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HOME UNIVERSITY LIBRARY OF MODERN KNOWLEDGE
No. S6

Editors :

HERBERT
Prof.

FISHER, M.A., F.B.A.
Litt.D.,

GILBERT MURRAY,
J.

LL.D., F.B.A.

Prof. Prof.

ARTHUR THOMSON,
T.

W.LLIAM

BREWSTER,

M.A. M.A.

A complete classified list of the volumes tf already The Home University Library published will be found at the back of this book. .

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY BY BERTRAND RUSSELL M..A. LECTURER AND LATE FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE NEW YORK HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY LONDON WILLIAMS AND N ORG ATE .R.8. F.

.

M. I have derived valuable assistance from unpublished writings of Mr. . since merely negative criticism seemed out of this reason. and from the latter as regards probI have also profited ability and induction.PREFACE In the following pages. theory a larger space than knowledge occupies metaphysics in the present volume. treated very briefly. G. J. I have confined myself in the main to those problems of philosophy in regard to which it I thought possible to say something positive and constructive. and some of place. greatly by the criticisms and suggestions of Professor Gilbert Murray. as reMr. For topics much discussed if by philosophers are at all. Keynes : gards the relations of sense-data to physical objects. Moore and from the former. E.

.

.... .. IV V KNOWLEDGE BY ACQUAINTANCE KNOWLEDGE BY DESCRIPTION VI ON INDUCTION Vn ON OUR KNOWLEDGE PRINCIPLES VIII ...142 158 X ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS XI ON INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE vii ... AND . 26 42 58 III .. APPEARANCE AND REALITY . 72 93 GENERAL 109 127 HOW A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE POSSIBLE IX THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS .174 . 9 II THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER THE NATURE OF MATTER IDEALISM ..CONTENTS CHAPTER I PAGE . . . . . OF IS .

.. .. 186 Xin KNOWLEDGE. OPINION . .viii OHAPTEB CONTENTS PAOE . AND PROBABLE 204 XIV THE LIMITS OF PHILOSOPHICAL KNOW- LEDGE 220 . . XII TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD ERROR.. XV THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 237 ..251 253 INDEX . .

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY CHAPTER I APPEARANCE AND REALITY any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it ? This question. we on the study of philo- and even 9 in the sciences. is really one of the most difficult that can be asked. as we do in ordinary life — and confident answer. When we have realised the obstacles in the way of a straightforward shall be well launched sophy for philosophy is merely the attempt to answer such ultimate questions. not carelessly and dogmatically. after exploring that makes such . which at first sight Is there might not seem difficult. all but critically.

It that I am now sitting in a chair. owing to . make us know seems to me very likely to be wrong. on a closer scrutiny. In daily life. on which I see sheets of paper with writing or print. that the sun is about ninety-three million miles from the earth that it is a hot globe many times bigger than the earth that. But any statement as to what it is that our immediate experiences some sense. . if any . In the search for certainty. we assume as certain many things which.10 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY queitions puzzling. are found to be so full of apparent contradictions that only a great amount of thought enables us to know what it is that we really may believe. the earth's rotation. and after realising all the vagueness and confusion that underlie our ordinary ideas. and will every morning. knowledge is to be derived from them. it is natural to begin with our present experiences. By turning my head I see out of the window I believe buildings and clouds and the sun. and in no doubt. continue to do so for an indefinite I it rises time in the future. is at a table of a certain shape. believe that.

it gives out a wooden sound. Any one else who sees and feels and hears the table it is will agree with this description. might seem as if no difficulty would arise but as soon as we try to be more precise our troubles begin. and that the table which I see is the same as the table which I feel pressing against my arm. all this it may be reasonably doubted. All this seems to be so evident as to be hardly worth stating. brown and shiny. let us con- centrate attention on the table. he will see the same chairs and tables and books and papers as I see. except in answer to a man who Yet all doubts whether I know anything. and much some . To make our it is difficulties plain. table ** is really Although I believe that the " of the same colour all over. To smooth and cool and hard when I tap it. so that it . the parts that reflect brighter than the the light look other parts. to the touch .APPEARANCE AND REALITY 11 other normal person comes into my room. and of requires much careful discussion before we can be form that is sure that we have stated it in a wholly true. the eye oblong.

" between what pearance — things seem to be and painter wants to know what they are. no two of them will see exactly the same will of colours. For most practical purposes these differences are unimportant. I know that.12 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY parts look white because of reflected light. the parts that rC' fleet the light will be different. and to learn the really says they : habit of seeing things as they appear. because no two from exactly the same point of view. but to the painter the painter has to they are all-important unlearn the habit of thinking that things seem to have the colour which common sense " " have. so that the apparent distribution of colours on the table change. Here one of we have already the beginning of the distinctions that cause most trouble in " apphilosophy the distinction between " and " reality. It follows that if several people are looking at the table at the same moment. if I move. The what tilings seem to . and any change in the point of view makes some change in the way the light is distribution it can see reflected.

that even from a given point of view the colour will seem by or to a colour-blind man. on the table. Thus colour is not something which is man inherent in the table. or even of any one particular part of the table it appears to be of different — colours from different points of view. and there is no reason for regarding some of these as more really its colour than others. When. the practical 13 man and they are is want to know what sopher's wish to the philosopher . or to a wearing blue spectacles. but the philo- know this is stronger than the practical knowledge as to the difficulties of answering the question. It is evident from what we have found. and more troubled by To return to the table.APPEARANCE AND REALITY be. different And we know artificial light. that there is no colour which pre-eminently appears to be the colour of the table. while in the dark there will be no colour at all. but something depending upon the table and the spectator and the way the light falls life. though to touch and hearing the table will be unchanged. man's. in ordinary we speak of the colour .

With the naked eye one can see the grain. and valleys. colour. but otherwise the table looks smooth and If we looked at it through a microeven. and all sorts of differences that Which are imperceptible to the naked eye. then. but Lliat in turn would be changed by a still more powerful microscope. are compelled to deny that. seem to have to a normal spectator from an ordinary point of view under usual conditions of light.U THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY we only mean the sort of colour it of the table. If. in itself. we should see roughnesses and hills scope. why should we trust what we see through a microscope ? Thus. the table has any one particular we The same thing applies to the texture. again. we cannot trust what we see with the naked eye. of these is the "real" table? We are natu- rally tempted to say that through the microscope is what we see more real. But the other colours which appear under other conditions have just as good a right to be and therefore. the . favouritism. to avoid considered real which will .

they will look as if the nearer side were longer. if they are of equal length. try to draw. to think we But.APPEARANCE AND REALITY confidence in our senses with which 15 be- we gan deserts us. " " it will really all shape from If our table look. All these things are not commonly noticed in looking at a table. almost acute points of view. and the shape But is what interests us as practical men. " " not what we see . because experience has " " taught us to construct the real shape from " real " the apparent shape. as if from had two If angles and two obtuse angles. We all in the habit of judging as to the " real " shapes of things. And shape what we see is constantly changing in . in fact. and we do this so unreflectingly that we come actually see the real shapes. opposite sides are parallel. they will look as if they converged to a point away from the spectator . it is real the shape is something inferred from what we see. a as we all have to learn if we given thing looks is different in every different point of view. it rectangular. The are sha'pe of the table is no better.

one. is not immediately known to us at but must . But the sensation we obtain depends upon how hard . Thus if it is there becomes evident that the real table. The real table.16 as THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY we move about the room . It is true that the table always gives us a sensation of hardness. and we feel that it resists pressure. so that here again the senses seem not to give us the truth about the table itself. Similar difficulties arise when we consider the sense of touch. we press the table and also upon what part of the body we press with thus the various sensations due to various pressures or various parts of the body cannot be supposed to reveal directly table. is not the same as what we immediately experience by sight or touch or hearing. but at any definite property of the most to be sig7is of some which perhaps causes all the senproperty sations. And not actually apparent in any the same applies still more obviously to the sounds which can be elicited by rapping the table. if there all. but is of them. but only about the appearance of the table. is one.

whenever we see a colour. difficult at once arise namely. two very . we have a sensation of the colour. —which we smoothness. (1) Is there (2) If so. is experience of of these things. sense-data etc. It is plain that —brown colour. about the table. not a sensation. hardnesses. we are to know anything it must be by means of the oblong associate shape. : Let us give to the things that in sensation such We name " sensation " to the being immediately aware Thus. name of " sense-data " are immediately known things as colours. but the colour itself a colour sense-datum. sounds. and the awareness itself is the sensation. what sort of object can it be? It will help us in considering these questions to have a few simple terms of which the meaning the is definite and clear. shall give the roughnesses. . we cannot say that the table is the the table . smells. with but for the reasons which have been given. &t all ? Hence.APPEARANCE AND REALITY be an inference from what is 17 immediately questions a real table known. and so on. The is that of which we are immediately if aware.

supposing there is directly such a thing. and that the world consists of nothing but minds and their ideas. The " real table. who mercilessly drives him into of us was Bishop His Three Dialogues . undertake to prove that there is no such thing as matter at all. Thus a problem arises as to the relation of the sensedata to the real table." the relation of sense-data to physical objects. or even that the sense-data are properties of the table.18 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY sense-data. in Opposition to Sceptics and Atheists. Hylas has hitherto believed in matter. if physical object. what is its matter. between Hylas and Philonous. it exists. we Thus we have will call a to consider The " collection of all physical objects is called be re-stated as follows nature Thus our two questions may (1) Is there any such thing as matter ? (2) If so." : ? first brought proforward the reasons for regarding minently the immediate objects of our senses as not The philosopher who existing independently Berkeley (1685-1753). but he is no match for Philonous.

that is to say. denies matter . There are two different questions involved when we ask whether matter exists. and it is important to keep them clear. he does not deny that the sense-data which we commonly take as signs of the existence of the table are really signs of the existence of something inde- pendent of us. as it were almost common The arguments employed are of very different some are important and sound. and makes sense.APPEARANCE AND REALITY contradictions his 19 and paradoxes. But Berkeley retains the merit of having shown that the existence of matter is capable of being denied without absurdity. We commonly mean by " matter " something which is " mind." something which we opposed to think of as occupying space and as radically incapable of any sort of thought or consciousIt is chiefly in this sense that Berkeley ness. in the end. value : others are confused or quibbling. but he does deny that this some^ . own if denial of matter seem. and that if there are any things that exist independently of us of they cannot be the immediate objects our sensations.

Such an idea an idea in is has the required permanence and independence of ourselves. He admits that there must be something which continues to exist when we go out of the room or shut our eyes. But he thinks that this something cannot be radibelieving in cally different in nature from what we see. and cannot be independent of seeing altogether. and that what we call seeing the table does really give us reason for something which persists even when we are not seeing it. although the table does not depend for its existence upon being seen by me. He " " real table as thus led to regard the the mind of God. in the sense that we can only can never be directly of it. without being as matter would — otherwise be — something quite unknowable. that nor ideas entertained by neither mind some mind. though it must be independent of our seeing. it does depend upon being seen (or otherwise apprehended in sensation) by some . infer it.20 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY it is thing is non-mental. and and immediately aware have Other philosophers since Berkeley also held that.

as Berkeley does. . except minds and their ideas. they either say. but more often the whole collective mind of the universe. philosophers. in my opinion. exist." and what inconceivable cannot fallacious Such an argument. — This they hold. whether valid or not.APPEARANCE AND REALITY 21 mind not necessarily the mind of God. therefore anything is else is incon- ceivable. very widely advanced in one form or another . Such philo- and very many sophers are called " idealists." When they come to explaining matter. therefore nothing can be thought of except ideas in . is and of course those who advance it do not put it so But shortly or so crudely. We might state the be — — argument by which they support their view " in some such way as this Whatever can be thought of is an idea in the : mind minds of the person thinking of it . the argument has been . chiefly because they think there can nothing real or at any rate nothing known to be real except minds and their thoughts and feelings. perhaps a have held that there is nothing real majority.

in another sense. admit matter. independently us. It will be remembered that we asked two questions namely. and only diverge from the views of ordinary mortals in their answer to our second first answer our question. like Leibniz (1646-1716). But these philosophers. that what appears as matter is really a collection of more or less rudimentary minds. but Berkeley says it is certain ideas in the mind of God. or they say. . almost all is philosophers seem to be agreed that there a real table : they almost all agree that. shape. In fact. really nothing but a collection of ideas. though they deny matter as opposed to mind. —may depend upon is us. our sense-data colour. (1) Is there a real table at all ? (2) If what sort of object can it be ? Now both Berkeley and Leibniz admit that there is a real table. — however much smoothness. Thus both of them question in the affirmative. nevertheless. and Leibniz says it is a colony of souls.22 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY that matter is like Berkeley. their oc- etc. . so. yet currence a sign of of something something existing differing.

It has appeared we take any common object of the that is supposed to be known by the what the senses immediately tell us not the truth about the object as it is apart from us. Our next is concerned with that there chapter. obviously this point in which the philosophers are agreed the view that there Now — — is a real table. whatever is its nature may be vitally important. and yet to be regarded as causing those sense-data whenever we are in a suitable relation to the real table. therefore. will be the reasons for supposing all. and it will be worth while to consider what reasons there are for accepting this view before we go on to the further question as to the nature of the real table. so far as see. sort if far. Thus what we directly see .APPEARANCE AND REALITY perhaps. is certain sense-data which. but only the truth about senses. a real table at will be well to Before we go farther consider for a moment what it is that we it have discovered so that. we can depend upon the relations between us and the object. 23 completely from our sense-data.

The one thing we know about it is that it is not what it seems. any reality at all ? And if have we any means of finding out what like ? it is Such questions are bewildering. Beyond this modest so far. has become a problem full surprising possibilities. if it cannot answer so many Among . Leibniz ." which we " " believe to be a sign of some reality behind.24 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY feel is " merely appearance. tells us it it a community of souls Berkeley God is an idea in the mind of scarcely less tells . is wonderful. and it is difficult to know that even the strangest hypotheses may not be true. Philosophy. these surprising possibilities. doubt suggests that perhaps there is no table at all. we have the most complete result. have we any means of knowing is whether there so. But if the reality is not what and appears. us sober us it science. liberty is of conjecture. of electric tells a vast collection charges in violent motion. which has of roused but the slightest thoughts in us hitherto. Thus our familiar table.

