a difficult question. does not seem to remain when its work is done in the final form of a perfected science. But induction. " Will the sun Take such a question as. : remains at all. The first extension was the introduction of the inductive method by Bacon and Galileo by the former in a theoretical and largely mistaken form. it would seem that everything ought to be deductive. by the latter in actual use in establishing the founda- This is modern physics and astronomy.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY 43 vigorous minds that have concerned themselves with inference have abandoned the mediaeval tradition. but I am willing to suppose that it " What is does. important as it is when regarded as a method tions of of investigation. because it has risen on so many previous mornings. : is that the inference depends upon the law of causation. and does not fit into the If induction it will mediaeval scheme. Thus the ultimate result of the introduction of the inductive method seems not the creation of a new kind of non-deductive reasoning.

sists in ascribing the nature of general truths to all propositions which are true in every instance that we J As regards its fallibility.e. must be known independently of empirical evidence. i. 2. chapter ill.SCIENTIFIC 44 METHOD PHILOSOPHY IN Let us suppose this to be true . The theory that causation is known a priori cannot be definitely refuted. if known at all. (2) that it is a postulate (3) that : . but it can be rendered very implausible by the mere process of formulating the law exactly. which by Mill. he happen to know of. an empirical generalization from past instances in which it has been found to hold. Logic. Let us see what Mill says on this subject." This process. what has been which can only be done by means of some known relation of the observed and the unobserved. . but plainly also incapable of justifying any use of the law in inference. The theory it is that causation is a postulate. then what is the reason for believing in the law of causation ? There are broadly three possible answers (i) that it is itself known a priori . is not known empirically. is also incapable of refutation . but the unobserved. the law of causation is proved by an admittedly fallible process called "induction by " consimple enumeration. and therefore its relation to the observed. how is are empirical generalizations to be in their favour cannot be The evidence empirical. and thereby showing that it is immensely more complicated and less obvious than is generally supposed. that it is something which we choose to assert although we know that it is very likely false." * Book III. he says. by definition. since we wish to argue from observed to what has not been observed. According to Mill. are thus brought to the theory it is We that the law the view held But if so. justified ? is an empirical generalization.

it must not be stated as Mill states it. There are terrible difficulties in the notion of probability. if any. for validity demands invariable truth. Thus. it becomes very probable." x In the above statement. at most. We thus have what at least may be a logical principte. we shall say. therefore it probably holds in untested instances. and if the instances are very numerous. If to . instance we have been able to test . as and sometimes falsehood the method of simple enumeration does is obviously not a valid method. This x Book III. but we may ignore them at present. this method. 3. without same ground as its failures ? of proof which. there are two obvious lacunae (i) How is the method of simple enumeration . The process is delusive and proportion as the subject-matter of the observation is special and limited in extent. nor are they susceptible of any other proof. that it will be true in any further instance. and the principles of number and of geometry. then. if simple enumeration is to be rendered valid. the law of causation for instance. we shall say. in every probable. since it is without exception. that the data render the result Causation holds. insufficient. : itself justified? covers the being liable to question first. chapter acri. are duly and satisfactorily proved by that method alone. gives sometimes truth Let us take the second when used as directed. We shall have to say. on the data. this unscientific method becomes less and less liable to mislead and the most universal class of truths. a proposition is true in every instance that we happen know of.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY asserts that 45 r< the precariousness of the method of enumeration is in an inverse ratio to the largesimple ness of the generalization. exactly in As the sphere widens. A method (2) What logical principle.

for an event may be probable on the data and yet not occur. in the absence of instances to the contrary. therefore not K * and the can be proved by similar any other logical be accepted in its entirety. But this brings us to our other question. similar A arguments Thus conclusion concerning logical knowledge ence alone. since it is required to justify induction. The subject of causality and induction again in Lecture VIII. Hence. it cannot be proved by them alone . since it is required to justify all inferences from empirical data to what goes beyond them. We shall have to say something that every instance of a proposition z being like this true increases the probability of its being true in a fresh instance. if it is known. how is our principle known to be true ? Obviously. not derivable from experiempiricist's philosophy can is will in spite be discussed . it cannot be proved by induction since it goes beyond the empirical data. principle. namely. It is. however. and of more exact statement. make the probability of the truth of a fresh instance approach indefinitely near to certainty. it is not known by experience. obviously capable of further analysis. but independently of experience. Some such principle as this is required if the method of simple enumeration is to be valid. it cannot itself be even rendered in any degree probable by such data. and that it cannot itself be justified is : . I do not say that any such principle is known I only say that it is required to justify the inferences from experience which empiricists allow. : 3 empirically. and that a sufficient number of favourable instances will. Or rather a prepositional function.SCIENTIFIC 46 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY not refuted by the fact that what we declare to be probable does not always happen.

In their writings. the way this came about is as follows. in quite a different In logic is practically identical with metaphysics. matters which He outside logic. does not discuss. which Hegel. and professes to replace it by an improved logic of his own. should not regard Hegel's reasoning. Hegel and his followers widened the scope of logic way a way which I believe to be fallacious.And though he criticizes the : traditional logic. even if it were it would rather valid. Logic itself would be concerned rather with such questions as what self-consistency is. Hegel believed that. but which requires discussion if only to show how their conception of logic differs from the conception which I wish to advocate. it seems to me. is uncritically and unconsciously assumed throughout his reasoning. with all its faults. and less ambitious his system investigation into the presuppositions which other shares with those of most philosophers. more patient. as properly belonging to logic be an application of logic to the actual world. however that may be. . . since any world without these characteristics would be impossible and self-contradictory. there is some sense in which the traditional logic. broad outline. that the reform of logic is to be sought. so far as I know. Thus what he calls "logic" it is an investigation of the nature of the universe. by means of a priori reasoning. It is not in the direction advocated by him. in so far as this can be inferred merely from the principle that the universe must be logically self-consistent. I do not myself believe that from this principle alone anything of importance can be inferred as regards the But.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY of its excellence in many 4. but^by a more fundamental. could be shown that the world must have various important and interesting characteristics. I existing universe.

Hegel's argument in this " " of bis portion Logic depends " " throughout upon confusing " the is of predication. the traditional belief in the universality of the upon fonn. Other less important respects though important enough to be the source " of such essentially Hegelian conceptions as the con" " crete universal and the union of identity in difference "will be found where he explicitly deals with formal logic." Mr. but it seems in some way to stand " for the conception of qualities of Reality as a whole. operates underground. Macran. scarcely tant. Bradley has worked out a theory according to which. Oxford. 1912. 1 * See the translation by EL S. Now the traditional logic holds that every proposition ascribes a predicate to a subject. This belief." with the " " " of identity. the proposition that there were two would not ascribe a predicate to either. and from this it easily follows that there can be only one subject. as in is Socrates is the philosopher who drank . Hegel's Doctrine of Formal Logic. and this theory is derived from Hegel. that philosophical propositions must be of for if there " the Absolute is such-and-such. I think. Thus Hegel's doctrine. like the refutation of relations. being traditional." depends the form. and is assumed in arguments which. were two. in all judgment. we are ascribing a predicate to Reality as a whole . the Absolute. essentially a product of logical confusion.48 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY The way in which. as it seems to me. Hegel's system assumes the ordinary logic which it subsequently criticizes. as in Socrates is mortal. subject-predicate not supposed to be imporand self-conscious. This conception is. appear at first sight such as to establish its truth. is exemplified by the general conception of "categories" with which he operates throughout. This is the most important respect in which Hegel uncritically assumes the traditional logic.

but for the almost incredible fact that they are unintentional. as others would. it " " is follows that the particular is the universal taking the " the to be throughout expressive of identity. In both respects. 4 . one would be tempted to charac-. it began as merely a branch of mathematics: its special applicability to other branches is a more recent development. Socrates is particular. * Cf. for want of care at the start. and it is the logic which is specially applicable to other more traditional branches of mathematics. " is a mistake somewhere. 361. But to say particular is the universal" is self-contradictory. pp. La Logique de Leibniz. since Socrates is mortal." Again. he ^Tiinlrg that Owing " " " and mortal" must be identical. and pursued with intellectual energy. vast and imposing systems of philosophy axe built upon stupid and trivial confusions. all Much the ardour of his amazing of his work on this subject has been published recently. Again Hegel does not suspect a mistake but proceeds to synthesize particular and universal in the individual.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY 49 There is quite another direction in which a large technical development of logic has taken place I mean the dkection of what is called logistic or mathematical logic This kind of logic is mathematical in : two different senses : it is itself a branch of mathe- matics. he says. Seeing that Socrates that there they are different. but none was published by him. since his discoveries have been remade by others . This is an example of how. to tbfa confusion. or concrete universal. is wrong. Therefore. terize as puns. he does not infer. because his results persisted in contradicting certain points in the traditional doctrine of the We now know that on these points the syllogism. but that they exhibit identity in difference. but respect for Aristotle 1 prevented Leibniz from realizing that this was possible. The modern development of mathematical logic traditional doctrine 1' the hemlock. it is the fulfilment of a hope which Leibniz cherished throughout his life. which. Historically. Couturat. 386. "mortal" is universal.

But in him and his successors. Traditional logic regarded the two propositions. but it has very little to do with real logic." as Socrates is mortal Peano and Frege showed being of the same form . did so but the logic mainly to technical developments which of the advance they philosophical importance . was often recognized that there was some it was not recognized that the fundamental. " " " and All men are mortal. of Platonic ideas. This was the invention subject has considerable interest as an independent branch of mathematics. They both arrived at their logical results by an analysis of mathematics. that it of can are which the only part beginnings. but also the relations of things to their qualities. apart from certain details. * It between them. it belongs in its beginnings. that they are utterly different in form. and applied their abstract concepts. Mathematical logic. is not directly of philosophical importance except After the beginnings. but is difference difference . Of its rather to mathematics than to philosophy. the error. of a mathematical symbolism for deducing consequences from the premisses which the newer methods shared with those of Aristotle. made is impossible to exaggerate. before Peano and Frege. even in its most modern form. The first serious advance in real logic since the time of the Greeks was made independently by Peano and Frege both mathematicians.50 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY dates from Boole's Laws of Thought (1854). The philosophical importance of logic may be illustrated by the fact that this confusion which is still committed by most writers obscured not only the whole study of the forms of judgment and inference. of concrete existence to * and of the world of sense to the world Peano and Frege. the only thing really achieved. and of very great importance. who pointed out for technical reasons.

the indirect uses of even the later parts of mathematical logic are very great . I shall speak But even the later developments. the group or class may be used to replace the common not be assumed to exist. They enable us to deal easily with more abstract conceptions than merely verbal reasoning can enumerate .LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY 51 properly be called philosophical logic. not directly philosophical. which might equally well " be called the principle which dispenses with abstraction. but it is now of gin-nlar objects . of which that kind have of similarity objects group are inclined to attribute to possession of a common quality. and in many others. we shall " the principle of appeal to a certain principle called abstraction. was directly suggested by mathematical logic. and other ways. they suggest fruitful hypotheses which otherwise could hardly be thought of . In both these cases. and could hardly have been proved or practically used without its help. and they enable us to see quickly what is the smallest which a given logical or scientific can be constructed." This principle. and could never have been store of materials with edifice imagined without it. and that therefore. In this need which quality. but the whole theory of physical concepts which will be outlined in our next two lectures. which we shall deal with in Lecture VII. will be found of great indirect use in philosophizing. the principle in question shows that membership we of the group will serve all the purposes of the supposed common quality." and is one which clears away incredible accumulations of metaphysical lumber. unless some common quality is actually known. though shortly. Not only Frege's theory of number. The principle will be explained in our fourth lecture. but When a its use may be briefly indicated in advance. is inspired by mathematical logic.

by other constituents.52 SCIENTIFIC METHOD time to turn our attention to IN PHILOSOPHY its philosophical founda- tions. The form remains unchanged throughout but all the constituents are altered. If I say." Coleridge stituent remains." The sun is Jones is angry. but is the way the ate opium. that he married Xantippe." "Coleridge drank " " the hemlock/' Coleridge drank opium. proposition or inference are put together. form is constituents axe put together. It more abstract and remote." What something indicated by the word is in common is the form of the proposition. "Socrates drank the hemlock." there is something in common in these three " is. in all the propositions I enunciate. namely Socrates. the form remains constant. " " " Socrates is mortal. If I say a number of things about Socrates that he was an Athenian. a besides the particular subject-matter concerned. not an actual constituent." this series. If. In every proposition and in every inference there is. but they have diverse forms. a way in which the constituents of the certain form. that are the proper object of philosophical logic." hot. on the other hand. It is obvious that the knowledge of logical forms something quite different from knowledge of existing " " Socrates drank the hemlock things. It is forms. The form of is not an existing thing like Socrates or the hemlock. I take any one of these propositions and replace its constituents. nor does it even have that dose relation to existing is things that drinking has. one at a time. Thus not another constituent. is We something altogether might understand all the separate words of a sentence without understanding . Take (say) the series of propositions. that he drank the hemlock there is a common constituent. in this sense. but no concases.

a sentence conveys certain known known form. all men are mortal. Rorarius drank the hemlock/ those among you who have never heard of Rorarius (supposing there are any) will understand the form. In order to understand a sentence. and whatever has this property has : a certain other property.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY the sentence : if a sentence is 53 long and complicated. propositions having this kind of is . are of instances fully. great importance of logical form. The general form of the inference may be " If a thing has a expressed in some such words as certain property. It is the business of philosophical logic to extract this knowledge from its concrete integuments. This is one reason for the When I say. but not of the form. when stated absolutely general. without having knowledge of all the constituents. It is in this that us that way iafonnation." the connection of premisses and conclusion does not in any way depend upon its being Socrates and man and mortality that I am mentioning. is objects are related according to involved in all understanding of discourse. though with most people it is not explicit. In all inference." Here no particular the proposition things or properties axe mentioned : All inferences. this is apt to happen. " Socrates was a man. therefore Socrates was mortal. then the thing in question also has that other property. form alone is essential : the particular subject-matter is irrelevant except as securing the truth of the premisses. it is necessary to have knowledge berth of the constituents and of the 1 particular instance of the form. also We may have knowledge of the form without having knowledge " of the constituents. since it tells a certain Thus some kind of knowledge of logical forms. and to render it explicit and pure. If I say. In such a case we have knowledge of the constituents.

" Gram- mar favours this form. and red." where from universal that it is grammatically the subject is changed. so is Before considering inference. stating that if one proposition is true." we are not " this. of proposition not stating a relation between two or more other propositions). there- another. it is a waste of time to all explicitly stated. must consider those simpler forms which Here the traditional logic inference presiipposes.SCIENTIFIC 54 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY If they seem to depend upon the subjectmatter otherwise than as regards the truth of the premisses. This is the appropriate form fore. namely. leaving it to other sciences to discover when the hypotheses axe verified and when generality. If we say " this thing is bigger than that. deal with inferences concerning particular cases we deal throughout with completely general and purely formal implications." but a relation of assigning a mere quality of "this" and "that.e. the form which ascribes a predicate to a subject. But the forms of propositions giving rise to inferences are not the simplest forms they are always hypothetical. that is because the premisses have not been In logic. : they are not. then . and so on." We might express the same " fact by saying that thing is smaller than this. but philosophically it is so far not even very common. The belief or unconscious conviction that all propo . Thus propo- sitions stating that two things have a certain relation have a different form from subject-predicate propositions. and the to allow for it failure to perceive this difference or has been the source of many errors in traditional metaphysics. logic in assigning the qualities of a given thing we may " say this thing is round. failed completely: it believed that there was only one form of simple proposition (i.

The paradoxes apparently proved by his logic are really the paradoxes of mysticism. their a certain dryness. and Hegel. Nevertheless their origin dung from Mr. have some simple physiological basis. they would probably have discovered but most of them were less anxious to understand the world of science and daily life. sitions words : an account. unreality of the world of sense arises with irresistible force in certain moods moods which. and are the goal which he feds his logic must reach to be in accordance with insight.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY 55 are of the subject-predicate form in other that every fact consists in some thing having some quality has rendered most philosophers incapable of giving any account of the world of science and daily If they had been honestly anxious to give such life. than to convict it of unreality in the interests Belief in the of a super-sensible "real" world. these moods is the source of most mysticism and of most metaphysics. It is in this that logic has been pursued by those of the great if it is way philosophers who were mystics notably Plato. he will be very hospitable to any reason that suggests itself. logical doctrines were presented with and were believed by their disciples to be quite inde- from which they to them. Spinoza. only pendent of the sudden jl. their error very quickly . When the emotional intensity of mood subsides. I imagine. a man who is in the habit of such a reasoning will search for logical reasons in favour of the belief which he finds in himself. and sprang.fifm . but are none the The conviction born of less powerfully persuasive. But since they usually took for granted the supposed insight of the mystic emotion.nnTnTjna. But since the belief already exists. word a useful to borrow they remained " " the world of to in regard malicious Santayana so is that we It science and common sense.

the reality of relations : all relations. The logic which thus arises is not quite disinterested or candid. I will first explain two independent is ways of classifying relations Some relations. Such. as the is mood metaphysicians. While the mystic mood dominant. not be hostile. Such an attitude naturally does not tend to the best results. the impulse to logic reasserts itself. Everyone knows that to read an author simply in order to refute him is not the way to understand him . the need of logic fades." If A is a brother or the relation . asymmetrical order to explain this. and to read the book of Nature with a conviction that it is all illusion If our is just as unlikely to lead to understanding. it maintains. The logic of defects which mysticism shows. as is natural. There are many ways of refuting this opinion . also hold between B and A. and is inspired by a certain hatred of the daily world to which it is to be applied. but must be inspired by a genuine acceptance such as is not usually to be found among is not felt . but with a desire to retain the vanishing insight. for example. when they hold between A and B.56 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY can account for the complacency with which philosophers have accepted the inconsistence of their doctrines with all the common and scientific facts which seem best established and most worthy of belief. Traditional logic. to find the common world is it must logic intelligible. or at least to prove that it was insight. one of the easiest derived from the consideration " " of what are called In relations. is " brother or sister. the are inherent in anything malicious. since it holds that all propositions is unable to admit have the subject-predicate form. and that what seems to contradict it is illusion. must be reduced to properties of the apparently related terms.

A . above. defined are as which relations. etc. above are transitive. it also holds between B and A. series are of this kind. The transitive but just mentioned were asymmetrical. because. exact identity of colour. it holds between A and C. whenever it holds between A and B. etc. father. it never holds between B and A. Thus brother is ncni-syimnetrical. Thus before. A relation is called asymmetrical when. Thus husband. Classification into symmetrical. is any kind of similarity. A relation is said to be transitive. to and the The second and merely non-transitive follows. Relations of this sort are Thus a relation is symmetrical called symmetrical.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY 57 Such sister of B thsn B is a brother or sister of A. if it holds between A and B. say similarity of colour. is into transitive. grandfather. intransitive.. asymmetrical merely non-symmetrical relations is the first of two classifications we had to consider. is not transitive. So are before. it may happen that B is a sister of A. transitive many in respect. kind of dissimilarity is also of this kind : if the Any colour of A is unlike the colour of B. greater. All relations that are not symmetrical are called again " " non-symmetrical. so on. if A is a brother of B. after. greater. All the relations that give rise to the right of. whenever it holds between A and B and also between B and C. being relations any equality and equally numerous (as applied to collections). if. then the colour of B is unlike the colour of A. after. All relations giving rise to series are transitive. if. are asymmetrical relations. relations are symmetrical for instance. relation is said to be non-transitive whenever it " " Thus brother is non-transitive. but so are many others.

two things are merely known to be unequal. When. father " " " one inch taller or one year later. etc. while one which is not transitive. if A has the relation to B. because from inequality is a symmetrical relation . the attempt to reduce them to properties becomes obviously impossible.e. Thus " " So is such a relation as is intransitive. We shall . A never has it to C. without our knowing which is greater. and not merely unequal to it. though the fact to be explained would not have been the same. and the other being greater than the one. but to say that when one thing is greater than another. return to the question whether all relations can be reduced to predications. can be regarded as expressing possession of some common property. All kinds of dissimilarity are non-transitive.. there would be no difference between one thing being greater than another. and B to C. such as inequality. if it were. A relation is said to be intransitive when. facts." Let us now. relations which. But when we come to asymmetrical relations. symmetrical relation which is transitive. that means that they have different magnitudes.SCIENTIFIC 58 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY because a brother of one's brother may be oneself. In the case of symmetrical relations i. Thus mere difference of magnitude is not all that is involved. For formally incapable of explaining the the other thing had been greater than is if the one. we may say that the inequality results their having different magnitudes. in the light of this classification. if they hold between A and B. such as equality. since. the magnitudes would also have been different. can be regarded as expressing possession of different properties. such as before and after. for example. greater and less. also hold between B and A some kind of plausibility can be given to this A doctrine.

possession of the same property and possession of different properties are symmetrical relations. or four." short. or any number. Relations of two terms. while yet. so long as it does not argue in If this is to on the ground own of As logicians. relations. simplest. greater and less. such a wholesale condemnation appears impossible. for denying the reality of relations. so far as I can discover. the which reduces everything to subjects and predicates is compelled to condemn as error and mere appearance. It is impossible to argue against what professes to be insight. we must continue its favour. for the existence of asymmetrical relations.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY 59 have to say that the one magnitude is greater than the other and thus we shall have failed to get rid of " the relation In both greater. all kgical grounds for supposing the world of sense to be illusory disappear. Relations which have two terms are only one kind A relation may have three terms. logic When once their reality is admitted. so long as we do not have his insight. Asymmetrical relations are involved in all series and time. be supposed. and therefore cannot account . being the of relations. we may possibility of the mystic's world. it must be frankly and simply mystic insight unsupported by argument. And in fact there is no reason except prejudice. admit the study the everyday world with which we are But when he contends that our world is impossible. whole and part. And the first step in creating the logic which is to perform this service is the recognition of the reality of to familiar. have received more attention than the . and many others of the most important characteristics in space of the actual world. All these aspects. then our logic is ready to repel his attack. therefore. To those whose logic is not malicious. therefore.

which yellow. and are indispensable in the solution of certain problems. we must classification of the logical forms of the first business of logic. Professor Royce " " mentions the relation when A gives B giving to C. and Edwin. vol. is never simple. I should not call Napoleon a fact. how they But in order to explain exactly two terms. I wish you could induce Angelina to accept Edwin. When it simply assigns a quality to a thing. Jealousy. 97. for example. Now a fact." I do not mean one of the simple things in the world . Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences.SCIENTIFIC 60 others. and the from differ embark upon a facts. A many things with complete description of the existing world would require not only a catalogue of the things. p. himself. but I should call it a fact that he was ambitious. for example. which is relations of business in which the traditional logic has been most deficient. Thus such relations are by no means : : recondite or rare. which was which between two others. and so on. but also a mention of all their qualities and relations. When I speak " of a fact. Angelina. that is a relation of three terms. But other relations have their importance. I mean that a certain thing has a certain or that certain have a certain relation. both those who accepted and those who denied the reality of relations. The many existing world consists of qualities and relations. 1 When a man " says to his wife My dear. We should have to know not only this that. which was earlier than which. and the other thing. is a relation between three people. or that he married Josephine. quality. METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY and have generally been alone considered by philosophers. . in this sense. his wife. but always has two or more constituents. things Thus." his wish constitutes a relation between four people. i. but also which was red.

It is in such cases that I speak of a relation of three terms. when A is jealous of B on account of C. it consists of a relation between two things. it has four constituents.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY 61 has only two constituents. a man is the son of his father and also the son of his mother. in the sense in which we are using the " word fact. . there is only one fact. there is an assertion which expresses the fact. the things and the relation. involving there are not two instances of jealousy. When we say that there are relations of more than two terms. and also between A and C. and may be : . as. three people but only one. the thing and the quality. but only For example. where the simplest possible fact in which the relation occurs is one involving three And the same things in addition to the relation. we mean that it When facts consisting of a single relation and more than two things. for example. Given any fact. When it consists of a relation between three things. . All such relations must be admitted in our inventory of the logical forms of facts two facts involving the same number of things have the same form. it has three constituents. it is a fact which has But the facts I am speaking facts for its constituents. but are things and qualities or relations. The fact itself is objective. applies to relations of four terms or five or any other number. I do not mean that one relation of two terms may hold between A and B. and so on. of facts among things and relations. have no their constituents. and two which involve different numbers of things have different forms." are not other facts. and independent but the assertion of our thought or opinion about it is something which involves thought. The constituents of facts. This constitutes two distinct facts: if we there are single choose to treat it as one fact.

or that certain things have a certain relation. and " more complicated. if atomic facts are to be known at all. will be called an atomic proposition. we shall give the name to the facts Thus atomic we have facts are hitherto been what determine whether atomic propositions are to be asserted or denied. because. A proposition may which expresses what we have called a fact. they may have any one of an infinite number of forms. Atomic propositions." form of words assert that Charles I either assert or in the one case : deny we have a this positive A form of assertion. which. Whether an atomic red. such as Charles I : we may died in his bed. i. a proposition. Given a form" of words which must be either true or false. when asserted. A negative assertion may be said to be a denial. in the other a negative one. some at least must . asserts that a certain thing has a certain quality." or "this is proposition. negative or that he did not die in his bed. we may An IN PHILOSOPHY assertion may be positive or was executed. words which must be either true or false I shall call Thus a proposition is the same as what be significantly asserted or denied.e. though this seems very doubtful . such as "this is before that.62 METHOD SCIENTIFIC either true or false. as we shall see immediately." is to be asserted or denied can only be known empirically. It follows that. In order to preserve as regards facts " atomic facts considering. Perhaps one atomic fact may sometimes be capable of being inferred from another. like facts. although. the parallelism in language propositions. there are other propositions into which atomic propositions enter in a way analogous to that in which atoms enter into molecules. but in any case it cannot be inferred from premisses no one of which is an atomic fact. are only one kind All other kinds are of propositions.

Consider " such an assertion as. unless. or. independent of logic. the wholly a priori and the wholly empirical. we should. the facts of sense-perception are those which we most obviously and certainly come to know in this way. propositions are such as contain conjunctions if. . without asking ourselves what objects can fill the forms. and also knew that there were none those we knew. Such facts. Pure logic and atomic facts are the two poles. 1 Thus logic atomic would then supply us with the whole of the apparatus But in the first acquisition of knowledge required. In pure logic." This assertion is just as capable of truth " Molecular " my or falsehood as the assertion of an atomic proposition. But between the two lies a vast intermediate region. Thus pure logic is independent of atomic facts . no atomic fact is ever mentioned we confine ourselves : whofly to forms. and. concerning atomic facts. which we must now briefly explore. theoretically. etc. The atomic facts which we come to know in this way are the facts of senseperception. If we knew all facts. but conversely. since such facts apparently contain propositions as components. at any rate. they are. are each severally matters of atomic proposition. my * This perhaps requires modification in order to include such facts as beliefs and wishes. and whether I bring umbrella. If it rains.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY 63 be known without inference. it is obvious that either the corresponding fact. in a sense. be except able to infer all truths of whatever form. I shall bring umbrella. must be supposed included if the statement in the text is to be true. must be quite different from what it is in the case of an atomic but Whether it rains. though not strictly atomic. logic is useless. and such words are the marks of a molecular proposition. or the nature of the correspondence with fact.

If I have told you that if it rains I shall bring my umbrella. and if you see that a steady downpour. which does not depend upon whether they are to be asserted or denied. as in the above instance of the umbrella. when we do not know whether the component atomic propositions are true or false. such as all men are mortal/' " all equilateral triangles are equiangular.64 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY by observation. therefore. ascertainable of the then the other will happen. It does not require for its truth that it should actually rain. or that I should actually bring my umbrella. we have to consider " are general propositions. have a foim which is different from that of any atomic proposition. Such propositions are important to logic. Thus we have here a connection of two propositions. There can be no inference except where propositions are connected in some such way. it may still be true that I should have brought my umbrella if the weather had been different. It seems to be the case that we can sometimes know molecular propositions. " " " of all men are non-philosophers and all philoso- . such as philosophers are not wise. namely (in the above instances). The practical utility of inference rests The next kind of propositions upon this fact." These are the denials of general propositions. but only upon the second being inferable from the first. Such propositions. even if the weather is cloudless. fact. But the connection two involved in saying that if the one happens. is something radically different from either of the two separately. so that from the truth or falsehood of the one something there is follows as to the truth or falsehood of the other." And with " " these belong propositions in which the word some " " some men are philosophers or " some occurs. because all inference depends upon them. you can infer that I shall bring my umbrella.

LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY pliers are wise. theoretically. The knowledge that there are no other atomic facts is positive general knowledge .e. If we could know each individual man. to infer all other truths by logic if we knew all atomic facts and also knew that there were no other atomic facts besides those we knew. i. These propositions. If we knew every other existing thing throughout the universe." Thus general truths cannot be inferred from particular truths alone. it is the knowledge " that all atomic facts are known to me. which is a general proposition. But their peculiarity and complexity are not known to the text-books. and the problems which they raise are only discussed in the most superficial ma. all. containing the word " all " and those positive general propositions.nTip. but must." cannot be propositions. and know that he was mortal. that would not give us our result unless we knew that we had explored the whole universe.r- When we were discussing atomic facts. " all men are mortal. if they are to be known. there is any knowledge of general truths at Hence. all collection But empirical evidence is of particular truths. there must be some knowledge of general truths all if 5 . it will be seen. unless we knew that those were all the men there are. be either self-evident or inferred from premisses of which at least one is a general truth." or at least " atomic facts are in this collection "however the It is easy to see that general may be given. and knew that each separate thing was not an immortal man. such as known by inference from atomic facts alone." word" some " 65 We will call propositions containing the negative general propositions. we saw that we should be able. that would not enable us to know that all men are mortal. unless we knew " all things belong to this collection of things I have examined. begin to have the appearance of the propositions in logical text-books.

of which we had an instance in the case of the inductive principle. we must refuse to admit that we know any general propositions. They believed that all our knowledge is derived from the senses and dependent upon them. and whatever has this property has a certain other property. Socrates is mortal. I do not know but in logic." This proposition is certain absolutely general: properties." because Socrates and man and mortal are empirical terms. It is perfectly possible logically that this should does not appear to be so in fact. not depend upon the data of sense. " If has a proposition in pure logic is : anything property. we have the self-evident general propositions of which we were in search. be the case. since it affords a refutation of the older empiricists. We see that. is important. then Socrates is mortal.66 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY which is independent of empirical evidence. "Socrates is a man. And it is it applies and all Thus in such to all things quite self-evident. We must therefore admit that there is general knowledge not derived from sense." is true in propositions of pure logic A .e. " If Socrates is a man. all men are mortal. and all proposition such as men are mortal. then the thing in question has the other property. but it and indeed no one would dream of maintaining such a view except a theorist at the last extremity. i. at any rate. does The above conclusion. we have such knowledge. therefore . if this view is to be maintained. Such general knowledge is to be found in logic. and that some of this knowledge is not obtained by inference but is primitive. only to be understood The corresponding through particular experience. It will be remembered that we excluded from pure logic such propositions as. Whether there is any such knowledge not derived from logic.

consists part investigates what forms they may have. any or even particular thing. nor upon whether other terms substitute we when thus it is equally true The mortal. two propositions this parts. belief of the nature of judgment or whose a of problem as an example an inventory of logical many The problem taken adequate solution depends upon have already seen how the forms.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY virtue of its form alone. We supposed made it form universality of the subject-predicate and serial order. or their qualities and relations. are The first and what the part enumerates of molecular different kinds of atomic propositions. and general truth for Socrates and man and belongs formal. and philosophically more and it is the recent progress in this first part. we may of say. on mathematics. formal analysis. and so on. Logic. The propositions. in this hypothetical Socrates actually form. all fact in is a man. that has rendered truly part. second part consists of certain supremely general assert the truth of all propositions propositions. which into pure of certain forms. is the more the more important. to be such general which merely enumerates forms. does not depend upon whether men are mortal . discussion of may be philosophical problems possible. of general propositions. 67 Its truth. scientific a than anything else. whose propositions all first The truths. of things without any experience particular retically. and can be known. any particular quality or relation. is of which it is an instance purely mention not does truth Since this general to logic. difficult. This second part merges turn out. of a right analysis impossible to give in But time and unintelligible. therefore made space relations of necessary to admit this case it was only . it is wholly independent of the accidental theofacts of the existent world.

while the in my new logic gives it wings.68 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY two terms. making the problem of error insoluble and the difference between belief and perception inexplicable. In this respect it is the exact opposite of the logic practised by the classical tradition. and that the apprehension was a relation of a mind to the fact. to look for some other logical form than a two-term relation. and it is decreed in advance that reality must have a certain special character. except in my my thought. Failure to realize this as false belief supposes. axe added to our stock. vitiated almost everything that has hitherto been written on the theory of knowledge. In modern logic. and providing an infinite number of possible hypotheses to be applied in the analysis of any complex fact. in opinion. which only logic would have suggested. hypotheses which seem prima fade possible are professedly proved impossible. this view has often been held. The old logic put thought in fetters. I can have a relation of apprebed are objective. my necessity has. in analysing a belief. on the contrary. If all judgments were true. There is no objective fact it leads his bed" to which hension. Modern logic. put together It is therefore necessary. while the prima fade hypotheses as a rule remain admissible. Charles I and death and his but they are not. as I hope is now evident. But to absolutely insoluble difficulties in the case of error. advance . we might suppose that a judgment consisted in apprehension of zfact. In that logic. Suppose I believe that Charles I died in his " Charles I's death in bed. From poverty in the logical inventory. has the effect of enlarging our abstract imagination. opinion. and are very often found to be indispensable if a right analysis of the facts is to be obtained. The case of judgment demands the admission of more complicated forms. introduced the same kind of It has. others.

but must command the an opinion. assent of all who are competent to form . the new logic provides a method which enables us to obtain.LOGIC AS THE ESSENCE OF PHILOSOPHY 69 into philosophy as Galileo introduced into physics. results that do not merely embody personal idiosyncrasies. and what kinds must be abandoned as beyond human powers. And where a may solution appears possible. making it possible at last to see what kinds of problems be capable of solution.

maintains a mad dance of electrons which have. their dependence upon the organization and point of view of the spectator . inconsistent with the unchanging nature of the abstract entities revealed by logical analysis . of mystic variety real and a more of immediate of knowledge ground and Parmenides the veil behind world significant Plato condemn it because its continual flux is thought .LECTURE III ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE EXTERNAL WORLD PHILOSOPHY may be approached by many roads. in modern physics. but his chief is the subjectivity of sense-data. but one of . Every one of these lines of attack raises vital and interesting problems. on the basis of sensible evidence itself. while modern physics. Berkeley brings several weapons. very little resemblance to the immediate objects of sight or touch. superficiaJly at ( least.the oldest and most travelled is the road which leads through doubt as to the reality of the world of In Indian mysticism. in Greek and modern sense. we for a bewildering condemned and criticized ance it on the condemns The motives. in find sensible appearBerkeley. but when he denies . so long as he merely reports a positive revelation. cannot be refuted. monistic philosophy from Parmenides onward. The mystic.

and the modern answers to them will occupy sixth. But it would be a mistake to infer that they are dependent upon mind. and that. as reinforced by the physiology of the sense-organs and nerves and brain. pass by its central doctrines with such occasional criticism as may serve to exemplify only other topics. for example. of objections our fifth. is very powerful. and seventh lectures. Berkeley's attack. as may be seen from the Bradleian sample considered in our first lecture. we will therefore. we should not have time to reach any other aspect of our subject . what he means by he " 71 be questioned as to and may be asked how may reality.THE EXTERNAL WORLD reality to objects of sense. he is led to a logic which merges into that of Parraenid. super-sensible world. which we . If we attempted to deal fully with this logic. the coloured surfaces which we see cease to exist when we shut our eyes. and concentrate our attention on such matters as its objections to the continuity of motion and the infinity of space and time objections which have been fully answered by modern mathematicians in a manner constituting an abiding triumph for the method These logical analysis in philosophy. This line of argument will be developed in the present lecture. I think it must be admitted as probable that the imme- diate objects of sense depend for their existence upon physiological conditions in ourselves. while acknowledging that it deserves a long discussion. of physics and shall consider in our The discrepancy between the world the world of sense. not real while we see them. or not the sole basis for our knowledge of the external world." their unreality follows from the supposed reality of his In answering these questions. The logic of the idealist tradition has gradually grown very complex and very abstruse.es and Plato and the idealist tradition.