. has at least the power the of asking interest questions which increase the world.APPEARANCE AND REALITY questions as 25 we could of wish. and show the strangeness and wonder lying just below the surface even in the commonest things of daily life.

since we have no grounds for believing in their minds except such as are derived from observing their bodies. For we cannot be sure of the independent existence of objects. a dreamtable in a very prolonged dream ? This question if is of the greatest importance. and therefore still less of other people's minds. or is the table merely a product of my imagination. Thus sure of the independent if we cannot be existence of objects. there is such a thing as matter. we cannot be sure of the independent existence of other people's bodies. and continues whether. in to exist when I am not looking. Is there a table which has a certain intrinsic nature.CHAPTER II THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER In this chapter we have to ask ourselves any sense at all. we 36 shall be left alone .

made us think there was a are not doubting that. . we and while we is is press.THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER in 27 a desert — it may be that the whole outer world is that we alone exist. the founder of modern philosophy. Although we are Before doubting the physical existence of the table. and This is an uncomfort- able possibility strictly but although it cannot be proved to be false. which psychological. whatever may be some at least of our immediate experiences seem absolutely certain. we are not doubting the existence of the sense-data which table . Descartes (1596-1650). In fact. nothing but a dream. why this is let we embark upon doubtful matters. we are not calling in else question. In this chapter we have to see the case. there is not the it is slightest reason to suppose that true. while we look. doubtful. a certain sensation of hardness experienced by us. invented a method which may still be used with profit the method of — . us try to find some more or less fixed point from which to start. a certain colour and shape appear to us. All this.

If he doubted. if he had any experiences whatever. his it senses in a might be very perpetual phantasmagoria improbable that such a demon existed. who presented unreal things to . and therefore doubt concerning things perceived by the senses was possible. therefore I am. until he saw reason for not doubting it. he must exist. But doubt concerning his own existence was not possible. but still it was possible.28 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY He determined that he systematic doubt." he said {Cogiio. Whatever he could bring himself to doubt. for if he did not exist. . would believe nothing which he did not see quite clearly and distinctly to be true. " I think. He imagined a deceitful demon. and on the basis of this certainty he set to work to build up again the world of knowledge which his doubt had laid in . he would doubt. Thus his own existence was an absolute certainty to him. ergo sum) . no demon could he must exist deceive him. applying this method he gradually became convinced that the only existence of By which he could be quite certain was his own.

what quite cer- not " " / am seeing a is brown being colour. seen." (or a brown colour involves This of course something somebody) which (or who) sees the brown but it does not of itself involve that more or less permanent person whom we call colour . But some care cartes' is needed in using Des" / think. and by showing that subjective things are the most certain." but rather. says rather more than strictly cer- might seem as though we were quite sure of being the same person to-day as we were yesterday. therefore / is argument. and one which makes him still useful to all students of the subject. " I. .THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER ruins. But the real Self is as hard to arrive at as the real table. and this is no doubt true in some sense. convincing certainty that belongs to particular experiences. 29 inventing the method of doubt. see a certain tain at once When brown is I look at my is table and colour.'- So far as immediate certainty goes. It am " tain. and does not seem to have that absolute. Descartes performed a By great service to philosophy.

which we can call the physical object? When we have enumerated all the sense-data which . And this applies to dreams and hallucinations as when we well as to normal perceptions feelings that : dream or see a ghost. Thus it is our particular thoughts and sees the have primitive certainty. the sensations various reasons we certainly do have we think we have. for what it is worth.30 it THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY might be that the something which brown colour is quite momentary. The problem we have to consider is this Granted that we are certain of our own sensedata. solid basis of for exceptional cases. a from which to begin our pursuit : knowledge. but for it is held that no physical Thus to these sensations. have we any reason for regarding them as signs of the existence of something else. object corresponds the certainty of our knowledge of our own experiences does not have to be limited in any way to allow therefore. and not the same as the something which has some different experience the next moment. we have. Here.

If the shall cloth completely if hides the we derive no sense-data from the table. resting. What can data. by a miracle. One great reason why it is learn not to be felt that we must secure a physical object in addition to the sense-data. table. is that we want the same object for different people. or is there still something else something not a sense-datum.THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER 81 we should naturally regard as connected with the table. and therefore. and so on. exist. it seems preposterous to maintain that they are not sitting . come a philosopher must frightened by absurdities. This seems but whoever wishes to beplainly absurd . some- — thing which persists when we go out of the room? Common sense unhesitatingly answers be bought and sold and pushed about and have a cloth laid on it. in the place where the table formerly was. it would have ceased to and the cloth would be suspended in empty air. the table were merely sense-data. When ten people are round a dinner-table. have we said all there is to say about the table. cannot be a mere collection of sensethat there is.

which can be in some sense known to many different people. and therefore if see them slightly differently. there must be something over and above the private and particular sense-data which appear to various people. the same knives and forks and spoons and glasses. although different people still may all see the table slightly differently. so that it is easy to arrive at a permanent object underlying all the different people's sense-data. what is immediately present to the sight of one not immediately present to the they all see things from sight of another is : slightly different points of view. I . But the sense-data are private to each separate person . and the variations in what they see follow the laws of perspective and reflection of light.32 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY seeing the same tablecloth. I bought my table from the former occupant of my room . then. there are to be public neutral objects. they more or less similar things when they look at the table. What reason. Thus. have we for believing that there are such public neutral objects ? The first answer that naturally occurs to one see is that.

had no reason to believe that there were physical objects independent of my sense-data. and that one person in a given place at different times has similar sense-data. since this testimony itself . Now in so far as the above considerations depend upon supposing that there are other people besides ourselves. such as the sight of and if I them or the sound of their voices. we cannot appeal to the testimony B of other people. when we are trying to show that there must be objects independent of our own sense-data. Other people are repre- sented to me by certain sense-data. Thus. which died when he went away. I should have no reason to believe that other people exist except as part of my dream. they beg the very question at issue. but I could and did buy the confident expectation of more or less similar sense-data. Thus it is the fact that have similar sense-data.THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER 33 could not buy his sense-data. which makes different people us suppose that over and above the sensedata there is a permanent public object which underlies or causes the sense-data of various people and various times.

In one sense it must be admitted that we can never prove the existence of things other than ourselves and our experiences. In dreams a very complicated world may seem to be present. that is to say. we find that the sense-data in the dream do not appear to have corresponded with such physical objects as we should (It is data. if find. other people's experiences unless our own sense-data are signs of things existing inde- oendently possible. and yet on waking we find it was a delusion . is naturally infer from our sensetrue that. possible to find physical : causes for the sense-data in dreams a door . or tend to show. We our must therefore. that there are in the world in own things other than ourselves and our private experiences. and that everything else is mere fancy.34 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY and does not reveal consists of sense-data. of us. characteristics which show. purely private experiences. No logical absurdity results from the hypothesis that the world consists of myself and my thoughts and feelings and sensations. when the physical it is world assumed.

in of a naval engagement. But although not logically impossible. passing over a series of intermediate . for instance. it is natural to easily seen. in which we ourselves create objects that this is all the come before us. The way in which supposing is simplicity really comes are in from physical the cat appears at objects one moment in one part of the room. there is no reason whatever to suppose that it is true .) There is no logical impossibility in the supposition that the whole of life is a dream.THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER 35 banging. a less simple hypothesis. there is a physical cause for the not a physical object sense-data in the way in corresponding to the which an actual naval battle would corresense-data. and it is. than the common-sense hypothesis that there really are objects independent of us. there is spond. in fact. If that there suppose that it has moved from the one to the other. this case. may cause us to dream But although. and at another in another part. whose action on us causes our sensations. viewed as a means of accounting for the facts of our own life.

we can understand . since no hunger but my own can be a sense-datum to me. from our own experience how it gets hungry but if it between one meal and the next does not exist when I not seeing it. . I was not looking. though it seems quite natural when regarded as an expression of hunger. but suddenly sprang in into being a new place. becomes utterly inexplicable when regarded as mere movements and changes of patches of colour.36 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY it But if it is merely a set of sensecannot have ever been in any place data. thus we shall have where I did not see it to suppose that it did not exist at all while positions. it that appetite should grow during seems odd non-existence as fast as if am during existence. If the cat exists whether I see it or not. which are as incapable of hunger as a triangle is of playing foot- ball. But the difficulty in the case of the cat is nothing compared to the difTiculty in the case . the cat consists only of sense-data. it And cannot be hungry. Thus the behaviour of the sense-data which represent the cat to me.

and are capable of being accounted for on scientific principles if we assume world. in ourselves as soon as we begin to reflect Of course it is : it is what may be called an instinctive belief .THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER of 37 —that we human is. and simultaneously see certain motions of lips and expressions of face it is very difficult to suppose that what — we hear is not the expression of a thought. beings. not by argument that we originally come by our belief in an independent We find this belief ready external world. Of course similar things happen in dreams. When human when we hear beings speak certain noises which associate with ideas. that there really is a physical Thus every simplicity us to adopt the natural view. as we know it would be if we emitted the same sounds. that urges there really are objects other than our principle of selves and our sense-data which have an existence not dependent upon our perceiving them. where we are mistaken as to the existence of other people. But dreams are more or less suggested by what we call waking more or less life.

it seems as if the sense- were instinctively believed to be the independent object. Since this belief does not lead to any difficulties.38 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY We should never have been led to question this belief but for the fact that. there seems — — wholly dependent for continuing to perceive clusion is its it. a slight doubt derived from dreams that the external world does really exist. but it is led us to this con- doubtless less strong than we could typical of many philosophical to arguments. and only touch slightly so in the case of —leaves un- diminished our instinctive belief that there are objects corresponding to our sense-data. and it is therefore worth while . existence upon our The argument which has wish. is This discovery. hownot at all paradoxical in the case of taste and smell and sound. and is not ences. whereas argument shows that the object cannot be identical datum itself ever—which with the sense-datum. but on the contrary tends to simplify and systematise our account of our experi- no good reason for rejecting We may therefore admit though with it. at any rate in the case of sight.

nothing is left. It is of course possible that beliefs all or any of our all may be mistaken. become entangled with other really instinctive. and if these are rejected. the whole system becomes worthy of . acceptance. But among our instinctive beliefs some are much stronger than others. built up upon our instinctive beliefs. There can never be any reason for rejecting do not one instinctive belief except that it clashes with others thus. beginning with those we hold most strongly. in the It should take in form which they are finally set forth. our instinctive beliefs but form a harmonious system. that. we find. if they are found to harmonise. isolated and as free from irrele- vant additions as possible. while many have. and presenting each as care to much show clash. not but is falsely supposed to be instinctively. beliefs.THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER consider briefly its 39 and All knowledge. part of what believed Philosophy should show us the hierarchy of our instinctive beliefs. by habit and general character association. and therefore . must be validity.

we can accepting as the basis our what we instinctively believe. Whether this be the otherwise case or not. Hence. to arrive. But we cannot reason to of have the reject a belief except on ground some other belief. and concerning the nature of ultimate reality. acquiescence. concerning the universe as a whole. by organising our instinctive beliefs and their consequences. at an derly systematic organisation of our knowledge. rightly or wrongly. believe that philosophy can do than not this — that much more it can give us knowledge. the more modest function we have spoken of can certainly be performed by . though the possibility of its likelihood is diminished the interrelation of the parts and by by the critical scrutiny which has preceded error remains. by considering which among on data or- them it is most of possible. in which. at least. Most philosophers. philosophy can perform. attainable. if necessary.40 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY slight ought to be held with at least some element of doubt. sole modify or abandon. This function.

to justify the arduous and difficult labours that philosophical problems involve. for those to doubt the adequacy common sense.THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER who have once begun of 41 philosophy. and certainly suffices. .

CHAPTER III THE NATURE OF MATTER preceding chapter we agreed. the sound ceases to exist if I cease to rap the table with my knuckles. I assume that there is something else. of which these things The colour exist if ceases to exist if I shut my eyes. and above the sensations of hardness. 42 . over colour. which make up the appearance of the table to me. That to say. the sensation of I hardness ceases to remove my arm from contact with the table. those which we with as signs associated of my table —are independent of us is the existence of something and our perceptions. and so on. are appearances. noise. though without being able to find demonstrative reasons. that it is rational to believe that In the our sense-data regard really —for example.

more or less unconsciously. Physical science. and very hypothetical. persists it ? independently of my per- ception of To part this question physical science gives it is an in answer.THE NATURE OF MATTER But I 43 these do not believe that when cease all things the table ceases. when and this I open my replace to rap with to is my my knuckles. On the contrary. The only properties which . consider in begin again is The question chapter real : we have What which the nature of this table. which from the body emitting them to the person sound. but yet deserving of respect so far as it goes. who sees light or feels heat or hears is That which has the wave-motion " either cether or gross matter." but in either science assigns to case is what the philosopher would call matter. travel Light and heat and sound are all due to wave-motions. arm. I believe that it is because the table exists continuously that all these sense-data will reappear eyes. has drifted into the view that all natural phenomena ought to be reduced to motions. somewhat incomplete still true.

But this. such other properties are not useful to the man of science. the light which we immediately which we know is directly by means of our senses. A wavemotion. .44 it I THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY 1 are position in space." but this misleading. though it so as to convey our knowledge to a man who is blind. is which a blind man can understand. on the contrary. and the povyer of motion according to the laws of motion. not a form of wave-motion. It is assist him in explaining the pheno- sometimes said that " is light is a form of wave-motion. but some- thing quite different — something which we all know if we we cannot describe are not blind. can a as well as we can. but if so. Science does not deny that it may have other properties . could quite well be described to a blind man. for see. and in no way mena. not what we that mean by light: we mean by light just which a blind man can never understand. of since he acquire knowledge space by the sense of touch and he can experience a wave-motion by a sea voyage almost .

any part of the world that us and our senses. its It is not only colours It is essential to science that matter should be in a space. but the space in which it is cannot be exactly the space as we see or feel. But light itself. When it is said that light is waves. 45 to which we can never describe Now this something. thing which seeing people experience and blind people do not. but also space as we get it through sight or touch. And remarks would apply to other and sounds and so on that are absent from the scientific world of matter. it is really to be found in the outer world something caused by the action of certain waves upon the eyes and nerves and brain of the person who sees the light.THE NATURE OF MATTER and him. is not supposed by the science to form is independent of very similar kinds of sensations. is we see it v/ith. is not. which all of us who : are not blind know. according to science. space not the same as space as we To begin . what is really meant is that waves are the physical cause of our sensations of light.

which what concerns science. in which it has its real shape. A circular coin. different people see the same object as of different shapes. oval unless we are judge that it is circular. must be . straight in front of When we but belongs to its is it intrinsically apart from appearance. the apparent space. But this real shape. for example. But the space of science . we are judging that it has a real shape which is not its apparent shape. not the same as anybody's apparent The real space is public. space. will look it.46 get THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY it by the sense of touch . Again. space is private to the percipient. though we should always judge it to be circular. In different people's private spaces the same object seems to have different shapes thus the real . is neutral as be- tween touch and sight thus it cannot be either the space of touch or the space of sight. according to their point of view. must be in a real space. it is only by experience in infancy that we learn how to touch things we see. or how to get a sight of things which we feel touching us.

Similarly. our sensations are to be caused by physical objects. and the manner of its connection. .THE NATURE OF MATTER different 47 ' from the private spaces. though connected with the spaces we see and feel. cal if It is important to notice that. therefore. is not identical with them. body occupies a place in physical space quite close to the space see an object occupied by the object. but may be regarded as causing our sensations. The space of science. there must be a physical space " These physical objects are in the which we may call " physi- containing these objects and our sense- organs and nerves and brain. We (roughly is speaking) when no opaque body between the object and our eyes in phy- sical space. that is to say. ' requires investigation. or when it touches the tongue. agreed provisionally that physical objects cannot be quite like our sense-data. We space of science. we only hear or smell or taste an object when we are sufficiently near to it. space. We get a sensation of touch from an object when we are in when some contact with part of our it .

the relative positions of physical objects in physical space must more or less correspond to the relative positions of sense-data in our private spaces. for example.48 or THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY has position in physical to our body. for it is mainly the relative positions of the object and our body that determine what sensations we object. our other senses will bear out the view that it is nearer . it will be reached sooner if we walk along . either the space of sight or the space of touch or such vaguer spaces as other senses may give us. as science and common sense assume. There is no difficulty in supposing this to be the case. If we see on a road one house nearer to us than another. We cannot space relatively begin to state what different sensations we shall derive from a given object under different circumstances unless some suitable we regard the in one physical object and our body as both space. If. there is one public all-embracing physical space in which physical objects are. shall derive from the Now our sense-data are situated in our private spaces.

the ordnance map will take the same view . but we can know the sort of arrangement of physical objects which results from their are in spatial relations. That is to say.THE NATURE OF MATTER the road. 49 Other people will agree that the house which looks nearer to us is nearer . what can we know about it ? can know only what is required in order to secure the correspondence. We can know. one straight line during an though . for example. and thus everything points to a spatial relation between the houses corresponding to the relation between the sense-data which we when we look at the houses. that the earth and moon and sun eclipse. It is this physical space which is dealt with in geometry and is assumed in physics and astronomy. we can know nothing of what it is like in itself. and that it does thus correspond to private We spaces. Thus we assume that there is a physical space may in which physical objects have spatial resee corresponding to those which the corresponding sense-data have in our private lations spaces. Assuming that there physical space.

We can know all those things about physical space which a man born blind might know through other people but the kind of about the space of sight things which a man born blind could never . we may know that one distance it is is greater than another. our feeling of durais tion or of the lapse of time notoriously an . as we know the look of a Thus we straight line in our visual space. or with colours or sounds or other sense-data.50 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY we cannot know what a physical straight line is in itself. or that along the same straight line as the other. but we cannot know the nature of the terms between which the relations hold. come to know much more about the relations of distances in physical space than about the distances themselves. We can know the properties of the relations required to preserve the correspondence with sense-data. With regard to time. but we cannot have that immediate acquaintance with physical distances that we have with distances in our private spaces. know about the space know about physical of sight we also cannot space.

the same as the time-order which they do have. Times when we are bored or suffering pain pass slowly. same order from Hence we regard the order as true also in physical space. which events seem to have so far as we can see. space : if but the men will all appear arranged in the points of view. times when we are agreeably occupied pass quickly. in so far as time is constituted by duration. whereas the shape is only supposed to correspond to the physical space so far .THE NATURE OF MATTER 51 unsafe guide as to the time that has elapsed by the clock. there is the same necessity for distinguishing a public and a private time as there was in the case of space. Thus. But in so far as time consists in an order to of before and after. there is . no need make such a distinction the time-order is. the shape of the regiment will look different from different points of view. The same is usually true of a regiment of men are marching along a road. At any rate no reason can be given for supposing that the two orders are not the same. and times when we are sleeping pass almost as if they did not exist.

call Similarly. where where the lightning is. when we see the sun we are seeing the sun of eight minutes ago. the lightning the disturbance of the simultaneous with air in the place the disturbance begins. So far as our sense-data afford evidence as to the physical sun they afford evidence as to the physical sun of . the sun's light to reach us thus. the thunder and lightning are simultaneous is . Considered as physical objects. that is to say. namely. it is necessary to a possible misunderstanding. guard against It must not be supposed that the various really which they states of the same physical objects have time-order as the sense-data which different constitute the perceptions of those objects. In saying that the time-order which events seem to have is the same as the time-orier have. it takes about eight minutes for .52 as THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY is required for the preservation of the order. But the sense-datum which we hearing the thunder does not take place until the disturbance of the air has travelled as far as to where we are.

with which we have the no direct acquaintance . sounds familiar. if two objects both look blue. that would data which of make no difference to the sensewe call " seeing the sun." between sense-data is This affords a fresh illustration of the necessity distinguishing objects. because we think of wave-motions in the space we this But in be wave-motions must really physical space. But we cannot hope to be acquainted directly with the quality in the physical object which makes Science tells us that it look blue or red. If one object reason- we may ably presume that there is some corresponding difference between the physical objects . and see. thus the real . and physical What we have found as regards much the same as what we find in their space relation to the correspondence of the sense-data with physical counterparts. we may presume a corresponding similarity. 53 if the physical sun had eight minutes ago ceased to exist within the last eight minutes. looks blue and another red. this quality is a certain sort of wave- motion.THE NATURE OF MATTER .

instance. The colour which an object seems to really . for example. Thus we find that. The most natural. The question remains whether there is any other method of discovering the intrinsic as can be discovered nature of physical objects. for the reasons we have been be exactly like sense-data. though physical objects cannot. have colours. so far at least by means of the senses. would be that. though not ultimately the most defensible. at considering. and we might. by good luck. physical objects will. see an object as of the colour it really is. derived from their corre- spondence with the relations of sense-data. hypothesis to adopt in the first any rate as regards visual sense-data.motions have not that f amiharity which we might have supposed them to have. they may be more or According to this view. although the relations of physical objects have all sorts of knowable properties. And what holds for colours is closely similar to what holds for other sense-data. yet less like. the physical objects themselves remain un- known in their intrinsic nature.54 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY wave .

the various shades which appear from the different points of view. but it can be shown to be groundless. it is plain Such a theory is that the colour we see depends only upon the nature of the light-waves that strike the eye. and not simply a property reaches of the object from which the ray comes. unless it The intervening is air alters colours perfectly clear.THE NATURE OF MATTER 55 have at any given moment will in general be very similar. as well as by the manner in which light is reflected from the object in the direction of the eye. perhaps not capable of being definitely refuted. and is therefore modified by the medium intervening between us and the object. whether the object from which the waves start has . also. reflection will alter and any strong them completely. we shall see a certain colour. Thus the colour we see is a result of the ray as it the eye. provided certain waves reach the eye. intermediate between . Hence. from many different points of view we might " " colour to be a sort real thus suppose the of medium colour. To begin with. though not quite the same.

As explained above. minds which. It remains to ask very many philosophers. either (as Leibniz held) more or less rudimentary minds. and physical objects therefore there is no supposition. justification for making such a arguments Exactly similar other sense-data. perhaps most. Thus perceive of idealists deny the existence matter as from mind." Idealists tell us that is Such philosophers are called what apreally pears as matter something mental . it must be of such and such a nature. namely. *' idealists. have is held that whatever real must be in some some sense mental. if matter is real. as we should com" " the matter.56 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY not. something though they do not deny that our sense-data are signs of something which exists indeintrinsically different . will apply to whether there are any general philosophical arguments enabling us to say that. any colour or tuitous to Thus that it is quite gra- suppose have colours. . or (as Berkeley contended) ideas in the monly say. or at any rate that whatever we can know anything about must be ' in sense mental.

following the reasons 57 In the chapter we shall opinion fallacious which idealists advance in favour of their theory.THE NATURE OF MATTER pendently of our private sensations. —in consider briefly my — .

and is advocated on several The doctrine is so widely teresting in itself. rate whatever can. and so in" that even the briefest survey of philosophy must give some account of it. held. in somewhat it We be shall understand by exists. or at the doctrine thai. Those who are unaccustomed to philosophical speculation may be inclined to dismiss such a doctrine as obviously absurd. There is no doubt that common sense regards tables and chairs and the sun and moon and 68 .. in whatever mental.. which is very widely held among philosophers. any must be some senses This doctrine. known to exist.CHAPTER IDEALISM IV The word philosophers " idealism " is used by different different senses. has several forms. different grounds.

but if any it. they must differ very widely from sense-data. The truth about physical objects must be strange. and as having an existence which might continue if minds ceased. It \ may be unattainable. we could not legitimately reject this opinion merely because it strikes us as strange. We think matter as having existed long before there were any minds. believes that he has attained philosopher the fact that what he offers as the truth is strange ought . idealism is not to be whether of dismissed as obviously absurd. and if there were good reason to regard them as mental. We have seen that. in the same sort of way in which a catalogue has a correspondence with the things catalogued. and can only have a correspondence with sense-data. true or false. Hence common sense leaves us completely in the dark as to the true intrinsic nature of physical objects. even if physical objects ) do have an independent existence.IDEALISM 59 material objects generally as something radicand the contents of ally different from minds minds. and it is hard to think of it But as a mere product of mental activity.

and that whatever is known is to be " in " be mental. that our sense-data cannot be supposed to have an existence independent in but must be. So far.60 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY made a ground of objection to his not to be opinion. The grounds on which ideahsm is advocated are generally grounds derived from the theory of knowledge. the mind. from a discussion which things must satisfy in order that we may be able to know them. . his contention was almost certainly valid. even if some of his arguments were not But he went on to argue that sense-data were the only things of whose existence our perceptions could assure us. in the sense that their existence would not continue if there were no seeing of us. " " or hearing or touching or smelling or tasting. of the conditions The first serious attempt to establish idealism on such grounds was that of Bishop Berkeley. so. that is to say. by arguments which were largely valid. and that to be known to a mind. and therefore Hence he concluded that nothing can ever be known except what is in some mind. in part at least. He proved first.

mediate data he calls such im- " ideas. it is necessary to understand his use of the word " " " idea. \ i 1 a voice which we hear. : men its being perceived " " esse he says. for with such things also be things remembered or we have All immediate acquaintance at the moment of remembering or imagining. He then to common He shows per- that ceive all we know immediately when we " " the tree consists of ideas in his sense and he argues that there is not the slightest ground for supposing that there is anything real about the tree except what is of the word." He gives the name idea to anything which is immediately known. as. Thus a particular colour which we see is an idea so is . But the term is not wholly confined to sense-data. for example. consists in in the Latin of the schoolpercipi. There will also imagined. sense-data are known. perceived.IDEALISM without being in other mind." consider proceeds such as a tree. and so on. for instance. Its being. objects. 61 in my mind must be some In order to understand his argument.^' is " He fully admits .

Thus apart from minds and their ideas there is nothing in the world. to him. he due to the fact that God continues to " " the real perceive it tree. but differing in the fact that they are permanent in God's mind so long as the tree to exist.62 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY or that the tree must continue to exist even we shut our eyes near it. there of the is word " idea." a confusion engendered by the use We think of an idea . and which it will be as well to bring to light. and it is because of this participation that different people see more or less the same tree. since is known necessarily an idea. which corresponds to what we called the physical object. is . All our perceptions. consists of ideas in the more or less like mind of God. this But says. ideas those we have when we see the tree. consist in a partial partiaccording cipation in continues God's perceptions. nor is it possible that anything whatever fallacies else is should ever be known. There are in argument a good many which have been important in the this history of philosophy. when when no human being is continued existence. In the first place.

In order to see how it was . This con- fusion may seem too gross to have been really committed by any competent philosopher. the tree must be entirely in minds. but that a thought of him is in our minds. but only that a thought of the business was formerly in his mind. but afterwards ceased to be in his mind. not meaning that the person is in our minds. We When a man says that some business he had to arrange went clean out of his mind. he does not mean to imply that the business itself was ever in his mind. To is argue that the tree itself must be in our minds like arguing that a person whom we bear in mind is himself in our minds. tree all And so must be in our when Berkeley says that the minds if we can know it. natural to suppose that.IDEALISM as essentially 63 something in somebody's mind. if so. but various attendant circumstances rendered it possible. the notion of being biguous. that he really has a right to say is that a thought of the tree must be in our minds. But " " in the mind is am- speak of bearing a person in mind. consists it is and thus when we are told that a tree entirely of ideas.

For this But this is an entirely from the one by which purpose arguments of detail as to the dependence of sense-data upon us are useless. We saw that. generally. they depend upon us as and would not exist perceived. and not our as to the difference between previous question sense-data and the physical object. much if upon the the tree were not being different point Berkeley seeks to prove that whatever can be immediately known must be in a mind.64 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY we must go more deeply into the possible. This is what Berkeley believes himself to have done. It is necessary to prove. Berkeley was right in treating the sense-data which constitute our perception of the tree as more or less subjective. that by being known. that must It is now concern us. in the sense that as tree. this question. . things are shown to be mental. we must disentangle two entirely separate questions which arise con- cerning sense-data and physical objects. question as to the nature of ideas. Before taking up the general question of the nature of ideas. for various reasons of detail.

of — — the mental act of apprehending the thing.IDEALISM 65 " " idea in Berkeley's Taking the word sense. seems to depend for plausibility its upon confusing the thing apprehended with the act of apprehension. the table. They did not prove that the colour is in the mind of the percipient. they proved case. in a certain light. they only proved that its existence depends upon the relation of our sense organs to the physical object in our That is to say. Berkeley's view. but is there any reason itself. awareness to suppose that the thing apprehended is in any sense mental ? Our previous arguments concerning the colour did not prove it to be mental . The mental act is undoubtedly mental. that obviously the colour must be in the mind. — that a certain colour will exist. there are two quite distinct things to be considered whenever an idea is before the There is on the one hand the thing which we are av/are say the colour of my table and on the other hand the actual mind. Either o . if a normal eye is placed at a certain point relatively to the table.

The act is undoubtedly in the mind hence. we arrive at the conclusion that whatever we can apprehend must be in our minds. and the ultimate rests. since our of acquiring knowledge itself is is whole power bound up with it. ideas in the other sense. forgetting that this was only true when ideas were taken as acts of apprehension. Then. with things characteristic The faculty of being acquainted other than of a mind. when we are thinking of the act. Thus. " " might be called an idea probably either would have been called an idea by of these Berkeley. i. we readily assent to the view that ideas must be in the mind. we transfer the pro" " ideas are in the mind to position that . by an unconscious equivocation.66 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY . the main tially consists in a relation Acquaintance with objects essenbetween the mind .e. This seems to be the true analysis of Berkeley's argument. fallacy upon which it This question of the distinction between act and object in our apprehending of things is vitally important. to the things apprehended by our acts of apprehension.