In every philosophical problem. and to be indispensable. with an indication of the directions in which evidence may be sought. as common knowledge always is. a very different science from the logic of the text-books and also from the logic of idealism. In this lecture. is of discovery throughout is modern logic. not only in seeking the answer. will be found to be more apparent than real. we shall try to reach a general account of the logical-analytic method of scientific philosophy.SCIENTIFIC 72 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY fourth lecture. starts inexact." by which I mean matters of common knowledge. after a discussion of causality free will. What I have to say on this problem does not amount to an answer of a definite and dogmatic kind it amounts only to an analysis and statement of the questions involved. what can be said at present seems to me to throw a completely new light on the problem. vague. complex. ascertainable answer. In the . our investigation from what may be called " data. and it will be shown that whatever there reason to believe in physics can probably be interpreted consistently with the reality of sense-data. namely. but yet somehow commanding our assent as on the whole and in some interpretation pretty certainly true. But although not yet a definite solution. I wish to apply the logical-analytic method to one of the oldest problems of philosophy. and a tentative estimate of the hopes of philosophical progress which it allows us to entertain. the problem of our knowledge of the external world. Our The instrument second lecture has given a short account of modern from the various logic and of its points of divergence traditional kinds of logic. In our last lecture. but also in the preliminary question as to what parts of our problem may possibly have an and .

common knowledge as affording data for our philo- sophical analysis.THE EXTERNAL WORLD 73 case of our present problem. and in a sense it is effected in the course of analysis. and so on. and without absolute dogmatism as to this or that special portion. other people. which derives immftngft persuasive force of foretelling the future. towns. houses. there is the systematization of all this knowledge of particulars by means of physical science. obtainable by the philosopher. There is first our acquaintance with particular objects of daily life furniture. from its astonishing power are quite willing to be errors of detail in this know- We admit that there may but we believe them to be discoverable and corrigible by the methods which have given rise to our beliefs. the common knowledge involved is of various kinds. impossible. And lastly. It may be said and this be met at the outset that is an objection which must it is the duty of the philo- sopher to call in question the admittedly fallible beliefs of daily life. as practical men. . we may accept this mass of ledge. newspapers. entertain for a moment the hypothesis that the whole edifice may be built on insecure foundations. with regard to all our common knowledge. therefore. But and a very important one. In the main. and to replace them by something more solid and irrefragable. In a sense this is true. it is quite While admitting that doubt is possible in another sense. and we do not. Then there is the extension of such particular knowledge to particular things outside our personal experience. through history and geography. which can give us a standpoint from which to criticize the whole of the knowledge of daily life. etc. we must nevertheless accept that knowledge in the main if philosophy is to be possible at alL There is not any superfine brand of knowledge.

assuming the canons by which it has been obtained. not by an outside standard.74 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY The most that can be done is to examine and purify our common knowledge by an internal scrutiny. though it can only. What does not go beyond our own personal sensible the acquaintance must be for us the most certain " " evidence of the senses is proverbially the least open to question. Universal scepticism. logically irrefutable. ' sceptical in regard to every detail. it is not that common knowledge must be true. like the facts of history and geography which are learnt : from books. whereas the historicity of Agamemnon is . has varying degrees of certainty according to the nature and extent of the testimony. but its exact opposite. is not sceptical as regards the whole. Although data can only be criticized by other data. different grades of certainty in the different kinds of common knowledge which we enumerated just now. That is to say. but that we possess no radically different kind of knowledge derived from some other source. not upon some external criterion which can be applied all the details equally. . yet we may distinguish to . What depends on testimony.achieved such adggrfeof certjdnty jthat itj^_have authority" and the laiws'of precision. its criticism of details will only be based upon their relation to other details. and applying them with more care and with more Philosophy cannot hoajsljolha^ing. is practically barren therefore. Doubts as to the existence of Napoleon can only be maintained for a joke. The reason for this abstention from a universal criticism is not any dogmatic confidence. give a certain flavour of hesitancy to our beliefs. and cannot be used to substitute other beliefs for them.

inexact body of knowledge which it is the business of the philosopher to analyse. again. we unconsciously infer " " the real size and shape of a visible object from its and shape. while other parts are believed on their own account. at least as an approximate truth. we find all grades of certainty short of the highest. The first thing that appears when we begin to analyse our common knowledge is that some of it is derivative. For instance. These varying degrees of certainty attaching to different data may be regarded as themselves forming part of our data . It is obvious that the senses give knowledge of the latter kind: the immediate facts perceived by sight or touch or hearing do not need to be proved by argument. and that much of what at first sight seems to be given is really inferred. When we hear a person speaking. This applies especially in regard to our space-perceptions. however. . there is some while some is primitive that we only believe because of something else from which it has been inferred in some sense. have made us aware that what is actually given in sense is much less than most people would naturally suppose. according to its distance and size apparent our point of view. that is to say. complex. In science. has acquired by this time the same kind of certainty as the existence of Napoleon.THE EXTERNAL WORLD 75 a legitimate subject of debate. without the support of any outside evidence. but are completely . and we supply its place by unconscious self-evident. though not necessarily in a strict logical sense. along with the other data. Psychologists. The law of gravitation. they. whereas the latest speculations concerning the constitution of matter would be universally acknowledged to have as yet only a rather slight probability in their favour. our actual sensations usually miss a great deal of what he says. lie within the vague.

merely by association of ideas or some equally extra- From the expression of a man's face we say we see that is feeling in fact we only see a frown. the discovery of what is really given in will. is full of difficulty. then innumerable beliefs are logically primitive which psychologically are derivative. however. or by some fact of sense which is not simply what the Derivative beliefs in this sense con- belief asserts. where this process we find ourselves apparently grown difficult. what puzzling entanglement of logic and psychology. since it is not the result of any logical deduction. namely. We so long as its existence is realized. Thus the first step in the analysis of data. when not judge as to his state of mind by any logical process the judgment grows up. but whether there is or not. stantly arise without any process of logical inference. Psychologically. we " certainly do not employ it. psychologically but logically it is in a sense primitive. to stage at a theatre than much nearer the would be necessary in our own country. We do logical process. . Here we become involved in a some. requiring. The : . often without our being able to say what physical mark of emotion we actually In such a case. There may or may not be a possible deduction leading to the same result. we judge as to what he : he is angry. a belief may be called derivative whenever it is caused by one or more other beliefs. If we call a belief logically primitive" when it is not actually arrived at by a logical inference.SCIENTIFIC 76 inference is more . the knowledge is derivative saw. for example. The next step in our analysis must be the consideration of how the derivative parts of our common knowledge arise. linger on this point the exact outcome does not make any very great difierence in our main problem. METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY in a foreign language. not sense. be deaf.

required. and our seen those tables trees chairs. There is no accordingly more need of justifying our psychologically derivative beliefs than of justifying those that are primitive. we have a belief that is. The men they persist except a few but it is not psychophilosophers. are still there when we turn our backs upon them. it may " " hard help to make the situation clear. unless they can on reflection be deduced by a logical process from beliefs which are also psychologically primitive. that tables and chairs. As soon as the question is seriously raised whether. We naturally believe. our belief can be no more than a pious opinion. When we reflect upon the beliefs which axe logically but not psychologically primitive. for example. trees and mountains. This distinction is not be pressed . our confidence in their truth tends to diminish the more we think about them. We are thus led to a between what we may somewhat vague distinction " " " hard data and soft " a matter of degree. in all right to suppose that they are there still.THE EXTERNAL WORLD 77 separation of these two kinds of primitiveness is vitally important to our present discussion. because we have seen them. and must call data. I mean by data those which resist the solvent influence of critical . it arises only psychologically. and as far as their momentary further argument is existence is concerned. through having and mountains. but if not taken too seriously. we find that. logically primitive. logically primitive. I do not wish for a moment to maintain that this is certainly not the case. we feel that some kind of argument must be produced. but I do maintain that the question whether it is the case is not to be settled off- hand on any supposed ground of obviousness. and that if none is forthcoming. We do not feel this as regards the immediate objects of sense : there they are.

would. to be capable of logical proof. concerning doubted is what is when occur being nominally may not really in our thoughts. we must make bow to the sceptical hypothesis. and. to me they seem quite certain. If we are to continue philosophizing. proceed to the consideration of other hypotheses which. They may be found. and they then again become believed. the more we realize exactly what they are. and only words are actually present to our minds. we truths of logic. be pathological. if not all. are to be classed as soft data. and the general sorts reflection. I think. though entitled to a certain limited respect. At any rate. in these two cases. though perhaps not certain. though not too confidently. As data. verbal doubt but these is even possible.78 METHOD SCIENTIFIC " IN PHILOSOPHY " and by soft data those which. while admitting the elegant terseness of its philosophy. is as barren as it is irrefutable. that the hard data may prove them . are in danger of falling into that universal scepticism which. : The more we reflect upon these. become to our minds more or less doubtful. but no longer as data. and exactly what a doubt concerning them really means. seems to me such as to warrant us in hoping. The hardest of hard data are of two the particular facts of sense. Without this assumption. have at least as good a right to our respect as the hypothesis of the our sceptic. on reflection. and I shall assume that you agree with me in this. the more Verbal doubt luminously certain do they become. Applying our distinction of "hard" and "soft" data to psychologically derivative but logically primitive beliefs. Real doubt. as we saw. we shall find that most. under the operation of this process. they cannot be placed on a level with the facts of sense or the laws The kind of respect which they deserve of logic.

in giving rather more weight to the hypothesis of their truth than to the hypothesis of their falsehood. beliefs are Such is : . for example in the case of a swift motion falling wholly within the specious present. and is fdt to demand logical justification as soon as we become aware of its derivativeness. we are justified. are certainly to be included among hard data. For the present. namely. with a view to discovering what sort of world can be constructed by their means alone. Our data now are primarily the facts of sense (i. let us confine ourselves to the hard data.THE EXTERNAL WORLD 79 to be at least probable. if the hard data are found to throw no light whatever upon their truth or falsehood. Also we must remember that the distinction of hard and soft data is psychological and subjective. Some introspective facts are as certain as any facts of sense. Some facts of memory especially of recent memory seem to have the highest degree of certainty. But even the severest scrutiny will allow some additions to this slender stock. so that. And facts of sense themselves must. if there are other minds than our own which at our present stage must be held doubtful the catalogue of hard data may be different for them from what it is for us. such as the likeness or unlikeness of two shades of colour. of our own sense-data) and the laws of logic. Such also is the belief in other people's minds this belief is psychologically derivative from our perception of their bodies. I think. latitude. And some facts of comparison. however. Certain from hard data. Also.e. common undoubtedly excluded the belief which led us to introduce the distinction. for our present purposes. be interpreted with a certain and Spatial temporal relations must sometimes be included. that sensible objects in general persist when we are not perceiving them.

The problem Can the existence of anything other really is than our own hard data be inferred from the But before considering existence of those data? this problem. are actually given more or less roughly in sight . The immediately given world is spatial.8o SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY is reported by the testimony of others. let us briefly consider what the problem : is not. ordinary distances can certainly be estimated approximately by means of the data of sense alone. The best we can say for it is that it is slightly more extensive than the world at which Descartes arrived by a similar Belief in what process. of are spatially external in the natural meaning of this " " as opposed to fed them to be there phrase. we learn from books. at least in the obvious sense. is of course that including all as to whether other people the doubt involved in the world from which our Thus have minds at all." unless " " space is interpreted in a peculiar The immediate objects coloured surfaces which make up the dite manner. since that himself and world contained nothing except his thoughts. provided they are not too great. " When we speak of the " external world in this " discussion. and to remove various misunderstandings which have obscured the meaning of the problem. we must not mean spatially external. we can more or less estimate the distance of a coloured surface. but whether this is the case or not. . It seems probable that distances. and is further not wholly contained within our own bodies. and recon- sight. without making any assumption of an We existence other than hard data. reconstruction is to begin is very fragmentary. We are now in a position to understand and state the problem of our knowledge of the external world. the visible world. " " here .

The second is : meaning is difficult to make precise. we may mean either that it is logically possible for the one to exist without the other. The bare subject." which raises the same " are as raised questions by the word " independent. namely (i) the bare subject which thinks and is aware of objects." Let us therefore take up the word independent.THE EXTERNAL WORLD Thus our knowledge of what is 81 external in this sense not open to doubt. therefore. the definition of Self existence. : 6 . (2) the whole assemblage of things that would necessarily cease to exist if our lives came to an end. and is not part of the data. so far as I know. or that there is no causal relation between the two such that the one only occurs as the effect of the other. is logically dependent upon that of its pages without the pages there would be no book. if it exists at all. When we say that one thing is " independent " of another." and return to the Self later. is an inference. for example. " introduces the word depend. this meaning of Self may be ignored in our present inquiry." pendent question as to what is to be reckoned part of the Self and what is not. in which one thing can be logically dependent upon another is when the other is part of the one. is a very difficult one. since we hardly know what things depend upon our lives for their And in this form. Among many other things which we may mean by the Self. Thus in this sense " Can we know of the existence of any the question. two may be selected as specially important. The existence of a book. Another form in which the question is often put is " Can we know of the existence of any reality which is " This form of the question independent of ourselves ? " suffers from the ambiguity of the two words inde" " and To take the Self first : the self. The only way.

we must know that it actually Now it is fairly obvious whatever legitimate meaning we give to the Self. then they occurs without the other. is the form in which we stated the problem a minute ago. inferable from objects . But in the case of objects of sense this is not obvious indeed. exist at times when we are not perceiving them. this form the question reduces to the question Thus in whether we can know that objects of sense. do not occur when there is no Self for them to belong to. the common-sense view is that such objects persist in the absence of any percipient. if not. exist at times when we are not perceiving them ? Secondly. . can we know that other objects. If this is the case. as we saw.82 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY " reduces independent of ourselves ? " Can we know of the existence of to the question. which it is important to keep separate. if this cannot be known. can we know that objects of sense. " " in which the difficult word no longer independent occurs. or very similar objects. or any other objects not our own thoughts and feelings. it cannot be supposed to be part of the immediate object of sense . the question brings us back to the problem of but I think. First. This form. independent of another. that. The question of causal dependence is much more To know that one kind of thing is causally difficult. realities independent of ourselves. however the Self may be defining the Self defined. our thoughts and feelings are causally dependent upon ourselves. " In this any reality of which our Self is not part ? form. Our question in the above form raises two distinct problems. thus in this form of the question we must admit that we can know of the existence of reality which is . i. are causally independent of ourselves. not. even when it is taken as the bare subject.e.

which is both visible and tangible. According to some authors among whom I was formerly included it is necessary to distinguish between a sensation. and to consider the sensedatum identical with the sensation. the sense-datum which concerns us in this book. or just many What that particular hardness which is felt when we press when it." and in science as the problem of matter as assumed in physics. " sensible object.g. or just that particular sound which is heard we rap it. the sensation and the sense-datum are identical If it is valid. and is more or less permanent. p.THE EXTERNAL WORLD 83 of sense but not necessarily resembling them. and its object. But it will not it is be necessary to assume the correctness of in what this view follows." Nothing in the problems to be discussed in this book depends upon the question whether this distinction is valid or not. If it is not valid. the object of the " " " sensible or a sense-datum sensation is called a object. not the sensation. We will consider this latter problem first.) I have come to regard the distinction as not valid. Both the thing-in-itself of philosophy and the matter of physics present themselves as causes of the sensible object as much as of the sensation . For reasons explained in The Analysis of Mind (e." it must be speak of a understood that I do not mean such a thing as a table. exist either when we are perceiving the objects of sense or at any other time? This latter problem arises " in philosophy as the problem of the thing in itself. which is a patch of colour or a noise or what not. can be seen by When I people at once. 141 ff . I mean is just that patch of colour which is momentarily seen when we look at the table. If this distinction is made. which is a mental event.

It is extraordinarily difficult to see just what the arguments prove. for example. we perceive a series of gradually " changing visible objects. our visual sensations change in a continuous way. Let us try to state what is known in terms of sensible objects alone. and that. with the fact that our sensations ways which seem to depend upon us upon anything which would be supposed independently of us. the objects we had been seeing remain as they were though we no longer see them. but place. so that. What we ought to say is that. if we shut our eyes. But in speaking of walking round the table. a striking patch of colour is not suddenly replaced by . without any element of hypothesis. we must try to make up our minds as to these arguments. We find that as we walk round the table. for this opinion ? In each case. which have generally been thought conclusive. we believe often change in rather than to persist unreflectingly that everything is as it seems to be. but if we are to make any progress with the problem of the external world. I think. At first. this language already assumes that there is a real table of which we see the appearances. the opinion has resulted from the combination of a belief that something which can persist independently of our consciousness makes itself known in sensation." we have still retained the hypothesis that there is a single table connected with all the appearances. But there are arguments against this view.84 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY What are the common grounds (if these are distinct). while we have those muscular and other sensations which make us say we are walking. A table viewed from one place presents a different appearance from that which it presents from another This is the language of common sense.

This is what we really know by experience.appearance if (as say) the state of the atmosphere changes if there is fog or rain or sunshine. Let us take the case of the blue spectacles. Thus the discovery that the intervening medium affects the appearances of things cannot be made by means of the sense of sight alone. including those attributed to physiological causes. But in this case we really see a spotted patchwork the dirtier specks in the glass are visible. Physiological changes also we alter the appearances of things. If we assume the world of common sense. although we can see things through it. all these changes. or put on blue spectacles. It might be objected that a dirty pane of glass. or look through a microscope. What is really known is a correlation of muscular and other bodily sensations with changes in visual sensations. More altering its appearance. for example. It is not quite so easy as in the former case to reduce this set of facts to a form in which nothing is assumed beyond sensible objects. distant objects will also alter their . which is the simplest. All these operations. But walking round the table is not the only We way of can shut one eye. but may serve as a type for the others. is visible. : : .THE EXTERNAL WORLD something wholly different. in various ways. are changes in the intervening medium. Anything intervening between ourselves and what we see must be invisible our view in every direction is bounded by the nearest visible object. when we have freed our minds from the assumption of permanent " things " with changing appearances. but is replaced 85 by an insensible gradation of slightly different colours with slightly different shapes. alter the visual appearance which we call that of the table. while the cleaner parts are invisible and allow us to see what is beyond.

whether this assumption is actually unavoidable. which is the only part where we immediately know that there something. though it is unquestionably the most natural one to make. We have fallen into the assumption that the object of which we are conscious when we touch the blue spectacles So still exists after we have ceased to touch them. attach a meaning to the statement that the blue glass. we must know how to correlate the space of touch with it is the space of sight. however.86 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY but the dean. We may say that the . which we can touch. is But it presents no difficulties of and may therefore be supposed accomplished. It may be questioned. " " as we say. nothing except our finger can be seen through the part touched. In order to know that The frame blue glass. if it is between us and the objects seen through it. it becomes possible to simple matter. When it has been accomplished. This correlation when stated by no means a itself. : of the present existence of objects not given in sense. is between us and the object seen. when seen through them. The glass itself is known by means of the sense of touch. appears as being in the objects seen through the glass. of the spectacles is of course visible. principle. though of the same kind as objects formerly given in sense. in terms of the data of sense alone. But we have still not reduced our statement com* pletdy to what is actually given in sense. which we say is in the glass. it might seem as if we must assume that the spectacles still exist when we are not touching is them and if this assumption really is necessary. The blueness. is not visible. through it. our main problem is answered we have means of knowing . If we are to account for the blue appearance of objects other than the spectacles. long as we are touching them.

Experience has taught us that where we see certain we can. the supposed continued existence of sensible objects after they have ceased to be sensible will be a fallacious inference from the fact that they still have effects. due to a wrong conception of causality. what are we to make of the hypothetical sensations of touch which we associate with untouched visible objects. kinds of coloured surfaces what is seen is usually tangible. which verified if we chose. but must examine further whether it can really account for the facts. obtain of hardness or softness. of the properties which touch would reveal ? Let us consider the more general question first. and tactile shape. the hardness or softness which we should expect to fed if we touched it. therefore. in that case. cannot. All that we touch is really known is that the visual appearance in question . by the objects. though in fact know would be we we do not verify them ? Must not these be attributed to permanent possession. It may be said that our hypothesis is useless in the case when the blue glass is never touched at all. whether it or not. But the mere fact that we are able to infer what our tactile sensations would be shows that it is not logically necessary to assume tactile qualities before they are felt. and that it has. though perhaps it no longer exists. How.THE EXTERNAL WORLD 87 object of which we become aware when we touch the spectacles continues to have effects afterwards. but this is a mere prejuWe dice. sensations certain expected leads us to believe that This so on. dismiss our present hypothesis on the ground of a priori impossibility. are we to account for the blue appearance of objects ? And more generally. It is often supposed that nothing which has ceased to exist can continue to have effects. by touch. In this view.

since otherwise they could not be inferred from it. I think it may be laid down quite generally that. If we are to avoid non-sensible objects. But in such a case as that of the blue spectacles. Sometimes. will lead to which can necessarily be determined in terms of the visual appearance. together with touch. it must be capable of interpretation in terms of actual .88 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY certain sensations. if we put our hand at a certain place in touch-space. this must be taken as the whole of our meaning when we say that the blue spectacles are in a certain place. though we have not touched them. we become able to associate a certain place in touch-space with a certain corresponding place in of transsight-space. namely in the case a is there find that we tangible object parent things. which will supply an interpretation of common-sense beliefs without assuming anything beyond the existence of sensible are sensible. in a touch-place without there being any visible object in the corresponding sight-place. and have only seen other things rendered blue by their interposition. we should experience a certain touch-sensation. If touch-space. when we have no sensible experience of an intervening tangible object. we find that whatever object is visible beyond the empty sight-place in the same line of sight has a different colour from what it has when there is no tangible object in the intervening and as we move the tangible object in . we nevertheless infer that. now we find a blue patch moving in this way in sight- touch-place space. the blue patch moves in sight-space. can now give a statement of the experienced We facts concerning the blue spectacles. By objects at the times when they and of touch sensacorrelation the of sight experience tions. in so far as physics or common sense is verifiable.

If I look at the moon and immediately afterwards hear a train coming. to express a certain utter wished if we should we those present level of doubt. at any rate. if part of what was asserted was not about sense-data. If at the same time . that is to be an say. at our we are not at liberty to accept hear we certain noises. There is in fact a certain regularity or conformity to law about the occurrence of sense-data.THE EXTERNAL WORLD 89 The reason for this is simple. what was asserted must have been about sense-data. which are When testimony. or. there is no very close causal connection between my two sense-data . or at least the easiest. thought. or one very like it. It must be remembered that. but the sense-data that occur at one time are often causally connected with those that occur at quite other times. alone. then only the other part has been verified. Verification consists always in the occurrence of an Astronomers tell us there expected sense-datum. and not. there is a very dose causal connection between the two The simplest. sense-data. or at least not very closely. statement of the connection is obtained by imagining a " real " moon which goes on whether I look at it or not. sense-data will and eclipse of the moon : we look at the moon. providing a series of possible sense-data of which only those are actual which belongs to moments when I choose to look at the moon. we see an appearance quite different from that of the usual full moon. and has given rise to the expression which we hear. But the degree of verification obtainable in this way is very small. Now if an expected sense- datum constitutes a verification. with those that occur at neighbouring times. has been in another mind. but if I look at the moon on two nights a week apart. we assume that that thought. find the earth's shadow biting into it.

and that. When we his toe. The verifica- tion of physics which is possible at our present level is. We will consider the legitimacy of this belief presently for the moment. but practically no man is so infected with philosophy as not to be quite certain that his friend has felt the same kind of pain as he himself would feel. moving we move ours when we belief that it is alive. which is which observations. I only wish to point out that it needs the same kind of justification as our belief that the moon exists when we do not see it. without it. as evidence of the facts which it reports. we cannot and that the feelings inside it are not looking at see our friend drop a weight its lips resist the it.we as METHOD SCIENTIFIC 90 see IN PHILOSOPHY a body resembling our own. only that degree of verification possible by one man's unaided will not carry us very far of a whole science. therefore. it could only prove that sensations are caused by sensible is . continue when we speak. upon him say what we the phenomena can no doubt be explained without anything but a series of shapes us. let us summarize the " Can argument so far as it has gone. and cannot be regarded assuming that he and noises seen is and heard by . testimony heard or read is reduced to noises and shapes. towards the establishment Before proceeding further. even anything. and hear should say in similar circumstances. of defining The "self" and felt passivity if it proved "inde- of sensation irrelevant. since. The problem is the existence of anything other than our own hard data be inferred from these data ? " It is a mistake " to state the problem in the form Can we know of the existence of anything other than ourselves and " " our states ? or Can we know of the existence of " because of the anything independent of ourselves ? : : : extreme difficulty " pendent precisely.

now can only be accounted for. continues when the body is no longer touched may be replaced by the statement that the i.e. since verification consists merely in the But what occurrence of an expected sense-datum. hence.THE EXTERNAL WORLD 91 The natural naive belief is that things seen when unseen. The assumption that sensible objects persist after they have ceased to be sensible for example. This fact. in many cases. before we can discover its precise bearing on our problem. but this belief tends to be seen when they appeared common sense regards that the fact what dispelled by as the appearance of one object changes with what objects. by his own personal experithat Everything the account of the world given by in can ence. What we then find. be explained in this way. including in the latter our own sense-organs and nerves and brain. or (in the in question case of bodily motions) with the other sense-data themselves. is that gradual changes in certain sense-data are correlated with gradual changes in certain others. . common sense regards as changes in the point of view and in the intervening medium. the commonsense world of stable objects which it professes to call . and . since testimony depends upon the existence of minds other than our own. that the hardness of a visible body. verify common sense and physics. cannot or heard whether read. we must find a way of stating it which does not involve any of the assumptions which it is designed to render doubtful. exactly or approximately as persist. account taking one man. depends upon testimony. however. will be explicable by some such means. as the bare outcome of experience. by of what happened at an earlier time. assumes. that what happens effects of sensible objects persist. as just stated. which has been discovered by touch.

for it is in outline the theory upon which physical science and physiology are built. when we start from common- sense assumptions. in the terms in which it is stated. therefore. be quite different is from the sense-data to which it gives rise. I hope. lies in its failure to realize the radical nature of the reconstruction demanded by the difficulties to which it points. causes our sensations. Let us see how this is to be done. It is supposed that the table (for example) causes our sense-data of sight and touch. something which. The first thing to realize is that there are no such . be susceptible of a true interpretation. let us return to the question of the thing-in-itself. to the theory that what exists at times when we axe not perceiving a given sensible object is something quite unlike that object. reconstruction required. is a fairly natural outcome of the difficulties due to the changing appearances of what supposed to be one object. but must. But what remains far from dear is the nature of the sensation. but is never itself given in sensation.92 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY thus requires a knowledge of something not given in sense. since these are altered by the point of view and the intervening medium. together with us and our senseorgans. Although we cannot rest content with the above theory. I think. The thing-in-itself. namely. and it must. The objection to this theory. we must neverthdess treat it with a certain respect. made this dear. But before examining the question of our knowledge of other minds. cannot speak We legitimately of changes in the point of view and the intervening medium until we have already constructed some world more stable than that Our discussion of the blue of momentary spectacles and the walk round the table has.

at the same moment. alas a "real" visit to America. Objects of sense are " " called real when they have the kind of connection with other objects of sense which experience has led us that I 1 to regard as normal " called illusions. but I wake up and find myself in England without those intervening days on the are inseparably connected with Atlantic which. illusory is which they give rise . are every bit as real as the objects of waking And conversely. What." when they But what is . is perfectly true that. If we It see two tables. aspect changes . must be treated with equal it is only by some reality not merely sensible respect . then there are two visual tables. life must not be expected to have any more intrinsic reality than those of dreams.THE EXTERNAL WORLD things as " illusions of sense. Dreams and waking life. Accepting the indubitable momentary reality of objects of sense. "really" two tables. but it is thought impossible to maintain either that the table changes. but it is thought preposterous to maintain that there are Such arguments. makes us call them unreal in dreams ? Merely the unusual nature of their connection with other objects of sense. the sensible objects of waking inferences to life. its changeableness. I dream am in America. they are only the in themselves." 93 Objects of sense. are the most indubitably real objects known to us. the next thing to notice is the confusion underlying objections derived from their As we walk round the table. we shall see two tables . even when they occur in dreams. then. seem to involve the assumption that there can be something more real than objects of sense. or that its various " " exist in the same place. in our first efforts at construction. however. that dreams can be condemned. they fail in this. we may . If aspects can all really we press one eyeball.

ignoring minds which are devoid of this sense. the answer is simple " " the table mean by the same place ? The use of such a phrase presupposes that all our difficulties have been solved . in order to have a model hypothesis as a help for the imagination. Thus the difficulty. Each mind sees at each moment an immensely complex three-dimensional world is seen . adopting a different Instead of inquiring what is the minimum of assumption by which we can explain the world of sense. as in Leibniz's monadology. has at least not been rightly stated. Let us imagine that each mind looks out upon the world. leaving a residue be regarded as the abstract answer to our problem. but there is absolutely nothing by two minds simultaneously. which When we say . We will now make a new start. from a point of view peculiar to itself . construct one possible method. we have no right to speak of a "place" except with reference to one given set of : momentary sense-data. when the aspect of the table changes as we walk round it. as yet. But all that we are warranted in saying is that. if it exists. It may be possible to pare away what is our hypothesis. we will. This makes us declare the two visual tables an illusion. When all are changed by a bodily movement. the manner of correlation of touch and sight is unusual. because usually one visual object corresponds to one tactile object. in this case. no place remains the same as it was. and for the sake of simplicity let us confine ourselves to the sense of sight. and we are told many different aspects in the same there cannot be so what does the critic of place.94 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY discover by touch that there is only one tactile table. Again. (not necessary) perhaps then superfluous which may in explanation of the facts.

unperceived. two somewhat similar worlds are perceived by them .THE EXTERNAL WORLD 95 that two people see the same thing. If two men are sitting in a room.) world seen by one mind therefore contains no place in common with that seen by another. but we can reasonably suppose that some aspect of the universe existed from that point of view. and might be exactly as it were not perceived. however slight. a third world. between the in spite of the differences different worlds. " " " Thus a private world is a perceived "perspective but there may be any number of unperceived per- spectives. for places can only be constituted by the things in or around them. I shall call the system of "perspectives" " " to I shall confine the expression private worlds such views of the universe as are actually perceived. there are differences. that each exists entire perceived. we always find that. because it is conditioned by the sense-organs. intermediate between the two previous worlds. Hence we may suppose. if a third man enters and sits between them. Two men are sometimes found to perceive very similar perspectives. and brain of the newly arrived man. though no one was perceiving it. They say they see . The system consisting of all views of the universe. owing to difference of point of view. perceived and . but as is between their immediate sensible (I am here assuming the validity of testimony we are only constructing a possible theory. objects. that The three-dimensional a legitimate assumption. so similar that they can use the same words to describe them. We may further suppose that there are an infinite number of such worlds which are in fact unperceived. nerves. exactly as is even it is if it It is true that we cannot reasonably suppose just this world to have existed before. begins to be perceived.