It is often said. in this sense." i. is in the mind. It any way be inferred that whatever can in . we are things either unduly limiting the mind's power of knowing.e.e. or we are uttering a mere tautology. — — Hence grounds in favour of idealism may It remains to see whether be dismissed. known must be If in we say that the the mind. we shall have to admit that what. 67 is of knowing things. the objects apprehended must be mental. are found to have no validity whatever. his there are any other grounds. But if we mean this. may nevertheless be not mental. Berkeley's argument is seen to be wrong in substance as well as in form. Thus when we realise the nature of knowledge. that anything exists is we cannot know that which we do not know. if we mean merely being apprehended by the mind. as though it were a self- evident truism. We are uttering a mere tautology if we mean by " " " the same as by in the mind before the mind.IDEALISM and something other than the mind it this that constitutes the mind's power . and his grounds for supposing that "ideas" i.

if real. argument may be noticed at To begin at the end there is no once. that what can have no importance for us cannot be real.68 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY must be at least whence it being known by us . is impossible and a if it is mere chimoera. some importance to us. It is theoretical is everything real since. reason why what cannot have any practical rejecting the : importance for us should not be true that. and which could It is have for us no importance whatever. matter would be something which if we could not know to generally also exist. this argument fully at our would be impossible. of importance is included. implied. not composed of minds or of mental ideas. truth persons desirous of knowing the about the universe. and that therefore matter. for reasons which remain obscure. we have some as . relevant to our experience capable of follows that matter were essentially somewith which we could not become acthing quainted. since it present stage To go into points requiring a considerable prebut certain reasons for liminary discussion raises .

is it is by no means a that truism. But it is this interest included. " know " (2) In the second use of the word above. not the case that matter has no it importance for us. provided if exists.e. the sense in which what we know is ent senses. . ments. Again. even can. the word applies to our knowledge of This things^ which we may call acquaintance. we cannot know that anything exists which we do not know. it is obviously. The word " know " is here used in two differ(1) In its first use it is applicable to the sort of knowledge which is opposed to error. We exist.IDEALISM interest in 69 the of everything if that sort universe is contains. and has the importance of either satisfying or thwarting this desire. and in fact false. suspect that wonder whether it does it . to what are called judgtrue. the sense which applies to our beliefs and convictions. i. we cannot know that it exists. may hence and con- nected with our desire for knowledge. that In this sense of the word we know something is the case. This sort of knowledge may be described as knowledge of truths.

. the principle were true. ledge that me the knowBut it is not true that. of course. involved (The roughly that between savoir and connaitre in French. I could not that any one else i^ acquainted with But further there is no reason why I if : should not know of the existence of something is with which nobody is acquainted.70 is THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY the sense in which distinction we know is sense-data. would be an irrelevant retort. the following " We can never truly judge that something with which we are not acquainted exists. but on the contrary a palpable falsehood. This. since. I am acquainted with a thing which exists." : This is by no means a truism. This point If important. It may be said. that I judge this be- cause of other people's acquaintance with him. and demands elucidation. know him. I have not the honour to be acquainted with the Emperor of Russia.) Thus the statement which seemed like a truism becomes. when re-stated. but I truly judge that he exists. conversely. or between wissen and kennen in German. whenever I can know that a my acquaintance gives it exists. however.

. In order to understand this point fully. general principle. the existence of a thing answering to this decan be inferred from the existence scription of something with which I am acquainted. and then to consider what knowledge of general principles. if any. happens. I or some one else must be acquainted with the thing. between m the following chapters. and that. in cases where I have true judgment without acquaintance. is that the in What thing is known to me virtue of some by description.IDEALISM 71 thing of a certain sort exists. it will be well first to deal with the difference by acquaintance and knowledge by description. has the same kind of certainty as our knowledge knowledge of the existence of our own exThese subjects will be dealt with periences.

always involves. Knowledge of things by description. and logically independent of knowledge of truths. in fact. of things. of which in turn we Knowshall have to distinguish two kinds. chapter we and knowledge of truths. In this shall be concerned exclusively with knowledge of things. have acquaintance with things without at the same time knowing some truth about them. as we shall find in the course of the 72 . on the contrary. is essentially simpler than any knowledge of truths. when it is of the kind we ledge call knowledge by acquaintance. though it would be rash to assume that human beings ever.CHAPTER V KNOWLEDGE BY ACQUAINTANCE AND KNOWLEDGE BY DESCRIPTION In the preceding chapter we saw that there are two sorts of knowledge knowledge : of things.

ACQUAINTANCE AND DESCRIPTION 78 present chapter. as opposed to knowledge of it." ance We shall say that w^e have acquaintance with anything of which we are directly aware. shade of colour that I am seeing may have many is things said about it I may say that it brown. truths about I know the colour perfectly when I see it. that it is rather dark. though they make me know truths about the colour. — But such statements. and no further and completely knowledge of it itself is even theoretically . shape. smoothness. in the presence of — . all these are things of which am immediately conscious when I am The particular seeing and touching my table. and so on. Thus my table I am acquainted with the sense-data that make up the appearance of my table its colour. some knowledge of truths as But first of all we its source and ground. I etc. do not make me know the colour itself any better than I did before : colour so far as concerns knowledge of the itself. " must make clear what we mean by acquaint" " and what we mean by description. without the intermediary of any process of inference or any knowledge of truths. hardness.

we must know truths connecting it with things with which we have acquaint" such-and-such we must know that ance : sense-data are caused by a physical object. things im- known to me just as they are. In order to know anything at all about the table.74 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY Thus the sense-data which make of possible. Such as seen that it is possible. is not direct knowit is. without absurdity." There is no state of mind is in . to doubt whether there is a table at all. on the contrary. which we are all directly aware of the table our knowof ledge of the table really knowledge . My knowledge of the table is of the kind which we shall call " " knowledge by description." The the physical object which causes This describes such-and-such sense-data. We have My ledge. up the appearance mediately my table are things with which I have acquaintance. knowledge of the table as a physical object." table is the table by means of the sense-data. it is obtained through with the sense-data that make acquaintance up the appearance of the table. whereas it is not possible to doubt the sense-data.

as we have among the . We know is that there a description. are Sense-data. they supply the most quainted obvious and striking example of knowledge by acquaintance. All our knowledge. But if they were the sole example. 75 the and the actual thing which is is table not. though the object itself In such a case. things with which we are ac- in fact. at all. We should only know what is now present to our senses we : could not know anything about the past even that there was a past nor could we know any truths about our sense-data. things and knowledge of truths. our knowledge would be very much more restricted than it is. It is there- important to consider what kinds of things there are with which ance. we say that our knowledge of the object is knowledge by description.ACQUAINTANCE AND DESCRIPTION truths. we have acquaintalready seen. strictly speaking. just one object to which this known to us and we know description applies. is not directly known to us. both knowledge of. for all — —not . rests upon acquaintance as fore its foundation.

there could be no knowledge of the past by : inference. first The is remember what we have seen or heard or had otherwise present to our senses." but which we shall call essentially different character an " universals. demands acquaintance with things which are of from sensedata. in spite of the fact that it appears as past and not as present. the things which are sometimes called " abstract ideas. as we shall show. extension beyond sense-data to be considered is acquaintance by memory. This immediate knowledge by memory is the source of all our knowledge concerning the past without it. and that in such cases we are still immediately aware of what we It obvious that we often remember. The next extension to be considered is acquaintance by introspection." We have therefore to con- i|ider acquaintance with other things besides sense-data if we are to obtain any tolerably adequate analysis of our knowledge.76 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY knowledge of truths. but we are often aware . We are not only aware of things. since we should never know that there was anything past to be inferred.

obvious that it is only what goes on in our own minds that can be thus known immediately. . an object with which I Similarly we may be aware of our feeling pleasure or pain. is the source may It is of all our knowledge of mental things. and generally of the events which happen in our *' my desiring food am acquainted. we should be unable to imagine the minds of others. that is. through the sense-data in us which are associated with their bodies. am often aware of seeing the sun " I my '' seeing the sun thus my is an object with which have acquaintance. When I see the sun. which be called self-consciousness. minds. " is This kind of acquaintance. and therefore we could never arrive at the knowledge that they have minds. What goes on in the minds of others is known to us through our perception of their bodies. we . When I desire food. It seems natural to suppose that self-consciousness is one of the things that : distinguish men from animals animals. But for our acquaintance with the contents of our own minds.ACQUAINTANCE AND DESCRIPTION of being I 77 aware of them. I may be aware of my desire for food thus .

I do not mean that they doubt whether they exist. and thus never know of their may own existence. To make clear for thinking that " I. and upon " " not upon the I which has the thought or Nevertheless there are some reasons feeling. exist. as opposed to particular thoughts and feelings. We have spoken of acquaintance with the contents of our minds as seZ/-consciousness. When we try to we always seem to come some particular thought or feeling. but self : it is it not. nor therefore of the fact that they. but that they have never become conscious of the fact that they have sensations and feehngs. of course. a very difficult one. the subjects of their sensations and feehngs. consciousness of our is consciousness of particular thoughts and feehngs. upon which it would be rash to speak positively. look into ourselves we are acquainted with the the acquaintance is hard to though disentangle from other things. never become aware of this acquaintance.78 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY suppose." . though they have acquaintance with sense-data. The question whether we is are also acquainted with oui bare selves.

acquainted with my seeing the sun. is it is plain that the person acquainted Thus. On the one hand there is the senseI When am *' datum which represents the sun to me." hard or how we could know this truth. on the other hand there is that which sees this sense-datum. When is one with which I can be acquainted (as I am acquainted with my acquaintance with the sense-datum re- presenting the sun). such as my acquaintance with the sense-datum which represents the sun. acquainted with my seeing the sun.1 ACQUAINTANCE AND DESCRIPTION what a sort of reason there is. when I am myself." Further. seems obviously a relation between the person acquainted and the object with which the person a case of acquaintance is acquainted. . to see we know the truth " I It am is ac- quainted with this sense-datum." it seems plain that I am acquainted with two different things in relation to each other. All acquaintance. the whole " fact with which I am Selfacquainted is acquainted-with-sense-datum. 79 let us consider for moment what our acquaintance with par- ticular thoughts really involves.

and complicated arguments can be adduced on either side. memory we have acquaintance with things which have been data ." call suppose that we are acquainted with a more or less permanent person. it is not wise to assert that it undoubtedly does occur. and in introspection with the data of may in be called the inner sense . what feelings. which sees the sun and has ac- quaintance with sense-data. We may therefore sum up as follov/s what has been said concerning acquaintance with things that exist. sense it Thus. desires. in some would seem we must be acquainted with our Selves as opposed to our particular experiences. We have acquaintance in sensation with the data of the outer senses. the same to-day as yesterday. — thoughts. but it does seem as though we must be acquainted with that thing. although acquaintance with ourselves seems probably to occur.LE^lS OF PPIIL030PIIY even understand what is meant by it.80 THE PROr. unless we were acquainted with something which we " It docs not seem necessary to I. etc. whatever its nature. But the question is difficult. Hence.

it is only necessary to guard against the supposition that whatever cular is we can be acquainted with must be something parti- and existent. that to say. called conceiving. as that which aware of things or has desires towards things. though not certain. general ideas. in Chapter IX .ACQUAINTANCE AND DESCRIPTION Further. such as whiteness. . Every complete sentence must contain at least one word all which stands for a universal. diversity. Awareness of universals and a universal of which we are aware is called a concept." which we must now consider. the objects with which we are acquainted are not included physical objects (as opposed to sense-data). for the present. These things are known to us by what I call " knowledge by description. it is 81 either of the outer senses or of the inner sense. It will be seen that among nor other people's minds. brotherhood. In addition to our acquaintance with particular existing things. since have a meaning which is universal. that Self. verbs shall We return to universals later on. we also have acquaintance with what we shall is call universals. we have acquaintance with is probable. and so on.

though we are not acquainted with any such object. I shall call a " " man " the man a is definite Thus description. I shall therefore. when we know that there is an object " .e. but I pass them by. and with the iron mask " is a definite There are various problems condescription. nected with ambiguous descriptions. speak simply of descriptions " Thus when form I mean definite descriptions." a description " the will mean any phrase " of the so-and-so in the singular.82 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY By a " " I mean any phrase of description " " the form a so-and-so or "the so-and-so. an ambiguous description." known by when we know that it is " the i." " A phrase of the form a so-and-so " I shall " " call an a phrase ambiguous description " " of the form the so-and-so (in the singular) " " . which is the nature of our knowledge concerning objects in cases where we know that there is an object answering to a definite description. in " " the sequel. This is a matter which is concerned exclusively with definite descriptions. since they do not directly concern the matter we are discussing. is We shall say that " description so-and-so.

the candidate who will get most votes but we do not know which of the candidates he is.ACQUAINTANCE AND DESCRIPTION 88 one object. man with the iron mask existed. and although we may possibly be acquainted with the object which is. in fact. and no more. having a certain and it will generally be implied property . i. although we know^ that the so-and-so exists. we do not have knowledge of the same We know that the object by acquaintance. in fact. we do not know any " A is the candidate proposition of the form " who will get most votes where A is one of the candidates by name. . and many propositions are known about him but we do not know who he was. the so-and-so. We shall say that we have " merely descriptive knowledge " of the so-and-so when. acquainted (in the only sense in which one can be acquainted with some one else) with the man who is. yet we do not know any proposition a is " a is the so-and-so. and in this case we are very likely also that ." we ." where something with which we are acquainted.e. We know that the candidate who gets the most votes v/ill be elected. When we say " the so-and-so exists.

are usually really descriptions. is and nothing else has. so " means that a has the property " Mr. Common words. even proper names. and no one else is. the thought in the mind of a person using a correctly can generally only be expressed explicitly if we replace the proper proper name name by a description. That is to say. we know that may know that the the when we are not acquainted with any object which we know to be the soand-so. or for the same . Moreover. is the so-and-so.84 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY there is mean that so-and-so. and no one else is. the de- scription required to express the thought will vary for different people. the Unionist " candidate for this constituency means " Mr." Unionist candidate for this constituency " some one is a Unionist candiexists" means date for this constituency. when we are acquainted with an object which the so-and-so. and even when we are not acquainted so-and-so exists with any object which." Thus. A. just one object which is the The proposition " a is the so-andso-and-so. A. so-and-so exists but we is . is a Unionist candidate for this "The constituency. in fact.

Bismarck himself might have used his name directly to designate the particular person with whom he was acquainted. suming that there is such a thing as direct acquaintance with oneself. and not for a description of the object. In this case. illustrations. But if a person who knew Bismarck made a judgment about him. But so long as this remains constant. the case is different. Let us take some Suppose As- some statement made about Bismarck. if he made a judgment about himself. he himself might be a constituent of the judgment. as a physical . The only thing constant (so long as the name is rightly used) is the object to which the name applies. Here the proper name has the direct use which it always wishes to have. we will suppose) with Bismarck's body. the particular description involved usually makes no difference to the truth or falsehood of the proposition in which the name appears. What this person was acquainted with were certain sense-data which he connected (rightly.ACQUAINTANCE AND DESCRIPTION 85 person at different times. as simply standing for a certain object. His body.

and so on. again. known by description. in our less the description minds will probably be some more or vague mass of historical knowledge far more. The essential point is that he to the knows that the various descriptions all apply same entity. Here all the words are abstract except German." The word " German" will. than is required to identify — But. they were object. the description actually in the friend's mind is accidental. of course. But Chancellor of the " German Empire.86 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY and still more his mind. in most cases. were only known as the body and the mijid connected with these sense-data. who did not know Bismarck. To some it will recall travels in Germany. When we. have different meanings for different people." . in spite of not being ac- quainted with the entity in question. It is. very much a matter of chance which characteristics of friend's mind when he thinks a man's appearance will come into a of him thus . That is. to some the look of Germany on the map. let " us assume that we think of him as the first him. for the sake of illustration. make a judgment about him.

a description known to is Such reference be applicable to a particular must involve some reference to a particular with which we are acquainted. " The first Chancellor of If. if thing described logically is not our knowledge about the to be merely what follows from the description. present. "the most long-lived of men" is a description involving only universals. in some way or other. involved in any mention of and future (as opposed to past. or of here and there. at some point. we say. however. Thus it would seem that. to bring in a reference to a particular with which we are acquainted. or of what others have told us. Apart from the information judgment — \ . For example. we shall be compelled. but we can make no judgments concerning this man which involve knowledge about him beyond what the description gives." of our we can only be assured in virtue of of the truth something with which we are acquainted usually a testimony heard or read. which must apply to some man.ACQUAINTANCE AND DESCRIPTION if 87 we are to obtain a description which we know to be applicable. definite dates). the German Empire was an astute diplomatist.

Europe. which gives importance to our judgment. where we are concerned not merely with what does exist. descriptions which one or more particulars with I suspect that which we are acquainted. if we could. . even the Universe. as considered by metaphysics. not in the form involving the description. In logic. but about the actual thing de- That is to say. places London. and otherwise consists wholly of concepts. the Solar System simi. but with whatever might or could exist or be. the Earth. England. would seem that. no reference to actual particulars is involved. when start from some used.88 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY fact about we convey to others. when we make a statement about something only known by It description. to make the judgment which Bismarck scribed. the thought we really have contains the one or more particulars involved. when we say anything about Bismarck. apart from the the actual Bismarck. we should like. involves such a connection with particulars. we often intend to make our statement. on the contrary. All names of — — larly involve.

" the first If we are describing Bismarck as Chancellor of the German Empire. since the actual But we know is unknown to us. can thus describe the proposition we should " namely. In this we Bismarck are necessarily defeated." the proposition we should like to affirm may " the proposition asserting. This proposition. what interests us but we are not acquainted . namely. that this What object was an astute diplomatist. is known to be true. which is is described and . be described as concerning the actual object which was the first Chancellor of the German Empire. is that there and that B an object B." where B is the object which was Bismarck." enables us to communicate in spite of the varying descriptions we employ is that we know there is a true proposition concerning the actual Bismarck. We like to affirm.ACQUAINTANCE AND DESCRIPTION 89 alone can make. the judgment of which he himself is a constituent. called Bismarck. B was an astute diplomatist. and that however we may vary the description (so long as the description is correct) the proposition described is still the same. was an astute diplomatist.

with the proposition it. as near to acquaintance as is possible in regard to another person . are progressively further removed from acquaintance with particulars the first comes . is we know nothing beyond what There is logically deducible from the definition of the man. Bismarck to those who only know of him through history. ticulars. the man with the These iron mask. a similar hierarchy in the region of Many universals. ledge concerning what is known by descrip- . It will be seen that there are various stages in the removal from acquaintance with particulars : there is Bismarck to people who knew him. the longest -lived of men. we do not know who can know was the man with the iron mask. in the second.90 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY itself. knowuniversals. finally. though we many propositions about him which are not logically deducible from the fact that he wore an iron mask . like many parare only known to us by description. as in the case of particulars. and do not know though we know it is true. we shall still be said to know "who Bismarck " was . in the fourth. in the third. But here.

ACiJUAINTANCE AND DESCRIPTION tion is 91 ultimately reducible to knowledge concerning what is known by acquaintance. For the we shall merely point out that. in some way or other. We since we are not acquainted with him. is . for example. The fundamental principle in the analysis of propositions containing descriptions is this : Every 'proposition which we can understand] must be composed wholly of constituents with ivhich we are acquainted. . Thus when. it is plain that about. present. We Julius Csesar himself not before our minds. shall all We answer not at this stage attempt to the objections which may be urged against this fundamental principle. if we are to speak signiand the ficantly and not utter mere noise meaning we attach to our words must be something with which we are acquainted. we make a statement about Julius Ctesar. it must be possible to meet these objections. for it is scarcely conceivable that we can make a judgment or entertain a supposition without knowing what it is tliat we are judging or supposing must attach some meaning to the words we use.

much of our know- ledge must remain mysterious and therefore doubtful. Julius Cossar with which we to a noise or shape Thus our are acquainted. this result is vital. instead of Julius Caesar." (In this last description." "the founder of the Ro- man Empire. we can yet have knowledge by description which we have never experienced." whose name perhaps.92 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY in have Caesar mind some " description of Julius : the man who was or. some description of him which is composed wholly of particulars and universals with which we are acquainted. The chief importance of knowledge by description is that it enables us to pass beyond the limits of our private experience. of things and until it is understood. but means something involving.) is statement does not mean quite what it seems mean. In view of the very narrow range of our immediate experience. . merely "the man was Julius CcBsar. In spite of the fact that we can only know truths which are wholly composed of terms which we have experienced in acquaintance. assassinated on the Ides of March.

to have existed in the past. we must know general prin93 . our answer has been that we These we know to sense-data which are And past remembered are known exist. or of tiie future.CHAPTER VI ON INDUCTION our previous discussions we have been concerned in the attempt to get all In almost clear as to our data in the of existence. with ourselves. and. of the past before our individual memory begins. are acquainted with our sense-data. of other people. This know- ledge supplies our data. way of knowledge things are there in the universe whose existence is known to us owing to our being acquainted with What them ? So far. But if we are to be able to from these data — draw inferences of the if we are to know existence of matter. probably.

to us. in fact.94 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY some kind by means of which such It must be known of some one sort of to us that the existence thing. but belief of this kind is reasonable or we can at least ascertain what sort of general beliefs justify the would suffice. for ciples of inferences can be drawn. or be justified as a reasonable belief ? It not easy to find a test by which to judge it whether a not. B. and if so. is a sign of the existence of some other sort of thing. as we have seen. The question we have now to consider is whether such an extension is . to will rise judgment that the sun . A. feel the slightest all We are convinced that the sun to-morrow. thunder is beyond the sphere of our private experience and this sphere. possible. Let us take as an illustration a matter about which none of doubt. a sign of the earlier If this were not known existence of lightning. as. Why ? Is this belief a mere blind outcome can is of past experience. how it is effected. will rise us. we could never extend our knowledge example. if true. is exceedingly limited. either at the same time as A or at some earher or later time.

and there is nothing it outside to interfere with the earth to-morrow. The interesting interesting doubt is as to whether the laws of motion the remain in operation until to-morrow. we shall say. and such bodies do not cease to rotate unless something interferes from outside. is a freely rotating body. and the many other similar judgments upon which our actions are based.ON INDUCTION 95 to-morrow. the we may appeal to the laws of earth. why we motion : believe that it will continue to rise as heretofore." We have a firm belief that it will rise in the future. but this is not doubt. If we are challenged as to naturally answer. Of course between now and might be doubted whether we are quite certain that there is nothing outside to interfere. because it has risen in the past. The only reason for believing that the laws . shall why we we Because it always has risen every day. we find ourselves in the will same position as when the doubt about the sunrise was first raised. If this doubt is raised. It is obvious that if we " are asked believe that the sun will rise to-morrow.

to begin with. Now in dealing with this question we must. But the real question is Do any number : of cases of a law being fulfilled in the past afford evidence that it will be fulfilled in the ? If not. it becomes plain that we have no ground whatever for expecting the sun to rise to-morrow. or for any of the other scarcely conscious expectations that control our daily lives. filled.96 of THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY motion will remain in operation is that they have operated hitherto. all such expectations are only probable thus we have not to seek for a proof that they must be ful- but only for some reason in favour of the view that they are likely to be fulfilled. so far as our knowledge of the past enables us to judge. It is to be observed that . . or for expecting the bread we shall eat at our next meal not to future poison us. It is true that we have a greater body of evidence from the past in favour of the laws of motion than we have in favour of the sunmerely a particular case of fulfilment of the laws of motion. make an important distinction. and rise. is because the sunrise there are countless other particular cases.

Domestic animals D . . the frequent repetition of some uniform succession or coexistence has been a cause of our expecting the same succession or coexistence on the next occasion. with certain tactile sensations which we expect if we touch them one of the horrors of a ciated with an unusual taste. Uneducated people who go abroad for the first time are so surprised as to be incredulous when they find their native language not understood. Food that has a certain appearance generally has a certain taste. ghost (in many ghost-stories) is that it fails to give us any sensations of touch. hitherto. by habit. to A And this kind of association is not confined men in animals also it is very strong. horse which has been often driven along a certain road resists the attempt to drive him in a different direction.ON INDUCTION 97 without which we should soon become involved in hopeless confusions. we see become . Experience has shown us that. and it is a severe shock to our expectations when the familiar appearance is found to be assoThings which associated.

The problem we have to discuss there is any reason for believing is whether in what is . they nevertheless exist. The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead. showing that more But refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken.98 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY expect food when they see the person who usually feeds them. We have therefore to distinguish the fact that past uniformities cause expectations as to the future. We know that all these rather crude expectations of uniformity are liable to be misleading. certainly cause us to believe will that the sun will rise to-morrow. The mere fact that something has happened a certain number of times causes animals it and men to expect that Thus our instincts happen again. but we may be in no better a position than the chicken which unexpectedly has its neck wrung. from the question whether there is any reasonable ground for giving weight to such expectations after the question of their validity has been raised. in spite of the misleadingness of such expectations.

and therefore liable to disappoint those who entertain them. The infringed by . thus the laws of motion and the law of gravitation are not subject to these exceptions. that general rules which have exceptions can be replaced by general " rules which have no exceptions. least as But science habitually assumes. bodies in air fall " is a general Unsupported rule to which balloons and aeroplanes are But the laws of motion and the exceptions. law of gravitation. belief that the sun will rise to-morrow be falsified if the earth came might suddenly into contact with a large body which destroyed its rotation but the laws of motion and the law of gravitation would not be . at a working hypothesis. The crude expectations which we have been considering are all subject to exceptions." is The belief in the uniformity of nature the belief that everything that has happened or will happen is an instance of some general law to which there are no exceptions.ON INDUCTION called 99 " the uniformity of nature. which account for the fact that most bodies fall. also account for the fact that balloons and aeroplanes can rise .

such as the laws of motion and the law of gravitation. and the question is Will future : futures resemble past futures ? This question is not to be answered by an argument which starts from past futures alone. We have experience of past futures. to suppose that they will hold in the future ? It has been argued that we have reason to know that the future will resemble the past. to which. which we may But such an argument call past futures. so far as our experience extends. remarkably successful. assuming that they have : always held in the past. really begs the very question at issue. to find uniformities. namely of times which were formerly future.100 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY The business of science is such an event. and it may be conceded that such uniformities have held hitherto. and has always been found to resemble the past. so that we really have experience of the future. because what was the future has constantly become the past. but not of future futures. Have This brings us back to the question we any reason. We . there are no exIn this search science has been ceptions.

that the fact that two things have been found often together and never apart does not. and in fact practically all the beliefs upon which our daily life is based. the whole of the results obtained by induction. or in theories as to the origin of the Solar System. The same question arises when we apply the laws that work in our experience to past things of which we have no experience — as. in a fresh instance. to begin with. The question we really have to ask " is When two things have been found to be often associated. The is reference to the future in this question not essential. give the other ? " any good ground for expecting On our answer to this question validity of the whole of our must depend the expectations as to the future. It must be conceded. suffice to prove demonstratively that they . by itself. in geology.ON INDUCTION have therefore will follow still 101 principle to seek for some which shall enable us to know that the future the same laws as the past. does the occurrence of one of the two. for example. and no instance is known : of the one occurring without the other.

can never quite reach certainty. we can never. that we know all natural phenomena to be subject to the reign of law.102 will THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY be found together in the next case we examine. some law which has no exceptions to our case. and that sometimes. It might be urged. the more probable it becomes that they will be found together another time. Thus probability is all we ought to seek. Now to this view The first is there are two answers. as against the view we are advocating. The most we can hope is that the oftener things are found together. The second is that the reign of law would seem to be itself only probable. because we know there sometimes that in spite of frequent repetitions is a failure at the last. and that our belief . in practice. on the tion. as in the case of the chicken whose neck is wrung. and that. applies be sure that we have discovered that law and even if not one to which there are exceptions. if they have been found together often enough. fit basis of observa- we can see that only one law can possibly the facts of the case. the probIt ability will amount almost to certainty. that.

and has never been found dissociated from a thing of the sort B. and two has may When be stated as follows : a thing of a certain sort A been found to be associated with a thing of a certain other sort B. the principle applies only to the verification of our expectation in a single As fresh instance. cient Under the same circumstances. the greater the number of cases in which A and B greater is the probability that they will be associated in a fresh case in which one of them is known to have been associated. approach cer- just stated. a suffinumber of cases of association will make it the probability of a fresh association nearly a certainty. principle we are examining we may its be called the principle of induction. and will make tainty without limit.ON INDUCTION that it 103 will hold in the future. But we want also to know that there is general law that things of the sort a probability in favour of the A are . principle based upon the very The parts (a) are examining. or in unexamined is itself cases in the past. the be present (6) .

may therefore repeat the two parts of increased We our principle as regards the thus : general law. whereas the particular case true. cient Under the same circumstances. the particular case must also be true. the more probable it is (if no cases of failure of association are known) that A is always associated with {b) B . and no cases of failure of association are known. just as the probability of the particular case is. since if the general law is true.104 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY always associated with things of the sort B. a suffinumber of cases of the association of A is with B will make it nearlv certain that A always associated with B. and will make . (a) The greater the number of cases in which a thing of the sort A has been found associated with a thing of the sort B. The probabihty of the general law is obviously less than the association are probability of the particular case. provided a sufficient number of cases of known. may be true without the general law being Nevertheless the is probability of the general law by repetitions.