It is a relation between the perspectives. continuous. In case the similarity is very great. It has. the merit of being ." as opposed to its momentary appearances.) All the aspects of a are real. of the kind considered in the theory of relativity . some at of relations between perspectives can be rendered unperceived. We can and now least (if we choose) three-dimensional. we say the points of view of the two perspectives are near together in space-. the similarity of neighbouring perspectives. and such that between any two. (The correlation of the times of By different perspectives raises certain complications. whereas the thing is a merely logical thing construction. to establish a correlation a great many of the things of between by similarity one perspective. define the momentary common-sense "thing. namely with the similar objects. no one can perceive it. and a great many of the things of Thus it is possible. that system may be identified with the momentary com" mon-sense thing." Thus an aspect of a "thing" is a member of the system of aspects which is the " thing " at that moment. another. but we may ignore these at present. many objects in the one can be correlated with objects in the other. however. because the differences between the two tables they see are slight and not practically important. sometimes. series of other perspectives. and if it is to be known it can be only by Between two perceived perspectives which inference. there are others In this way the space which consists still more similar. however similar. but this space in which they are near together is totally different from the spaces inside the two perspectives. we can imagine a whole are similar. and is not in either of them . form the system of all the objects correlated with it in all the perspectives .SCIENTIFIC 96 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY the same table. Given an object in one perspective.

in perspective space. whose elements are single perspectives. how the private space of a single perspective is correlated with part of the one all-embracing perspective space. for example. anyone. or. and of being visible to more than one person. and suppose this appearance. It will be observed that.THE EXTERNAL WORLD neutral as between different points of 97 view. such as would be called a penny. and their order on this line Morewill be that of the sizes of the circular aspects. in the sense that each sees one of its aspects. 7 . " " Perspective space is the system of points of view " of private spaces (perspectives). that we start from one which contains the appearance of a circular disc. since points of " view have not been defined. namely. in the perspective in question. there is only one space in which the perspectives themselves axe the dements. while each perspective contains its own space. each with We have now to explain its own private space. not elliptic. or at any rate as one element. There axe as many private spaces as there are perspectives . is circular. there are therefore at least as many as there are percipients. in the only sense in which it can ever be visible. They are ordered by means of their similarities. The perspectives in which the penny looks circular will be said to lie on a straight : line in perspective space. We can then form a whole series of perspectives containing a gradu- ated series of circular aspects of varying sizes for this purpose we only have to move (as we say) towards the penny or away from it. private spaces will each count as one point. we may say it is the These system of the private spaces themselves. and there may be any number of others which have a merely material existence and are not seen by But there is only one perspective-space. Suppose.

so far as experience goes. in order to prolong our lines until they reach this place." It is true that. remove We our penny and prolong each of our two straight lines up to their intersection by placing other pennies further off in such a way that the aspects of the one are . because the spacial order of perspectives is found empirically " " to be independent of the particular chosen things for defining the order. It is to be remarked " " than our penny might also that any other thing have been chosen to define the relations of our perspectives in perspective space. we shall have to make use of other things besides the penny. let us again consider the penny which appears in many perspectives. and we agreed that those in which it looked larger were to be considered as nearer to the penny. this In order to explain the correlation of private spaces with perspective space. because. for example. we have come But so near to this raises no it that it touches the real difficulty. can. These two lines will meet in a certain place in perspective space.98 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY statement must be noticed and the perspectives in which the examined subsequently to be nearer to the penny will said be looks big penny than those in which it looks small. the penny ceases to present any appearance after eye. i." For this purpose. and that experience shows that the same spatial order of perspectives would have resulted. over though. We can form another straight line of perspectives in which the penny is seen end-on and looks like a straight line of a certain thickness. we have first to explain what " the place (in perspective space) where is meant by a thing is. in a certain perspective. We formed a straight line of perspectives in which the penny looked circular.e. which may be defined as " the place (in perspective space) where the penny is.

Having now defined the perspective. of course. where this aspect is in the private space with the place where the thing is in is an aspect then we of correlate the place perspective space. But it is plain that such niceties cannot affect the principle. If there a given thing in a certain private space. There will then be just one perspective in which one of the new pennies looks circular and the other straight. This will be. nearer to the perspective which is the place where the thing is. and can only introduce complications in neglects the size of the penny. We can now also explain the correlation between a private space and parts of perspective space. " " may define here as the place. We can also understand what is meant by saying that our private world is inside our head . for our . which is occupied by our private world. which is the place where a given thing is. only a first rough sketch of the way in which our definition is to be reached. we can understand what is meant by saying that the perspectives in which a think looks large are nearer to the things than those in which it looks small: they are. in perspective space. the place where the original penny was in perspective space." A thing is near " " to here if the place where it is is near to my private world. Thus We we can now understand what is meant by speaking of " a thing as near to or far from here.THE EXTERNAL WORLD 99 circular where those of our original penny were circular. It and it assumes that we can remove the penny without being disturbed by any simultaneous changes in the positions of other things. The above is. in fact. its application. by definition. and the aspects of the other are straight where those of our original penny were straight.

The laws according to which they change cannot be stated if we only take account of the aspects that are near the thing. We have now constructed a largely hypothetical picture of the world. The place " at which is the place of the thing to which the aspect " " the is the place of the place from which belongs perspective to which the aspect belongs. of which at most one appears in any given perspective . It will be observed that two places in perspective space are associated with every aspect of a thing: namely. the place where the thing is.ioo SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY is a place in perspective space. the psychologist in the second. but require that we should also take account of the things that are at the places from which these aspects appear. i. (2) the perspective of which the given aspect is a member. namely (i) the various aspects of the thing. aspect correspond to the We may distinguish the " and that from which. Let us now endeavour to state the fact that the aspect which a thing presents at a given place is affected by the intervening medium. that in which the thing has the given aspect. and the place which is the perspective of which the aspect in question forms part. This empirical fact can. The two places associated with a single private world : two ways of classifying it. which contains and places the . The aspects of a thing in different perspectives are to be conceived as spreading outwards from the place where the thing is. the aspect appears.e. and undergoing various changes as they get further away from this place. and may be part of the place where our head is. therefore. be interpreted in terms of our construction. . The physicist naturally classifies aspects in the first way. two places as that at which. Every aspect of a thing is a member of two different classes of aspects.

it . the facts of physics. no direct people we meet when we are awake. and the facts It is therefore a world which may of physiology. with a certain amount of trouble. It must be conceded to begin with that the argument in favour of the existence of other people's minds cannot be conclusive. have representative of a private world to which we of the this to believe are we If access. The world we have constructed can. It fits the facts. since it is obviously possible that what we call waking life may be only an unusually It may be that persistent and recurrent nightmare. all the . It will give unexpected answers. refuse to conform to our desires. and show all those other signs of intelligence to which we are accustomed in the acquaintances of our waking hours. And yet. but we have not derived any positive grounds in its favour. as to the grounds for believing in the existence of anything outside my private world. like the appearances of people in waking life. we do not believe that the phantasm was. including those derived from testimony. and there is no empirical evidence against possibilities.THE EXTERNAL WORLD 101 experienced facts. phantasm of our dreams will appear to have a mind a mind to be annoying. be used to interpret the crude facts of sense. our imagination brings forth all that other people seem to say to us. when we are awake. all that we read in books. as A a rule. be actual. it must be on some ground short of demonstration. We will resume this inquiry by taking up again the question of testimony and the evidence for the existence that of other minds. it also is free from logical im- But have we any good reason to suppose This brings us back to our original it is real ? problem. What we have derived from our hypothetical construction is that there are no grounds against the truth of this belief.

it does not belong to the hardest of hard data. Is there anything to make the argument from analogy more cogent when we are is Someone says we think) awake ? The analogy in waking 1 (as life is only to be preferred to . and quarterly journals that distract our thoughts. certain thoughts and feelings. since it results from observation of people's bodies and along with other such beliefs. That is to say.SCIENTIFIC 102 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY daily. of course. This may be true. but because the belief is natural to us. monthly. of philosophic reflection. in the very wide sense in which we used the word at first. weekly. all the advertisements of soap and all since it the speeches of politicians. we find ourselves already believing in them. in which case the inference is generally considered to be mistaken. we therefore attribute the words we heard to the person in question having seen the motor-car first. just sufficiently questionable to make us desire some argument connecting it with the facts of sense. under the It is. by natural to suppose that such behaviour it is connected with thoughts and feelings like our own. cannot be shown to be false. with our inference. but becomes. when we first begin to reflect. may occur in a dream. Is there any logical ground Or ? is there nothing as this improbable possibility ing beyond habit and prejudice ? The minds of other people are among our data. But this whole scene. however. The obvious argument is. yet no one can for regardreally believe it. hence. " " Look out and we find we are on the point of being killed by a motor-car. Other people's bodies behave as ours do when influence we have analogy. derived from analogy. a psychologically derivative belief. not because of any argument. . in which case there are existing things of which we are not directly conscious.

who had consistent characters and grew older with the lapse of years. he might. find it difficult to decide which was the dream-world " * and which was the so-called real world. a set of people whom he never met by day. Certain uniformities are observed in waking life. On the If ' other hand. It is only the failure of our dreams to form a consistent whole either with each other or with waking life that makes us condemn them. and good reason to When once it is as a working hypothesis. but the modern mind.THE EXTERNAL WORLD that in dreams on the ground of its 103 greater extent and a man were to dream every night about consistency. There is therefore nothing to be said against its truth. seems to awaken from a sleep which has filled all his the whole world of sense becomes mundane life phantasmal. refuses to entertain this view. our extend us to enables admitted. in moments of illumination. it knowledge of thus and leads to the world the sensible by testimony. while dreams seem quite erratic. it is a hypothesis which systematizes a vast body of facts and never leads to any consequences which there is reason to think false. a world utterly different from that of our daily : cares and troubles. strong support from the analogical argument. the mystic. At the same time. though it is hard to see what could be said against it. with the clarity and convincingness that belongs to our morning realization after dreams. and he sees. like the man in Calderon's play. be allowed to be not susceptible of any very I think. The natural hypothesis would be that demons and the spirits of the dead visit us while we sleep . use it . Who shall condemn him Or who shall justify the shall justify him ? solidity of the common objects among which pose ourselves to live ? The ? Who seeming we sup- hypothesis that other people have minds must. as a rule.

It is this hypothetical construction. and shows that the account of the world given by common sense and physical science can be interpreted in a way which is logically unobjectionable. This somewhat meagre conclusion must not be regarded as the whole outcome of our long discussion. both hard and soft. and finds a place for all the data. and therefore (at least by implication) that others have minds. have assumed that the testimony of others is to be admitted. from the differences in the appearance which one physical object presents to two people at the same time. or to one person at two times between which it cannot be supposed to have changed. Such difficulties have made people doubtful how far objective reality could be known by sense at all.104 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY system of private worlds which we assumed in our In actual fact. which we find in science and common sense. Our hypothetical construction meets these arguments. we cannot help believing in the minds of other people. assumption. so that the question whether our belief is justified has a merely speculative interest. and have made them suppose that there were positive arguments against the view that it can be so known. most writers. which is the chief outcome of our discussion. whatever hypothetical construction. consciously or unconsciously. beyond our own private data. Their difficulties have arisen after this admission. we may try to think as philosophers. Probably the construction is only in part necessary as an initial. then there is no further difficulty of principle in that vast extension of our knowledge. and can be . And if it is justified. with its reconciliation of psychology and physics. The problem of the connection of sense with objective reality has commonly been dealt with from a standpoint which did not carry initial doubt so far as we have carried it .

THE EXTERNAL WORLD 105 obtained from more slender materials by the logical of which we shall have an example in the methods but I and particles do not yet know to what lengths this diminution in our initial assumptions can be carried. definitions of points. instants. . .

who are conscious of it. obviously stands in need of it . indeed." while yet maintaining the truth of the physics inferred from those data.LECTURE IV THE WORLD OF PHYSICS AND THE WORLD OF SENSE AMONG the objections to the reality of objects of sense. though it may be capable of justification. The problem is difficult. and I do not know its solution in detail. Men of science. But such an attitude. and to indicate the kind of methods by which a solution is to be sought. for the most part. It is therefore necessary to find some way of bridging the gulf between the world of physics and the world of sense. one which is derived from the apparent difference between matter as it appears in physics and things as they appear in sensation. Physicists appear to be unconscious of the gulf. . are willing to condemn immediate " data as merely subjective. have not the mathethere is matical knowledge required for spanning it. there were some wholly a priori principle by which unknown entities could be inferred from such as are known. while psychologists. and it is this problem which will occupy us in the present lecture. and the only justification possible must be one which exhibits matter as a logical construction from sense-data unless. All that I can hope to do is to make the problem felt.

is a piece of audacious metaphysical theorizing. Physics started from the common-sense belief in fairly permanent and fairly. in a lesser degree. and has therefore hitherto been ignored by We have thus here a first departure from physicists. smoke. . were thought to be hardly real to this day the usual mark of a ghost is that it can be seen but not touched. clouds. mountains. Breath. to us now the world of physics is the more familiar. the immediate data of sensation. Then there are other things. Such objects were peculiar in the fact that they seemed to disappear completely. stones axe split by frost. and yet present almost no permanence or rigidity. This common-sense belief. though permanent. and it may be doubted whether they are there when they are not seen or felt. are examples of such things so. This problem. and mountains are cleft by earthquakes and eruptions. become strange and difficult to rediscover. stones. are Tables and chairs lose their legs. which has been acute since the time of Berkeley. But tables and chairs. are not in any degree rigid. and rivers and seas. stones and mountains. the world of pure sense having trasted worlds. smoke. the earth and moon and sun. though it is a departure merely by way made by our savage of extension. Breath. fairly . and generally things that can be seen but not touched.rigid bodiestables and chairs. for. it should be noticed. are ice and snow . ancestors in and was probably some very remote prehistoric epoch. objects are not continually present to sensation. not quite permanent or quite rigid. clouds.WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE 107 Let us begin by a brief description of the two conWe will take first the world of physics. is ignored by common sense. though the other world is given while the physical world is inferred. which seem material.

and it required no great theoretical effort to invent the hypothesis that the water was the same thing as the ice and snow. are replaced by water . which traditional notions had led us to expect atom- by . and was implied in every statement of its laws and axioms. before. are exactly alike. The modern form of atomism regards all matter two kinds of units. some kind of atomism dominated the whole of traditional dynamics. upon experimental evidence. A but the powder consists of grains which retain the character they had before the pounding. when they break. quite modern times. there is a wholly new form. break into parts which are practically the same in shape and size as they were stone can be hammered into a powder. when they disappear. it was replaced by the electromagnetic theory. Solid bodies." i. as composed of All electrons. Apart from the special form of the atomic theory which was invented for the needs of chemistry. energy multior mass plied by time. which in its turn has developed into a new atomism. Ice and snow. but in a new form. which is not very different from that of the Greeks except in being based both indestructible. Here the " indivisible unit is a unit of action. in fact. seemed attainable by supposing ordinary bodies to be composed of a vast number of tiny atoms. multiplied by length multiplied This is not at all the sort of quantity in velocity. addition to this form of atomicity.e. and so are all protons. until. electrons and protons. introduced by the theory of quanta.io8 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY not merely to be transformed into something else. so far as we can disIn cover. This billiard-ball view of matter dominated the imagination of physicists until ideal of absolutely rigid bodies. Thus the and absolutely permanent which early physicists pursued throughout the changing appearances.

teaches us to correlate our spaces with those which we believe to exist in the sensible world of other people. but the correlation of one private time with another is a matter of great difficulty. relativity less surprising. according to the different senses which may be called spatial. such as mountains. we are. therefore. it will be necessary to say something about relativity. only become data when we see them. let us examine our problem from the other end. So far from one all. and are now admitted to be constructions. there are several spaces for each person. While engaged in the necessary logical constructions. and time have ceased to be. from its fundamental axioms. But before doing so. Relativity has introduced a wholly novel analysis of physical concepts. and experience. although so fax it cannot deduce any form of atomicity. manent even the things that we regard as fairly permanent. embracing space being given. and has made it than this formerly was to build a bridge from To make this dear. In attempting to construct them from sense-data and particulars structurally analogous to sense-data. space. either old or new. together with instinctive theorizing. In the world of immediate data nothing is pereasier it physics to sense-data. for relativity physics.WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE But makes 109 kind of atomicity icity. and are not immediately given as existing at other moments. . only pushing the procedure of relativity theory one stage further back. Experience teaches us to obtain one space from these by correlation. we can console ourselves with the knowledge that permanent things. part of the bare bones of the world. The construction of a single time offers less difficulty so long as we confine ourselves to one person's private world. namely that of sense-data.

when ice melts. the appearance we call ice is replaced by the appearance we call water. If the a priori belief in permanence had not existed. but this. Philosophical writers on physics sometimes speak as though the conservation of something or other were essential to the possibility of science. which. interpreting phenomena. We can give laws according to which the one appearance will be succeeded by the other. a In historically gave spite of the revolutionary results of modern physics. culminating in the conservation of mass . " " things very early The underlying motive in any empirical success in atomism was not. One task. I think. What we really know is that. is an entirely erroneous opinion. confronts us in trying to connect the world of sense with the world of physics. . but there is no reason except prejudice for regarding both as appearances of the same substance. the water which replaces it is the same thing in a new form ? Merely because this supposition enables us to state the phenomena in a way which is consonant with our prejudices. Why should we suppose that. I believe. but rather an instinctive belief that beneath all the changes of the sensible world there must be something permanent and unchanging. is the task of reconstructing the conception of matter without the priori beliefs which rise to it.no SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY The belief in indestructible took the form of atomism. under certain conditions of temperature. On the contrary. no doubt. they were produced by it. fostered and nourished by its practical successes. This belief was. but it was not produced by these successes. if what has just been said is correct. the same laws which are now formulated in terms of this belief might just as well have been formulated without it.

It is of course the in fades years. For this purpose. that change gradually sometimes very quickly. In the case of slowly a changing things. which "has" is . as is said. given any sensible appearance.WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE in the empirical successes of the conception of matter show that there must be some legitimate conception which fulfils roughly the same functions. if the discontinuities of the quantum theory should prove -ultimate.e. the these various colours at . in the room "we perceive certain not always precisely the familiar. this is easily seen. We say. a constant entity. when We know that under " we are. connected with each other by continuity and by certain causal laws. but same colours. The time has hardly come when we can state precisely what this legitimate conception is. or at least an approximately of things continuous series. but not without passing through a continuous series of intermediate states. there will usually be. But what do we really know about it ? suitable circumstances^-i. Consider. if we watch. say. What this means is that. leading on by imperwhich ceptible gradations to the new appearances same the of common sense regards as those thing. wall-paper which " " an effort not to conceive of it as one thing whose colour is slightly different at one time from what it is at another. a continuous series of appearances connected with the given one. only necessary to take our ordinary common-sense statements and reword them without the assumption it is permanent substance. but we can see in a general way what it must be like. Thus a thing may be defined as a certain series of appearances. for example. sufficiently similar to fed If we can state the laws according to which the colour colours in a certain pattern varies. we can : state all that is empirically verifiable the assumption that there wall-paper.

assumes hypothetical entities whose existence there is no good reason to believe in. in dealing with any subject-matter. but it is a mistake to suppose that what is easy and natural in thought is what is most the case of " free from unwarrantable assumptions. More generally. but our language is so interpreted as to avoid an unnecessary metaphysical assumption of various times. The above extrusion of permanent things affords an example of the maxim which inspires all scientific " " Occam's razor Entities are philosophizing. of the genesis of be correct in outline. like common sense and most philo- sophy. has difficulties which it is necessary Starting from a world of helter- may . thing which would commonly be said to be those namely To thing.H2 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY a piece of gratuitous metaphysics. Everything will then proceed as before whatever was verifiable is unchanged. is We like. These are collected together by the of its aspects. Very often the resulting statement is more complicated and difficult than one which. find out : what entities are undeniably involved. as " things very aptly The above summary account "things. namely a combination of sensible continuity and causal connection. taken serially. the wall-paper as the series may. define if we : permanence. In other words. a " " will be defined as a certain series of aspects. same motives which led us to regard the wall-paper as one thing." though it omitted some serious briefly to consider. say that a certain aspect is an aspect o/the a will merely mean that it is one of certain thing of those which. and state everything in terms of these entities. are the thing. namely not to be multiplied without necessity. We find it easier to imagine a wall-paper with changing colours than to think merely of the series of colours . illustrates.

To common sense. to begin with. fax as our senses can so continuous be to changes are thus led to assume that. as the Comedy of Errors illustrates. but to science the matter composing it is continually changing. and may. involved. is not very serious. however. some conflict between what common sense regards as one thing. Another insufficient criterion of one thing is continuity. As we have already seen. This conflict. for two difierent things may have any degree of likeness up to exact similarity. then there was a continuous series of intermediate states of that thing during the time when we were not observing it. But." There is. and call them all appearances of the same thing ? A rough and approximate answer to this question There are certain fairly stable is not very difficult. if we watch what we usually find its regard as one changing thing. And so it comes to be is necessary and thought that continuity of change 8 . we have little hesitation in regarding them on successive occasions as appearances of one thing or collection of things. a human body is one thing. we wish to collect them into series. by what principles shall we select certain data from the chaos. the furniture of rooms. and if we have reason to regard them as belonging we We to the same thing. be largely ignored. each of which can be regarded as consisting of the " successive appearances of one thing. is : collections of appearances.WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE 113 skelter sense-data. two finitely different appearances at two different times. the faces of acquaintances. led astray if we judge by mere This shows that something more is we may be resemblance. and what physics regards an unchanging collection of particles. In these cases. if we see perceive. for our rough The problem preliminary purpose. such as landscapes.

Thus something more must be sought before we can give even the roughest definition of a " thing. though from too great rapidity or from our lack of observation they may not always appear : continuous. counting as continuous whatever seems continuous. pass by sensibly continuous gradations from any one drop of the sea to any other drop. is in accordance with quantum principles. it is because we suppose this that we assume intermediate unobserved states. (We are speaking throughout of the immediate sensible appearance. But it is not a sufficient condition. The assumption of continuity is. since we can. on the contrary. continuity or change which.) sufficient to constitute It is neither. from quantum phenomena) is inconsistent with the hypothesis that all changes are really continuous. though even this cannot be said in such cases as sudden explosions. are purely hypothetical. as appears from the instances of the drops in the sea. Continuity is also not sufficient. successmade in physics. But in fact it is not necessary. may be allowed to be a necessary conidtion if two appearances are to be classed as appearances of the same thing. possibly. however. and cannot possibly be our ground for supposing the earlier and later appearances to belong to the same thing . The utmost we can say is that discontinuity during uninterrupted observation is as a rule a mark of difference between things. This proves something. in the case where our attention has not been concentrated on the thing throughout.114 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY one thing. because the unobserved states. and as discontinuous whatever seems discontinuous. though sudden. for example. though fully not anything of very obvious utility to our present problem it proves that nothing in the known world (apart. In this hypothetical sense." .

If it is to be unambiguous whether two appearances belong to the same thing or not. events at the same time provided the connection is not logically demonstrable. It would be very difficult our for but is the case. though unwhere they go beyond sense-data. In this very general sense. are at no point in contradiction with sense-data. proved is that its hypotheses." I give it precision. the by empirical proved To answer is that What is this question. the laws of dynamics are causal laws. those of its aspects.WORLDS OP PHYSICS AND OF SENSE 115 What is wanted further seems to be something in the nature of fulfilment of causal laws. empirically possible " each series being regarded as belonging to one thing. Thus we may lay down the following definition Things are those series of aspects which obey the laws of : . When I speak of mean any laws which connect events at different times. on the contrary. and so are the laws correlating the simul" " to different taneous appearances of one thing How do such laws help in senses. is very vague. are ideally such as to render all sense-data calculable from a sufficient collection of data all belonging to a given period of time. there must be only one way of grouping appearances so that the resulting things obey the laws of to prove that this physics. or even. but we will endeavour to " causal laws." and behaving. which are not observed. The question is " " the definition of a thing ? : we must consider what it success of physics. present purposes we may let that there is only one assume and this point pass. with regard to the laws of physics. as a limiting case. This statement as it stands. " " definition of a our in include must We thing way. Now physics has found is verifiable it to collect sense-data into series. if any. but. in a way in which series not belonging to one thing would in general not behave.

In physics. (y) things which never appear at all. is there are hypotheses as to (a) how things would appear to a spectator in a place where. Sense-data. belong to psychology and are. Thus verifiability depends upon our capacity for acquiring knowledge. they are not appearing to anyone . at any rate in some sense. (a) We have been the two answers. as it happens. there is no spectator . as ordinarily set forth. whereas may It still quite independent of psychological considerations. it not enough that it should be true. by no means the same thing as truth more subjective and . in the above account. this objection there are some importance.n6 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY physics. (j3) how things would appear at times when. In order . something far For a proposition to be verifiable. That such series exist is an empirical fact. in fact. question of the verifiability is it is. there is much that is unverifipsychological. which constitutes the verifiability of physics. All these are introduced to simplify the statement of the causal laws. it may be said. the three kinds of hypothetical entities we have just enumerated must all be capable of being exhibited as logical functions of sense-data. but none of them form an integral able : part of what is known to be true in physics. in fact. and not only upon the objective truth. Now verifiability of physics. subjective. but it must also be such as we can discover to be true. and does not assume that its matter only physics exists To is when it is perceived. be objected that the "matter" of physics is something other than series of sense-data. or at least capable of being proved or disproved. (b) If physics is to consist wholly of propositions known to be true. This brings us to our second answer. both of considering.

becomes actual whenever we choose to look at it. thus a momentary " " a whole set of aspects. for to tion of the laws of physics. provided we have means of knowing how to determine when they become actual. principles of continuity. the enunciaappearances. two of which never had any entity in common. let us recall the hypothetical Ldbnizian universe of Lecture III. for empirical knowledge is confined to what we actually observe. " " not actually perceived by any spectator. come now to the conception of space. It is open to us to believe that the ideal dements exist. We will call one of these an world when there is an actual spectator to which it " " when it is merely constructed ideal appears. ultimately. must be states. An ideal state of a thing will be a state at a moment when all An ideal thing will be one its appearances are ideal. of the whole set of its aspects at that instant. and things. for instance. in fact. they must be functions of actual whose states at all times are ideal. but often contained entities which could be sufficiently correlated to be regarded as belonging to the same " " actual private thing. since they functions of actual appearances. and A on physical thing consists. at each instant.WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE 117 to show how this might possibly be done. Here it We is of the greatest importance to distinguish sharply . Thus it is unnecessary. we had a number of perspectives. An ideal but appearance will be an aspect merely calculated. and things . are calculated. but unless in virtue of some a priori law we cannot know it. in all the different worlds . This. states. In that universe. assign any reality to to is ideal elements : it accept them as logical enough constructions. and there can be no reason for disbelieving this . in fact. the starry heaven. state of a thing is Ideal appearances. we have with some degree of approximation .

described space " an infinite given whole. which show the problems. we know where we should have to look for it.n8 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY between the space of physics and the space of one man's experience. have The space of sight is quite different it is only by experience in from the space of touch infancy that we learn to correlate them. It is the latter that must concern us first. by no means agreed. may be made. so here : the one all-embracing space. there are other kinds of sensation which give other. when we see an object within reach. not a datum. The one space into which both kinds of sensations fit an intellectual construction. The first thing to notice is that different senses different spaces. if we : touch an object with our eyes shut. But this knowledge is derived from early experience of the correlation of certain kinds of touch-sensations with certain kinds of sight-sensations. In later life. psychologists are is a difficult question. And and sight. though less important these also have to be fitted into the one space spaces means of experienced correlations. What the nature of given infinite is is given space really is. while a space which can be called " " not infinite. who was unusually ignorant of psychology. who have never read any psychology seldom People how much mental realize labour has gone into the construction of the one all-embracing space into which all sensible objects are supposed to fit. is besides touch : . and more or less what it would look like. we know how to touch it. And as in the by case of things. and more or less what it will fed like ." whereas a moment's as psychological reflection shows that a space which is not given. without taking general remarks upon which But some will suffice to sides on any psychological issue still in debate. Kant.

they must be an inference. some complex assemblage of immediately given objects. and it may be that an assemblage of data of sensation will serve this purpose. Natural his in Knowledge (Cambridge. but there is no good reason to assume its independent metaphysical reality. simplified so as to be easily been invented by Dr. thus here again. as independent entities. 1920). The one . which will have the geometrical properties required of points. we shall have. Exactly how this is to be done I do not can be yet know. but no one has ever seen or touched a point. space may turn out to be valid as a logical construction. they could be validly inferred from the data . Principles of It 1919) and Concept of Nature (Cambridge. of the for showing how points might be manupurpose factured from sense-data together with other structurThis method is set forth ally analogous particulars.WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE 119 though convenient as a way of speaking. If there are points in a sensible space. An illustrative . All that is necessary for geometry is that they should have mutual relations possessing certain enumerated abstract properties. method. need not be supposed really to exist. but it seems fairly certain that it done. It is cus- some tomary to think of points as simple and infinitely small. All that experience makes certain is the several spaces of the several senses correlated by empirically discovered laws. to find logical construction. compounded of the several spaces. but geometry in no way demands that we should flwilr of them in this way. Another respect in which the spaces of immediate experience differ from the space of geometry and physics is in regard to points. It is not easy to see any way in which. Whitehead has manipulated. The space of geometry and physics consists of an infinite number of points. if possible.

below which nothing is experienced but Dr. physical space. Whitehead's methods postulate that there shall be no such minimum. however. and space-time. roughly speaking. We assume that this applies. will enable us to define a point certain set of spatial objects . does not constitute a real difficulty. Whitehead's abstract methods are applicable equally to psychological But space. though we cannot discover a lower limit to the sizes that are possible. since there is no reason to suppose that the space of our immediate experience possesses mathematical con. This. It should be observed that Dr. Thus one spatial datum may be contained within This another. relation of enclosure. Sense-data have a minimum size. by the help of some very natural " " as a hypotheses. explaining the general principles underlying the method. as applied to psychological space. We cannot therefore construct a continuum without assuming the existence of particulars which are not experienced. and entirely enclosed by the other. . they do not yield continuity unless we assume that sense-data always logical contain parts which are not sense-data. We have first of all to observe that there are no infinitesimal sense-data any surface we can see. to split up into parts contained within the whole. the abstraction set will consist of aJl volumes which would naturally be said to contain the point.120 is SCIENTIFIC METHOD impossible to explain this IN PHILOSOPHY method more concisely than in those books. but to the whole of the stuff composing the world whatever is not an : : has some finite spatio-temporal size. time. to which the reader is therefore But a few words may be said by way of referred. must be of some finite extent. under the influence of attention. for example. But what appears as one undivided whole is often found. not only to sense-data.

Even if there be a of physical world such as the mathematical theory our on motion supposes. so long as we confine ourselves to one private world. It either inferred or constructed. Instants. and within our subjective activity. How is this to be done ? Immediate experience provides us with two timerelations or one among events may be earlier : they may be and the other simultaneous. validly is strictly not among must be difficult thus we to see are left with the alternative that they must be constructed. however short. the data of experience. belongs rather to physical space than to the space of experience. if legitimate. A very interesting attempt to show the kinds of geometry that can be constructed out of the actual materials supplied in sensation will be found in Jean Nicod's La gfom&rie dans le monde sensible (Paris. These two are both part of the crude data . and therefore the objects of sense of which we are immediately conscious are not instantaneous. is rather less complicated than that of space. This question will concern us again later. when we come to consider physical space-time and its partial correlation with the space and time of experience. 1923)- The question of time.WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE tinuity. by . it is not the case that their time-order is added only the events are given. therefore. The full employment of 121 Dr. later. Whitehead's methods. and we can see pretty dearly how it might be dealt with by such methods as we have been considering. are therefore. and. but always for some finite time. inferred be how they can . impressions sense-organs produce sensations which are not merely and strictly instantaneous. Events of which we are conscious do not last merely for a mathematical instant. The time-order.

122

METHOD

SCIENTIFIC

IN PHILOSOPHY

much

given as the events. In any
such passages as the
you
"
he pointed the
smile
a
With
cynical
following
At the
revolver at the breast of the dauntless youth.

certain limits, is as
story of adventure

will find

:

'

word three I shall fire,' he said. The words one and
two had already been spoken with a cool and deliberate
The word three was forming on his
distinctness.
this
moment a blinding flash of lightning
lips,
rent the air." Here we have simultaneity not due,
as Kant would have us believe, to the subjective

M

mental apparatus of the dauntless youth, but given as
objectively as the revolver and the lightning. And
equally given in immediate experience that the
words one and two come earlier than the flash. These

it is

time-relations hold

between events which are not

Thus one event may begin
strictly instantaneous.
sooner than another, and therefore be before it, but
may continue after the other has begun, and therefore
be also simultaneous with it. If it persists after the
other

is

over, it will also be later than the other.
and later, are not inconsistent

Earlier, simultaneous,

with each other when we are concerned with events
which last for a finite time, however short
they
only become inconsistent when we are dealing with
;

something instantaneous.
It is to be observed that we cannot give what may
be called absolute dates, but only dates determined by
events. We cannot point to a time itseUE, but only
to some event occurring at that time. There is
therefore no reason in experience to suppose that there
the events, ordered
are times as opposed to events
:

relations of simultaneity and succession, axe
that
all
experience provides. Hence, unless we are
to introduce superfluous metaphysical entities, we
must, in defining what we can regard as an instant,

by the

WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE

123

proceed by means of some construction which assumes
nothing beyond events and their temporal relations.
If we wish to assign a date exactly by means of events,
how shall we proceed ? If we take any one event, we
cannot assign our date exactly, because the event is
not instantaneous, that is to say, it may be simultaneous with two events which are not simultaneous with
each other. In order to assign a date exactly, we must
be able, theoretically, to determine whether any given
event

or after this date, and we must
is either before or after this

is before, at,

know that any

other date

date, but not simultaneous with it. Suppose, now,
instead of taking one event A, we take two events
and B partly overlap, but B
and B, and suppose
ends. Then an event which is simulends before
taneous with both A and B must exist during the time
and B overlap ; thus we have come rather
when

A

A

A

A

nearer to a precise date than when we considered
and B alone. Let C be an event which is simuland B, but which ends before
taneous with both

A

A

A

B

has ended. Then an event which is
simultaneous with A and B and C must exist during
either

or

three overlap, which is a still
shorter time. Proceeding in this way, by taking more
and more events, a new event which is dated as

the time

when

all

simultaneous with

more and more

all

of

them becomes gradually

accurately dated.