an induction as to colour this But peculiarly liable to error. It should always relative to certain data. For example. many species that. therefore.ON INDUCTION this general limit. and this might be a perThe argument is fectly sound argument. swans were white. by our principle. The fact. because a thing may very well happen in spite of the fact that some data render it improbable. not disproved by the fact that some swans are black. therefore. that . that on the data it was probable that all data. by no means proving that the probability relatively to our previous data had been wrongly estimated. a man who had seen a great many white swans might argue. the data are merely the known cases of coexistence of A and B. a man might know and is a very variable characteristic in of animals. There may be other which might be taken into account. In the case of the that colour is swans. 105 law approach certainty without be noted that probability is In our case. which would gravely alter the probability. knowledge would be a fresh datum.

hence we can never use experience to prove the inductive principle without begging the question. it is the in- ductive principle alone that can justify any inference from what has been examined to what has not been examined. The inductive principle. on the basis of experience. argue as to the future or the unexperienced parts of the past or present. All arguments which. or forgo all justification 1 of our expectations about the future. Thus we must either accept the inductive principle on the ground of its intrinsic evidence. but as regards unexamined cases. confirm the inductive principle as regards the cases that have been already examined . assume the inductive principle .106 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY things often fail to fulfil our expectations is no evidence that our expectations will not class of cases. is probably be fulfilled in a given case or a given Thus our inductive principle at any rate not capable of being disproved by an appeal to experience. is equally incapable of being proved by an appeal to Experience might conceivably experience. however. we have no reason to . If the principle is unsound.

are as completely dependent upon the inductive All principle as are the beliefs of daily life. such as the belief in the reign of law. and the belief The general that every event must have a cause. All our conduct is based upon associations which have worked in the past. is unless the inductive assumed. and this likeli- hood is dependent for its validity upon the inductive principle. are believed because such general principles mankind have found innumerable instances of their truth. and which we therefore regard as likely to work in the future . to expect bread to be more nourishing than a stone. on a basis of . we shall have no reason to suppose that his body is not inhabited by the mind of our worst enemy or of some total stranger. Thus all knowledge which. principles of science. But this affords no evidence for their truth in principle the future.ON INDUCTION 107 expect the sun to rise to-morrow. When we see what looks our best friend approaching us. and no instances of their falsehood. or to expect that if we throw ourselves off the roof like we shall fall.

is its scope and . most difficult raises some of the and most debated problems of philosophy. yet which. We will. tells us something about what is not experienced. and what degree of certainty. The existence and justification of such beliefs as many of — for the inductive principle. appears to be as firmly rooted in us the facts of experience. as is not the — only example we shall see. consider briefly what may be said to account for its such knowledge. is based upon a belief which experience can neither confirm nor confute.108 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY experience. at least in its more concrete applications. in the next chapter.

CHAPTER

VII

ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GENERAL PRINCIPLES
the preceding chapter that the principle of induction, while necessary to the validity of all arguments based on
in

We

saw

experience,

is

itself

not capable of being

proved by experience, and yet is unhesitatingly believed by every one, at least in all its
concrete
istics

applications.

In

these

character-

the principle of induction does not stand alone. There are a number of other principles

which cannot be proved or disproved by experience, but are used in arguments which
start

from what

is

experienced.

Some

of these principles

have even greater
of

evidence than

the

principle
of

induction,

and the knowledge

them has the same

degree of certainty as the knowledge of the existence of sense-data. They constitute the
109

110

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY
of
;

drawing inferences from what is and if what we infer is given in sensation to be true, it is just as necessary that our

means

principles of inference should be true as
is

it

that our data should be true.

The

prin-

ciples of inference are apt to be overlooked because of their very obviousness the as-

sumption involved
realising that
it is

is

assented to without our

an assumption.

But

it is

very important to realise the use of principles of inference, if a correct theory of knowledge
is

to be obtained

;

for our

knowledge

of

them

raises interesting

and

difficult

questions.

our knowledge of general principles, what actually happens is that first of all we
In
all

some particular application principle, and then we realise that the
realise

of

the

particu-

larity

is

irrelevant, andthatthere

is

a generality

equally truly be affirmed. This is of course familiar in such matters as teach" " two and two are four is ing arithmetic

which

may

:

first

learnt in the case of

of couples,
case,

and then
it is

and

so on, until

some particular pair some other particular at last it becomes possible
in

to see that

true of any pair of couples.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

111

The same thing happens with logical prinSuppose two men are discussing ciples. what day of the month it is. One of them " At least you will admit that if yestersays, day was the 15th to-day must be the 16th."
"Yes," says the other, "I admit that." " And you know," the first continues, "that yesterday was the 15th, because you dined with Jones, and your diary will tell you that " was on the 15th." Yes," says the second
;

"

therefore to-day is

the 16th."
;

Now such an argument is not hard to follow
and
if it is

granted that
will

its

in fact,

no one

must

also be

true.

deny But

premisses are true that the conclusion
it

depends for

its

truth upon an instance of a general logical The logical principle is as follows principle. " Suppose it known that if this is true, then
:

that

is

true.

Suppose
it

it

also

known

that this
is

is true,

then

follows that that
if

true."

When
is

it is

the case that

this is true, that

true,

we

" and that that " follows from

shall say that this

"
implies
this.

"

that,

Thus

our principle states that if this implies that, and this is true, then that is true. In other

112

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY
"

anything implied by a true pro" whatever follows from position is true," or
words,
a true proposition is true." This principle is really involved

concrete instances of

it

are

—at involved—

least,

in all

demonstrations.

Whenever one thing which
else,

we

believe

is

used to prove something

which we consequently If is relevant. any
should
I

believe, this principle

one

asks

"
:

Why

accept the results of valid arguments " we can only based on true premisses ? answer by appealing to our principle. In
the truth of the principle is impossible and its obviousness is so great that Such at first sight it seems almost trivial.
fact,

to doubt,

principles,

however, » are not

trivial

to the

show that we may have indubitable knowledge which is in no way derived from objects of sense. The above principle is merely one of a certain number of self-evident logical prinSome at least of these principles must ciples.
philosopher, for they

be granted before any argument or proof becomes possible. When some of them have

been granted, others can be proved, though

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

113

these others, so long as they are simple, are for just as obvious as the principles taken
of granted. For no very good reason, three have been singled out by these principles " Laws of tradition under the name of

Thought."

They
(1)
is."

are as follows

:

The

law of identity:

"Whatever
"

is,

The law of contradiction : can both be and not be." (3) The law of excluded middle thing must either be or not be."
(2)

Nothing
"

:

Every-

These three laws are samples of self-evident more logical principles, but are not really

fundamental or more self-evident than various other similar principles for instance, the one
:

we

considered just now, which states that

what follows from a true premiss is true. " " is also mislaws of thought The name for what is important is not the fact leading, that we think in accordance with these laws,
but the fact that things behave in accordance with them in other words, the fact that when we think in accordance with them we think
;

— seventeenth century. there are certain " ** " and innate principles.114 truly. Berkeley. and Hume maintained that all our knowledge is derived from are best represented — the rationalists who are repreexperience sented by the Continental philosophers of the . But this is a we must return at a In addition to the logical principles which enable us to prove from a given premiss that something is certainly true. THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY large question. that there a greater is or less probability that something An example of such principles is the inductive most important which we considered in the preprinciple. to which later stage. Locke. there are other logical principles which enable us to prove." The empiricists who and — by the British philosophers. is from a given premiss. the ceding chapter. One of the great historic controversies in philosophy is the controversy between the two schools called respectively "empiricists " " rationalists. especially Descartes and Leibniz maintained that. example — —perhaps true. in addition to — what we know by experience." innate ideas .

the word " experienced. On the other hand.GENERAL PRINCIPLES It has 115 which we know independently of experience. which was the most important point of the controversy. It would certainly be absurd to suppose that there are innate principles in the sense that babies are born with a knowledge of every- thing which men know and which is cannot be deduced from what reason. In this. since all proof presupposes them. for the reasons already stated. even that part of our is logically knowledge which independent of experience (in the sense that experience cannot prove it) is yet elicited and caused by experience. now become possible to decide with of some confidence as to the truth or falsehood these opposing schools. therefore. that logical principles are known to us. and cannot be themselves proved by experience. For this " innate would not now be employed to describe our knowledge of . It is on occasion of particular experiences that we become aware of the general laws which their connections exemplify. It must be admitted. the rationalists were in the right.

we shall nevertheless hold that some knowledge logical principles. we must have among our ence. . from general consideration as to what must be.116 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY The phrase " a pn'on " is less objectionable. for example. in the last analysis. rests upon testimony. Our be- Emperor of Russia exists. they could to. of sense-data seen or heard in reading or being spoken Rationalists believed that. while admitting that all knowledge is elicited and caused by experience. and testimony lief that the consists. Thus. Nothing can be known to exist except by the help of experi- we wish to prove that something of which we have no direct experience exists. if premisses the existence of one or more things of which we have direct experience. but merely so directs our attention that we see its truth without requiring any proof from experience. in which the empiricists were in the right There is as against the rationalists. is a priori^ in the sense that the experience which makes us think of it does not suffice to prove it. That is to say. and is more usual in modern writers. another point of great importance.

without being known immediately. All When anything is is existence is known immediately. This is exemplified by this implies that. its known by experience alone when . the principles as'' if this is one proposition is true. All the knowledge that we can acquire a priori concerning existence seems to be hypothetical it tells us that if : one thing generally. more that another must be true. and that is true. another must if exist. have been mistaken. such true.GENERAL PRINCIPLES 117 deduce the existence of this or that in the In this belief they seem to actual world." Thus the scope and power limited. . exists. of a priori principles is strictly knowledge that something exists must be in part dependent on experience. called empirical when it rests all wholly or partly upon experience. then we have already dealt with. they will probably be connected in the next instance in which one of them is found. both Knowledge is experience and a priori principles must be required in the proof. or. Thus knowledge which asserts existence is empirical." or " if this and that have been repeatedly found connected. anything proved to exist.

must be useful because it secures some end. that happiness is desirable than misery. and so on. in part at least. for what is such judgments do require empirical premisses . A priori knowledge is not the logical considering. kind we have been hitherto Perhaps the most important example of nonis knowledge as to logical a priori knowledge ethical value. Such judgments must. goodwill than hatred. but all of not giving actual existence. I am speaking of judgments as to the intrinsic desirability of things. it We more judge.118 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY priori and the only a existence is knowledge concerning among hypothetical. giving connections things that exist or may exist. for example. I am is not speaking of judguseful or as to ments as to what virtuous. if we have gone far enough. the end must. If something is useful. and not merely because it is useful for some further end. knowledge than ignorance. Thus all judgments as to what is useful depend upon judgments as to what has value on its own account. be valuable on its own account. Like our previous . be immediate and a priori.

The pursuit ethics. they may be elicited by for it experience. obvious that they cannot be .GENERAL PRINCIPLES 119 a priori judgments. They maintained that by the repeated ex- . a priori. and indeed they must be . who maintained that experience is mathematics was as much the source of our knowledge of arithmetic as of our knowledge of geography. where the impossibility belongs of deducing what ought to be from what is has to be established. like logic. namely in the sense that the truth of such knowledge can be neither proved nor All pure disproved by experience. This was strenuously denied by the empirical philosophers. it is knowledge as to is is only important to realise that what is intrinsically of value a priori in the same sense in which logic a priori. seems not possible to judge whether anything is intrinsically valuable unless we have experienced But it is fairly something of the same kind. In the present con- to nection. for the fact that a proved by experience thing exists or does not exist cannot prove either that it is good that it should exist or of this subject that it is bad.

examination of other instances becomes unnecessary. and the . four things altohowever. If we want to prove some property of all triangles. If. we should proceed differently. from the way in which we do actually proceed. we were led by induction to the conclusion that two things and two other things would always gether.120 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY two things and two other perience of seeing things. rather than of two coins or two books or two people. Whitehead. in persuading ourselves of its truth. In fact. this were the source of make our knowledge that two and two are four. we become able to see the general principle that two and two are four any one instance is seen to be typical. we draw some one triangle and * Cf. N. A. and finding that altogether they made four things. or two of any other specified kind. Introduction to Mathematics (Home University Library). . a certain number of instances are needed to make us think of two abstractly.* The same thing is exemplified in geometry. But as soon as we are able to divest our thoughts of irrelevant particularity.

and thus. on the contrary. though in the actual world they happen world. we feel : they were false.GENERAL PRINCIPLES reason about it . as soon as we have seen the truth of this proposition. : to be true. IVIoreover. Such mere facts generalisations always remain that there might be a world in which we feel greater. feel our certainty that and two are four increased by fresh we obtain a instances. our certainty becomes so great as to be incapable of growing some quality of " two and necessity about the proposition two are four. 121 but we can avoid making use of any property which it does not share with all other triangles. " such as All men are mortal." It is plain that we believe this proposition. The case may be made clearer by con- sidering a genuinely empirical generalisation. in fact. in the first place." which is absent from even the best attested empirical generalisations. In any possible but a necessity to which everything actual and possible must conform. We two general result. do not. from our particular case. we feel that two and two would be four this is not a mere fact. . because.

race of Struldbugs who never die. in the case: " two and two are four. however slight. whereas. on reflection. Neglecting the second ground. that there may be some doubt. where two and two make a different level. and considering merely our experience of men's mortality. it is plain that we should not be content with one quite clearly understood! instance of a man dying. five seems quite on if We feel that such a world. as to whether all men are. while in the other two and two make When Swift invites us to consider the five.. Also we can be forced to admit. in one of which there are men who are not mortal. . and in the second place because there seem to be physiological grounds for thinking that an organism such as a man's body must sooner or later wear out. we are But a world able to acquiesce in imagination. attempt to imagine two different worlds. to persuade us that the same must happen in any other instance. mortal. when carefully considered.122 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY is because there no known instance of men living beyond a certain age. This may be made plain by the." one instance doeji of suffice.

at least. because the " are general proposition. If not contained in our premisses. it does do so. which goes from the particular to the particular. and we know that Brown and Jones are two. It is an old debate among ' f philosophers whether deduction ever gives new knowledge. goes from the general to the general or from the general to the particular. and so are Robinson and Smith. or from the particular to the general. we can " know the general proposition without inferring from instances. would upset the whole fabric of our knowledge and reduce us to utter doubt. although some instance is usually necessary to make clear to us what the \ " general proposition means. The and it fact is that. in simple mathematical judgments such as also in two and two are four. two and two four. is This is why there which real utility in the process of deduction. as well as in the process of induction. This is new knowledge." many judgments of logic.GENERAL PRINCIPLES 123 there were one." . we know that two and two always make already four. We can now see that in certain cases. we can deduce that Brown and Jones and Robinson and Smith are four.

124 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY never told us there were such people as Brown and Jones and Robinson and Smith. whereas the particular proposition deduced does tell us both these things. men on whom still our induction is we shall do better to argue straight from our A. what we really reasonable doubt is that certain men." For the all men probability are mortal. is is namely. B. were mortal. since. that Socrates is mortal is greater. Socrates is mortal. But the newness of the knowledge is much less certain if we take the stock instance of deduction that " logic. If Socrates is not one of the based. in fact. C. If Socrates is know beyond one of these men. all than the probability that men . on our data. it is foiolish to go the roundabout way through " *' to arrive at the conall men are mortal clusion that probably Socrates is mortal. a man. they have died." In this case. to Socrates. B. and the there particular premisses did not tell us that were four of them. than to go round by the general proposition. A. C. therefore always given in books on All men are mortal Socrates . " are mortal.

because all empirical generalisations are than the instances of them. induction preferable. We tions have now seen that there are proposiknown a priori.) Hence we Socrates is if shall reach the conclusion that mortal with a greater approach to we make our argument purely certainty " inductive than if we go by way of all men " are mortal and then use deduction. because . This illustrates the difference priori. it does not follow that men are mortal." " and empirical all men are mortal. and that among them are the propositions of logic and pure mathematics. as well as the fundamental propositions of ethics. The question which must next occupy this : us is How is it possible that there . is Socrates but if Socrates all mortal. deduction is the right mode of argument." generalisations such as In regard to the former. between such as ' general propositions " two and two are known a four. is whereas in regard to always theoretically the latter. if all men are mortal.GENERAL PRINCIPLES (This so is is 125 obvious. and warrants a greater confidence more uncertain in the truth of our conclusion.

German philosopher Kant and are very difficult. historically very im- . how can there be knowledge of general propositions in cases where we have not examined all the instances. which brought prominently forward by (1724-1804). portant. because their number were the is infinite ? first These questions.126 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY should be such knowledge ? And more particularly. and indeed never can examine them all.

many metaphysical results as to the nature of the world. Whether these results were valid may well be doubted. he never his interrupted teaching of Konigsberg in East Prussia. " critical philosophy at His most dis- tinctive contribution was the invention of what philosophy. inquired how such know- ledge comes to be possible. from the answer to this inquiry. and deduced.CHAPTER HOW A PRIORI VIII IS KNOWLEDGE is POSSIBLE Immanuel Kant the of generally regarded as Though he philosophers. greatest lived through the Seven Years' the modern War and the French Revolution. for having perceived that we have a priori knowledge wluch : 127 . which. that there is knowledge he called the " assuming as a datum of various kinds. But Kant undoubtedly deserves credit for two things first.

Before the time of Kant it was thought that all judgments analytic of which we could be certain a : priori were of this kind that in all of them there was a If this predicate which was only part of the subject of which it was asserted. of which one is singled out to be Such propositions as the above asserted of it. philosophical having made evident the importance of the theory of must be " will knowledge. were so. If I A bald man is a man. it was generally held that whatever knowledge was a priori analytic. we . such that .128 is THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY not " purely for analytic. and would never be enunciated in real life way " except by an orator preparing the for a piece of sophistry.'' What this word means be best illustrated by examples. the opposite would be self -contradictory and secondly." i. They are called " because the predicate is obtained by merely analysing the subject." " A plane figure say. are trivial.e." A bad poet is a poet." I make " a purely analytic judgment the subject about is given as having at least two spoken : properties. " is a figure. Before the time of Kant.

argued coras would now be generally admitted knowledge. the connection was really synthetic. who preceded Kant. if only we had sufficient —that rectly. and would therefore conThus according to the philoitself. " A bald man " not bald of the tradict would assert and deny baldness same man. the law of contradiction. Hume — inferred the far Hence he more doubtful proposition that nothing could be known a priori about .A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE should diction 129 be if involved in a definite contra- that could be is we attempted to deny anything known a priori. Before Hume. rationalists at least had cases which supposed that the effect could be logically deduced from the cause. sufficed to establish the truth of all a priori knowledge. discovered that. this could not be done. sophers before Kant. which asserts that nothing can at the same time have and not have a certain property. and notably in the case of cause and effect. accepting the usual view as to what makes knowledge a priori. (1711-1776). in many Hume had previously been supposed analytic.

he endeavoured to find The question which Kant put at the be" How is ginning of his philosophy. that 7 and 5 have to be put together to give 12 the stance was : = idea is not contained in them.130 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY Kant. to which every philoesting sophy which is not purely sceptical must find ? " . is syn- and this conclusion raised a new problem of which the solution. though a thetic . but all the propoit. namely pure mathematics possible is an interand difficult one. quite truly. He pointed out. and geometry. priori. who had been educated in the rationahst tradition. of in all these no the the subject in- reveal His stock the proposition 7 + 5 12." propositions. : are " synthetic. the connection of cause and effect. Thus he was led to the conclusion that all 12 pure mathematics. He sitions of arithmetic i.e. nor of even in the idea of adding them together. will not analytic analysis predicate. was much perturbed by Hume's scepticism. and endeavoured to find an answer to perceived that not only the connection of cause and effect.

Thus our general propositions of knowledge mathematics (and the same applies to for otherwise than logic) must be accounted our (merely probable) knowledge of empirical generalisations the such as " all men are mortal. is that mathematical know- derived by induction from particular instances. and gain nothing by enumeration of other cases in which they have been found to be of true. that the validity of the inductive principle itself cannot be proved by induction . whereas all exIt particular. such as " two and two always make four. The our answer of the pure empiricists. secondly." can obvi- ously be known with certainty by consideration of a single instance.A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE some ledge 131 answer. we have already seen to be inadequate. seems strange that able to we should apparently be know some ." The problem such knowledge perience is arises is through the fact that general. that the : general propositions of mathematics. for two reasons first. truths in advance about particular things of which we have as yet no experience but it .

and is differently understood by different philosophers. and even that will be thought mis- leading by many exponents of Kant's our system. to what we have called the physical object"). We can. is interesting. only give the merest outline of it. in though not valid It is. We saw. a hundred years hence of but we know that them and any other two of them four of make them. power which we have no experience surprising.1S2 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY cannot easily be doubted that logic and arithmetic will apply to such things. We do not know who any two will will be the inhabitants of London . however. and that the sense-data are to be regarded as resulting . the other due to our own nature. that the physical object is different from the associated sense-data. of anticipating facts This apparent about things of is certainly Kant's solution of the problem. What Kant maintained was there are that in all two elements to be experience distinguished. in discussing matter and sensedata.e. the one due to the object " {i. very difficult. therefore. my opinion.

— — is due to the object. He considers that the object respectively. of to have a 'priori knowledge as to and time and causality and comparispace but not as to the actual crude material sensation. that experience must show the characteristics affirmed of it in anything ever our a priori knowledge. because these characteristics are due to our own nature. We we can be sure. and all the relations between sense -data which result from comparison or from considering one as the cause of the other or in any other way. we are in object and ourselves. view is His that chief reason in favour of this we seem son. the crude material given in sensation colour. and that what we supply is the arrangement in space and time. shall he says. . But what is distinctive of Kant is the way in which he apportions the shares of ourselves and the physical agreement with Kant. etc.A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE 1S3 from an interaction between the physical So far. hardness. and therefore nothing can ever come our experience into without acquiring these characteristic*.

bephenomenon. reconcile not an actual or possible In this way he tries to of and harmonise the contentions the rationalists with the arguments of the empiricists. Apart from minor grounds on which Kant's philosophy may be criticised. The as we have " it in experience.134 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY *' physical object. namely. Thus in spite of the existence of a priori knowledge. Hence this knowledge. must not be supposed to apply outside experience. we cannot know anything about the thing in itself or about what is object of experience. sure to have those characteristics which are due to us." a joint product of us and the thing in is itself. not identical. there is * Kant's is identical in definition thing in itself with the physical object. which he calls the ing The phenomenon. since Kant held (in spite of some inconsistency as regards cause) that we can know that none of the " " categories are applicable to the " thing in itself. it is the cause of sensaIn the properties deduced from the definition it is tion. though true of all actual and possible experience. and is therefore sure to conform to our a priori knowledge. which he calls the * he regards as essentially thing in itself." unknowable what can be known is the object ." .

The thing to be our certainty that the facts must always conform to logic and arithmetic. yet it is one which utterly destroys the certainty and universality which he is anxious to vindicate for arithmetical propositions. suffices for the . But he will still have to suppose that the time-order of phenomena is determined by characteristics of what is behind phenomena. Kantian view that time itself is a form imposed by the subject upon phenomena. Our nature is as much a fact of the existing world as anything. and there can be no certainty that it will remain constant It might happen. This possibility seems never to have occurred to him. To say that logic and arithmetic are contributed by us does not account for this. that to-morrow our nature would so change as to make two and two is Kant become five. formally. It is true that this is inconsistent with the possibility. and this substance of our argument. so that our real Self is not in time and has no to-morrow. if right.A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE 135 one main objection which seems fatal to any attempt to deal with the problem of a priori knowledge by accounted for his is method. .

" The view which led to outer world.186 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY make it clear if Reflection. Thus Kant's solution unduly limits the scope of a priori propositions. even if physical objects cannot be experienced. but . To of assert this is what we mean when we two are four. they must apply to things equally whether we think of them or not. in addition to failing in the attempt at explaining their certainty. there is any truth in our arithmetical beliefs. moreover. Apart from the special doctrines advocated by Kant. their being so way we must named is a natural one. Two physical objects and two other physical objects must make four physical objects. seems to that. Its truth is as certainly within the scope state that two and just as indubitable the truth of the assertion that two phenomena and two other phenomena make four phenomena. philoto regard what is a priori as in some sophers sense mental. as concerned rather with the it is very common among think than with any fact of the We noted in the preceding chapter the three principles commonly called *' laws of thought.

if a tree is a beech it cannot stated in the also be not a beech . Let us take as an illustra- tion the law of contradiction. when is we believe the law of contradiction. if my table is rectan- gular so on." which is intended to express the fact that nothing can at once have and not have a given quality.A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE is 137 there are strong reasons for thinking that it erroneous. and it Now what makes natural to call this principle a law of thought is that it is by thought rather than by outward observation we persuade ourselves of its necessary truth. that to ascertain whether it is also not a beech . it cannot also be not rectangular. of contradiction makes us know that this is But the conclusion that the law is a law of thought is never- theless erroneous. not that the mind is so it must believe is the law of contradiction. What we made that believe. thought alone impossible. This belief a . Thus. This is form " Nothing commonly can both be and not be. for example. When we have seen that a tree is a we do not need to look again in order beech.

belief in the law of The is belief in the law of contradiction a belief about things. subsequent result of psychological which presupposes the contradiction. but a fact concerning the things in the world. law of contradiction itself is not a thought..g. belief that if we think a certain tree is a beech. we are not making a a priori judgment. same time it is think that that it if not a beech is the belief a beech. and not the tree and although belief merely about thoughts in the law of contradiction is a thought. A similar argument applies to any other judge that two and two are four. the only about thoughts.188 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY reflection. the . not It is not. it cannot at the same time be not a beech. Thus the law of contradiction is about things. e. When we . which we believe when we believe the law of contradiction. we cannot is at the . thought. were not true of the things in the world. If this. the fact that we were compelled to think it true would not save the law of contradiction from being false and this shows that the law is not a law of .

. The fact that our minds are so constituted as to believe that two and two are four. And no fact about the constitution of our minds could four. if it not erroneous. emphatically not what we assert when we assert that two and two are four. The fact seems to be that all our a priori knowledge is concerned with entities which do not. that I exist. is not merely knowledge about the constitution of our minds. for instance. both what is mental and what is is non-mental. is make it true that two and two are priori knowledge. exist. Sup. but about all actual or possible couples. These entities are such as can be named by parts of which are not substantives they are speech such entities as qualities and relations. I and my room exists but does " in " exist ? Yet obviously the word " in " has a meaning it denotes a relation which holds . in my room. properly speaking. either in the mental or in the physical world. but Thus our a applicable to whatever the world may contain. am .A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE 139 judgment about our thoughts. pose. though is it is true.

although exists in the we cannot say it same sense in which I and my room exist. but that the mind brings them together in one act of thought and thus produces the relations which it judges them to have. . This view. we could in not understand the sentence " I am my room. for. The relation " in " is something which we can think about and understand.140 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY me and my room." of the philosophers. have maintained that relations are the work Many mind. following Kant. It seems plain that it is not against thought which produces the truth of the " I am in my room. we shall tee more fully in the next chapter. Thus relations. seems open to objections similar to those which we urged before Kant. however. for this truth concerns only the earwig and the room. if we could not understand it." It may be proposition true that an earwig is in my room. that things in themselves have no relations. even neither I nor the earwig nor any one else if is aware of this truth . This relation that is between something. and does not depend upon anything as else.

A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE must be placed in 141 neither of great a world which This world i« is mental nor physical. . In the next chapter we shall proceed to develop its nature and its bearing upon the questions with which we have been dealing. importance to philosophy. and in particular to the problems of a priori knowledge.

Plato's an attempt to solve this very problem. and also different from that of minds and from that of senseIn the present chapter we have to data.CHAPTER IX THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS the end of the preceding chapter we saw that such entities as relations appear to have At some way different from that of physical objects. since it was brought theory into philosophy of ideas by Plato. We will begin with a being which is in the latter question. The is " theory to be advocated in what follows 142 is . consider what is the nature of this kind of being. The problem with which we are now " con- cerned is a very old one. and in my opinion it is one of the most successful attempts hitherto made. and also what objects there are that have this kind of being.

" (It must idea or Plato calls an " not be supposed that ideas. natural to proceed by and the other just act. Let us consider. This common nature. some sense. with merely such tions as time has shown to be necessary.) The " idea be apprejustice is not . partake of a common nature. in virtue of which they are ordinary acts. The way the problem arose for Plato was more or less as follows. the pure essence the admixture of which with facts of produces the multiplicity of just Similarly with any other word which life be applicable to common facts. This pure essence is what " "" " form. though they may " hended by minds." in his sense. If we ask ourselves what justice is. all just. say. whiteness applicable to a number of particular things may " because they all participate in a common nature or essence. such as " The word will be for example. which will be found in whatever is just and in nothing else. They must all. that. will be justice itself. it is considering this. such a notion as justice.THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS 143 modificalargely Plato's. exist in minds. in with a view to discovering what they have in common.