This suggests a

124

SCIENTIFIC

way by which a

METHOD

IN PHILOSOPHY

completely accurate date can be

defined.

Let us take a group of events of which any two

some time, however short,
any other event which
is simultaneous with all of these, let us add it to the
let us go on until we have constructed a
group
group such that no event outside the group is simuloverlap, so that there

when they

all exist.

is

If there is

;

taneous with all of them, but all the events inside the
group are simultaneous with each other. Let us
define this whole group as an instant of time.
It
remains to show that it has the properties we expect
of

an instant.

What

are the properties we expect of instants ?
they must form a series of any two, one must
be before the other, and the other must be not before
the one ; if one is before another, and the other before
a third, the first must be before the third. Secondly,
every event must be at a certain number of instants ;
two events are simultaneous if they are at the same
instant, and one is before the other if there is an instant,
at which the one is, which is earlier than some instant
at which the other is. Thirdly, if we assume that
First,

:

always some change going on somewhere
during the time when any given event persists, the
series of instants ought to be compact, i.e. given
any
two instants, there ought to be other instants between
them. Do instants, as we have defined them, have
these properties ?
We shall say that an event is " at " an instant when
it is a member of the
group by which the instant is
there

is

constituted; and we shall say that one instant is
before another if the group which is the one instant

contains an event which is earlier than, but not simultaneous with, some event in the group which is the

WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE

125

other instant. When one event is earlier than, but
not simultaneous with another, we shall say that it
"
"
the other. Now we know that
wholly precedes
of two events which belong to one experience but are
not simultaneous, there must be one which wholly
precedes the other, and in that case the other cannot
also wholly precede the one
we also know that, if
one event wholly precedes another, and the other
wholly precedes a third, then the first wholly precedes the third. From these facts it is easy to deduce
that the instants as we have defined them form
;

a

series.

"
"
have next to show that every event is
at
least one instant, i.e. that, given any event, there is
at least one class, such as we used in defining instants,
of which it is a member. For this purpose, consider
all the events which are simultaneous with a given
event, and do not begin later, Le. are not wholly

We

after anything simultaneous with it. We will call
"
these the
initial contemporaries of the given event.
It will be found that this class of events is the first
instant at which the given event exists, provided
every event wholly after some contemporary of the

given event
of

is

wholly after some

initial

contemporary

it.

Finally, the series of instants will be

compact if,
which one wholly precedes
the other, there are events wholly after the one and
simultaneous with something wholly before the other.
Whether this is the case or not, is an empirical question ;
but if it is not, there is no reason to expect the timeseries to be compact. 1
given any two events

of

1 The
assumptions made concerning time-relations in one
experience in the above axe as follows
I. In order to secure that instants form a series, we assume :
:

Let us take a group of events of which any two is some time. which is earlier than some instant at which the other is. Secondly. at which the one is. Thirdly. overlap. What are the properties we expect of instants? of any two. the series of instants ought to be compact. as we have defined them. and the other must be not before the one if one is before another. let us add it to the have constructed a group . but not simultaneous with. and one is before the other if there is an instant. the first must be before the third. so that there If there is any other event which all exist. . every event must be at a certain number of instants two events are simultaneous if they are at the same instant. is remains to show that of an it has the properties we expect instant. if we assume that there is always some change going on somewhere during the time when any given event persists.e. but all the events inside the group are simultaneous with each other. some event in the group which is the it is . let us go on until we the group is simuloutside event no that such group taneous with all of them. i. Do instants. given any two instants. there ought to be other instants between them. one must they must form a series be before the other. . and the other before a third. and we shall say that one instant is before another if the group which is the one instant contains an event which is earlier than. when they simultaneous with all of these. these properties ? We shall say that an event is " at " an instant when a member of the group by which the instant is constituted. have : First.124 SCIENTIFIC way by which a IN PHILOSOPHY METHOD completely accurate date can be defined. however short. Let us It define this whole group as an instant of time.

is an empirical question . that. For this purpose. such as we used in defining instants. 1 i The assumptions made concerning tune-relations in one experience in the above are as follows I. Now we know that wholly precedes of two events which belong to one experience but are not simultaneous. there is at least one class. and the other wholly precedes a third. It will be found that this class of events is the first instant at which the given event exists.WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE 125 other instant. We will call " these the imtia. but if it is not. then the first wholly precedes the third. there are events wholly after the one and simultaneous with something wholly before the other. We have next to show that every event is "at" least one instant. Whether this is the case or not. provided every event wholly after some contemporary of the given event is wholly after some initial contemporary of it. and in that case the other cannot also wholly precede the one .e. From these facts it is easy to deduce that the instants as we have defined them form a series. given any two events of which one wholly precedes the other. When one event is earlier than. given any event. we assume : : . are not wholly after anything simultaneous with it. consider all the events which are simultaneous with a given event. In older to secure that instants form a series. Finally. i. i. we also know that. if one event wholly precedes another. and do not begin later. there is no reason to expect the timeseries to be compact. of which it is a member. but not simultaneous with another.l contemporaries of the given event. the series of instants will be compact if. we shall say that it " " the other. there must be one which wholly precedes the other.e.

For a mathematico-logical treatment of the above topics. (e) If : . II. (An event is defined as whatever is simultaneous with something or other. cf K. III. we assume : (/) If one event wholly precedes another. one must wholly precede the other. Soc. Camb. and the other wholly precedes a third." Proc. therefore they will only fit into a compact series if we either bring in events wholly outside our experience. Wiener. then it must have at least one instant in common with the other event . but a duration which cannot sink below a certain TniniTnnni . 441-449. it is not simultaneous with it.126 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY Thus our definition of instants secures all that mathematics requires. " Contribution to the Theory of Relative Position. then the first wholly precedes the third. i. xvii. one event wholly precedes another. In order to secure that the initial contemporaries of a given event should form an instant. without having to assume the existence of any disputable metaphysical entities.. The events which we experience have not only a finite duration. I do not know whether this should be regarded as inadmissible. pp. or postulate that we can experi(*) (6) " No " event wholly precedes itself. there is an event wholly after the one and simultaneous with something wholly before the other.) If one event wholly precedes another. This assumption entails the consequence that if one event covers the whole of a stretch of time immediately preceding another event. there are the same observations to make as in the case of space. 5. A . With regard to compactness in the time of one experience. it is impossible for one event to cease just before another begins. Phil. (d) Of two events which are not simultaneous.e. In order to secure that the series of instants shall be compact. or assume that experienced events have parts which we do not experience. we assume (e ) An event wholly after some contemporary of a given event is wholly after some initial contemporary of the given event.

and the other a third. this will be a if. This topic will be discussed again near the end of Lecture V. the full application of our logico-mathematical method is only possible when we come to physical time. then every member of our second series encloses some " " member of our first. exactly as was done in the case of One object will be temporally enclosed by points. again.e. then the other does not enclose the one (3) that given any set of events such that there is at least one event enclosed by all of them. and itself enclosed by all of them . We can now form an en" closure-series of events. Instants may also be defined by means of the enclosure-relation. that if one event encloses another. then the first encloses the third . but not before or after it. Here. but if one event encloses another different event. To ensure infinite divisibility. punctual enclosure-series given any other enclosure-series such that every member of our first series encloses some member of our second. (2) that every event encloses itself. (4) that at least one event. Assuming these characteristics. Then an instant is the class of all events which enclose members of a given punctual enclosure-series. by choosing a group of events all enclose. . Whatever encloses temporally " or is enclosed temporally we shall call an event. there is such that of any two there is one which encloses the " " other . then there is an event enclosing all that they .WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE 127 ence an Infinite number of events at once." In order that the relation of temporal enclosure may lead to instants we require (i) that it should be transitive. we require also that every event should enclose events other than itself. i. another when it is simultaneous with the other. temporal enclosure can be made to give rise to a " compact series of instants. .

If such constructions are possible. It is intended merely to show the kind of way in which. though they will be parts of one applies. it may be possible. that different private worlds lated appearances. such as common sense would same "thing. Thus two worlds are not different in correlated appearances as be to occurring at the same regarded necessarily date in physical time. and show that it is impossible construct one all-embracing time having to validly problems. approximation. and instants. then mathematical physics . though in a momentary state less degree. must not be regarded as more than tentative and suggestive.128 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY The correlation of the times of different private worlds is a more difficult matter. by means of purely logical constructions. to make it amenable to mathematical treatment by defining series or classes of sense-data which can be called respectively particles. The correlation of by the desire to different private times is regulated secure the simplest possible statement of the laws of technical physics. The above brief outline. What we call will be heard sooner by people near the source of the sound than by people further from it. and thus raises rather complicated these problems are dealt with by the relativity. points." When regard as appearances of the are so correlated worlds two appearances in different " " of a thing. it would be natural to regard and as thus affording a simple means of correlating But this can only be regarded different private times. We saw. given a world with the kind of properties that psychologists find in the world of sense. and the same as a one sound first to light. of a thing. state as to belong to one momentary as them simultaneous. in Lecture often contain correIII. theory of any physical significance.

with more or less physical space. not not-one. physical point head. The inferences from perceptions to physical facts depend always upon causal laws. I do not see physical objects. Further. because our senses are more or less vague : things which look different under the microscope may be indistinguishable to the naked eye. therefore the occurrence called "seeing a star" must be in the If we define a piece of matter as a set of events brain. the sensation of seeing a star will be one of the events which are the brain of the percipient at the time of the perception. space-time of physics has not a very dose and time of the world of one person's experience. points. if we have just examined an object under a Q . which enable us to bring past history to bear . (as was suggested above). and causing a process in the optic nerve and brain . The space my only correlated.g. but also partly to the intervening medium. approximately . Thus every event that I experience will be one of the events relation to the space body. in spite of the fact that and instants are not to be found its particles. The correlation of visual and physical space is rendered approximate by the fact that my visual sensations are not wholly due each to some physical object. this is evident from considerations of causal continuity. the rela- which constitute some part of (say) of visual perceptions my is tion of visual sensation to physical object is one-many. among The actually existing entities. I see effects which they produce in the region where my brain is. Everything that occurs in one person's experience must. from the standpoint of physics. from the I see is inside my whatever of view. be located within that person's body . e. What occurs when I see a star occurs as the result of light-waves impinging on the retina.WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE is 129 applicable to the real world.

But e. of course. that we arrive at physical knowledge which is much more precise than anything inferable from the perceptions of one moment. from taking our own body as the origin. The time of our surprisingly experience is the time which results. to that of the senses. in physical space these two events are not separated. together with causal laws. when I see two stars at once. for physics. But the merging of physical space and time into spacetime does not correspond to anything in psychology. testimony. The problem which the above considerations are intended to elucidate is one whose importance and even existence has been concealed by the unfortunate separation of different studies which prevails through- out the civilized world. and causal laws axe. to what we inferred it to be from what we then saw. open to question. but how. Two events which are simultaneous in my experience may be spatially separate in psychical space. Thus in this respect relativity theory has complicated the relation between perception and physics.130 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY we assume that it is still very similar to to be. the time-interval " " interval relativity theory calls the (in space-time) between them. With regard to physics is if it is true. what we then saw it physics is true. Physicists. It is through history and testimony. But we are not now considering whether microscope. Seeing that all the events in my experience are. in physics. in between them is what my body. ignorant and con- . in their various degrees. History. and indeed they occur in the same place in space-time. or rather.g. its world is related time. the relation of psychology to simple. Thus the time-interval between two events in one person's experience retains a direct physical significance in the theory of relativity.

who have done invaluable work in bringing to light the chaotic nature of the crude materials supplied by unmanipulated sensation. Whitehead. have been content to assume and instants in practice. two authors. a great deal of valuable work has been done. mathematics. There are. and time are "intellectual constructions.their particles. this 1 vital problem remains unattempted and unknown. points. both physicists. Philosophers. Metaphysi- laid by the idealistic opinion that only mind and the Parmenidean belief that the real is cians. .WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE 131 temptuous of philosophy. it is to be hoped. Since then. Dr. space. . will come to recognize that they cannot achieve any solid success in such problems without some slight knowledge of logic. and physics meanwhile. though not much." without making any attempt to show in detail either how the intellect can construct them. conceding. and instants. * This was written in 1914. for want of students with the necessary equipment. and Dr. have been ignorant of mathematics and modern logic. Poincar6 especially in his Science and Hypothesis. that their concepts no claim to metaphysical validity. as having contributed. and therefore naturally made no endeavour to invent a tenable theory of particles. space. while . and time. I should wish to mention specially Professor Eddington. with ironical politeness. to the solution of the problems dealt with in this lecture. Psychologists. These two authors are Poincarfi and Mach. points. to bring about a recognition of the problem as one demanding study. or what secures the practical validity which physics shows them to possess. Broad. largely as a result of the general theory of relativity. whotave done something. repeated one after another the supposed contradictions in the notions of matter. and have therefoie been content to say that matter. unchanging. obsessed is real. from different angles. it is true.

deserve mention as having made serious contributions to the consideration of our problem. however.SCIENTIFIC 132 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY Mach Both especially in his Analysis of Sensations. admirable as their work is. or as all having the same relation that some one object outside the set. Simultaneity. considerations apply here. while with Mach the sensation as a mental event is identified with its object as a part of the physical world. both these car6 authors. if one term has this relation to . Poinis Kantian. and almost always there will be at first an effect of paradox." it is almost certain we shall come to regard them as all having some common quality. When a point or an instant is defined as a class of sensible qualities. then the other is a brother or A relation is said to be term has this relation to another. Thus "brother or sister" is a 1' " symmetrical relation if one person is a brother or a sister of another. of them. if one then the other also has it to the one. which will again be relevant when we come to the definition of numbers. Nevertheless. again. This kind of case important. while Mach is ultra-empiricist . is a symmetrical so is equality in size. seem to me to suffer from a general philosophical bias. " " symmetrical when. and especially Mach. Given a set of objects any two of which have a relation of the sort called "symmetrical and transitive. the first impression produced is Certain likely to be one of wild and wilful paradox. transitive " when. and I shall therefore try to make it clear even at the cost of some repetition of previous to is definitions. however. relation is said to A . : sister of relation be " the one. with Poincar6 almost all the mathematical part of physics is merely conventional. There is a whole type of problems which can be solved by such definitions.

but A and C may well not be simultaneous* All the relations which can naturally be represented as equality in any respect. or as possession of a common from B. hence we come to common property. we mean complete simuljust " beginning and ending together.e." we allow a person to be counted as his or her own brother or sister." "to the right of. again. If is of a different A age a different age from C." in fact all such relations as give rise to series. in the case of simultaneity. will not necessarily be transitive if it only means that the times of the two events overlap. and the other to a third. and so will B and C. Owing to the fact that possession of a common property gives rise to a transitive symmetrical relation. Other relations taneity." " " earlier. But many are symmetrical without being transitive for example. it does not follow that A is of a different age from C. such relations as greater. Simultaneity. to such relations as being of the same height or weight or colour. then the one has it to the third. and B ends just after C has begun. If A ends just after B has begun. i. are transitive and symmetrical this applies. in the case of events which last for a finite time. relations are transitive without being " symmetrical for instance. for example. A and B will be simultaneous in this sense. and provided. Existing at a given instant (in the sense in which we defined an instant) is a transitive symmetrical relation. we come to imagine that wherever such a relation occurs it must be due to a " " is a Being equally numerous symmetrical relation of two collections.WORLDS OF PHYSICS AND OF SENSE 133 another." ancestor of. " " called their number. hence we imagine that both have a common property. difference in any respect. and B of property. in the case of brother or sister. The symmetrical relations mentioned now are also transitive provided. transitive .

but merely abstain from asserting them. and which avoids the risk of introducing fictitious metaphysical entities. But if there are not such common properties in any given case. which accounts for the transitive symmetrical In all such cases. Being states of a given thing is a transitive symmetrical relation . . in order to avoid needless assumptions. the method we have adopted is the only one which is safe. therefore. it is prudent. and this is the source of the apparent paradoxes. while any other common property may be illusory. In the absence of special knowledge. then our method has secured us against error. to substitute the class for the common property which would be ordinarily assumed. have the given transitive symmetrical relation to a given term will fulfil all the formal requisites of a common property of all the members of the class. the class of terms that relation. This is the reason for the definitions we have adopted. since we do not deny them.I 34 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY think that there really is an instant which confers a common property on all the things existing at that " " instant. hence we come to imagine that there really is a thing. other than the series of states. Since there certainly is the class. No harm is done if there are such common properties as language assumes.

in most of its refinements and developments. the following : Space and time are treated by Mhgpiatiffo-Ti s as consisting of points and instants. a part of philoThe logical basis of the theory alone belongs delightful. sophy. proved that analysis into points and instants was impossible if we adhered to the view that the number of points or instants in a finite space or time must be finite. and very but not. they could not consist of infinite number of points and instants. . must not be of points anci instants. Zeno. and alone will occupy us to-night. The way the problem of continuity enters into philosophy is. an Therefore spaces and times. easier to feel than to define. is. because infinite numbers were supposed to be self-contradictory. Later philosophers. with which we shall be occupied in the present lecture. believing infinite number to be self-contradictory. as we shall see. but they also have a property. broadly speaking. which is called continuity.LECTURE V THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY THE theory of continuity. to philosophy. for such reasons as Zeno's . and is thought by many philosophers to be destroyed when they are resolved into points and instants. a purely mathematical subject very beautiful. strictly speaMng. have found here an antinomy Spaces and times could not : consist of a finite number of points and instants. very important. regarded as composed if real at all.

But there remains a feeling of the kind that led Zeno to the contention that the arrow in its flight is rests which suggests that points and instants. in the case of a foreign language. . upon supposed has been disposed of by the positive theory of the infinite. the absence of this kind of intimacy which makes many philosophers regard the mathematical doctrine of continuity as an inadequate explanation of the continuity which we experience in the world of sense. When a theory has been apprehended logically. points begin the problems in connection with this simpler or at form. I believe. remain. with. to a failure to realize imaginatively. which will be considered in Lecture VII. least in so far as it the of difficulties infinite numbers. to thrust out from the mind. I believe. a succession of different immobilities. the : misleading suggestions of false but more familiar theories. not at rest if the smooth transitions with which the senses have made us familiar. the nature of continuous series as they appear in mathematics. as well as abstractly. to acquire the kind of intimacy which. there is often a long and serious labour still it is necessary to dwell required in order to feel it upon it. more familiar hypothesis. as independent as they were by the theory are discarded. The argument against continuity. as I shall try to show presently. This feeling is due. to practically unchanged and and consider admit instants. It is.136 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY But even when points and instants. in a Let us therefore. the problems of continuity. can only give a jerky motion. would enable us to think and dream in it. advocated in our last lecture. one by one. entities. not merely to construct laborious sentences by the help of grammar and dictionary. even are they infinitely numerous.

I do not see any reason to suppose that the points and instants which mathematicians introduce in dealing with space and time are actual physically existing entities. in mathematics. is . fully adequate to the observed facts. however. The application to actual space and time will not be in is in its question to begin with. previously validity upon any What claimed for is very hard to analyse. is a property only in possible to a series of terms. Numbers in to right. are instances of series. Continuity. but I do see reason to suppose that the continuity of actual space and time may be more or less analogous to mathematical continuity. so that we can say of any order of magnitude. are found not to present any What we know empirically about logical difficulty. which number. space and time is insufficient to enable us to decide between various mathematically possible alternatives. not dependent for its is properties of actual space and time. when it is understood. the before the other. I shall first try to explain what the mathematical theory of continuity in outline philosophically important essentials. it will be well to forget space and time and the continuity of sensible change. The one which notion of order. it is that. in order to return to these topics equipped with the weapons provided by the abstract theory of continuity. but these alternatives are all fully intelligible and For the present. the moments of points on a line from left time from earlier to later. to terms arranged one comes that two an order.e. cardinal of the is not required in theory same the have classes two know that It is possible to which order in number of terms without knowing any is here introduced. The theory of mathematical continuity an abstract logical theory.THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY 137 In the present lecture. i. certain characteristics of space and time.

which are nearer to Thus between any two fractions. without having to arrange them in a series. all that is important in continuity is introduced by the lowest degree of continuity. Mathematical space and tjm$ : ." A "compact" when no two terms series are is called consecutive. One of the but between any two there are others. there are an infinite "number of other fractions. A set of terms which can be arranged in one order can always also be arranged in other orders. Given any two fractions. Mathematicians have distinguished different degrees " of continuity. We have an instance of this in such a case as English husbands and English wives we can see that there must be the same number of husbands as of wives. such as J-. but in the nature of their arrangement in a series. simplest examples of a compact series is the series of fractions in order of magnitude. and a set of terms which can be arranged in a continuous order can always be arranged in orders which are not continuous. and have confined the word continuous. is essentially a property of an order: it does not belong to a set of terms in themselves. is called "compactness. but only to a set in a certain order. which certain high degree of continuity. for example. there are other fractions greater than the one and smaller than the other. which we are now to : consider. There is no fraction." for technical purposes. to series having a But for philosophical purposes. which is next after J if we choose some fraction which is very little greater Ibs* i saY iVb* TO can find others. however near together. however little they differ. . But continuity. and therefore no two fractions are consecutive.SCIENTIFIC 138 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY they are to be taken. Thus the essence of continuity must not be sought in the nature of the set of terms.

In order to simplify our problem as much as possible. Neglecting. The mathematical account of motion is perhaps artificially when regarded as describing what actually occurs in the physical world. though whether it is a further question. in its analysis. with It will therefore a view to making its logical possibility felt.THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY 139 have this property of compactness. In more concrete cases. explicitly the be desirable to consider mathematical account of motion. the question of its physical adequacy. and must. but what actually occurs must be capable. The difficult possibility of their forming that might be felt in a compact series the are those of infinity. compactness becomes much more repugnant to our habits of thought. let us devote ourselves merely to considering its possibility as a formal statement of the nature of motion. by a certain amount of logical manipulation. let us imagine a tiny speck of light moving along a scale. it also actual space and tune have is perhaps not very difficulties to realize the logical a compact series. What do we mean by saying that the motion It is not necessary for our purposes is continuous ? to consider the whole of what the mathematician means by this statement only part of what he means : is philosophically important. raise just such problems as are raised in their simplest form by this account. dependent upon empirical evidence. however. and probably incapable of being answered with certainty. But when these difficulties have been solved. of being brought within the scope of simplified the mathematical account. One part of what he . the mere compactness in itself offers no great obstacle to the imagination. for the present. for of terms between number any two given terms must be infinite. therefore. such as motion. In the case of abstract objects such as fractions. .

positions. namely that there are . paradox may serve as an illustration. speck must. travel further than from one point to the next. As soon as we say this or imagine it. If there were. so long as it moves. speck is in motion along the scale throughout the whole of a certain time. But at this point imagination suggests that we may describe the continuity of motion by saying that the speck always passes from one position at one instant to the next position at the next instant. from one instant to the next. as will appear in our next lecture. un? avoidable. But it cannot. because there is no next point or next instant. Every distance.140 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY is that. we faJl into error. there will be other intermediate positions occupied at intermediate However near together we take the two instants. and we agreed that the continuity of motion excludes the It follows that our possibility of such sudden jumps. Thus there will be just one perfectly definite velocity with which all motions must take place no motion can be faster than this. pass from one point at one instant to the next point at the next instant. One If our simple. however small. Since this conclusion is false. we should find Zeno's paradoxes. there would be no instant at which it was in the positions intermediate between that at the first instant and that at the next. if we consider any two positions of the speck occupied at any two instants. is traversed by passing through all the infinite series of positions between the two ends means of the distance. for if it did. in some form. but will pass through an infinite number of other positions on the way. it cannot be at the same point at two consecutive instants. the speck will not jump suddenly from the one to the other. and no motion can be slower. we must reject the hypo: thesis upon which it is based.

which must be admitted. distances so small that any finite fraction of an inch would be The continued greater. in out the keeping suggestion of infinitesimal distances and times. in the end the distance will may " 1 But/ it grow infiniThe process No. Thus infinite divisibility of distances. a quarter of an inch. ." But if this is then tesimal. at first sight. because there is no end. be carried on for ever. Suppose we halve a given distance. " be said. in this kind of question. is an error. we can continue the process as long as we please. the smaller the resulting distance becomes.e. to imply that there are infinitesimal distances. i. though it gives us continually smaller distances. If pur original distance was an inch." of bisection is one . we can find a smaller distance " there is a distance expressed in the ambiguous fonn smaller than any finite distance. but every one of this infinite series of diminishing distances is finite. and then halve the half. an eighth. This infinite divisibility seems. to fall into an elementary logical blunder. I think. and so on. and the longer we continue it. It is easy. without any last term being attained. however. which can.THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY 141 Hence the conpoints and instants. The difficulty to imagination lies chiefly. gives us always finite distances. bisection of our distance. we reach successively half an inch. a sixteenth. theoretically. does not imply that there are distances so small that any finite distance would be larger. Given any finite disthis may be tance. and so on. This. of motion not be must tinuity supposed to consist in a body's occupying consecutive positions at con- consecutive 1 secutive times. i The above paradox is essentially the same as Zeno's argument of the stadium which will be considered in our next lecture.

142

SCIENTIFIC

interpreted as

whatever

METHOD
"

meaning

finite

distance

there

may

IN PHILOSOPHY

is a distance such that,
be chosen, the distance

in question is smaller," then the statement is false.

Common

is ill adapted to expressing matters
and philosophers who have been dependent
have frequently been misled by it.

language

of this kind,

on

it

In a continuous motion, then, we shall say that at any
given instant the moving body occupies a certain posi-

and at other instants it occupies other positions ;
the interval between any two instants and between
any two positions is always finite, but the continuity
of the motion is shown in the fact that, however 'near
togetherwe take the two positions and the two instants,
there are an infinite number of positions still nearer
tion,

together, which are occupied at instants that are also

nearer together. The moving body never jumps
from one position to another, but always passes by
a gradual transition through an infinite number of
intermediaries. At a given instant, it is where it is,
like Zeno's arrow ; * but we cannot
say that it is at
still

rest at the instant, since the instant does not last for

a finite time, and there is not a beginning and end
of the instant with an interval between them.
Rest
consists in being in the same position at all the instants
it
throughout a certain finite period, however short
does not consist simply in a body's being where it is
at a given instant. This whole theory, as is obvious,
depends upon the nature of compact series, and
demands, for its full comprehension, that compact
series should have become familiar and
easy to the
imagination as well as to deliberate thought.
What is required may be expressed in mathematical
language by saying that the position of a moving body
must be a continuous function of the time. To define
;

See next lecture.

THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY

143

accurately what this means, we proceed as follows.
Consider a particle which, at the moment t, is at the
-

'

Choose now any small portion PiP2
point P.
of the path of the particle, this portion being
one which contains P. We say then that, if the
motion of the particle is continuous at the time *,
it must be possible to find two instants ^, t^, one
earlier than t and one later, such that throughout
the whole time from ^ to 2 (both included), the
And we say that
particle lies between P! and P2
this must still hold however small we make the portion
P! Pa . When this is the case, we say that the motion
is continuous at the time t ; and when the motion is.
continuous at all times, we say that the motion as a
whole is continuous. It is obvious that if the particle
were to jump suddenly from P to some other point
.

Q, our definition would fail for all intervals PI PS
which were too small to include Q. Thus our definition
affords an analysis of the continuity of motion, while
admitting points and instants and denying infinitesimal
distances in space or periods in time.
Philosophers, mostly in ignorance of the mathe-

matician's analysis, have adopted other and more
methods of dealing with the prima fade difficulties of continuous motion.
typical and recent
motion is afforded
of
theories
of
example
philosophic

heroic

A

this subject I have
examined elsewhere. 1
Apart from definite arguments, there are certain
feelings, rather than reasons, which stand in the way
of an acceptance of the mathematical account of

by Bergson, whose views on

*

Monist, July 1912, pp. 337-341.

144

SCIENTIFIC

motion.

To begin

METHOD
with,

if

IN PHILOSOPHY

a body

is

moving at

all

motion just as we see its colour. A
slow motion, like that of the hour-hand of a watch,
is only known in the way which mathematics would
fast,

we

see its

lead us to expect, namely by observing a change of
position after a lapse of time ; but, when we observe
the motion of the second-hand, we do not merely
see first one position and then another we see something as directly sensible as colour. What is this
something that we see, and that we call visible motion ?

Whatever it is, it is not the successive occupation of
successive positions
something beyond the mathematical theory of motion is required to account for it.
:

Opponents of the mathematical theory emphasize this
"Your theory," they say, "may be very
logical, and might apply admirably to some other
world ; but in this actual world, actual motions are
quite different from what your theory would declare
them to be, and require, therefore, some different
philosophy from yours for their adequate explanation."
The objection thus raised is one which I have no
wish to underrate, but I believe it can be fully answered
without departing from the methods and the outlook
which have led to the mathematical theory of motion.
Let us, however, first try to state the
objection more
fact.

fully.

If the mathematical
theory is adequate, nothing
happens when a body moves except that it is in different
places at different times. But in this sense the hourhand and the second-hand are equally in motion,
yet
in the second-hand there is
something perceptible to
our senses which is absent in the hour-hand. We can
see, at each moment, that the second-hand is
moving,
which is different from seeing it first in one
place and
then in another. This seems to involve our
seeing

THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY

145

simultaneously in a number of places, although it
also involve our seeing that it is in some of these
places earlier than in others. If, for example, I
move my hand quickly from left to right, you seem
to see the whole movement at once, in spite of the
fact that you know it begins at the left and ends at
the right. It is this kind of consideration, I think,
which leads Bergson and many others to regard a
movement as really one indivisible whole, not the
series of separate states imagined by the mathe-

it

must

matician.

To this objection there are three supplementary
answers, physiological, psychological, and logical.
will consider them successively.

We

(i)

The

physiological answer merely shows that,

if

the physical world is what the mathmatician supposes,
its sensible appearance may nevertheless be expected
to be what it is. The aim of this answer is thus the
modest one of showing that the mathematical account
is not impossible as applied to the physical world ; it
does not even attempt to show that this account is
necessary, or that an analogous account applies in
psychology.

When any nerve is stimulated, so as to cause a
sensation, the sensation does not cease instantaneously
with the cessation of the stimulus, but dies away in a

A

flash of lightning, brief as it is
short finite time.
to our sight, is briefer still as a physical phenomenon
we continue to see it for a few moments after the lightwaves have ceased to strike the eye. Thus in the
case of a physical motion, if it is sufficiently swift, we
shall actually at one instant see the moving body
:

throughout a finite portion of its course, and not
only at the exact spot where it is at that instant.
Sensations, however, as they die away, grow gradually
10

not of showing it to be necessary. not yet worked out. But physiology. and only capable. in speaking of stimulus and sense-organs and a physical motion distinct from the immediate object of sense. is assuming the truth of physics. at present. This state of things accounts fully for the perception of motion. when we see a rapid motion. yet as soon as we seriously consider what is physics. of being vaguely outlined. a mere sketch of its application to our present problem must suffice. we shall not only see a number of positions of the moving body simultaneously. and the others diminishing vividness.I 46 SCIENTIFIC IN PHILOSOPHY tnus the sensation due to a stimulus which recently past is not exactly like the sensation due fainter is METHOD . and is thus only capable of showing the physical account to be possible. The question is thus forced upon us Is the inference from sense to different : . and the earlier and later parts of one perceived motion are distinguished by the less and greater vividness of is perceived. This answer shows that physiology can account for our perception of motion. answer. is actually given in sensation. the sensations. motion with away A not merely inferred. for the present. The world of We which was assumed in the physiological obviously inferred from what is given in sensation. This consideration brings us to the psychological answer. It follows from this that. but we shall see them with different degrees of intensity the present position most vividly. we find it apparently very from the world of physics. considered this theory in the third and fourth lectures . when it is sufficiently swift for many positions to be sensible at one time . mvril sensation fades into immediate memory. (2) The psychological answer to our difficulty about motion is part of a vast theory. to a present stimulus.

after all. though the terms of the series seem different. the mathematical character of the series is unchanged. into propositions about the kinds of objects which are given in sensation. then all the propositions of physics can be translated. even within the sphere of immediate sense-data. If this can be done. it is necessary. out of the materials provided in sensation. in show- ing that. the extent which we see at one instant is different from that which we see at another. simple view. it is possible to make logical constructions having the mathematical properties which physics assigns to particles. broadly speaking. In fact. or at any rate more consonant with the facts than any other equally of motion. like the former physical series of points. Let us consider a body which is moving swiftly enough for its motion to be perceptible. and this series will be compact. for reasons which I suggested in the third and fourth lectures . and instants. although the particles. and instants with which physics operates are not themselves given in experience. in spite of the fact that we see a finite extent of the motion at one instant. yet.THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY 147 physics a valid one ? I believe the answer to be affirmative. and the whole mathematical theory of motion will apply to it verbatim. to a series of momentary views of the moving body. and long enough for its motion to be not wholly comprised in one sensation. and to regard such states as forming a compact series. but the answer cannot be either short or easy. points. Applying these general considerations to the case we find that. Thus we are brought back. by a sort of dictionary. and are very likely not actually existing things. to distinguish instantaneous states of objects. . Then. points. together with other particulars structurally similar to these materials. It consists.

nor the same as the third. i. it is important to realize that two sense-data may be. 1 et fo . In such a case. such It " Le continu math&natique/' Revue de Mttaphysique Morale. a person with his eyes shut is holding a weight in his hand. but if both extra weights had been added at once. it is perfectly reasonable to suppose that sense-data of a given kind. no difference will be perceived in the sensation. although we cannot distinguish sense-data unless they differ by more than a certain amount. and must sometimes be. the second shade cannot be the same as the first. and that other indistinguishable from a third. and still no change will be perceived. take shades of colour. or it would be distinguishable from the first. 29. nor yet between the second and third. vol. therefore. while yet the first and third would be distinguishable. After a time. be really intermediate between them.SCIENTIFIC 148 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY When we are considering the actual data of sensation in this connection. really different when we cannot between them. the extra weight is small enough. cases of sense-data capable of gradual change. it may be that the change would be quite easily perceptible. Such considerations as the above show that. someone must. or it would be distinguishable from the third . for example. An perceive any difference old but conclusive reason for 1 In all believing this was emphasized by PoincarS. Suppose. Or. we find one sense-datum indistinguishable from another. It would be easy to find three stuffs of such closely similar shades that no difference could be perceived between the first and second. though indistinguishable from both. and If noiselessly adds a small extra weight. another small extra weight may be added. p. while yet the first and third are quite easily may distinguishable. again.

as follows (a) : Are series possessing tinuity logically possible mathematical con- ? Assuming that they are possible logically.THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY 149 as weights or colours. all that we primarily assert is that something definable in terms of the crude phenomena satisfies our formulae . but this set of positions changes continuously from moment to moment. There are a number of distinct questions which are apt to be confused when the mathematical continuum is said to be inadequate to the facts of sense. e. objections to this theory theory properly understood. When we assert that some mathematical account of phenomena is correct. We may state these. we may say that at each instant it is in all the positions which remain sensible at that instant . in order of diminishing generality. objections which may be brought from a psycho- The logical point of view against the mathematical of motion are not. and in this sense the mathematical theory of motion is applicable to the data of sensation as well as to the supposed particles of abstract physics. therefore. there are no such fixed mutually external terms as are to be found. are not they impossible as applied to actual sense(6) data. really form a compact series. Of the immediate object of sense. among actual sense-data.g. in the case of a visible motion. and is amenable to exactly the same mathematical treatment as if it were a mere point. because. but only to a quite unnecessary assumption of simplicity in the momentary object of sense. in the series of fractions ? not the assumption of points and (c) Does instants make the whole mathematical account fictitious ? .

since it is desirable first to com- plete the psychological answer. is there. and partly on the logical form of the answer to the Bergsonian objection which we stated a few minutes ago. in such a case. there must be among sense-data differences so slight as to be imperceptible the fact that sense-data are immediately given does not mean that their differences also must be immediately given (though they may be). any sufficient reason to believe the world of sense continuous ? Let us consider these questions in succession. in actual empirical fact. a coloured surface on which the colour changes gradually so : : gradually that the difference of colour in two very neighbouring portions is imperceptible.ISO SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY () Finally. assuming that all these objections have been answered. Suppose. It is often urged that. the sensible flux is devoid of divisions. as a matter of immediate experience. The effect produced. and is falsified by the dissections of the intellect. (6) The question whether sense data are composed of mutually external units is not one which can be decided by empirical evidence. which will occupy our next two lectures. while the difference between more widely separated portions is quite noticeable. (a) The question of the logical possibility of the mathematical continuum turns partly on the elementary misunderstandings we considered at the beginning of the present lecture. will be precisely . for example. Now I have no wish to argue that this view is contrary to immediate experience I wish only to maintain that it is essentially incapable of being proved by immediate experience. I shall say no more on this topic at present. As we saw. partly on the possibility of the mathematical infinite.

that. as a premiss for a reductio ai dbsurdum of the analytic view. it does not imply knowledge of any proposition concerning the object with which we are acquainted. " speak better acquainted. hence acquaintance with the two shades does not in any way necessitate the knowledge that they are different. tions.e." as for instance with " it. being immediate data. It is a mistake to speak as if acquaintance had degrees : there is merely acquaintance and When we of becoming a person. It is difficult to say how this assumption arose. " knowtheoretically at least. then the fact that they differ must also be an immediate datum. if A and B are immediate data. But this does not follow. And since it tends to be supposed that the colours. must appear different if they are different. Thus it is a mistake to say that if we were perfectly acquainted with an object we should know all about non-acquaintance. which is what we derive from sense. " is knowledge Knowledge about which is not involved necessarily of proposiin acquaint- ance with the constituents of the propositions." of transition 151 which is not a matter of discrete units. It is unconsciously assumed. From what has just been said it follows that the nature of sense-data cannot be validly used to prove . but the acquaintance with each part is either complete or non-existent. but I think it is to be connected with the confusion between " " " acquaintance and knowledge about. it seems easily to follow that "interpenetration" must be the ultimately right account. To know that two shades of colour are different is knowledge about them ." Acquaintance. and A differs from B. what we must mean is. imply even the smallest ledge about." i.THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY that of " interpenetration. becoming acquainted with more parts of a certain whole . does not.

It is undeniable that the visual field. there is always self-contradiction in the theories which. besides the . mathematics adopts an absolute theory of space and time. They rest. while admitting this complexity. ie. is complex . and I shall therefore say no more about it at present. it assumes that. at bottom. that units. attempt to deny that it results from a combination of mutually external units. But to pursue this topic would lead us too far from our theme." A is given few words on each alternative will serve to make this clear. on the other hand. must be held on logical. if it is held. and is the question whether what occupies space and time must be composed of elements which have no extension or duration. Formally. not on empirical grounds. and no to the second. This view. nothing in their empirical character specially necessitates the view that they are composed of mutually external units. But in any case the mathematical account of motion will not be fictitious. Now there are here two different questions to be distinguished. yes to the first form of the question. for example. There is the question of absolute or relative space and time. I believe that the logical grounds axe adequate to the conclusion. namely (a) is the hypothesis consistent with the facts and with there : logic ? 08) is it necessitated by the facts or by logic ? I wish to answer. and so far as I can see. provided a right interpretation " " " to the words point and instant.152 METHOD SCIENTIFIC IN PHILOSOPHY that they are not composed of mutually external It may be admitted. And each of these questions in turn may take two forms. upon the impossibility of explaining complexity without assuming constituents. in each case. (c) It is sometimes urged that the mathematical account of motion is rendered fictitious by its assump^ tion of points and instants.

For reasons explained in Lecture IV.e. It is logically possible. we shall . razor. assumes in its differential equations that things consist of elements which occupy only a point at each instant. in accordance with Occam's do well to abstain from either assuming or denying points and instants. however. in fact. not as necessarily things implying any actual persistence. There is. This means. consistent with the facts. the persistence of through time is to be regarded as the formal result of a logical construction. But in strict theory the two are quite different. so far as I can see. Thus. although we shall derive points and instants from things. no conceivable evidence either for or against it. The same motives. since the denial introduces an element of unverifiable dogma which is wholly absent when we merely refrain from the assertion. formally. we poral relations. which lead to the division of things into point- . i. called "points" and "instants/' which axe occupied by things. But the facts and it is are also and temporal spatial and tem- consistent with the denial of spatial entities over and above things with Hence. shall leave the bare possibility open that they may also have an independent existence as simple entities. so far as practical working out is concerned.THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY 153 things which are in space and time. We come now to the question whether the things and time are to be conceived as composed of in space elements without extension or duration. there are also entities. that we adopt the for in practice the refusal to assume relational theory points and instants has the same effect as the denial of them. Physics. but persist throughout time. of elements which only occupy a point and an instant. has long been regarded by mathematicians as merely a convenient fiction. This view. though advocated by Newton.

which dictates the practical adoption of a relative rather than an absolute space and time. and if we see consists. The same economy particles of hypothesis. there a motion which of a large finite will be nothing . number of successive positions. in which a particle passes continuously through a continuous series of points.154 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY ought presumably to lead to their division instant-particles. like a cinematograph. any sufficient reason to believe the world of sense continuous ? The answer here must. If. as we saw in Lecture IV. as well as the instant-particle. into also dictates the practical adoption of material elements which have a finite extension and duration. can be interpreted in a form which assumes only elements which agree with our actual data in having a finite extension and duration. and that it is technically simpler than any other tenable hypoBut since our powers of discrimination among thesis. so far as the use of points and instants is concerned. points and instants can be constructed as logical functions of such elements. for example. I think. is quite impossible to decide between different it which only differ in regard to what is below the margin of dfecrimination. (f} But we must now face the question : in actual empirical fact. be in the negative. so that the ultimate formal constituent of the matter in physics will be a pointBut such objects. the mathematical account of motion. Is there. of physics. a coloured surface which we see consists of a finite theories number of very small surfaces. Thus. particles. very similar sensible objects are not infinitely precise. We may say that the hypothesis of continuity is perfectly consistent with the facts and with logic. Since. are not data. the mathematical account of motion can be freed from the charge of employing fictions.

if we see a coloured surface whose colour changes gradually. Thus. then if our resulting series of instants is to be compact. facts. such as is said to be given in sense. that we do not perceive negative purely a difference. in " " which an instant is defined as a group of events simultaneous with each other and not all simultaneous with any event outside the group.THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY 155 empirically discoverable to show that objects of sense are not continuous. to find an event z. we cannot distinguish a colour A from a colour B. but not the sole hypotheses which are logically and empirically adequate. are all in the would be perfectly possible with the known logically. as it seems to be. nor a colour B from a colour C. and not a collection of a very large finite number of dements of which each differs from its neighbour in a finite though very small infinite degree. namely. but can A from C. simultaneous with part of x. If a relational theory of instants is constructed. this is true. perfectly and simpler consistent technically than any other tenable hypotheses. which wholly precedes some event . it must be possible. it follows that there can never be any empirical evidence to demonstrate that the sensible world is continuous. In what is called experienced continuity. the the in number of different shades spectrum. the indistinguishabiHty is a fact. its sensible appearance if the change is distinguish continuous will be indistinguishable from what it If if the change were by small finite jumps. Even in regard to immediate data. and so unverifiable of nature hypotheses on. The continuity of space and time. example. this is no reason for denying that there is a difference. if x wholly precedes y . for perception of absence of difference. there is a large negative element: absence of perception of difference occurs in cases which are thought to give When.

so that we are apparently forced to conclude that the space of sense-data is not continuous . but that does not prevent us from admitting that sense-data have parts which are not sense-data. we must do one successfully met. it will be necessary to assume that we always have an infinite number of sense-data simultaneous finite with any given sense-datum. If this is to world of one man's sense-data. of events concerned should be infinite in any which wholly precedes number IN PHILOSOPHY be the case in the period of time. The logical analysis we have been considering provides the apparatus for dealing with the various hypotheses. and if each sensedatum is to have not less than a certain finite temporal extension. and assuming that sense-data are to have not less than a certain spatial extension. e. Applying similar con- siderations to space. or else refuse to any lower limit to the duration and extension of a single sense-datum. The latter hypothesis seems untenable. in sight. (3) We have now to consider the logical answer to the alleged difficulties of the mathematical theory of motion.156 SCIENTIFIC METHOD Now this requires that the y. or rather to the positive theory which is urged on the other side. of two things : either declare that the world of one not continuous. The view urged explicitly man's sense-data admit that there is is . and the empirical decision between them is a problem for the psychologist. be necessary to suppose that an infinite number of sense-data overlap spatially with any given sense- it will This hypothesis is possible. If they cannot. and that the space of these parts may be continuous. single enclosing other surfaces which are also single sensedata. if we suppose a sense-datum.g. to be a finite surface. and I do not think that these difficulties could be datum. But there are difficulties in such a hypothesis.

It is very difficult to state this doctrine in any form which has a precise meaning. Often arguments are used which have no bearing whatever upon the question. from what they would otherwise be. I do not think the philosophers in question have realized that this is the precise statement of the view they advocate. for example. but it is logical fact. is evident as soon as this it is stated. is true. not validly analysable into a series of states. is. The he is man becomes a new not father. as combined in that whole. which he identical with relation in strictly previously not a father. It is urged. 157 in the doctrines of that a motion is something many indivisible. question. if this doctrine there can never be more than one fact concerning any one thing. because in this form the view is so contrary to plain truth that its falsehood in one relation as in another. not a doctrine would require that a man a father cannot be strictly identical with a man who is a son. which holds that analysis always falsifies. and implied philosophers. involves The so discussion of many logical . we may give a precise statement of sonship. that when a his nature is altered by the finds himself. This may a causal psychological fact. however. because he is modified in one way by the relation of fatherhood and in another by that In fact.THE THEORY OF CONTINUITY by Bergson. a relation or involves is a fact concerning thing always to one or more entities . This is part of a much more general doctrine. There of the doctrine we are combating in the form A the same can never be two facts concerning thing. modified is so by its relations that it cannot be the same who is : Hence. thus two facts concerning the same thing would involve two relations of the same But the doctrine in question holds that a thing thing. because the parts of a complex whole are different. so that the man who was be true.

There cannot be change and motion is only a particular case of change unless there is something different at one time from what there is at some other time. We are thus driven back. and is METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY so beset with difficulties. change. must involve relations and complexity. or at any rate without any duration which even the most delicate instruments can reveal. Change. by the logical necessities of the case. The direct consideration of the crude facts of the physical world has been under- taken in earlier lectures in the present lecture. In the case of changes which appear continuous. to the conception of instants without duration. where there is is rejected. doctrine of continuity. it is not complete . it must end with terms that are not changes. and must demand So long as our analysis has only gone as analysis. that I shall not pursue it further at present.158 SCIENTIFIC subtleties. or a radically motion. therefore. 'such as motions. there must be a succession of states. is It really easier than any other that the facts allow. but are related by a relation of earlier and later. it seems to be impossible to find anything other than change so long as we deal with finite periods of time. though it can be made to seem difficult. far as other smaller changes. we have only been concerned to show that nothing in the crude facts is inconsistent with the mathematical . different demands a continuity of kind from that of mathematical . When once the above general doctrine it is obvious that. if it is to be complete. but a form in which statements which are true of the crude facts can be i&ade by a suitable interpretation. is a kind of logical framework into which any tenable theory must fit not necessarily itself the statement of the crude facts. This conception. however short.

there is no longer any reason to struggle after a finitist explanation of the world. and since Georg Cantor has shown that the supposed contraditions are illusory. The kind of way in which infinity has been used to discredit the world of sense may be illustrated by Kant's first two antinomies. than any other. the explanation which assumes infinity and continuity remains incomparably easier and more natural. one of those mentioned was the supposed impossibility of infinity and continuity. In the first. in freeing the infinite from contradiction. The supposed difficulties of continuity all have their source in the fact that a continuous series must have an infinite number of terms. we are at the same time showing the logical possibility of continuity as assumed in science. In view of our earlier discussion of physics. from a scientific point of view.LECTURE VI THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY CONSIDERED HISTORICALLY IT will be remembered that. Nevertheless. it would seem that no conclusive empirical evidence exists in favour of infinity or continuity in objects of sense or in matter. the thesis states " : The world has a beginning in time. Hence. when we enumerated the grounds upon which the reality of the sensible world has been questioned. and as . and are in fact difficulties concerning infinity.

more . and therefore an infinite series of successive states of the things in the world has passed by.beginning of the world a necessary condition of its existence which was thesis. For our present purpose.METHOD SCIENTIFIC 160 is regards space thesis states " : limits in space. Kant's argument as regards space here rests upon his argument as sense. it is the proof that the world is finite that interests us. world of enough to destroy the proof of one of the two. but TninjTnnTn . introduces." we shall see in The notion the next lecture. to rescue the either. is of infinity. the first Many thing to be proved. the infinity by we will content ourselves successive synthesis. that But the it infinity of a series consists just in this. What he says is as follows " For let us assume that the world has no beginning : as regards time. so that up to every given instant an eternity has elapsed. it In order. We need therefore only examine the argument as regards time. the anti- The world has no beginning and no but Kant and space. however. Therefore impossible. so that there is " " " of dosses. as primarily a property and only derivatively applicable to series ." might be passed on this with a bare To begin with." of And or of successive syncompletion the word "synthesis. if to prove both these what we have said on modern must be impossible to prove logic has any truth. whereas." by suggesting the mental activity of synthesizing. it is regards time. can never be completed by successive syn- an infinite past world-series is and accordingly a . it is a mistake to define " of a series as impossibility of completion different criticisms argument. is . classes no question thesis. enclosed within limits " . which are infinite are given all at once by the defining properly of their members." IN PHILOSOPHY is infinite in respect of both time professes propositions.

we have. It is worth while. But the series of events up to the present has an end. an infinite series of events. if we chose. at most. that if the world had no all beginning. larly flimsy piece The second antimony illustrates the dependence of unconsciously. backwards. with the physical series. is a very poor conclusion. led the problem of continuity upon that XI of infinity. when Kant says that an infinite series can " " never be completed by successive synthesis. As we see from the word "synthesis. which had no end. that reference to 161 mind by which Kant's philosophy was infected. operating which they had occurred. he failed to notice that he had reversed the sense of the series by substituting backward synthesis for forward happening. which had an end but no beginning. It was this mistake. since it ends with the present. I think. by no means suitable for his purposes. going from the present This series is obviously one which has no end. all that he has even conceivably a right to say is that it cannot be completed in a finite time. Thus what he really proves is. What happened in his imagination was obviously something like this Starting from the present and going backwards in time.e. In the second place. in the reverse order to that in i. which. Owing to the inveterate subjectivism of his mental habits. The .THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY or less surreptitiously. however. however. M to attribute validity to a singufallacious of reasoning. This. take leave of the first antinomy. it must have already existed for an infinite time. if the world had no beginning. to consider how Kant came to make such an elementary blunder. and thus he supposed that it was necessary to identify the mental series." he imagined a mind trying to grasp : these successively. And with this result we might.

if his proof of the thesis of the antinomy were valid. Since all external relation. is only possible in space. then the antinomy itself would afford a conclusive reason in favour of points. as we have scientifically prima facie seen." The rest of his argument need not concern us. the space occupied by a complex thing must consist of as many parts as the thing consists of. For. did Kant tTiinlr it impossible that space should be composed of points ? . but of spaces. metry regards space as made up of points. possible. which begins as follows " Assume that a complex thing (as substance) con: sists of simple parts. which are simple not . Now space does not consist of simple parts. Why. and everywhere in thesis states : world consists of simple parts. for the nerve of the proof lies in the one statement : " but of spaces. and if the antithesis could only be avoided by assuming points. and therefore all composition out of substances. then. as before. : Here. it there exists nothing simple. and although. and its mere it possibility is view is remains enough to vitiate Kant's argument." We the proof of the antithesis.METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY SCIENTIFIC 162 " Every complex substance in the and -there exists everythe but where nothing simple or what is composed " No complex thing states antithesis The of it." of consists world the in simple parts. this or logically necessary." Space does not consist of simple parts." Kant does not tell us why he holds that a space must Geoconsist of spaces rather than of simple parts. but for the purpose of vindicating physics and the world of sense it is enough to find a fallacy in will choose for this purpose one of the proofs. the antithesis are open to critiand thesis both of proofs cism. " the absurd proThis is like Bergson's objection to position that motion is made up of immobilities.

by themselves. composed of give his grounds for this denial. seem sufficient to account for his opinion. This is the ground derived from infinite divisi- A space may be halved. bility. which we have seen to be fallacious. which is more relevant to our present topic. though they can never be reached by the process of successive division. therefore. the essential thing about space is spatial order. But just as an infinite class can be given all at once by its defining concept. not points. It is obvious that his argument assumes absolute space . In order to reach points by such a method. though it cannot be reached by successive enumeration. The above illustration of Kant's antinomies has only been introduced in order to show the relevance of the problem problem of the reality In the remainder of the present of infinity to the of objects of sense. but it is spatial relations that are alone important.THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY 163 I think two considerations probably influenced him. But the above two grounds. and we may therefore conclude that the antithesis of the second antinomy is unproved. so an infinite can be given all at once as making up a volume. In the first place. Thus the set of points line or area or infinite divisibility of ing that space is space gives no ground for denyKant does not points. This ground for his view depends. will not account for spatial order. upon his ignorance of the logical theory of order and his oscillations between absolute and relative space. and at every stage of the process the parts are still spaces. it would be necessary to come to the end of an unending process. . and so on ad infinitwn. and mere points. and then halved again. and we can therefore only conjecture what they were. which is impossible. and they cannot be reduced to points. But there is also another ground for his opinion.

by itself. that space is composed of indivisible points. 10836. who has supplied the deficiencies of my knowledge of Greek. my knowledge is largely derived from Burnet's valuable work. to METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY wish to state and explain the problem of show how it arose. London. I shall try to explain the true solution. adopted in that science more arithmetical methods than those with which Euclid that it entirely satisfies . its many failures intellect was baffled by the problem and its ultimate success maie this problem peculiarly apt for the illustration of method. and * In what concerns the early Greek philosophers. because probably no other possibility had occurred to them. have raised the difficulties which they encountered. The problem appears to have first arisen in some such 1 way as the following. Metaphysics. 10806. The solution is definitive. Pythagoras and his followers. 18 sqq. and brought important references to my notice. 1908). apparently. I do not suppose that this latter belief was a conscious one. has made us familiar..* This belief would not. in the sense and convinces all who study it thousand years the human two For over carefully. or their contemporaries the atomists. I infinity. and to show the irrele- vance of all the solutions proposed by philosophers. but nevertheless belongs essentially to philosophy. which has been discovered by the mathematicians. But the belief nevertheless operated. Robertson of Trinity College. S. 8 sqq. who were interested. M. .164 SCIENTIFIC lecture. In the following lecture. that the number of points in any finite area or of instants in any finite period must be finite. * Cf Aristotle. 6. They. but it was presumably accompanied by another belief. and . while time is composed of indivisible instants. I have also been greatly assisted by Mr. believed.. Early Greek Philosophy (2nd ed. in the application gf number to geometry. like Descartes. D.

) a. Before explaining how this occurred. " The Pythagoreans made a fourfold division of says (p. As to the distinction between and TO ir6oov. ?6 ir6aov. 23) : mathematical science. J. and that geometry considers continued quantity so far as it is immovable . either subsists by itself or must be considered with relation to some other . but astronomy (rip afaupucfa)- contemplates continued quantity a self-motive nature. is mistaken. and the other to the how much. discrete quantity. Tennulius. in his Greek Geometry from Tholes to Euclid. Whether the Pythagoreans themselves believed space and time to be composed of indivisible points and instants is a debatable question. p. 35. P 48. in Nicomachi " so far as it is of Geyaseni Arithmeticam introductionem. For they said that discrete quantity. or the how many. (Proclus. This includes all the numbers that can be expressed by means of our ordinary numerals. . it is numbers. see Iambi. But easy to suppose that there are no other this supposition. Friedlein. continuous. ed. ed. for ever in other words. however. . G. but music that which is related to another ." The exact explanation is a matter for our next lecture . attributing one of its parts to the how many. 1 It would seem that the distinction between space -and matter had z There is some reason to think that the Pythagoreans distinguished between discrete and continuous quantity.THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY 165 very soon brought them into conflict with facts which they themselves discovered. and they assigned to each of these parts a twofold division. r6 tn\\lKw . for the present.. Hence they affirmed that arithmetic contemplates that discrete quantity which subsists by itself. and since such numbers can be made greater and greater. rd mjMxov. natural as it is. any number that can be obtained by successively adding ones. p. 148. but that continued quantity. is either stable or in motion. without ever reaching an unsurpassable maximum. or the how much. it is necessary to say one word " in explanation of the phrase finite number. it must suffice to say that I mean o and I and 2 and 3 and so one. Allman.

Ritter and L."). It is said that he sacrificed an ox when he discovered this theorem . f Gotha. P. and that therefore. and as if it were their differentiation . H. as if it were a sort of separation of consecutives. 213$. when an atomistic view is expressed. op. 120. was soon found to have a consequence fatal to his 1 Referred to by Burnet. and that this also is which what is first differentiates in numbers. and said that it enters into the heaven itself from the boundless breath. 22 . There is : breathes in the void also . discovered the proposition that the sum of the squares on the sides of a right-angled triangle is equal to the square on the hypotenuse. p. 1898. arose Pythagoras. iv." This seems to imply that they regarded matter as empty space in between. 8th ed. for otherwise it would be hard to account for their arithmetical methods in geometry. the ox was the first martyr to science." The difficulty which beset the Pythagoreans in consisting of atoms with their attempts to apply numbers arose through their discovery of incommensurables. But if so. f 6. and this. it is difficult to decide whether particles of matter or points of space are an interesting passage z in Aristotle's Physics* where he says " The Pythagoreans all maintained the existence of the void.166 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY not yet been clearly made. for it is the void them. 75 (this work will be " referred to in future as R. as follows. inasmuch as the heaven intended. . if so. Historia Philosophies Gr&ca. or for their statement " that things are numbers. Preller. as we all learnt in youth. though it has remained his chief claim to immortality.. they must have thought space could be studied by only paying attention to the atoms. p. But the theorem. in turn. and the void differentiates natures. dt.

n must be odd. Now this fact might have been assimilated by sortie philosophies without any great difficulty. and vice versa. Thus n must be both odd and even. and and n have fore n must be even. m m . such a triangle triangle whose two as is formed by two sides of a square and a diagonal. But if this were the truth. but a. 1 Thus the length of the side and the length of the diagonal are incommensurable . Pythagoras held that number is the constitutive essence of all things. it is not contained any exact number of times in the diagonal. which is half of m*. if it is contained an exact number of times in the side. It would seem probable that we may expand his difficulty. since no common factor. the ratio of the diagonal to the side of a square be m/n. however small a unit of length you take. in virtue of the theorem. But Pythagoras or his early followers easily proved that the square of one whole number cannot be double of the square of another. If possible. but to the philosophy of Pythagoras it was absolutely fatal. where Now the square of an odd 2n*. Here. the square on the diagonal is double of the square on either of the sides. yet no two numbers could express the ratio of the side of a square to the diagonal. therefore *. and so on. by assuming that he regarded the length of a line as determined by the number of atoms contained in it a line two inches long would contain twice as many atoms as a line one inch long.THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY whole philosophy. But the square of an even number divides by 4. 167 Consider the case of a right-angled sides are equal. and therefore the diagonal and the side cannot have a rational ratio. being equal to must be even. must be even. that is to say. number is odd. then there must be a definite numerical ratio between The Pythagorean proof is roughly as follows. Then we must have a Hence is even. Thereis even. without departing from his thought. which is impossible. But. and n are whole numbers having no common factor. 1 let m m w = m 2.

168

SCIENTIFIC

METHOD

IN PHILOSOPHY

any two finite lengths, because it was supposed that
the number of atoms in each, however large, must be
Here there was an insoluble contradiction.
finite.
The Pythagoreans, it is said, resolved to keep the
of

existence

incommensurables a profound

secret,

revealed only to a few of the supreme heads of the
sect ; and one of their number, Hippasos of Meta-

even said to have been shipwrecked at sea
impiously disclosing the terrible discovery to
It must be remembered that Pythatheir enemies.
of a new religion as well as the
the
founder
was
goras
if the science came to be
teacher of a new science
pontion,

is

for

:

doubted, the disciples might fall into sin, and perhaps
even eat beans, which according to Pythagoras is as
bad as eating parents' bones.
The problem first raised by the discovery of incommensurables proved, as time went on, to be one of the

most severe and at the same time most far-reaching
problems that have confronted the human intellect
It showed
in its endeavour to understand the world.
at once that numerical measurement of lengths, if it
was to be made accurate, must require an arithmetic
more advanced and more difficult than any that the
ancients possessed. They therefore set to work to
reconstruct geometry on a basis which did not assume

the universal possibility of numerical measurement
a reconstruction which, as may be seen in Euclid,

they effected with extraordinary

skill

and with great

The moderns, under the influence
logical acumen.
of Cartesian geometry, have reasserted the universal
possibility of numerical measurement, extending arithmetic, partly for that purpose, so as to include what

"

"

numbers, which give the ratios
But although irrational
numbers have long been used without a qualm, it is
are called

irrational

of incommensurable lengths.

THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY

169

only in quite recent years that logically satisfactory
definitions of them have been given.
With these
definitions, the first and most obvious form of the
difficulty which confronted the Pythagoreans has
been solved but other forms of the difficulty remain
to be considered, and it is these that introduce us
to the problem of infinity in its pure form.
We saw that, accepting the view that a length is
composed of points, the existence of incommensurables
proves that every finite length must contain an infinite
number of points. In other words, if we were to take
away points one by one, we should never have taken
away all the points, however long we continued the
The number of points therefore, cannot be
process.
counted, for counting is a process which enumerates
things one by one. The property of being unable to
be counted is characteristic of infinite collections, and
is a source of many of their paradoxical qualities.
So paradoxical are these qualities that until our own
day they were thought to constitute logical contra;

A

long line of philosophers, from Zeno
to M. Bergson, have based much of their metaphysics
upon the supposed impossibility of infinite collections.
Broadly speaMng, the difficulties were stated by Zeno,
and nothing material was added until we reach Bolzano's Paradoxien des Unendlichlen, a little work
written .in 1847-8, and published posthumously in
1851. Intervening attempts to deal with the problem
dictions.

are futile

and

x

negligible.

The

definitive solution oi

due, not to Bolzano, but to Georg
on this subject first appeared in
work
whose
Cantor,

the difficulties

is

1882.
1

In regard to Zeno and the Pythagoreans, I have derived
B
valuable information and criticism from Mr. P.

much

Jourdain.

.

SCIENTIFIC

170

METHOD

IN PHILOSOPHY

In order to understand Zeno, and to realize how
modern orthodox metaphysics has added to the
achievements of the Greeks, we must consider for a
moment his master Pannenides, in whose interest
the paradoxes were invented. 1 Parmenides expounded
his views in a poem divided into two parts, called
"
"
"
the way of opinion "
and
the way of truth
like Mr. Bradley's "Appearance" and "Reality,"
except that Paxmenides tells us first about reality
"
and then about appearance.
The way of opinion,"
little

in

his

philosophy, is, broadly speaking, Pytha"
Here I shall
goreanism ; it begins with a warning
close my trustworthy speech and thought about the
truth. Henceforward learn the opinions of mortals,
giving ear to the deceptive ordering of my words."
What has gone before has been revealed by a goddess,
:

who

him what

really is.
Reality, she says, is
uncreated, indestructible, unchanging, indivisible; it
"
is
immovable in the bonds of mighty chains, without
tells

beginning and without end ; since coming into being
and passing away have been driven afar, and true
belief has cast them away."
The fundamental principle of his inquiry is stated in a sentence which would
"
not be out of place in Hegel
Thou canst not know
what is not that is impossible nor utter it ; for it
is the same thing that can be thought and that can
"
be." And again
It needs must be that what can
:

:

be thought and spoken of
to be, and

is

;

for

it is

possible for it

not possible for what is nothing to be."
The impossibility of change follows from this principle ;
it is

So Plato makes Zeno say in the Parmenides, apropos of
a whole; and all internal and external

his philosophy as

evidence supports this view.
"
* " With
Parmenides," Hegel says,
philosophizing proper
Werke
began."
(edition of 1840), vol. xiii. p. 274.

THE PROBLEM OF

INFINITY

171

for what is past can be spoken of, and therefore, by
the principle, still is.
The great conception of a reality behind the passing
illusions of sense, a reality one, indivisible, and unchanging, was thus introduced into Western philosophy

not, it would seem, for mystical or
but on the basis of a logical argument
reasons,
religious
as to the impossibility of not-being. All the great

by Parmenides,

metaphysical systems notably those of Plato, Spinoza,
and Hegel are the outcome of this fundamental
It is difficult to disentangle the truth and the
idea.
error in this view. The contention that time is unreal
and that the world of sense is illusory must, I think,
be regarded as based upon fallacious reasoning.
Nevertheless, there is some sense easier to fed than
to state in which time is an unimportant and superPast and future must
ficial characteristic of reality.
be acknowledged to be as real as the present, and a
certain emancipation from slavery to time is essential
to philosophic thought. The importance of time is
rather practical than theoretical, rather in relation
to our desires than in relation to truth. A truer
image of the world, I think, is obtained by picturing
things as entering into the stream of time from an
eternal world outside, than from a view which regards
time as the devouring tyrant of all that is. Both in
thought and in feeling, to realize the unimportance of

time is the gate of wisdom. But unimportance is
and therefore what we shall have to
not unreality
say about Zeno's arguments in support of Parmenides
must be mainly critical
The relation of Zeno to Parmenides is explained
Plato x in the dialogue in which Socrates, as a young
;

by
man,

learns

logical

acumen and philosophic

Parmenides, 128 A-D.

dis-

is a strain of art beyond the reach of most of us. Socrates. you do not quite apprehend the true motive of the is not really such an ambitious you imagine for what you speak of was an accident . and of this you adduce excellent proofs . and would fain deceive us you say For into believing that he is telling us what is new. he puts what second your in another way. whose composition." Zeno's four arguments against motion were intended to exhibit the contradictions that result from supposing that there is such a thing as change. as you have done. which work as . say All is one. that Zeno is self in his writings too. and on behalf of this he offers overwhelming evidence. and thus to support the Parmenidean doctrine that reality is unchanging. Parmenides. To deceive the world. I had no serious intention of deceiving the world.METHOD SCIENTIFIC interestedness from their Jowett's translation IN PHILOSOPHY dialectic. said Socrates. attack I return with interest by retorting upon them that their hypothesis of the being of the many if carried out appears in a still more ridiculous light than the hypothesis of the being of the one. and he on the other hand says There is no Many . " Yes. said Zeno. you. by saying the same thing in different ways. in your poems. I quote from : "I see. one of you affirming the one. But although you are as keen as a Spartan hound in pursuing the track. The truth is that these writings of mine were meant to protect the arguments of Parmenides against those who scoff at him and show the many ridiculous and contradictory results which they suppose to follow from the affirmation of the one. and the other denying the many. My answer is an address to the partisans of the many. Les philo- . 1 ' This interpretation is combated by Milhaud.

maintains that the first two arguments refute sophes-gtometrcs da la Greet. In order to decide whether by " they are valid arguments or sophisms. Noel. subsequently adopted Paul opinion. on the contrary. Pour I'histoire de la science hellene. All the follows are open to question. his opponents. (vol. Paul Tannery. Gaye. 249 . Les philosophes-g&m&tres de la Grece t p. Some maintain that they were aimed at the Pythagoreans. s Cf. Evellin. granting these premisses. vol. p. p. G. i. Those philosophers in the present day who have had their doctrines stated by opponents will realize that a just or adequate presentation of Zeno's position is hardly to be expected from Aristotle . Buniet. however. 140 n." Journal of Philology." it is necessary to guess at the tacit premisses. tit. 3rd ed. ( but his reasons do not interpretations in what all have the support of seem to me convincing. Aristotle. 2396 (R-P. "On Aristotle. and to show that. but reputable authorities. 140 n. p." Re we de MJtaphysique et de Morale. in the interests of Hegel.136-139). 382-395* . holds that they constitute a refutation of infinite divisibility^ while M. HI. vol. Physics. 362. who. esp. Physics. Tannery's " 4 Le mouvement et les partisans des indivisibles. p. 168. 9. " " Zeno's arguments would seem to be ad hominem that is to say.. f vol. Cf Gaston Milhaud.s M. ist ed.THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY Unfortunately. vi. R. i. xxxi. . Vorlesungen fiber Geschichte der Mathematik. 1880. i. Z be. they seem to assume premisses granted . Vorlesungen. 3 while others have held that they were intended to refute the atomists. p. but by some care in interpretation it seems possible to reconstruct " " " " the so-called sophisms which have been refuted by every tyro from that day to this. 200). . 1 who we only know stated them his 173 arguments through in order to refute them. K. p. pp.. and to decide who was " " the homo at whom they were aimed. Also Moritz Cantor. it is possible to deduce consequences which his opponents must deny. op.

174

SCIENTIFIC

infinite divisibility,

METHOD

while the next two refute indi-

Amid such a
pretations, we can at
visibles. 1

restrictions

IN PHILOSOPHY

bewildering variety of interleast

on our liberty of

not complain of any
choice.

The historical questions raised by the above-mentioned discussions are no doubt largely insoluble, owing
to the very scanty material from which our evidence
is

derived.

The points which seem

fairly clear axe

That, in spite of MM. Milhaud and
Paul Tannery, Zeno is anxious to prove that motion
is really impossible, and that he desires to prove this
because he follows Parmenides in denying plurality ; a
(2) that the third and fourth arguments proceed on
the hypothesis of indivisibles, a hypothesis which,
whether adopted by the Pythagoreans or not, was
certainly much advocated, as may be seen from the
treatise On Indivisible Lines attributed to Aristotle.
As regards the first two arguments, they would seem
to be valid on the hypothesis of indivisibles, and also,
without this hypothesis, to be such as would be valid
if the traditional contradictions in infinite numbers
were insoluble, which they are not.
the following

:

(i)

We may

conclude, therefore, that Zeno's polemic
directed against the view that space and time
consist of points and instants ; and that as against the

is

view that a finite stretch of space of time consists of
a finite number of points and instants, his arguments
are not sophisms, but perfectly valid.
The conclusion which Zeno wishes us to draw is that
plurality is a delusion, and spaces and times are really
indivisible.
The other conclusion which is possible,
'
"Le mouvcinent et les arguments de Z6non d'filde,"
Revue de Mttaphysique et de Morale, vol. i. pp. 107-125.
"
Gf . N. Brochard,
Les prftendus sophismes de Z6non
"
d'filee, Revue de MJtaphysique et de Morale, vol. i. pp. 209-215.

THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY

175

namely that the number of points and instants is
infinite, was not tenable so long as the infinite was
infected with contradictions. In a fragment which
is not one of the four famous arguments against motion,
Zeno says
"
If things are a many, they must be just as many
as they are, and neither more nor less.
Now, if
:

they are as many as they are, they wi]l be finite in
number.
"
If things are a many, they will be infinite in
number for there will always be other things between
them, and others again between these. And so things
are infinite in number." *
;

This argument attempts to prove that, if there are
things, the number of them must be both finite
hence we are to
and infinite, which is impossible
conclude that there is only one thing. But the weak
"
If they are
point in the argument is the phrase

many

;

:

just as

many as they axe, they will be finite in number."

This phrase is not very dear, but it is plain that it
assumes the impossibility of definite infinite numbers.
Without this assumption, which is now known to
be false, the arguments of Zeno, though they suffice
(on certain very reasonable assumptions) to dispel
the hypothesis of finite indivisibles, do not suffice to

prove that motion and change and plurality are imThey are not, however, on any view, mere
possible.
foolish quibbles
they are serious arguments, raising
difficulties which it has taken two thousand years to
answer, and which even now are fatal to the teachings
:

of

most philosophers.
The first of Zeno's arguments
i

Simplicius, Phys., 140, 28

pp. 364-365-

D

is

the argument of

(R.P. 133)

;

Biirnet, op. cit. f

SCIENTIFIC

176

METHOD

the race-course, which
follows

:

is

IN PHILOSOPHY

paraphrased by Burnet as

x

"

You cannot get to the end of a race-course. You
cannot traverse an infinite number of points in a finite
time. You must traverse the half of any given distance before you traverse the whole, and the half of
that again before you can traverse it. This goes on
ad infinitum, so that there are an infinite number of
points in any given space, and you cannot touch an
a
infinite number one by one in a finite time."
Zeno appeals here, in the first place, to the fact that
any distance, however small, can be halved. From
this it follows, of course, that there must be an infinite
number of points in a line. But Aristotle represents
'

Op. cit., p. 367.
Aristotle's words are :
existence of motion on the

"

The first is the one on the nonground that what is moved must
always attain, the middle point sooner than the end-point, on
which we gave our opinion in the earlier part of our discourse."
seems to refer to
Phys., vi 9. 9398 (R.P. 136). Aristotle
"
All space is continuous,
Phys., vi. 2. 223AB [R-P. I3*>A]
and space are divided into the same and equal divisions.
for t
Wherefore also Zeno's argument is fallacious, that it is
sible to go through an infinite collection or to touch an
infinite collection one by one in a finite time.
For there are
'
two senses in which the term infinite is applied both to
length and to time, and in fact to all continuous things, either
.:

.

.

.

'

Now

it is
in regard to divisibility, or in regard to the ends.
not possible to touch things infinite in regard to number in a
finite time, but it is possible to touch things infinite in regard
to divisibility: for time itself also is infinite in this sense.
So that in fact we go through an infinite [space], in an infinite
[time] and not in a finite [time], and we touch infinite things

infinite things, not with finite things."
Philoponus, a
sixth-century commentator (R.P. I36A, Ex&. Paris Philop. in
Arist. Phys., 803, 2. Vit.), gives the following illustration:
"
For if a thing were moved the space of a cubit in one hour,
since in every space there are an infinite number of points,
the thing moved must needs touch all the points of the space
it will then go through an infinite collection in a finite time,
which is impossible."

with

:

THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY

177

as arguing, you cannot touch an infinite number of
"
one
points one by one in a finite time. The words
"
by one are important, (i) If att the points touched
are concerned, then, though you pass through them
"
one by one/'
continuously, you do not touch them

him

That is to say, after touching one, there is not another
which you touch next no two points are next each
other, but between any two there are always an infinite
number of others, which cannot be enumerated one
by one. (2) If, on the other hand, only the successive
middle points are concerned, obtained by always
halving what remains of the course, then the points
are reached one by one, and, though they are infinite
in number, they are in fact all reached in a finite
time. His argument to the contrary may be supposed
to appeal to the view that a finite time must consist
of a finite number of instants, in which case what he
says would be perfectly true on the assumption that
:

the possibility of continued dichotomy is undeniable.
If, on the other hand, we suppose the argument
directed against the partisans of infinite divisibility,
"
The
we must suppose it to proceed as follows x
the
distances
of
successive
halving
points given by
still to be traversed are infinite in number, and are
reached in succession, each being reached a finite
time later than its predecessor ; but the sum of an
infinite number of finite times must be infinite, and
therefore the process will never be completed/* It is
very possible that this is historically the right interpretation, but in this form the argument is invalid.
If half the course takes half a minute, and the next
quarter takes a quarter of a minute, and so on, the
whole course will take a minute. The apparent
:

'

a.

Mind.

Mr. C. D. Broad,

"

Note on Achilles and the Tortoise/

N.S,, vol. xxii. pp. 3iS-g.

12

9. . The text has been questioned.. 137). 138). that the slower will never be overtaken in its course by the quickest. on this interpretation. which can be seen to be false by observing that i is beyond the whole of the infinite series. It consists in this." Phys. it must be after an infinite number of instants have elapsed since he started. The second . It The third argument^ that of the arrow. This argument one." is essentially the same as the previous shows that. . cit.. but the view that an infinite number of instants make up an infinitely long time is not true. is very Burnet and paraphrases thus: * Op. Achilles must then make up He that. vi. but he never makes up * to it. and therefore the conclusion that Achilles will never overtake the tortoise does not follow. .P. ing than the others. the one concernarguments Achilles and the which has achieved more tortoise. 2398 (R. 2393 (R. must is always coming nearer. 9.METHOD SCIENTIFIC 178 IN PHILOSOPHY force of the argument. This is in fact true .P. Aristotle's words are: "The second is the so-called Achilles. By that time the tortoise will have got some way ahead. so that the slower must necessarily be always still more or less in advance. lies solely in the mistaken supposition that there cannot be anything between the whole of an infinite series. and again the tortoise will be ahead. vi. f -J-$-. I Phys. It is notoriety paraphrased by of Zeno's Burnet as follows : is I "Achilles will never overtake the tortoise. . if Achilles ever overtakes the tortoise. interesting. J. accepts the alterations of Zeller. He first reach the place from which the tortoise started. f. for the pursuer must always come first to the point from which the pursued has just departed.

at any rate the plausibility of the argument seems to depend upon supposing that there are consecutive instants. it is said. it cannot move. 179 if every- occupies a space equal to in flight at any given moment it always occupies a space equal to itself. The solution lies in the theory of continuous series : we find it hard to avoid supposing that.THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY "The arrow thing itself. but in some miraculous way the change of position has to occur between the instants. Here. then the moving arrow is motionless. It is never moving. Thus. the literal translation of the unemended text of Aristotle's statement of the " If everything. there is a next position occupied at the next moment . Bergson calls : the cinematographic representation of reality. suppose we consider a period consisting of a thousand instants. This is what M. For." But according to Prantl. and suppose the arrow is in flight throughout this period. a if finite Throughout an instant. that is to say. is continually either at or but what is moving is always in rest. moving the now. is in flight at rest and what when is is at rest. for that would require that the instant should have parts." This form of the argument brings out its force more clearly than Bumet's paraphrase. not at any time whatever. a moving body is where it is it cannot move during the instant. At each of the thousand instants. when it is argument is as follows : behaving in a uniform manner. The more the difficulty is meditated. the more real it becomes. the view that part of time consists of a finite series of successive instants seems to be assumed . though at the next instant it is somewhere else. when the arrow is in flight. not in the first two arguments. but in fact there is no next . the arrow is where it is.

Therefore double the time is equal to the hajf.i8o SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY position and no next moment. B will have passed twice as many of the bodies in C as in A. 139). vi. cit. passing each other on a race-course as they proceed with equal velocity in opposite directions. . But the time which B and C take to reach the position of A is the same. By the time they axe all in the same part of the course. Let us suppose three rows of bodies. each row being composed of an equal number of bodies of equal size. the one row originally occupying the space between the goal and the middle point of the course. 9. the difficulty is seen to disappear." Gayety devoted an interesting article to the interpretation of this argument. The fourth and last of Zeno's argument of the stadium. The argument as stated arguments by Burnet is is x as follows the : Second Position. C) are moving with equal velocity in opposite directions. His translation of Aristotle's statement is as follows " The fourth argument is that concerning the two rows of bodies. 2393 (RJP. and when once this is imaginatively realized. and the other that between the middle : ' Phys. one of which (A) is at rest while the other two (B. First Position. A A " Half the time may be equal to double the time. Therefore the time which it takes to pass C is twice as long as the time it takes to pass A. Loc..

. from the starting-post to the middle of the CC A's. Then three consequences follow. to . because an equal time is occupied by both the first B and the first C in passing all the A's. Secondly. be the stationary bodies of equal size. at the same moment all the B's have passed all the C's for the first C and the first B will simultaneously the opposite rea^ht ends of the course. . . . the B first reaches the last which the C at the C reaches the same moment at B. let A A . . as the B's and C's pass one another. and against the assumption that a finite time consists of a finite number of instants. involves the conclusion that half a given time is equal to double the time. . an assumption which is false. The fallacy of the reasoning lies in the assumption that a body occupies an equal time in passing with equal velocity a body that is in motion and a body of equal size that is at rest. since (so says Zeno) the time occupied by the first C in passing each of the B's is equal to that occupied by it in passing each of the A's. BB and velocity. equal in number. Let us it is only valid is as . originally occupying the half of the course . . Thirdly.THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY 181 point and the starting-post. We may re-state it in different language. . at the A's. First. . BB . For instance (so runs the argument). This is the argument but it presupposes the aforesaid fallacious this first moment the first last C has passed all : : assumption." This argument not quite easy to follow. size. . This. equal in number and in size to A A . and those originally occupying the other half from the goal to the middle of the A's. whereas the first B has passed only half the A's and has consequently occupied only half the time occupied by the first C.'. the bodies. he thinks. since each of the two occupies an equal time in passing each A.

B" in one row. and A". that B must have passed C' at some time between two consecutive moments. C'. When." half of a given time is equal to double that time. At the very next moment.. and now B and C" are opposite Thus'B and C" are opposite each other. are respectively opposite to A. A'. each row has moved on. B'. his explanation is not easy to set forth shortly /I will re-state what seems to me to be the logical essence of Zeno's contention. is a genuine one. p. . The above difficulty. A'. 1 Since.i82 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY suppose three drill-sergeants. First Position. moments in any given interval of time." The most explanation of the argument known to me that of Gaye. At the first moment which we consider. It follows that there must be other moments between any two given moments. did B pass C' ? It must have been somewhere between the two moments which we supposed consecutive. and A". tit. but is not precisely the difficjjlty raised by Zeno. A. B B' B" A A' A" C C' C" A B B' A' A" B" C C' C" opposite directions. however. and therefore the two moments cannot really have been consecutive. then. What Zeno professes to prove tethat. If we suppose that time consists of a series of intelligible is 1 Loc. standing in a row. the three men B. C" in the other row. while the two files of soldiers march past them in Second Position. and therefore that there must be an infinite number of A'. 105. and the three men C.

number of points and instants. We may therefore tion. have afforded grounds for almost all the theories of space and time and which have been constructed from his We have seen that all his arguments are valid (with certain reasonable hypotheses) on the assumption that finite spaces and times consist of a infinity day to our own. Any slower motion must be one is which has intervals of rest interspersed. and any faster motion must wholly omit some points. . the number of them in any finite interval is or by denying that space and time consist infinite of points and instants at all . while the first and second.THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY consecutive instants. and therefore the number of A's passed gives the number of instants since the beginning of the motion. It would that. by denying the reality of space and time altogether. then fastest possible motion is one which. escape from his paradoxes either by maintaining though space and time do consist of points and instants. B is opposite a fresh A every instant. in the case of our A's and B's and C's. But now. in some form. or lastly. and that the and fourth almost certainly in fact proceeded on this assumption. each instant. All this is evident from the fact that we cannot have more than one event for each instanj. though we previously found it was equal to this number. Zeno's arguments. But during the motion B has passed twice as and yet cannot have passed more than one Hence the number of instants since the motion began is twice the number of A's passed. and that motion consists 183 in passing through a the series of consecutive points. many C's. at each instant. From this result. . at a point consecutive to that at which it was at the previous instant. which finite third were perhaps intended to refute the opppsite assumpwere in that case fallacious. Zeno's conclusion follows.

the difficulties can also be met if infinite numbers are admisAnd on grounds which are independent of sible. and those suggested by confusion of the mathematical infinite with philosophers impertinently call the "true" what 1 infinite. In this a very large number of philosophers have followed him. while the others involve. . we must discover some tenable theory of infinite numbers. there are others. for example. and time. at any rate in regard to time. all the fractions arranged in order of magnitude. led philosophers to the belief that infinite numbers are impossible The ? are of two kinds. Either of these solutions will meet the difficulties in the form in which Zeno raised them. Between of them. of which be called sham. have preferred to deny that space and time consist of points and instants. The sham difficulties are those suggested by the etymology. What. infinite. if of escape are closed to us. Consider. until the last thirty years. less than any two I.SCIENTIFIC 184 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY seem that Zeno himself. But. as a supporter of Parmenides. infinite numbers. must in any case be admitted. as we saw. drew the last of these three possible deductions. are the difficulties which. so that two of the above It follows that. like M. a certain amount of new and not the difficulties of infinity first altogether easy thinking. and series in which space no two terms are consecutive. and the total It will be found that number of them is much of what Zeno says as regards the series of points on a line can be equally well applied to the series of fractions. then. are to solve the whole class of difficulties derivable ways we from Zeno's by Analogy. may for their solution. the mean of the two. for example. Many others. And we cannot deny that there are fractions. Bergson. Thus no two fractions arithmetical are consecutive.

while some collections are infinite without being serial. as we agreed in speaking of Pannenides. His regarding the two as different in this respect illustrates just that kind of slavery to time which. The confusions introduced into the notions of philo" " by the so-called true infinite are curious. but they choose to believe that it is the notion which the mathematicians are vainly trying to reach. the true philosopher must learn to leave behind him. but is infinite. The " " the true infinite is a notion totally irrelevant to the problem of the mathematical infinite." It is odd that he did not see that the future too has one end at the present. and is precisely on a level with the past. and that nothing infinite can be completed. sophers see that this notion is not the same as the mathematical infinite. the series of instants from the beginning of time to the present moment has one end." But in fact some infinite series have ends. "infinite" should mean "having no end. It is very difficult to see how he can have imagined that there was any sense in this remark. that they are mistaken " " false in adhering to the infinite. Kant. but has two ends. some have not. to which it has only a fanciful reply to this is that what they call . seems to hold that it is harder for the past to be infinite than for the future to be so. on the ground that the past is now completed. in his first antinomy. The series of instants from any earlier one to any later one (both included) is infinite. kindly but firmly.THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY 185 Etymologically. They therefore inform the mathematicians. since plainly the They "true" infinite is something quite different. and can therefore not properly be regarded as either endless or having ends. but it seems most probable that he was thinking of the infinite as the " unended.

"there cannot be anything beyond the whole of an unending series." it will be said. But it remains to show that this fact is only what might have been expected. certain habits of mind derived from the consideration of finite numbers. containing all the ordinary finite numbers. every number that we are accustomed to. we may point out. small steps. The numbers before it form an infinite series. For example. beyond " the whole unending series of finite numbers. false There however. dictory. no last finite number. then the moment when he still has a quarter. and so on in a strictly unending series. But. Beyond the whole of this series is the moment when he reaches the goal Thus there certainly can be : something beyond the whole of an unending series. having no maximum. and easily extended to infinite numbers under the mistaken notion that they represent logical necessities. is it that I do not mentioning what propose to "confuse the issue by even " " " It is the false infinite is." This. from which it results by adding i . infinite number does not have this property. is the very principle upon which Zeno relies in the arguments of the race-course and the Achilles. .i86 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY So remote and verbal analogy. certain genuine difficulties in understanding the infinite. and we have to show that the epithet " " is undeserved. If it is assumed that the first infinite number is reached by a succession of are. . then when he still has an eighth. it is The easy to show that first infinite number is. it is self-contra- in fact. has another number immediately before but the first it. infinite that the true concerns us. after which one little step would plunge us into the infinite. except o. Take the race-course there is the moment when the runner still has half his distance to run.

I mathematical besetting think. terms beyond the whole of it. and in realizing that many properties which we have thought inherent in number . Thus. if half. to many to contradict logic. We can do this because we know of various characteristics which every individual has if he belongs to the collection. If you set to work to count the terms in an infinite collection. we can speak of mankind or " the human race. in the case of the runner. three-quarters. you will never have completed your task. And exactly the same happens in the case of infinite collections : they may be known by their characteristics although their terms cannot be enumerated. The whole difficulty of the subject lies in the necessity of thinking in an nnfa-miliflr way." then Zeno's conclusion would be true in practice. Some purely arithmetical and there may be new peculiarities of infinite numbers have also caused perplexity. or even to knowledge and reasoning concerning it. In this sense. seven-eighths. an unending series may nevertheless form a whole. that we should be able to pass its terms in review one in the case of finite colby one. and not if he does not. but in fact they only contradict confirmed mental habits. and he would never reach the goal. or by doubling it. and the runner was not allowed to pass any of the marks until the umpire said "Now. an infinite number is not increased by adding one to Such peculiarities have seemed it. like the most 187 of the vaguer difficulties infinite.THE PROBLEM OF INFINITY The difficulty. from the more or less unconscious operation of the idea of counting." though many of the individuals in this collection are not personally known to us. is derived. For instance. and so on of the course were marked. This may be seen " " lections . But it is not essential to the existence of a collection.

will not be found so those who ding obstinately to the prejudices instilled by the arithmetic which is learnt in childhood. which lecture.i88 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY are in fact peculiar to finite numbers. If this is remembered. will occupy the next difficult as it is to . the positive theory of infinity.

Every rise to philosubject-matter. it may be said. The work in subject has been done by mathematicians. are among the in philosophy. and its results can be expressed in mathematical symbolism. movement is forward and synthetic. when they have become fully developed. in the process.LECTURE VH THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY THE of positive theory of infinity. number to which triumphs of it scientific and the general theory has given method rise. Why. but partly also of real importance in understanding the function of philosophy. from the simpler to the more complex. then. the of original subjecteliminate the particularity . seeking. In the special the sciences. partly concerned with the use of words. should the subject be ? regarded as philosophy rather than as mathematics This raises a difficult question. it would seem. the difference between the two treatments the kind of being in the direction of movement and in truths which it is sought to establish. But in philosophy we follow the inverse direction : from the complex and relatively concrete we proceed towards the simple and abstract to by means of analysis. can give the to as appropriate sophical investigations as well science. and are therefore specially suitable for illustrating the logicalthis analytic character of that method.

Between philosophy and pure mathematics there is a certain affinity. namely the nature of number. and inherently more fitted to form the premisses of the science of arithmetic. philosophy. while philosophy seeks. starting from data which are common knowledge. results by deductive synthesis. But mathematics uses these facts to deduce more and may be illustrated more complicated theorems. The difference between philosophy and mathematics by our present problem. by which our actual world is distinguished from other abstractly possible worlds. by analysis. more fundamental. for while mathematics. must be ignored by mathematics and philosophy alike.igo SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY matter. therefore. to go behind tEese facts to others. however. . all many possible philosophy and mathematics will be the same the differences will only be in respect of those particular facts which are chronicled by the descriptive sciences. Any quality. seeks to purify and generalize them into the simplest statements of abstract form that can be obtained from them by logical analysis. in their manner of treating the general properties in which all possible worlds agree . seeks to build up more and more complex worlds. starting from comparatively simple propositions. The . We may illustrate this characteristic by means of Leibniz's conception of many possible worlds. simpler. like those of history and geography. and to confine our attention entirely to the logical form of the facts concerned. depend which. of which one only In the is actual. upon the actual concrete facts being just what they are. Both start from certain facts about numbers which are evident to inspection. in the fact that both are general and a Neither of them asserts propositions priori. Mathematics and philosophy differ.

The number 3 is something which all collections of three things have in common. therefore. section 3) : A such as " Every number is not merely a plurality. apart from any other defects. of the same kind that would be committed if we said " yellow is a flower " because some flowers are yellow. and to that 9 extent as a unity' there is in such definitions a Now very elementary blunder. The definition. for example.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY " question. We. Take." typical definition of the kind that contented philosophers is the following from Sigwart's Logic ( 66. but a collection of three things is not the number number 3. " a plurality thought as conceivably be described as held together and closed. until quite recent times. the answer to which we considered in the by difficulties of infinity previous lecture. since our object is philosophical. was never considered in the kind of way that is capable of yielding a precise answer. The question " What is a number ? " is one which. Philosophers were content with some vague dictum " Number is unity in plurality. but a plurality thought as held together and dosed. number ? " which we be found to give the also. What is a number ? " is 191 the pre-eminent philosophic question in this subject. has failed to reach the necessary degree of abstraction the number 3 is something -more abstract than any collection of three things. provided he knows enough of the properties of numbers to enable him to deduce his theorems. and to that extent as a " unity . will implication. : . shall reach in this lecture. the A single collection of three things might 3. but it is one which the mathematician as such need not ask. but is not itself a collection of three things. must grapple with the philosopher's " What is a question. The answer to the question.

But this operation is really a very complicated . because they could not be reached by counting. So infinite numbers were declared not to be numbers at all. Counting. But if in his travels he came across a herd of wild cows. is erroneously supposed to be simple. remained inoperative because of their very vagueness. however. because no cattlemerchant could sell them. he would have to declare that they were not cows at all. And infinite numbers cannot be reached at all in this way. It will be worth while to consider for a moment what counting actually is. " On the consciousness of the law of counting/' says Sigwart at the beginning of his discussion of number. " rests the possibility of spontaneously prolonging the numbers ad infinitum.IQ2 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY Such vague philosophic definitions. but had never seen a cow. and therefore counting is a method of finding out what the number of the objects cattle-merchant. saying the names of the numbers in order with each successive act of attenThe last number named in this process is the tion. because it is familiar. What most men who thought about numbers really had in mind was that numbers are the result of counting. The mistake is of the same kind as if cows were defined as what can be bought from a fact a highly complex process." It is this view of series of number as generated by counting which has been the chief psychological obstacle to the understanding of infinite numbers. until we have attended once to each. this might seem an admirable definition. is. number of the objects. which has unless the numbers reached in counting To a person who knew several cattlemerchants. We count a set of objects when we let our attention pass from one to another. whereas it is in no meaning have some which of the by they process significance independent axe reached.

" as we count. can only be intelligently performed by a person who already has some idea what the and from this it follows that counting does not give the logical basis of number. without having any idea of numbers at all.. without attaching any meaning to them. numbers are . . three. when we say " one. The second proposition remains true. each number occurring only once. and those who imagine that it is the logical source of number show themselves remarkably in- capable of analysis. A child may learn to know these words in order.. and is in fact. Again. then the number of numbers used as names is the same as the number of objects. how do we know that the last number reached in the process of counting is the number of the objects counted ? This is just one of those facts that are too familiar for their significance to be realized. secondly. two. an immediate consequence of the definition of number. first of these propositions is capable of an easy arithmetical proof so long as finite numbers are con- The but with infinite numbers. But owing cerned . In the first place. in fact. it be true.. that if a set of numbers can be used as names of a set of objects. as we shall see. that the number of numbers from i up to any given number is that given number for instance. The operation of counting. ceases to 13 . after the first. the number of numbers from i to 100 is a hundred . Such a child may count correctly from the point of view of a grown-up listener. and to repeat them correctly like the letters of the alphabet. two.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY 193 one. we cannot be said to be discovering the number of the objects counted unless we attach some meaning to the words one. but those who wish to be logicians must acquire the habit of dwelling upon such facts.. There are two propositions involved in this fact : first. three .

a property which I shall call inductiveness. 2. a property which I shall call reflexiveness .. under certain conditions. but through the work of Georg Cantor it has come to be recognized that. given any any finite number of added or taken away without increasing or diminishing the number of the collection. : when it is not increased by adding i to it.. There are two respects in which the infinite numbers that are known differ from finite numbers first. and would in fact give different results according to the manner in which it was carried out. This property of infinite numbers was always thought. 3 . it is no more self-contradictory at once that than the fact that people at the antipodes do not tumble off. It follows any finite number can be added to a reflexive number without increasing it. In virtue of this property. objects can be them O. i. 3* 4> ^ * r i .194 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY to the falsehood of the first proposition where infinite numbers are concerned. Let us consider these two properties successively. Imagine all the natural numbers o. secondly. and immediately beneath infinite collection of objects. until recently. This may be made clearer by the help of some examples. 3 i* 2. though at first astonishing. infinite numbers have. would not be a valid method of discovering the number of terms in an infinite collection. Even an infinite number of objects may. while infinite numbers have not. be added or taken away without altering the number. to be self-contradictory. A number is said to be reflexive (i) Reflexiveness. 2. finite numbers have. I. counting. while finite numbers have not. to be written down in a row. even if it were practically possible.

195 i. 4. i. and no number occurs twice in either row. 2. yet the second row results from taking away an infinite collection from the all the odd numbers by adding i to contradiction. Then. It follows that the number of numbers in the two rows must be the same. the whole is not greater thft" its part. and one more. the number of numbers in the two rows is the same. but. as before. The following example is even more surprising. 338. Gerhardt's edition. . So long. in the bottom row." he says. he main- tained that infinite collections do not have numbers." x In dealing with this Phil. 3. vol. .e. given by Leibniz to prove numbers. since he thought that a number must always be increased when it is added to top row. and the even numbers 2. He believed in infinite collections. implies a contradiction. 4 . p. Write the natural numbers i. as it was supposed that a number must be increased . and so on.. 8 . is bottom row.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY write down the numbers under o. it. so that i is under i. .. 2. But all the numbers that occur in the bottom row also occur in the top thus the number of row. 4. Therefore the number of all numbers is not greater tfcm the number of even numbers. namely o terras in the top row is obtained by adding one to the number of the bottom row. Then every number in the top row has a number directly under it in the 2 . in the top row.. i. " " The number of all numbers. This example that there can be no and diminished when is infinite it is subtracted from. 3. so that under each number in the top row stands its double in the bottom row. which I show thus: To any number there is a corresponding number equal to its double.. Werke.. this state of things constituted a and led to the denial that there are infinite numbers. therefore. 6.

46 ff. I730. and now published by John Weston. to assign Infinity of Points of the lesser. present Master. the other only the even finite numbers.METHOD SCIENTIFIC 196 IN PHILOSOPHY " we ought to substitute " " numbers for the number number argument. Weston. by Tho. Here already arises a Doubt which I think is not to be resolv'd . I quote from a translation published in 1 The personages in the dialogue are Salviati. It will be seen that Leibniz regards it as self-contradictory to maintain that the whole is not greater than its part." In this sense. Sagredo. : : and since both contain necessarily infer. See pp. and they reason as follows " Simp. By Galileo Galilei. late Master. we then obtain exactly the illustration given by our two rows. and Simplicius. that Species we must surely we have found in the same infinite Points. the finite of all of all numbers " . is what I can't new sciences possibly conceive. one containing all the finite numbers. since the Infinity of Points of the greater Line exceeds the But now. Done into English from the Italian. we must substitute the " less ambiguous phrase containing a greater number of terms. for our purpose. But " " is one which is capable of many the word greater meanings . an Infinite greater than an Infinite. and that is this Since 'tis plain that one Line is given greater than another. There is an interesting discussion of the reflexiveness of infinite wholes in the first of Galileo's Dialogues on Motion. i Mathematical Discourses relating to mechanics and concerning two motion t in four dialogues. Chief Philosopher and Mathematician to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. local . infinity possible. it is not self-contradictory it is the realization for whole and part to be equal of this fact which has made the modern theory of . something greater than Infinite. of the Academy at Greenwich.

Minority. How go on with you then. because those Attributes of with Majority. that the certainly. any Root more than one more " Salv. of which we can't say that one is greater than. I know very well that a square Number of any that which arises from the Multiplication Number into itself thus 4 and 9 are square Numbers. "Salv. by ascribing to them Attributes which we give to Things finite and terminate. the Factors are calTd Roots And that the other Numbers. and which not ? " is Simp. that as the Products are calTd Squares. . Whence taking in all Numbers. and has since Roots. both Squares Not Squares and Not Squares. Very well. themselves. which I think most improper. which are square Numbers. and Equality. every Square and since no Square has every Root its own Square. are not : Squares. " Simp. And you also know. That there are as many as are its own Root. and ask you.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY " 197 These are some of those Difficulties which from Discourses which our finite Understanding makes about Infinites. that arising from 2. which Salv. Very true. agree not Infinities. and this from 3. if right? " Simp. For Proof whereof I have something come into my Head. Most I should say. or equal to another. who started To begin then : I suppose you know this Difficulty. be in the I not should the are more than Squares. If I Square. which proceed not from Numbers multiplied into themselves. arise (that I may be the better understood) I will propose by way of Interrogatories to Simplicity. nor one than Root. less than. multiplied by . are? there Numbers truly may you many squar'd their proper answer.

i. 64. so long as we confine ourselves to numbers less than ." The way in which the problem is expounded in the above discussion is worthy of Galileo. and as many Roots as Numbers. which is the same as to say the loth Part are Squares. for count to an Hundred you'll find 10 Squares. since there's what's the Root to some Square. granted. viz. Majority. but by saying that all Squares are Infinite. : 25. It is actually the case that the number of square (finite) numbers is the same as the number of (finite) numbers. but the solution suggested is not the right one. " Sagr. we said. 16. for there are as many Squares as there are Roots. 9. have no Place in Infinites. 4. there are METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY But now. in a Million only the loooth yet in an infinite Number. 81. if we can but comprehend it. in Ten thousand only the xooth Part are Squares . as there are Numbers . as we go on to bigger Numbers. And yet in the Beginning of this. : Quantities. and that the Number of Squares is not less than the Number of Numbers. there were many more Numbers than Squares. their Roots are infinite . that there are as many square Numbers. The fact that. if I should ask how many Roots you can't deny but there are as many as Numbers. 49. Numbers I see no other way. the greater Part of Numbers being not Squares And tho' the Number of Squares decreases in a greater proportion. but are confin'd to terminate Infinite. we may say the Squares are as many as all the Numbers taken together. 100.SCIENTIFIC IQ8 there are. 36. What must be determin'd then in this : And Case? " Salv. we may likewise no Number but And this being affirm. and Minority. nor this less than that and then by concluding that the Attributes or Terms of Equality.

which cannot be developed out of arithmetical considerations alone. that the limit of a function as the variable approaches a given point may not be the same as its value when the variable actually reaches the given point. Cantor has shown that what Simplicius could not conceive is true. disappear. But although the infinite numbers which Galileo discusses are equal. now familiar to mathematicians. if greater and less can be applied. As regards greater and less of lines. which is the problem from which the lengths above discussion starts. all contra. namely that there are an infinite number of different infinite numbers. The whole of Simplicius's difficulty comes. as is evident. from his belief that. (2) Non-inductiveness.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY 199 some given finite number. This is only an instance of the fact. and that the conception of greater and less can be perfectly well applied to them. . that involves a meaning of dictions greater and less which is not arithmetical of points is the same in a long line and in The number a short one. a part of an infinite collection must have fewer terms than the whole and when this is denied. The involves the greater new and less of all metrical geometry metrical conception of congruence. This will be best explained by defining the positive property of inductiveness which characterizes the finite numbers. the proportion of squares tends towards zero as the given finite number increases. does not contradict the fact that the number of all finite squares is the same as the number of all finite numbers. But this question has not the fundamental importance which belongs to the arithmetical theory of infinity. being in fact the same as the number of points in space.The second property by which infinite numbers are distinguished from finite numbers is the property of non-inductiveness.

it must belong also to all finite numbers greater than 100 . this follows from the fact that the property is as hereditary. consider the relation of a finite number to its immediate successor. For example. it belongs to 101 because it belongs to 100. If a man is named Jones. Now. we will therefore call the property of being called Jones hereditary with respect to the If a man is called Jones. Thus. relation of father and son." Let us first consider what is meant by calling a " " in a given series. Similarly. the hereditary property of being greater than 99 belongs to 100 and all greater numbers. being hereditary. all his descendants in the direct male line are called Jones . so is his son . the relation which holds between o and i. though it must belong to all the finite numbers greater than a given number possessing the property. and it belongs to 102 because " where the it belongs to 101. to any finite number greater than 100. and generally. but not to any smaller number. Take such hereditary property a property as being named Jones. a property is hereditary in this series when.SCIENTIFIC 200 and which is named METHOD after the IN PHILOSOPHY method " of proof known mathematical induction. given any number that possesses the property. If a property of numbers is hereditary with respect to this relation. the property of being greater than 99 is hereditary in the series of finite numbers . sooner or later. It will be seen that a hereditary property. between 2 and 3. for example. need not belong to all the numbers less than this number. and so on and so on " will take us. instead of the relation of father and son. for. the next number must always also possess it. the hereditary property of being called Jones belongs to all the . then if it belongs to (say) 100. between I and 2. and so on. that is.

there are the infinite numbers. i. by mathematical induction can be validly applied. This is the principle induction/' prove that that of what is called "mathematical happens. they are all the numbers that can be reached by counting. they will be the same as what are called the "natural" numbers. But beyond all these numbers. when we wish to numbers have some property.e.e. the To all such numbers. and then that the property is hereditary. since they are hereditary. if it belongs to a given number. which can be reached from o by successive additions ordinary proofs of i ." I shall call the properties to which they are applicable "inductive" properties. before the ancestors whom have no surname. that any hereditary property possessed by Adam must belong to all men. they belong to I . say 29. They are those numbers. because we reach at last a first Jones. 1 Taking any one of the natural numbers. Owing to the fact that such proofs are called " inductive.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY descendants the direct male (in line) of those 201 who have this property. It frequently finite all we have first to prove that o has the property. finite whole numbers. that. and so on . It is obvious. We " " may define the inductive numbers as all those thai possess att inductive properties . it is easy to see that it must have all inductive properties. we may loosely say. therefore. however. then it belongs to the next number. in other words. and infinite numbers do not have all inductive . they belong to '2. and similarly any hereditary property possessed by o must belong to all finite numbers. by twenty-nine repetitions of such arguments we show that they belong to 29. but not to all their ancestors. i. For since such properties belong to o and are hereditary. Thus an inductive property of numbers is one which is hereditary and belongs to o.

The first of the infinite numbers has no immediate predecessor. All those properties of are in fact only demonstrable by the step-by-step method. since the property of being increased by i is hereditary. non-inductive.from one number to the next will ever reach from a finite number to an infinite one. METHOD Such numbers. realize the necessity of proving such properties by mathematical induction. and that. the number obtained by the addition of i. because there is no greatest finite number. IN PHILOSOPHY therefore. We first prove that o is not equal to i . i.000 is not equal to . the property of non-reflexiveness may serve to illustrate the limitations of mathematical induction. if we wish to prove that 30. not logic. This is another reason for the supposed self contradictions of infinite number. and follows for each particular case by a sufficient number of applications of the argument. may be called numbers which are proved by an imaginaiy step-by-step process from one number to the next are liable to fail when we come to infinite numbers. which custom had led people to regard as logically necessary.e.202 SCIENTIFIC properties. so is the next number. Many of the most familiar properties of numbers. but only our prejudices and mental habits. and the step-by-step method of proof fails. and the strictly limited scope of this method of proof. The property of being increased by the addition of i i. the supposed contradictions are seen to contradict. and fail to be true of infinite numbers. It follows that each of the natural numbers is increased by the addition of i. It is easy to prove that o is increased by the addition of i. .e. then. if a given number is increased by the addition of i. it follows that i is not equal to 2 hence it follows that 2 is not equal to 3 . But so soon as we. thus no succession of steps. This follows generally from the general argument.

The logical definition of numbers.000 times. though it seems of finite to call an essential support to the theory of infinite numbers. if not in associated. are all reflexive as well as noninductive . When infinite numbers are known numbers are introduced to first people. however. but it is not known that all non-inductive numbers are reflexive. but up to the present no valid proof has been discovered. are as a matter of fact not increased by the addition of i. For two properties are always our purposes. they are apt to refuse the name of numbers to them. The two properties of reflexiveness and non-induc- 30. theory.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY 203 we can do so by repeating tM$ reasoning But we cannot prove in this way that all numbers are increased by the addition of i we can only prove that this holds of the numbers attainable by successive additions of i starting from o. which lie beyond all those attainable in this way. Fallacious proofs of this proposition have been published by many writers. it will be convenient to ignore the bare possibility that there may be non-inductive non-reflexive numbers. tiveness. The infinite numbers actually known. The theory of infinite numbers that is to say. was in fact discovered independently and by a different man. It is known that all reflexive numbers are non-inductive. because their behaviour is so different from that numbers that it seems a wilful misuse of terms them numbers at all. and consider the logical definition of numbers. the thus. 30. have considered as characteristics have not so far been proved to be always found together. which we of infinite numbers. The reflexive numbers. we must now turn to the logical basis of arithmetic. therefore. . since all either inductive or reflexive. including myself. In order to meet this feeling. in mathematical practice.001. .

was rediscovered by me in ignorance of Frege's work. published in 1879. the of to show previous philoinadequacy proceeds " " sophical theories. definition of number contained in this book. and elaborated in the Grundgesetee der Arithmetik (vol. and published by him in I882-3. contained the very important theory of hereditary properties in a series to which I alluded in connection with inductiveness. and it will repay us to consider Frege's analysis in some detail. they may be taken altogether as constituting its : 1 In his Grundlagen einer allgemeinen Mannichfaltigkeitslehre in articles in A eta Ma-thematic a. eine logisch-mathematische Untersuchung It is with this book that fiber den Begri/ der ZaU* the logicaJ theory of arithmetic begins. 1893 . . His definition of number is conitaned in his second work. i. and points out that this must lead to a He critical investigation of the definition of number. especially of the synthetic a priori theory of Kant and the empirical theory of Mill.1 discovered about the The definition of number was same time by a man whose great genius has not received the recognition it deserves His first work. I wish to state as emphatically as possible what seems still often ignored that his discovery antedated mine and * by The eighteen years. published in 1884. if a tree has a thousand leaves. This What kind of object is it brings him to the question that number can properly be ascribed to ? He points : out that physical things may be regarded as one or many for example.204 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY the arithmetical as opposed to the logical part of the theory was discovered by Georg Cantor. Frege begins by noting the increased desire for logical strictness in mathematical demonstrations which distinguishes modern mathematicians from their predecessors. vol. vol.. 1903).. Begrifssckrift. ii. and entitled Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik. I mean Gottlob Frege of Jena. ii.

. and must be physical and empirical . . The botanist wishes to state something which is just as much a fact when he gives the number of petals in a flower as when he gives its colour. the centre of mass of the solar system.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF foliage. the palpable. but this does not consist in the fact that both are sensibly perceptible in external things. but in the " fact that both are objective (p. 34). INFINITE 205 which would count as one. nor subjective. 35)." he continues. but I should not call them actual. . and argued therefore must be subjective and mental Both sides were right in what they denied. the number to be ascribed must be unambiguous. The earth's axis. a view which Frege emphatically rejects. and wrong in what therefore . There is therefore a certain similarity between number and colour . but non-sensible and objective. the spatial. "Number. are objective. since it applies to all the subject-matter of mathematics and Most philosophers have thought that the logic. The one depends as little as the other upon our caprice. like the earth " He concludes that number is neither itself (p. boots. not as a thousand and one pair of boots is the same object as two . This conclusion is important. physical and the mental between them exhausted the world of being. for when we have discovered the proper subjects. It follows that physical things are not the subjects of which number is properly predicated. others have that they were obviously not physical. This leads to a discussion of the very prevalent view that number is really something psychological and subjective. Some have argued that the objects of mathematics were obviously not subjective." he " is as little an object of psychology or an outsays. spatial and physical. come of psychical processes as the North Sea. " " from I distinguish the objective. the actual.

that no number. The fact is. which is neither mental nor physical. the moon." The general term "man" is applicable to a certain number of objects : there are in the world so and so many men. Thus. mankind in the above instance to which the general term in question is applicable." satellite of Venus.206 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY Frege has the merit of accepting both and finding a third assertion by recognizing the world of logic. we may. as Frege points out." satel" lite of the earth. which may equally well be regarded as many molecules: " it is a property of the general term earth's satellite. not of physical things or of mental Instead of speaking of a general term. Satellite of the earth is a term only applicable to one object. not even i. This was impossible if numbers applied to physical objects. is applicable to physical things. Here at last we have an intelligible theory of the number o. in seeking our definition of number we have arrived so far at the result that numbers are properties of general terms or general descriptions." because Venus has no satellite. and it is the general term which is the proper subject of number. The unity which philosophers rightly feel to be necessary for the assertion of a number is the unity of the general term. without making any serious change. namely." " satellite Similarly. " " general terms or descriptions. such as as the subject of which a number can be "man. denials. but only to they asserted ." asserted. take the subject as the class or collection of objects " " i. because obviously no physical object could have the number o. " " But one is not a property of the moon itself. such as man. And this applies equally when there is one object or none which falls under " " the general term.e. o is a property of the general term of Venus. Two general . occurrences.

we decide this question by counting but counting. . description. will obviously have the same number of instances. enumeration is impossible. as we saw. Even when the terms axe enumerated. provided several general terms can be found to describe the same class. A relation of this sort is called a oneone relation. An illustration may hdp to make the method dear. a different method of answering our question. The relation of father to son is called a . Frege next asks the question: When do two collections have the same number of terms ? In ordinary life. or the other. not upon the selection of this or that general term to describe it." which are applicable to the same collection of objects. the theory of number to Here. but I do know that the number is the same as the number of married women. is impossible in the case of infinite collections. or that. And in the case of an infinite dass. I do not know how many married men there are in England.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY terms. therefore. But some general term is always necessary in order to describe a class. such as "man" 207 and "featherless biped. and only so acquires the unity which enables us to speak of it as one collection. We want. and is not logically fundamental with finite collections. which Frege was led by purdy logical considerations becomes of use in showing how infinite classes can be description amenable to number in spite of being incapable of enumeration. so that by a general characteristic common and the to members of the dass is the only possible peculiar as we see." the collection is constituted by the general property of being either this. as " this and that and the other. The reason I know this is that the relation of husband and wife relates one man to one woman and one woman to one man. thus the number depends upon the class.

as in the case of English husbands and English wives. This leads us to define the number of a given collection as the class of all collections that are similar to it that is to say. the a many-one relation. but when there is not such a relation. whenever there is a one-one relation between all the terms of one collection and all the relation of son to father is called But the relation of terms of another severally.SCIENTIFIC 208 one-many relation. yields the usual arithmetical properties of numbers. It is applicable equally to finite and infinite numbers. we shall say that the two collections are " similar. the number is different. because a man cannot have more than one wife. as Frege (expressing it in slightly different terms) showed. This is the answer to the question When do two collections have the same number of terms ? We can now at last answer the question What is meant by the number of terms in a given collection ? When there is a one-one relation between all the terms of one collection and all the terms of another severally. : to the given class." We have just seen that two similar collections have the same number of terms. and it does not require the admission of some new and mysterious set of metaphysical entities. we set up"the following formal definition The number of terms in a given class " is defined " as meaning the class of all classes that are similar : : . father but METHOD because a may have many IN PHILOSOPHY man can have sons. the number of terms in the one collection is the same as the number in the other. Now. husband to wife (in Christian countries) is called one-one. or a woman more than one husband." This definition. only one conversely. but classes or the general terms by which they . It shows that it is not physical objects.

but nevertheless the answer in this case is not without importance. though it would be difficult to say what we had been meaning. It defines the number 2. as the class of all couples. In the first place. any indubit- . for instance. but that it should give us objects having the requisite properties. and the number 3 as the a This does not seem to be what we have hitherto been meaning when we spoke of 2 and 3. In the third place. must satisfy the formulae of arithmetic 14 . such as 2 and 3. uniformity. at first sight. case of the small finite numbers. In the definitions.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY 209 are defined. which is liable to cause a certain dissatisfaction. in fact. the real desideratum about such a definition as that of number is not that it should represent as nearly as possible the ideas of those who have not gone through the analysis required in order to reach a definition. Numbers. is to a certain extent arbitrary. which tends to cause a protest against the definition. like all class of all triads. of feeling oddity. The answer to a feeling cannot be a logical argument. and would be found to fail sooner or later at latest when we reached infinite numbers. In the second place. of which numbers can be asserted . it may be admitted that the definition. it would be possible to frame definitions more nearly in accordance with our unanalysed feeling of what we mean but the method of such definitions would lack . and applies to o and i without any of the difficulties which other theories find in dealing with these two it special cases. The above definition is sure to produce. it will be found that when an idea which has grown familiar as an unanalysed whole is first resolved accurately into its component parts which is what we do when we define it there is almost always a feeling of unfamiUarity produced by the analysis.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY able set of objects fulfilling this requirement may be So far. There is. however. a certain logical doctrine which may be thought to form an objection to the above numbers definition of as classes of classes I mean the doctrine that there are no such objects as classes at all. you no the longer have a sentence that has any meaning a but true or either no sentence is false. All the important requirements are fulfilled by the above definition. For dispelled by less collection of can be words. On account of certain rather complicated difficulties. if. either truly or faJsely) about dasses of things. What the I will try briefly to explain. would be a mistake none of these theories are any the worse for : the doctrine doctrine is. It might be thought that this doctrine would make havoc of a theory which reduces numbers to classes. That is to say. I was led to the view that nothing that can be said significantly about things. you substitute a class for the thing. of familiarity. not destructive. meaninglonger : Appearances to the contrary a moment's reflection. . is one of very little importance. i. can be said significantly (i. the simplest set known to called numbers. the the whether objects to which the definition question the vague ideas of numbers or unlike are like applies entertained by those who cannot give a definition.e. and of the many other theories in which we have made use of classes. requirement is the set introduced by the In comparison with this merit. however. This. culminating in definite contradictions. and the sense of oddity which is at first unavoidable will be found to wear off very quickly with the growth fulfil this above definition. particulars. that classes and why it is are fictions. in any sentence in which a thing is mentioned.e.

147- The Civilisation of China (Home University Library). "The dass of people interested in : i Giles. who maintained " a bay horse and a dun cow are three because that taken separately they are two. it follows that classes of things cannot have the same kind of reality as things have . cow taken together are not a new thing that we can escape the conclusion that there are three things wherever there are two. nothing that can be said significantly about significantly about a class of things. p." which munches apples you mean that the separate individuals who compose mankind are each severally fond : of apples. and taken together two and one make three.C. This view is really consonant to common In the third or fourth century B. " and say. Yet if collections of things were things." example. When it is admitted that classes are not things. . in the sentence. for if they had. a dass could be substituted for a thing in a proposition predicating the kind of reality which would be common to both. there lived sense. the What do we mean by statements question arises which are nominally about classes ? Take such a statement as. you may fond of apples. : the sophists or unsound reasoners of ancient Greece." But obviously you do not mean " that there is one individual. his contention would be irrefragIt is only because the bay horse and the dun able.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY 211 " Adam is fond of apples. called mankind. if a thing can be said . a Chinese philosopher named Hui Tzu. Mankind is substitute mankind." * The they are one " was author from whom I quote says that Hui Tzu so which the of delighted quibbles particularly fond Now." and this no doubt represents the judgment of common sense upon such arguments.

and also y is interested. or x is identical with z 9 or y is identical with z. and which we need not enter into on this occasion. "Not very many people are For the sake of interested in mathematical logic." Here there " In some class. " Jones. nothing. All that is wanted. sponding which is not a part of propositions having this form. are not names of definite objects. identity.SCIENTIFIC 212 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY not very numerous. and Introduction." is no longer any reference at all to a such way. it follows merely symbolic that numbers are not is actual but that propositions in which numbers occur have not really any constituents correverbally but only a certain logical form to numbers. like * " John Of. of logic and mathematics. is a uniform method of interpreting propositions in which such a use occurs. ." definiteness. let us substitute some particular number. then x is identical with y. function. so as to obtain propositions in which there is no longer any such use. and also z is interested. for very many/' Then our statement is." Obviously this reduces itself to. The definition of such a method is a technical matter. 20. chapter " or Principia iii. and so on. therefore. everything. " " say 3. entities. not. all statements nominally about a class can be reduced to statements about what follows from the hypothesis of anything's having the defining property of the class. greater. if." " If x is interested This may be expressed in the form in mathematical logic. plus. This is in fact the case with all the apparent objects Such words as or. Not three people are interested in mathematical logic." but are words which require Mathematics. there is. 1 mathematical logic is : If the theory that classes are accepted. in order to render the verbal use of classes legitimate. which Dr. Whitehead and I have dealt with elsewhere.

as opposed to their 1 This fact has a meanings.THE POSITIVE THEORY OF INFINITY 213 a context in order to have meaning. their occurrence indicates a certain form of proposition. that is to say. since it shows how they differ from the special sciences. very important bearing on all logic and philosophy. by Lad-wig Wittgen- . stein (Kegan Paul. 1922)." in short. the words expressing them are not names. 1 See Tractates Logico-Phihsophicus. and cannot be made into logical subjects except the words themselves. are not entities . But the questions raised are so large and so difficult that it is impossible to pursue them further on this significantly when it is occasion. All of them are formal. " Logical constants. that are being discussed. not a certain constituent.

rather vague. The discovery of these premisses belongs to philosophy . and interdependent logically. wholly compatible with their leading to the given body of knowledge.LECTURE VIII ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE. If the work of analysis has been performed completely. Premisses are thus quite different from data they are simpler. if " matics is interpreted in a somewhat liberal sense. in which a certain number of initial propositions form a logical guarantee for all the rest. and we arrange them in deductive chains. We start from a body of common knowledge. By analysis we reduce them to propositions which are as nearly as possible simple and precise. WITH APPLICATIONS TO THE FREE-WILL PROBLEM THE nature of philosophic analysis. more precise. But besides the logical analysis of the common knowledge which forms our data. as illustrated in our previous lectures. the data are found to be complex. but the work of deducing the body of common know" matheledge from them belongs to mathematics. can now be stated in general terms. there is the consideralogical is logically . they largely be wholly free from precise. and as simple as will redundancy. On examination. and less infected with logical redundancy. These initial propositions are premisses for the body of knowledge in question. which constitutes our data.

but also the purpose of facilitating an estimate as to the degree of certainty to be attached to this or that derivative belief. we saw that the part of physics which depends upon testimony. does not seem so certain as the part which depends exclusively upon our own sense-data and the laws of logic. . what is the . meant by a causal law II. that what commonly passes as knowledge is not all equally certain. and thus upon the existence of other minds than our own. it used to be felt that the parts of geometry which depend upon the axiom of parallels have less certainty than the parts which are independent of this premiss. IV. this service seems at least as important as the purely logical services rendered by philosophical analysis. I wish to apply the analytic 11 " method to the notion of and to illustrate cause. We may say. Similarly. the discussion by applying it to the problem of free For this purpose I shall inquire: I. what is the evidence that causal laws have held hitherto III. when analysis into premisses has been effected. Thus analysis into premisses serves not only a logical purpose. When we have arrived at its premisses. generally.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 215 tion of its degree of certainty. In the present lecture. . and we doubt extends to those may find further that this of our original data which depend upon these doubtful premisses. we may find that some of them seem open to doubt. how the causality which is used in science differs from that of common sense and traditional philosophy . In view of the fallibility of all human beliefs. In our third lecture. the degree of certainty of any consequence of the premisses depend upon that of the most doubtful premiss will employed in proving this consequence. what is will. for example. evidence that they will continue to hold in the future . and that.

with whatever is logically of the same type as sensedata. it is in the possibility of such application " * Thus we are not using "thing here in the sense of a class of correlated "aspects/' as we did in Lecture III. and he might justify his inference by the general " All marks in the ground shaped like a proposition. 1 In so far as a causal law is directly verifiable. you infer that there nevertheless was a flash. human foot are subsequent to a human being's standing where the marks are. . what new light is thrown on the question of free " cause. he infers a human being. we expect that it will rise again the next day." When Robinson Crusoe sees a footprint.e. as only applying to particulars." notion of by our "analysis of the " I mean any general proposicausal law I. When we hear a man speaking. at the moment. as excluding such objects as numbers or classes or abstract logical properties and relations. though they need not both be data at the same time. a causal law which is being used to extend our knowledge of existence must be applied to what. Each " " aspect will count separately in stating causal laws. the thing inferred and the thing from which it is inferred must both be data. By a tion in virtue of which it is possible to infer the existence of one thing or event from the existence of another or of a number of others. we said." When we see the sun set. allows us to infer the existence of one thing (or event) from the existence of one or more " " The word thing here is to be understood others. A causal law. In fact. If you hear thunder without having seen lightning. is not a datum. All these inferences are due to causal laws. because of the general proposition.216 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY V. and including sense-data. i. will "All thunder is preceded by lightning. we infer that he has certain thoughts.

The important point. This is obvious in all our previous instances we infer the unperceived lightning from the thunder. and capable of applying to many cases. " same " it has no scope at all. to this point at . " " is that what is inferred is a thing. Moreover. same what is inferred. Hence the particular inferred by a causal iaw must be only described with more or less exactness it cannot be named until . It is to be observed that what is constant in a causal law is not the object or objects given. but in virtue of its resemblance to other daps of thunder. But we cannot become acquainted with a particular except by its being actually given. the given particular from which we infer must allow the inference in virtue of some general characteristic. We shall return a later stage of the discussion. not in virtue of its being just the particular that it is. strictly interpreted. the inference is verified. principle. limits. since the causal law is general." an object having the kind of reality that belongs to objects of sense. for our present purpose. nor yet the inferred. if since the cause never recurs exactly. not in virtue of any peculiarity of the thunder. not an abstract object such as virtue or the square root of two. both of which may vary within wide : object between what is given and " same cause. the principle of to be said is sometimes which effect.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 217 that the practical utility of a causal law consists. Thus a causal law must state that the existence of a thing of a certain sort (or of a number of things of a number of another thing assigned sorts) implies the existence of invariable remains which first having a relation to the in kind the so long as the first is of question. indeed. however. but the relation The principle which really occurs in science." a particular." its scope than the in narrower much is causality.

which will enable us to determine the inferred things uniquely. the law states that the two are (at least approximately) simultaneous. Since all known things are in time. or may be only described in such general terms that many different particulars might satisfy the description. and usually the inference to be drawn is different according to the " A quarter of length and direction of the interval. or one which many terms may have. a causal law must take account of temporal relations. the other inferring . science will not be satisfied until it has found some more stringent law. the law states that the thing inferred is earlier than the thing given. the time-relation between the thing given and the thing inferred ought to be capable of exact statement. but must state how much earlier or how much later. when we see lightning and wait expectantly for the thunder." Such a statement involves two causal laws. When we infer a man's thoughts from his words. This depends upon whether the constant relation affirmed by the causal law is one which only one term can have to the data. it must not be content with a vague earlier or later. When we hear thunder and infer that there was lightning.3i8 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY The particular which is inferred may be uniquely determined by the causal law. It will be part of the causal law to state a relation of succession or coexistence between the thing given and the thing inferred. the law states that the thing given is earlier than the thing inferred. Conversely. an hour ago this man was alive . one inferring from a datum something which existed a quarter of an hour ago. That is to say. an hour hence he will be cold. If a causal law is to achieve the precision at which science aims. If many terms may have the relation in question.

and need this topic. can never be data. The things given will each occupy some finite time. if there are any. Often a causal law involved not one datum. especially motions. II. at least in the observed portions This question must not be confused with of the past ? Does this evidence warrant us the further question in assuming the truth of causal laws in the future For the of the past? and in unobserved What is : portions present. which a in considered in an earlier lecture the sense to recur now not motion may be a datum.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 219 from the same datum something which will exist an hour hence. I am which only asking what are the grounds . in practice. equally well be earlier or at the same time. then a thing having a fixed relation to these things will occur at a date fixed relatively to their Whenever things occur other dates. but many. which need not be all simultaneous with each other. The only thing essential is that the law should be such as to enable us to infer the existence of an object which we can more or less accurately describe in terms of It may the data. I come now to our second question. for such things. namely : the nature of the evidence that causal laws have held hitherto. They may be not static We have things." The things given will not. be things that only exist for an instant. though their time-relations must be given. The general scheme of a causal law will be as follows " : in certain relations to each (among which their time-relations must be included). but processes. It is not essential to a causal inferred should be later law that the object than some or all of the data.

We sometimes see lightning without hearing thunder . such as lightning being followed by thunder. the other will be will The connection of experienced past also. for example between touch and sight. perceive how much remained to be said. but did not. that where one of the correlated events is found. Is there. or coexistence. again. how is it to be stated ? The particular uniformities which we mentioned before. are not found to be free from exceptions. So far. after a blow received comes pain.220 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY lead to a belief in causal laws. who carried the discussion of cause up to this point. which is found to hold throughout the observed past ? And if so. uniformity with expectation as to the future is just one of those uniformities of sequence which we have observed to be true hitherto. first analysed After lightning comes thunder. between certain and the sound of one's own Every such uniformity of sequence sensations in the throat voice. in such a case. in fact. i.e. is followed by an expectation that it number be repeated on future occasions. apparently. there are uniformities of coexistence. This affords a psychological account of what may be called the animal belief in causation. we suppose that thunder . any characteristic. after approaching a fire comes warmth . such as might be called causality or uniformity. and although. not whether these grounds axe adequate to support the belief in universal causation. The step is the discovery of approximate ununiformities of sequence or coexistence. because it is somet-hing which can be observed in horses and dogs. and is rather a habit of found acting than a real belief. and so on. after it has been experienced a certain of times. we have merely repeated Hume.

Thus the empirical verification of mechanical laws may be admitted. law in a form which observation can confirm. We may take the law of gravitation as a sample of the kind of law that appears to be In order to state this verified without exception. What does seem. what can we say as to the nature of these laws ? They will not be of the simple type which asserts that the same cause always produces the same effect. however. It then states that the motions of planets and their satellites have at every . Assuming now. embracing more circumstances. although we must also admit that it is less complete and triumphant than is sometimes that supposed. unobserved bodies are inferred in order to account for observed peculiarities. otherwise be made applicable. There much that is hypothetical and more or less artificial is in the uniformities affirmed when they cannot by mechanics. planes just as accurately as to bodies that fall. some wider uniformity can be found. to be shown by scientific experience is this : that where an observed uniformity fails. it is an empirical fact it is possible to preserve the laws by assuming such bodies. and subsuming both the successes and the failures of the previous uniformUnsupported bodies in air fall. and therefore incapable of being invoked to support the theory. but the principles of mechanics give uniformities which apply to balloons and aero- ity. that is a supposition based on theory. we will confine it to the solar system. because. ful. Still.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 221 might have been heard if we had been nearer to the lightning. and that they never have to be assumed in drcumstances in which they ought to be observable. what must be admitted to be doubtthat the whole of the past has proceeded according to invariable laws. unless they are balloons or aeroplanes .

appear to be equally regular. ears. Neverthelessthe evidence is not very greatly less than in the physical world. In virtue of this law. In the world of sense. there axe to begin with the correlations of sight and touch and so on. Psychology cannot boast of any triumph of causal laws comparable to gravitational astronomy. and the facts which lead us to connect various kinds of sensations with eyes. the whole physical history of the universe. could be inferred from a sufficient number of data concerning an assigned finite time. The crude and approximate causal laws from which science starts are just as easy to discover in the mental sphere as in the physical. Then there are such facts as that our body moves in answer to our volitions. the evidence for the universality is less complete than in the physical world. If the mechanical account of matter were complete. Excep- nose. But other forces. but are capable of being explained as easily as the exceptions to the rule that unsupported bodies in air fall. so far as science can discover.222 SCIENTIFIC instant towards METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY an acceleration compounded of accelerations the other bodies in the solar system. however short. tongue. tions exist. and equally capable of being summed up in single causal laws. In the mental world. just such a degree of evidence for causal laws in psychology as will warrant the psychologist in assuming them as a matter . past and future. etc. proportional to the matters of these bodies and inversely proportional to the squares of their distances. in fact. its state at later times is determinate except in so far as other forces than gravitation or other bodies throughout any all earlier and than those in the solar system have to be taken into consideration. given the state of the solar system all finite time. There is. however short.

we have not hitherto introduced the " word cause." so long as we are ignorant of the precise small We process a by which the sufficiently will not occur in But in word "cause" result is brought about. are at least as easy to discover as causal laws in which both terms are mental. The cause of the word There approximate uniformities which lead to its pre-scientific employment may turn out to be true in all but very rare and exceptional circumstances. the any statement of invariable laws. although we have spoken of causal laws. it is still possible " " " cause and effect. belongs only to the early stages. It will be noticed that. may say "Arsenic causes death. perhaps in all circumstances that actually occur. approximate generalizations are with a view to subsequent larger ascertained being and more invariable laws." in the scientific account of the world. The word cause. it is convenient to be able to speak of the antecedent " " and the subsequent event as cause event as the " it is realized In this sense. remove all or vice versa. that we shall intend the words when we event "causing" another speak of one particular event. of course. as we must sometimes do if we are particular to avoid intolerable drcumlocution. It should be observed that causal laws in which the given term is mental and the inferred term physical. and in this sense only. ." the that the sequence is not necessary and may have to employ the words exceptions. in which preliminary. advanced science. In such cases. is." At this stage. it will be well to say a few words on legitimate and illegitimate uses of this " word. a somewhat rough and loose use however. " " which may be preserved. provided effect.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 223 though not such a degree as will suffice to doubt from the mind of a sceptical inquirer." It is in this sense.

given the state of the whole universe throughout any finite and subsequent event can theoretically be determined as a function of the given events during that time. however short. not even for the belief that we shall continue to expect the continuation of experienced uniformities. Such expectations. will continue to hold in the time. a dog who is always fed at a certain hour expects food at that hour and not at any other. for that is precisely one of Among of uniformities . but they afford absolutely no logical ground for beliefs as to the future. A horse who has been driven always along a certain road expects to be driven along that road again . that observation is followed by expectation of their recurrence.224 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY We come now to our third question. The law of universal causation. or that they have held in unobserved portions of the past ? What we have said so far is that there have been III. to ask a more modest question. as Hume pointed out. and that all the empirical evidence we possess is compatible with the view that everything. explain only too well the common-sense belief in uniformities of sequence. such as the law of gravitation. What hitherto certain observed causal laws. so far as our observation has extended. have we any reason to believe that a particular causal law." Have we any reason to believe this universal law ? Or. both mental and physical. every previous future ? observed causal laws is this. namely : reason can be given for believing that causal laws will hold in future. suggested as follows by these facts. has happened in accordance with causal laws. may be enunciated : " There are such invariable relations between different events at the same or different times that.

not capable of being proved or disproved by experience. the probability apIt may proaches indefinitely near to certainty. what principle must be involved in making them ? The principle involved is the principle of induction. must be an a priori logical law. . in a great number of instances. if it laws inference that causal probably hold at all times. while admitting the legitimacy of such a view. It may. a tiling of a certain kind is associated in a certain way with a thing of a certain other kind. If Hume's account of causation is the last word. but no reason to suppose that five minutes hence we shall still expect it to rise to-morrow. will warrant the proposition. It is a difficult question how this principle ought to be but if it is to warrant the inferences formulated which we wish to make by its means. we may nevertheless inquire : If inferences as to the future are valid. : but if we admit it. of course. be said that all inferences as to the future are in fact invalid. we have not only no reason to suppose that the sun will rise to-morrow. This is true.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 225 those causal laws for which a ground has to be sought. and I do not see how such a view could be disproved. of causal laws afford truth the of cases the observed xOn this t subject. it must lead to " the following proposition If. but as future as well past. therefore. it is probable that a thing of the one kind is always similarly associated with a thing of the other kind . But." well be questioned whether this proposition is true . Keynes's Treatise on Probability 15 . without this principle. and as the number of instances increases. we can infer that any characteristic of the whole of the observed past is likely to apply to the future and to the unobserved past. 1 which. see 1921). if it is true.

e3 what a complicated principle it is. and if it is false. which is at the bottom of all inferences therefore the existence of as to the existence of things not immediately given." and the definition of a causal law is found to be far from simple. I come now to the question how the conception . without it. they are : invalid. rather than the law of causality. Those who were interested in deductive logic naturally enough ignored it. It is thus the principle of induction. all such This principle has not received the attention which its great importance deserves.1i7. if such inference is ever valid but it would appear from the above analysis that the principle in question is inducWhether inferences from past to tion. future are valid depends wholly if our discussion has been sound. their own darling. There must necessarily be some a priori principle involved in inference from the existence of one thing to that of another. IV. and a thing not directly observed can never be validly inferred. required a logical principle which obviously could not be proved inductively. be maintained by anyone who rftfl. " " " causal law. upon the inductive principle if it is true. The view that the law of causality itself is a priori cannot. principle of induction. all that is wanted for With the such inferences can be proved. such inferences are valid. not causality. and therefore could not be expected to realize that induction itself. while those who emphasized the scope of induction wished to maintain that all logic is empirical. but on examination. and must therefore be a priori if it could be known at all. In the form " which states that every event has a cause " it looks " " cause is merged in simple . I think. .226 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY no presumption as to the unobserved cases. inferences are invalid.

physics ceases to be pwdy descriptive. then it is certainly the case phenomenon that this question cannot be answered in physics and ought not to be asked. they only why things happen. In order to understand the difference between the kind of cause which science uses and the kind which to shut out." From this it would be the to be " " " true easy to pass on to the suggestion that a cause must contain some prevision of the effect . In this sense. these laws which give the scientifically useful " cause." the effect passive. everything that difficult thing and future. and teleology replaces causation in the explanation of nature. does "not aim " " " how but happen. The typical cause The cause is supposed fiat of a king. though therefore something to preserve in in it is a very tiny part of what is commonly assumed and it is orthodox metaphysics.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE of causal laws which we have arrived at the traditional conception of cause as philosophy and common 227 is related to it occurs in sense. This is an extraordinarily we . " active. " " And if the question why ? means anything more than the search for a general law according to which a occurs. But in using causal laws to support inferences from the observed to the unobserved. " " at which the end hence the effect becomes the cause aims. they say. as applied is to physics. But all such ideas. are mere anthropomorphic superstitions. It is as a reaction against these errors that Mach and " " view of others have urged a purely descriptive at telling us physics : physics. the descriptive view is indubitably in the right. by naturally imagine. Historically. the notion of cause has been bound up with that of human volition." There is of part of the traditional notion this notion. it is necessary between past differentiates an effort.

because our mental up with difference make a difference in future. but almost our whole vocabulary is filled with the idea of activity. caused by B. is what makes the whole series . desire for a person's death causes a certain act. " Consider such a statement as. this A. but for the present it is the killing that we have to study. and it is believed steps in this way C. B. Regarded purely scientifically. C may equally well be considered hi the inverse order. cause the act. (truly if the purpose is achieved) that B will cause the desire and the belief together cause B. as Brutus expected it would. and the stab causes Caesar's death. if the belief was correct." On another occasion. because it is death believed that that act will cause the person's or more accurately. which is a desire C and a belief that B (an act) will cause C . and believes that he will be dead if he is stabbed . Brutus desires that Caesar should be dead. Every act which realizes a purpose involves two causal C is desired. Brutus and Caesar might engage our attention. the act caused by A. which in jointly : turn causes C. the desire and the belief . and believed to be a cause of C . and if the belief was incorrect we have for disappointment. notion could be eliminated. as they would be at a coroner's inquest. the desire. which comes at the beginning. Brutus killed Caesar. then we have B. Thus we have first A. We may say that to kill a person This means that is to cause his death intentionally. then. and would have to be replaced by some cumbrous periphrasis before this of their future effects. of things done now for the sake All transitive verbs involve the notion of cause as activity.228 METHOD SCIENTIFIC IN PHILOSOPHY life is so intimately bound Not only do memory and hope our feelings as regards past and to do. Brutus therefore stabs him. we have C. But from the point of view of Brutus.

A cause.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 229 series interesting. but as we cannot (in general) know in advance the consequences of our desires without knowing our different. because nothing of any scientific importance its being after the cause. though quite vital as applied to those of others. So long as anything is left out. But for practical and scientific purposes. and having a known relation to some other event. since being what they were the effects did occur. but there is no kind of reason for this restriction. has none of that analogy with volition which makes us imagine that the by it. We shall do better to allow the effect to be before the cause or simultaneous with it. A cause is an event or group some known general character. can have the relation to a given cause. or nearly so. desires. it seems that the cause can hardly stop short of the whole universe. It is equally true that if the effects had not occurred. his desires would have been different. the cause is a single event we say . In the common notion of causation. not have occurred. something may be left out which alters the expected depends upon If result. this to our own form of inference is uninteresting as applied acts. or at any rate only one well-defined sort of event. It is customary only to give the name "effect" to an event which is later than the cause. Thus the desires are determined by their consequences just as much as the consequences by the desires . phenomena can be collected into groups which are causally self-contained. called the effect . We feel that if his desires had been the effects which he in fact produced would This is true. the inference from cause to effect is to be indubitable. the relation being of such a kind that only one effect is compelled of events of event. and gives him a sense of power and freedom. considered scientifically.

230 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY the lightning causes the thunder. but this belief. Any such constant relation between events of specified kinds with given intervals of time between them is a "causal law. in order to have anything approaching certainty concerning the effect. as a matter of empirical science. more constant relation by enlarging the group. we believe. it is necessary to include many more circumstances in the cause than unscientific common sense would suppose. wherever it is still unverified. But often a probable causal connection. where the cause is fairly simple. arise (for example) . Another very frequent connection (though here the exceptions are much more numerous) is between a bodily act and the realization of the purpose which led to the act. universal law of causation which philosophers advocate is an ideal. and that when such relations fail. though exceptions through sudden paralysis. it is usually possible to discover a new. is that certain constant relations are observed to hold between the members of a group of events at certain times. but not known to be true in virtue of any available evidence. and so on. But it is and difficult to know what we mean by a single event . it generally appears that. A very common causal group consists of volitions and the consequent bodily acts. ought not to be regarded as certain. What is actually known. certain." But all causal laws are liable to exceptions. on the basis of a good deal of experience. if the cause is less than the whole state of the universe . is of more practical importance than a more indubitable connection in which the cause is so complex as to be hard to ascertain. possibly true. but only as suggesting a direction for further inquiry. To sum up: the strict. that such exceptions can be dealt with by enlarging the group we caJl the cause. as they sometimes do.

heredity and surroundings may desire fores us .ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 231 These connections are patent. is not one which any serious psychologist would maintain. and the fear that the will might not be free has been to some men a source of great unhappiness. I believe that. try to discover what it is we really Some of our reasons desire when we desire free will for desiring free will are profound. to suppose that all causes are analogous to desires. stirred men's passions profoundly. It is not. but rather because it affords a good example of the clarifying effect of analysis and of the interminable is controversies which may result from its neglect. some trivial. But this brings us to the question of the application of our analysis of cause to the problem of free will V. The free-will problem has. old as it is. on this account chiefly that I wish to discuss this problem. however. however much we may desire to will one thing. Thus it is natural to begin causal series with desires. and that desires themselves arise spontaneously. we need not despair of obtaining new light on it by the help of new views on the notion of cause. The problem of free will is so intimately bound up with the analysis of causation that. at one time or another. Such a view. whereas the causes of desires are more obscure. we may nevertheless be comdo another. To begin with the former we do not wish to fed ourselves Let us first : in the hands of fate. since the disagreeable consequences supposed to flow from a denial of free will do not flow from this denial in any form in which there reason to make it. the doubtful questions involved will be found to have no such emotional importance as is sometimes thought. under the influence of a cool analysis. so that. pelled by an outside force to will We not wish to think that. however ty> much we may act well. however.

show. which are worthy of all respect. though we know that we can cf ten predict those of other people. are entirely distinct. The desire for . we have. We may (i) a .232 METHOD We wish to IN PHILOSOPHY SCIENTIFIC feel that. into acting We do not they knew enough. we know that when grouse are mentioned he will tell the story which equally make us desire free will. and try cient number we may answer the first in the affirmative without therefore being forced to give to the second. everybody thinks that he himself has free will. I do not believe that this desire can be gratified with any certainty . not so mechanical : we never if But we ourselves are an anecdote to the tell twice. however. Much as we esteem the old gentleman who is our neighbour in the country. in cases of ill. of the grouse in the gun-room. doubt. human actions theoretically predictable from a suffiof antecedents ? (2) Are human actions to an external subject compulsion ? The two quesI as shall to tions. or even once unless he is sure to although we once met (say) Bismarck. not inconsistent with any tenable form of determinism. we are quite capable of hearing him mentioned without In this relating the occasion when we met him. sense. others not so respectable. an affirmative answer Are human actions theoretically predictable from Let us first ensufficient number of antecedents? deavour to give precision to this question. our choice is momentous and lies within our power. especially if they are elderly. I believe. though he knows that no one else has. could predict our actions. like to think that other people. but the other. Besides these desires. We have thus two questions to consider : (i) Are same person enjoy it . more respectable desires are.this kind of free will seems to be no better than a form of vanity.

if repeated. embodies so much of the past that it could not possibly have occurred at any earlier time. the same is because the past contains nothing exactly like it by which we could imagine it. this effect. The I read principle of causation. Bergson's contention has undoubtedly a great deal of truth. will produce the same But owing to memory. or at least the character necessary to its fulfilling the constant relation. is modified by the mere fact of repetition. asserts that the same cause. a negative answer has been given by Bergson. and cannot produce He infers that every mental event effect. a genuine novelty. my experience on each occasion is modified by the previous readings. He maintains that every event. a certain poem many times. then. if repeated. or at most only acts with some well-marked character. according to him. such that.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 233 state the question thus : Is there some constant relation between an act and a certain number of earlier events. But I do not think its consequences are quite what he believes them to be. What is apparently the same cause. not predictable from the past. he contends. and my emotions are never repeated exactly. principle does not apply to mental events. it is theoretically possible to predict either the precise act. for example. previous and subsequent events. To this question. can have this relation to the earlier events ? If this is the case. and I have no wish to deny its importance. only one act. when the earlier events are given. It is not necessary for the . as soon as the earlier events are known. And on this ground he regards the freedom of the will as unassailable. all and is therefore necessarily quite different from If. in a form which calls in question the general applicability of the law of causation. and more particularly every mental event.

no prediction would be possible. For example. in order to be able to foretell the length of time occupied in falling. there will be slight differences due to increasing habitualness. the same effect will result. causes of certain kinds and effects of certain kinds. his statement of the law of causation is inadequate. that we can never predict what show to argument kind of act will be performed. If particularity of the act which he could foresee that A was going to murder B. The law does not state merely that. It is not necessary to have a body fall through the same height which has been previously observed. but they do not invalidate the prediction that the story And there is nothing in Bergson's will be told. nor whether the murder was to be performed with a knife or with a . if a body falls freely. Similarly. No doubt every time the story of the grouse in the gun-room is told. because it is known to vary as the inverse square of the distance. his the fact that he foresight would not be invalidated by could not know all the infinite complexity of A's state of mind in committing the murder. the attraction which the sun will exert on the earth is not only known at distances for which it has been observed. III fact. but at all distances. Again.234 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY detemunist to maintain that he can foresee the whole will be performed. it is of little practical interest that there are fine shades which cannot be foreseen. since it would be impossible to make the height exactly the same on two occasions. It states rather that there is a constant relation between revolver. there is a constant relation between the height through which it falls and the time it takes in falling. If this were necessary. what i foun4 to b? .If the kind of act which will be performed can be foreseen within narrow limits. if the same cause is repeated.

and the prophecy of boredom is none the less true for being more or less general Thus the kinds of cases upon which Bergson relies are insufficient to show the impossibility of prediction in the only sense in which prediction has practical or emotional interest. We may therefore leave the consideration of his arguments and address ourselves to the problem directly. and in fact Bergson himself tacitly assumes such a We decide at last not to read the poem again. it is obvious that our feelings in reading the poem are most emphatically dependent upon the past. according to which later can events theoretically be predicted by means of earlier events. The substantive question at issue is whether mental events are determined by the past. law. All our previous readings of the poem must be included in the cause. But we easily perceive a certain law according to which the effect varies as the previous readings increase in number. but not upon one single event in the past. because we know that this time the effect would be boredom. all that is necessary as regards the cause is that it should be of the same kind (in the relevant respect) as earlier causes whose effects have been observed. has often been held to be a priori.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 235 repeated is always the relation of cause and effect. of causation. Now in such a case as the repeated reading of a poem. not the cause itself . Another respect in which Bergson's statement of causation is inadequate is in its assumption that the cause must be one event. whereas it may be two or more events. a necessity of thought. We may not know all the niceties and shades of the boredom we should fed. but we know enough to guide our decision. a category without which science The law . or even some continuous process.

These claims seem to me In certain directions the law has been excessive. it is impossible to say how complete it This. however. on this account. that causation tainty The question how far human volitions are subject to fields. may suppose though this is doubtful that there are laws of correlation of the mental and the We physical. entirely from the assimilation of causes to volitions. and therefore of all the brains and living organisms. What I wish to urge is we admit the most extreme claims of determinism and mind and brain. feel any a priori cermust apply to human volitions. therefore. while conversely the state of the matter in the world could be inferred if the minds were given. but it cannot. Empirically it seems plain that the great majority of our volitions have causes. It is obvious that there is some degree of correlation between brain and all state of all the mind. verified empirically. however. causal laws is a purely empirical one. in virtue of which.SCIENTIFIC 236 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY would be impossible. is not the point which I that. be hdd necessarily certain that all have causes. I think. and in other directions there is no positive evidence against it. given the state of all the matter in the world. still the consewhat is worth preserving in free The belief that they follow results. of correlation of quences inimical to do not follow. the state of all the minds in the world could be inferred. even if wish to elicit. and may be. There axe. and from the notion that causes compel their effects in some sense analogous to that in which will . precisely the same kinds of reasons for regarding it as probable that they all have causes as there are in the case of physical events. But science can use it where it has been found to be true. without being forced into any assumption as to its truth in other We cannot.

namely whether. outside causes will be analogous to an alien will. we should not say that the present state compels the past state to have been what it was . This assimilation. There is a mutual relation. in the only sense in which effects are rendered by their causes. we have seen. assuming determinism.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 237 human authority can compel a man to do what he do. our actions can be in any proper sense regarded as compelled by outside forces. When other. But this brings us to the a would rather not second of the two questions which we raised in regard to free will. which is sometimes alleged against the view that volitions have causes. do not compel their effects. as soon as the true nature of scientific causal laws is realized. and acts to predictable from outside causes will be subject to which one is of cause compulsion. any more than effects so compel their causes. the from be inferred can that either the geologist infers the past state of the earth from its present state. is only a sense that we can choose which we please of a number of alternatives it does not show us that there is no causal connection between what we please to chose and our previous history. (2) Are human actions subject to an external compulsion t We have. The difference which we and effects is a this in respect. Causes. If a cause is analogous to a volition. between causes feel. This sense of freedom. yet it renders it necessary as a consequence of the data. in deliberation. a subjective sense of freedom. is seen to be a sheer mistake. The supposed inconsistency of these two springs from : the habit of conceiving causes as analogous to volitions a habit which often survives unconsciously in those who intend to conceive causes in a more scientific manner. however. But this view science lends no countenance. necessary .

and are in this sense just as determined as the past. It is a mere accident that we have no memory of the future. Free will in any valuable sense must be compatible with the fullest knowledge. The apparent indeterminateness of the future. We might as in the pretended visions of seers see future events immediThey ately. since it is impossible to believe that mere ignorance can be the essential condition of any good thing. in the way in which we see past events. kind of free will can be dependent simply upon our ignorance . And such a kind must contain whatever is worth having in : free will. Let us therefore imagine a set of beings who know the whole future with absolute certainty.238 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY mere confusion due to the fact that we remember past events but do not happen to have memory of the future. Now. certainly will be what they will be. and savages than civilized people. Our knowledge of the past is not wholly based upon causal inferences. it is obvious that complete knowledge would embrace the future as well as the past. for if that were the case. Such beings as we are imagining would not have to wait for the event in order to know what decision . If we saw future events in the same immediate way in which we see past events. but is partly derived from memory. animals would be more free than men. quite apart from any assumption as to causality. upon which some advocates of free will rely. is merely a It is plain that no desirable result of our ignorance. and let us ask ourselves whether they could have anything that we should call free will. what kind of free will would still be possible ? Such a kind would be wholly independent of determinism it could not be contrary to even the most entirely universal reign of causality.

we might be free in the future. Similarly. . But human actions are the outcome of desire. It must be remembered that the supposed prevision would not create the future any more thaa memory creates the past. would easily and therefore their volitions would be better calculated to satisfy their desires than ours are. in any valuable sense. And it is less likely that the foreseen volitions would be regrettable if the steps which would lead to them were also foreseen. Freedom. Everything else is confusion of that knowledge compels thought. a prevision of volitions contrary to desires could not. has no though it is at once obvious that knowledge Free therefore. and must happen however much it may be dreaded. the result of our own desires. Since volitions are the outcome of desires. We do not think we were necessarily not free in the past. They would know now what their volitions were going to be. unless the foreseen volitions were in themselves regrettable. as they are. demands only that our volitions shall be. in short. due to the feeling the happening of what it knows when this is future.be a true one. A foreseen volition have to be one which does not become odious The beings we are imagining come to know the causal connections of through being foreseen. merely because we can now remember our past volitions. volitions.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 239 they were going to adopt on some future occasion. It is difficult not to suppose that what is foreseen is fated. will. and no foreseeing can be true unless will it takes account of desire. not of an outside force compelling us to will what we would rather not will. and the is true in the only form which is important . even if we could now see what our future volitions were going to be. But would they have any reason to regret this knowledge ? Surely not. the to such power in regard past.

there seems The philosophical truth is very rare no hope of desire to know in its purity. the desire to know philosophical truth. first of aU. e. and the special sciences. but now. or stationary. at the end of our course. are not the business of philosophy. it is not for the philosopher to say. Philosophy is a study apart from the other sciences : its results cannot be established by the other sciences. whether the universe is progressive. we may collect certain general possibly be a help in acquiring a habit of mind and a guide in looking for philosophical maxims which may solutions of philosophic problems. Philosophy does not become scientific by making use of other sciences. Nothing of any value can be said on method except through examples.SCIENTIFIC 240 desire for other METHOD forms is IN PHILOSOPHY a mere effect of insufficient analysis. retrograde. cannot make them certain. a certain peculiar mental discipline is required. it is . is what is none the less hasty because the latest scientific theory. and conversely must not be such as some other science is generalized might conceivably contradict. however they may suggest large generalizations. in the kind of way in which. What has been said on philosophical method in the foregoing lectures has been rather by means of illustrations in particular cases than by means of general precepts. and this desire must be sufficiently strong to survive through years its finding any when satisfaction. hasty generalization.g. Philosophy aims at what is general. for example. In order to become a scientific philosopher. Herbert Spencer does. such as Spencer's general- And a ization of evolution. Prophecies as to the future of the universe. There must be present.

It is obscured sometimes particularly after long periods of fruitless search by the desire to think we know. except the incommensurability of the diagonal of a square and the side . adopt one of several possible opinions on each of several disputed points. that a determination in philosophizing. 'The above remarks. of whatever kind. by love of system the one little fact which will not come inside the philosopher's edifice has to be pushed and tortured until it seems to consent. therefore. this one little fact stood out. we should have come to see that the opinion was false. or merely by not making great efforts to find objections to it.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 241 not often found even among philosophers. Pythagoras invented a system which fitted admirably with all the facts he knew. 1 Love of system. and tion the system-maker's vanity which becomes associated with it. we may obtain the comfort of believing it. are among the snares that the student of philosophy must guard against. while his system has become a matter of merely historical curiosity. for purposes of illustration. Yet the one little fact is more likely to be important for the future than the system with which it is inconsistent. To us. : and remained a fact even after Hippasos of Metaponwas drowned for revealing it. if we had resisted the wish for comfort. the discovery of this fact is the chief claim of Pythagoras to immortality. or generally to discover evidence for agreeable results. 16 . and by turning our attention away from the objections to it. Again the desire for unadulterated truth is often obscured. although. in professional philosophers. Some plausible opinion presents itself. The desire to establish this or that result. has of course been the chief obstacle to honest So strangely perverted do men become by unrecognized passions.

In some directions. they are mere blind habits. in order to have a number of hypotheses at command. ways of befirst having rather than intellectual convictions. and that a serious readjustment of our outlook ought to In order to break the dominion of habit. But only those in whom the desire to arrive at a true result is paramount can hope to serve any good purpose by the study of philosophy. It is recognized ability necessary to practise methodological doubt. reason. like Descartes. we result.SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY advance to arrive at this or that conclusion is generally regarded as a mark of virtue. and form the chief part of the mental training required for a philosopher. Until they have gone through this ordeal. to undergo the ordeal of sceptical criticism. the mental vision by which abstract truth is is hard to distinguish from vivid imaginand consonance with mental habits. No doubt it is commoner to wish to arrive at an agreeable result than to wish to arrive at a true result. of doubting the familiar and imagining the unfamiliar. morals. and it is necessary to cultivate logical imagination. in the end. we may be pretty sure that some will not. in order to loosen the hold of mental habits . But even when the desire to know exists in the requisite strength. must do our best to doubt the senses. but they ought all. and those whose studies lead to an opposite conclusion are thought to be wicked. before being admitted into philosophy. These two processes. sense has rendered The naive we beliefs which we find in ourselves when begin the process of philosophic reflection may turn out. and not to be the slave of the one which common easy to imagine. to be almost all capable of a true interpretation. doubt will . And although it may be that a majority will pass the test. everything in short. are correlative.

It is way that the study of logic becomes the central in it gives the method of research study philosophy in philosophy.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 243 be found possible . not very interesting on their own account. such as a wholesale denial of the facts. it will be checked by that direct vision of abstract truth upon which the possibility of philosophical knowledge depends. is to diminish very greatly the extent of what is thought to be known. from Plato to the Renaissance. philosophy. So meagre was the logical apparatus I think. that all the hypotheses philosophers could imagine were found to be inconsistent with the facts. Too often this state of things led to the adoption of heroic measures. is scientific through the simultaneous acquisibecoming tion of new facts and logical methods. became a science through Galileo's in physics. what has most of all been lacking hitherto in philosophy. as in the case of physics. He established certain facts as to the way in which bodies fall. in others. At the same time. dim. fertility in imagining abstract hypotheses. was as unprogressive. but of quite immeasurable interest as examples of real knowledge and of a new method whose future fruitfulness he himself divined. Before Galileo. and subsequent mathematical so manipulation. In spite. which. and as an essential aid to the direct perception of the truth. it is necessary to acquire This is. of the new possibility of progress in philosophy. people believed fresh observation of facts themselves possessed of immense knowledge on all the most interesting questions in physics. and superstitious as philosophy. just as mathematics gives the method in this : And as physics. however. when an imagination better stocked with logical tools would have found a key to unlock the mystery. the first effect. But his few facts sufficed to . in our own day.

Philosophy has suffered from the lack of this kind of modesty. almost all have been of opinion but all this supposed that a great deal was known knowledge in the traditional systems must be swept away. ashamed of what is intrinsically trivial. and a new beginning must be made. and the necessary mental discipline has been acquired.SCIENTIFIC 244 METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY destroy the whole vast system of supposed knowledge Aristotle. usually more abstract than those of which they are the components. as even the palest to sun suffices extinguish the stars. The big problems which provoke philosophical inquiry are found. the immediate outcome of an experiment is hardly ever interesting own account. instead of proceeding patiently and slowly. judged alone. it is often expend time and care on matters which. for it is often only through the consideration of such matters that the greater problems can be approached. and to depend upon a number of component problems. on examination. might seem frivolous. shall esteem fortunate indeed if it can attain results comparable to Galileo's law of falling bodies. So in morning handed down from though some have believed one system. if its conse- quences are likely to be important. accumulating whatever solid knowledge was obtainable. So in philosophy. When our problem has been selected. on its desirable to . to be complex. By the practice of methodological doubt. a certain humility as to our knowledge is induced: we become glad to know however seemingly trivial. if it is genuine and prolonged. the method to be pursued is fairly uniform. Men of science are not anything in philosophy. and others another. It has made the mistake of attacking the interesting problems at once. which we philosophy: . and trusting the great problems to the future.

it is in the very last stage of the analysis that the real by its astonishing power conflicting facts. it would be rash to speak with confidence. balanced arguments pro and con. growing at each stage more apprehend. when once conceived. justifies itself swiftly of apparently onward. some glimpse of a possibility never conceived before. Failure to thinfe of the right possibility leaves insoluble utter difficulties.ON THE NOTION OF CAUSE 245 It will generally be found that all our initial data. What is wanted. But the right possibility. as a rule. more Usually it will more difficult to be found that a number refined. In this process of analysis. it is therefore necessary to create an apparatus of precise conceptions as general and as free from complexity as possible. do not appear to be soluble by . Many of the traditional problems of philosophy. and complexity. suffer from vagueness. as a rule. the source of difficulty is tracked further and further back. of these Artra. Of the prospect of progress in philosophy. perhaps most of those which have interested a wider circle than that of technical students. abstract.ri1y abstract questions underlie any one of the big obvious problems. Here only genius will avail. When everything has been done that can be done by method. is some new effort of logical imagination. the work of the philosopher is synthetic and comparatively easy . and then the direct perception that this possibility is realized in the case in question. before the data can be analysed into the kind of premisses which philosophy aims at discovering. all the facts that we seem to know to begin with. confusion.nHiTifl. a stage is reached where only direct philosophic vision can carry matters further. Current philosophical ideas share these defects . From absorbing this point difficulty consists. bewilderment and despair.

in the pursuit of science men of engaged growing body men who hitherto. I believe. infinity. and not misled by the literary methods of those who copy the ancients in all except their merits. successful already in such timehonoured problems as number. human interest when turned aside from philosophy with a certain contempt the new method. should make an appeal which the older methods have wholly failed to make. Physics. have scientific its methods. which is necessary in order to secure for philosophy in the near future an achievement surpassing all that has hitherto been accomplished by philosophers. is feeling the need for that kind of novelty in fundamental hypotheses which scientific philosophy aims at facilitating. not without justification. space and time. . is the creation of a school of men with scientific training and philosophical interests. unhampered by the traditions of the past.246 SCIENTIFIC METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY Just as astronomy lost much of it ceased to be astrology. continuity. so attractiveness as it grows in lose must philosophy But to the large and still less prodigal of promises. with its principle of relativity and its revolutionary investigations into the nature of matter. The one and only condition.

. 164. 178. initial. ff. 68. Analysis. non-existence of. 74. 16... 162. 9. 115. 219 ff. 151. 51. 135 ff. 189. 35. 245. 175 Categories. Classical tradition. 60. 174 ** Burnet. ff. for. 132 ff. 29 n. Continuity. I94 199. inference. 16571. 75. Kant's. Causal laws. 131. 173 n. 235. Cause. 48. 157. 170. 204. Complexity. Abstraction. Consecutiveness. Cantor. Counting. 214. 184. 219. 154. 226. demands analysis. 164*. Congruence. Contemporaries. Moritz. Achilles. Berkeley. Change. 49 Dante. Compulsion. 48. 102. 61. 29 ff. 178. 144. principle of. 232. 169. Causation. Aristotle. ff. Zeno's argument of. 70. 159 ff. 169. 1652. legitimacy of. Boole. 75 Bergson. Bolzano. 187. Allman. 20. degrees of. Conservation. 14 logical. 228 ff. 20. Aquinas. 140..INDEX Absolute. ff. 179. 64. 215 evidence Acquaintance. 113.. 125. 147 ff" 159 ffof change. Couturat. 158- 244. 162 ff. Activity. i66. 206. 67. ff. 49. 159. 8. Atomism. 21. 17? Brochard. 103. 152. Construction v. 16. 222. 43 ff. Zeno's argument of. 150. 169. An gnrimflnder. 48. 2ioff. 179* Classes. Certainty.. 224. Broad. 13. 164 n. in psychology. 23. 63. in. Georg. Arrow. 169. primitive Cinematograph. Assertion. and 192 ff- . 2365. and derivative.. 209. Antinomies. 86. 14- Belief. 14. 50.. 136 ff. 156. not a priori. Correlation of mental physical. no. 207. 223. Cantor. Bradley. 215 law of. 233 i-> Calderon. 8. 143. 235. Atomists. 226. Constituents of facts.. 199.

Form. External world. 189 ff. 43. Infinite. 135. 72 ff. 157. Indiscernibility. Data. 101. 61. Eleatics. 127. 22. Hegel. logical. Jourdain. considered." 77 ff. 80. Duration. 172. 190. 231 ff. Gaye. 225... 165. 14. 81. 2ii n. 168. 154. 155. Infinitesimals. 243. Descriptions. ff. Hippasos. 237. 139. . Effect. 69. Independence. 20. knowledge 70 mathematical. 194. 14. Intellect. 14. Indivisibles. Enumeration. 15. 131 n. 46. 21 ff. 243. 50. 209. 47 ff. 219. Geometry. 199 historically & of. Doubt. Induction. 199. 147. atomic. Hui Tzft. 93. Free will. 50 ff. Instinct v. 152.." 80. 168. 14. 184. 56. 185. Dates. Extension. Evolutionism. 123. 63. 103. 139. Desire. 244.. Inductiveness. logical. 41. Intelligence how displayed by friends. Earlier and later. 81. 99Hereditary properties. 182. 151. 207. 71. 67. Fractions. 217. Definition. 53. 173 n. 155. ff. 120 ff. 241. 80. Finalism. Frege. 93. Hume. 225. 122 Fact. zoi. 215. 199. 180. 166 ff. Greater and Jowett. and causal Eddington. IN PHILOSOPHY Harvard. Interpretation. " Here. Giles. James. 30 ff.SCIENTIFIC 248 METHOD Darwin. 237. defined. Galileo. 153. 60. 220. 196. Empiricism. 242. 15. ff. 206. Judgment. Instants. "hard "and "soft. Illusions. 15. 82. 138. 212. 13. 30. 199 Inference. inadequacy of display. 23. Euclid.. Dreams. ff. 225. 23. 121. 224. 124. philosophy. Reason. 33. 231. 153.. 32 ff. 220. less. Incommensurables. 21 x. Descartes. positive theory of. 240. 14. 215." 184. in Hypotheses Determinism. 241. 173. 8. 159 "true. Evellin.. Enclosure. 173. 2045. i6gn.

. and mathematics. definition of. 232 Premisses. 49 ff . 136. 142. 27. 116. 189 province 240 ff. Mach. 15. 29.. 116. 94. 151. bad. 8. Logic. 227. perception of. 139. 100. 43. 29. Mill. 183. ff. 204. Philosophy and ethics. 56. 199. 13. 214. 203 ff. and fact. 21. Points. Number Language. 8. 20. 23. 49. 112. 153. Macran. 1 8. and philosophy. 42 ff. Mathematics. theory of. One and many. . 70. 143 ff. 1761*. io6ff. Zeno's arguments on. 237 ff. 74. 103. Noa. Physics. 36. 119. front. 43. 243. 227. 170 ff. 172. I35i 1^2. 131. 14. inductive. 201. 7. 118. 241. 159 ff. 66. 183. Logical constants. 139. 226. 41. 190 S. Predictability. Laplace. reflexive. 214. Laws of nature. 106 ff. infinite. 213. 205. 54. 89. Matter. Perspectives. cardinal. 195... 167. scientific. Mysticiam.> at 173 n. logical-analytic. Order. 121. 131.. Aristotelian. 236. Motion. 237. 193 if. 15. of. 1943. 18. ^53. verifiability of. descriptive. 48 n. 189. 137. 239. mathematical. Knowledge about. Philoponus. Peano. 219 ff Leibniz. 83. Occam. 37* 55. Montaigne. mystical. 107 fL Measurement. inductive. 62. 179. 21. Past and future. Prantl. 225 Nietzsche. 225. 249 Newton. 190. 49. H9ff. 88. 240 fL. 148. Milhaud. 233. 16. Method 190 186. 204. 1701*. Keynes. 122. 22. Place. deductive. 39. 97- ff. 171. 219. finite. Pragmatism. denned. 174. 50. 173.INDEX Kant. 94 Memory. 246. . ff. mathematical and Plato. Nicod. 93. continuous. 142. 137. 172 ff. 172 PoincarS. 70. 37 ff. permanence of. n.. ff. analytic not constructive. 18.. 72 . Parmenides. 29. 153. 165.

13. Thing-in-itself. 152. new. Spinoza. 117 ff. 104. 240. Series. Things. 127. 109. 120 numerous ? 156.. 183.. Seeing double. 65. 74. and physics. ff. 58. . 57. 8. Testimony. 96 Scepticism. 96. 160. 227. one-one. molecular. noff. intransitive. 109. io6ff. atomic. 148. ff. 19. Ritter and Preller. 59. 233 ff. RefLexiveness. 14. 60. Space. 175 n. ff. 45. 29. 107. 246. 164 241. transitive. 88. Relativity. of perspectives. 55. 73. 63.. Sigwart. Santayana. 157. continuous. 16. 54. Sensation.. absolute ff.. Propositions! 62. 16. 60. 79. 171. organic. 83. 142. and particular. 148. Zeno's argument of. multiple. Race-course. 74. Probability. 58. 173 n. Spencer. S. 57. 92. 63. infinitely 135. 62. 71. 146. 35. 163. and relative. 189. n. Self. 164 n. Synthesis. 145. 171. Pythagoras. ff. Subject-predicate. Sense-data. Stadium. 22. 80. 109. 82. 216. Uniformities. local. Royce. 64. Robertson. 150.. 159 absolute or relative. 96* 97of touch and sight.. 89. 70.. 81. 85. 191. Time. D. Rest. 159 ff . 95. private/ 128. antinomies of. 55. 218. 215. asymmetrical. 127. 180 ff. 101. Zeno's argument 175 ff. 116. 153. 75. private. reality of. 93. 131. Realism. Rousseau. Relations. 118. 72. Unity. compact. external. 121. Universal 48*. 138.. 54. Repetitions. 166 n. 83.250 METHOD SCIENTIFIC IN PHILOSOPHY Sense-perception. 220. perception of. 135- of. Bradley's reasons against. Simultaneity. 216. and stimulus. 163. 194 Simplitius. Tannery. 141 symmetrical. 139. 138. Thales. Teleology. 95 ff. Paul. 207. 59. 30. general.

190. 169 ff. 227 25* Worlds ff. 131. Worlds actual and ideal. 140. 213*1. g. Zeno. Zeller. possible. 135.INDEX Volition. 95. 116. 8. 178. 212. private. Whitehead. . 142. Wittgenstein.