Hence it is easy to pass on into a mysticism. for whatever we may about things in the world of sense. which alone gives to the world of sense whatever pale reflection of reality may belong to it. which. The truly real world. cannot itself exist in the world it is of sense. and we may in heaven. for Plato. to see the ideas as we see objects ot sense . . attempt to say we can only succeed in saying that they participate in such and such ideas.144 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY is identical with anything that just : it is some- thing other than particular things. therefore. in a mystic illumination. We may hope. imagine These mystical developments are very natural. Moreover like not fleeting : or is changeable eternally the things of sense it itself. which things it particular particular. constitute all their character. Not being partake of. but the basis of the theory is in logic. and it is that the ideas exist as based in logic that we have to consider it. is the world of ideas . Thus Plato is led to a supra-sensible world. immutable and indestructible. the unchangeable world of ideas. more real than the common world of sense.

particulars. is We is given in sensation. particulars. in the course of time." to what Plato meant. The essence of the sort of entity that Plato meant is that it is opposed to the particular things that are given in sensation.THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS The word *' 145 " has acquired. many associations which are idea quite misleading when applied to Plato's " ideas. When we examine common find that. other sub- . The word " now " stands for a particular. as we saw. or speak of whatever of the same nature . . and verbs stand for • stand for universals. may be shared by many parti- and has those characteristics which. we proper names words. distinguish justice and whiteness from just acts and white things. prepositions. broadly speaking. . adjectives. but are Pronouns : ambiguous it is only the context or the circumstances that by we know what particulars they stand for. as a particular by opposition to this. stand for while ' stantives. as things given in sensation. a universal will be any- thing which culars." We shall therefore use the word describe "universal" instead of the word "idea.

notes a universal. it strange that hardly anybody except students of philosophy ever realises that there is are such entities as universals. When. we hear the sentence.146 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY . naturally dwell We . for example. we naturally think of it as standing for some one of the particulars that come under the universal. because the present is always changing. and other people may of 1- like things. it stands for an ambiguous particular. " Charles I.'s head was . do not upon those words in a sentence which do not stand for particulars and if we are forced to dwell upon a word which stands for a universal. for I may like other things. namely the present moment but like pronouns. It will be seen that no sentence can be made up without at least one word which The nearest approach " I like would be some such statement as " " this. all Thus all truths involve universals. Seeing that nearly all the words to be found in the dictionary stand for universals." But even here the word like dedenotes a universal. and knowledge truths involves acquaintance with uni- versals.

as follows : common of single Speaking generally. whereas prepositions and ." Charles 147 we may I. adjectives and nouns express qualities or properties things. off his naturally enough think of and of the operation of cutting particulars . we may say. broadly. head. which are all upon what is " the word cut. This omission has had a very it is great effect upon philosophy hardly too much to say that most metaphysics. Spinoza. while those named by verbs and prepositions have been usually overlooked. that only those universals which are named by adjectives or substantives have been much or often recognised. has been largely determined by it.THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS cut off." which is a universal. Hence we succeed in avoiding all notice of before universals as such. but we do not naturally dwell meant by the word " head " or anything can be done with them. We feel such words to be incomplete and insubstantial they seem to demand a context . The way this has occurred is. until the study of philosophy forces them upon our attention. since . of Charles I.'s head.. in outline. Even among philosophers.

which was advo- cated by Spinoza. positions and verbs led to the belief that every proposition can be regarded as attributing a property to a single thing. since any interaction relations are im- would be a possible. namely the they are. the second. if many things. because each of the isolated things is called a monad. sort represented by adjectives and substan- . Both these opposing philosophies. is called monadism. or. ultimately. Hence it there are can be only one thing in the universe. is called monism . relation. there can be no such entities as Hence either there relations between things. Bradley and many other philosophers. they cannot possibly interact in any way. and The first of these views. from an undue attention to one sort of universals. interesting as result. but is not very common nowadays. rather than as expressing a relation between two or was supposed that. more things. in my opinion. and is held in our own day by Mr.148 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY verbs tend to express relations between two Thus the neglect of preor more things. which was advocated by Leibniz.

This view. we can i.THE WORLD OF UNI VERS ALS tives tions. we shall say that things are white because they have the quality of whiteness. the sort of universals generally represented by verbs and prepositions.e. was strenuously denied by Berkeley and Hume.e. who have been followed in this by later empiricists. If we believe that there is such a universal. The form which their denial took was to deny that there are such " abstract ideas. 149 rather than by verbs and prepojiif As a matter of fact. we should find that we cannot strictly prove that there are such entities as i. qualities. any one were anxious to deny altogether that there are such things as universals. however. the universals represented by adjectives and substantives. we form an image of some particular white thing. Let us take in illustration the universal whiteness. whereas prove that there must be relations. and reason concerning this particular. they said." When we want things as to think of whiteness. taking care not to deduce anything concerning it which we cannot see to be equally true of any other .

for example. it. in order to make sure that his reasoning is equally applicable to all of them. If we we shall choose patch of white or if it some particular some particular triangle. It will be useless to say that . of a universal. the resemblance must hold between many pairs of particular white things and this is the characteristic .150 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY As an account is white thing. is and say that anything white or a triangle has the right sort of resemblance to our chosen particular. when we wash to prove something about all triangles. But then the resemblance required will have to be a universal. how we know a triangle. The beginner. often useful to draw several triangles. true. this no doubt largely In geometry. as unlike each other as possible. Since there are many white things. But a difficulty emerges as soon as we ask ourselves that a thing is white or wish to avoid the universals whiteness and triangularity. of our actual mental processes. finds it in order to avoid error. we draw a particular triangle and reason about taking care not to use any characteristic which it does not share with other triangles.

THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS there is 151 a different resemblance for each pair. theories to avoid the admission of such universals as whiteness and triangularity. made by rationalists were. we find that it is no longer worth while to invent difficult and unplausible blance as a universal. Having now seen that there must be such entities as universals." because. semblance. like their adversaries. and thus at last we shall be forced to admit resem- The relation of remust be a true universal. therefore here another respect in which the rationalists appear to have been in the right as against the empiricists. although. if any- more apt to be mistaken than those made by empiricists. the deductions thing. for then we shall have to say that these resemblances resemble each other. And having been forced to admit this universal. they only thought of ignored relations and altogether as universals. therefore. Berkeley and Hume failed to perceive " this refutation of their rejection of abstract ideas. owing to the neglect or denial of relations. We have qualities. the next point to be .

this is meant that whatever being belongs is is proved By to independent of their being thought of or or in any way apprehended by minds. all This is. denied by many .152 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY that their being is not merely mental. we come to know something which : has to do only with Edinburgh and London truth of the proposition it. know about north and there were no minds at south. them have already touched on this subject at the end of the preceding chapter. part of the earth's surface where Edinburgh stands would be north of the part where we do not cause the by coming to know London even if stands." lation Here we have a rebetween two places. and it seems plain that the relation subsists independently of our knowledge of it. but we must now consider more fully what sort of being it is that belongs to universals. When we come to know that Edinburgh is north of London. of course. even if there were no human and in the being to universe. on the contrary we merely apprehend a The fact which was there before we knew it. " Consider such a proposition as Edinburgh is We north of London.

but to the independent world which thought apprehends but does not create. is belongs not dependent upon thought. This conclusion." which is a universal and it would be impossible for the whole fact to . did involve anything mental. is met by the " " north of does difficulty that the relation not seem to exist in the same sense in which Edinburgh and London exist. But this fact involves the relation north of. " " north involve nothing mental if the relation of. Hence we must admit that the it relation. We may therefore now it to be true that nothing mental is presupposed in the fact that Edinburgh is north of London." the answer must be or time where we can find There is no place the relation " north of." It does not exist in it Edinburgh any more than in London. however." which is a constituent part of the fact. either for Berkeley's reasons or for Kant's. like the terms relates. If we ask " Where and when does this relation exist ? " " Nowhere and no when. are nd decided that they assume inadequate. Cut we have already con- sidered these reasons. for .THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS 153 philosophers.

Then in one sense it may be said that white" We have here the in our mind. Suppose. for example. be apprehended by the senses or by intro:spection exists some " particular Hence the different relation north of " It is radically from such things. also causes confusion In one sense of this word. namely the here. Now at everything that can time. is neither in space nor in time.154 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY two and is relates the neutral as between it them. like any other mental act. In the strict sense. neither material nor mental It is . and our thinking then exists in a perfectly ordinary sense." which we ambiguity in the word noted at the same time." ness is same ambiguity as we noted Berkeley in it is in discussing Chapter IV. The connected " idea. the very peculiar kind of being that belongs to universals which has led many people to suppose that they are really mental. but the act of thinking of whiteness. We can think of a universal. not whiteness that is in our mind. yet it is largely something. Nor can we say that exists at any (particular time. . that we are thinking of whiteness.

e. when they are in time. rob it of its essential quality of universality. of thought. But in so thinking. That which many different thoughts of whiteness have in common is their object. One man's act different of thought is necessarily a one from another man's thing man's act of thought at one time is necessarily a different thing from the same man's . an act of and thus we come to think that thought whiteness is mental. . that when we can point to some time ai possi- which they exist (not excluding the . and this object is different from all of them.THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS sense in which it 155 denotes the object of an act " idea. universals known they We is not thoughts. we " in the other sense. we may come " idea to think that whiteness is an i. though when are the objects of thoughts. Hence. shall find it convenient only to speak are of things existing to say. if whiteness were the thought as opposed to its no two different men could think of it. Thus object. act of thought at another time. whiteness is an if the ambiguity is not guarded against." Hence. and no one man could think of it twice.

the logician. delightful to the mathematician. without the data of sense. all physical objects. sharp boundaries. and value of life and the world. but it contains all thoughts and feelings. that can do either good or harm. the builder of metaphysical systems. without any clear plan or arrangement. and hardly worthy to be regarded as in any sense real. According to our temperaments. and all who love The world of perfection more than life. fleeting. we shall say that they subsist or have being. thoughts and objects exist.156 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY Thus* feelings. rigid. The world of universals. minds and physical But universals do not exist bility of their existing at all times). where is opposed to being *' " existence as being timeless. we shall prefer the contemplation of the one or of the other. in this sense . therefore. But the truth is that both have the same . The world is unchangeable. everything everything that makes any difference to the all is existence vague. " " may also be described of being as the world of being. The one we do not prefer will probably seem to us a pale shadow of the one we prefer. exact.

. Indeed no sooner have we dis- tinguished the two worlds than it becomes necessary to consider their relations. where we shall find that it solves the problem of a priori knowledge.THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS 157 cairn on our impartial attention. from which we were first led to consider universals. But will first of all we must examine our This consideration knowledge of universals. both are real. occupy us in the following chapter. and both are important to the metaphysician.

those known only by description. see a white patch. SAveet.CHAPTER X ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS In regard to one man's knowledge at a given time. like particulars. universals. loud. When we in are acquainted. i. with qualities which are exemplified in sense-data. Let us consider universals the knowledge of It is obvious. hard. easily learn to abstract the whiteness . and those not known either by acquaintance first or by de- scription. with the particular we patch we white patches. that we are acquainted with such universals as white. and in 158 . black. etc. but by seeing all many which they have in common. by acquaintance. red. the first instance. to begin with.e. sour. may be divided into those known by acquaintance..

" other universal of the same sort. I can see at a relations to glance the whole of the page on which I am writing . and by abstraction I find that what . the case of different white patches. that all these sense-data have something in com- mon. as in . and seem less removed from particulars they than other universals are. parts of the and some But I perceive that some are to the left of other parts. The easiest effort apprehend are those which hold between the different parts of a single complex sense-datum. We come next to relations. The : process of abstraction in this case seems to proceed somewhat as follows I see successively a number of sense-data in which one part is to the left of another I perceive. " Universals may be called sensible qualiless They can be apprehended with of abstraction than any others. thus the whole page is included in one sense-datum.ON KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS learning to 159 do this we are learning to be acquainted with whiteness. page parts are above other parts. For example. A similar process will make us acquainted with any of this sort ties.

From either of these sources I can abstract the universal relation of before and after. I other . namely the relation " which I call In being to the left of. In like manner I become aware of the relation of before I and after in time. those with which we are ac- quainted. and I can perceive that the earlier bells came before the I later Also I memory what am remembering came perceive that before the present time." this way I become acquainted with the universal relation. among space relations. : Suppose hear a chime of bells when the last bell of the chime sounds. I can retain the whole chime before ones. my in mind. just as I abstracted left the of. if I simultaneously two shades can see that they resemble each also see a shade of red at the same ." universal relation - "being to the like Thus time are relations.ICO THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY they have in common is a certain relation between their parts. If I see of green. Another relation with which we become acquainted in much the same way is resemblance.

ON KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS time. " namely greater than. In this way I become acquainted with the universal resemblance or similarity. Our knowledge of such relations. Returning now to the problem of a priori knowledge. we find ourselves in a position to deal with it in a F . We have just seen that we can perceive that the resemblance between two shades of green is greater than the resemblance between a shade of red and a shade of green. Thus there immediate knowledge concerning universals as well as concerning sense-data. as between which we parti- culars. I can see 161 that the two greens have more resemblance to each other than either has to the red. Between universals. appears to be equally immediate. is and (at least in some is cases) equally indubit- able." between two relations. Here we are dealing with a relation. there are relations of may be immediately aware. though it requires more power of abstraction than required for perceiving the qualities of sense-data. which we left unsolved when we began the consideration of universals.

the case in which an a priori proposition as if one class of particulars belong to some other class. This proposition of great importance. In this case it might seem as though we were dealing with the particulars that have the property rather than with the property. The " two and tv»o are four " is really proposition ." It is position fairly said. in view of what has been that this proposition states a relation " between the universal two " and the uni- versal "four. " two and two are four. at our proposition were untrue.162 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY much more satisfactory manner than was Let us revert to the propossible before. The only case first sight." This suggests a proposition which we blish . is in which it might seem. or (what comes to states that all of the same thing) that all particulars having some one property also have some other. All a priori knowledge deals with relations of exclusively universals. and goes a long way towards solving our previous difficulties concerning a priori knowledge. shall now endeavour the is to esta- namely. obvious.

ON KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS 163 a case in point.e. even of discovering One way — — if or false." " or any collection formed of two twos is a collection of four. By applying this test. we do not yet know whether it is true it is evident that we must have acquaintance with whatever is really dealt with by the proposition. two and two are four." If we can show that such statements as this really deal only with universals." it is plain that we can understand the proposition. i. for this may be stated in the form " any two and any other two are four. what obin order jects we must be acquainted with to see what the proposition means. what a proposition deals with is to ask ourselves what words we must understand in other words. we can is . As soon as we see what the proposition means." even when we interpret it as " meaning any collection formed of two twos a collection of four. it appears that many propositions which might seem to be concerned with particulars are really concerned only with uni" In the special case of versals. our proposition may be regarded as proved.

164
see

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY
what
"
it is

that

it

asserts, as

know what
"

is

four." It is quite unnecessary the couples in the world if it were necessary, obviously we could never

two

and
all

"

meant by "

collection

soon as w« "

and

to

know

:

understand the proposition, since the couples are infinitely numerous and therefore cannot
all

be known to us

.

Thus although our general

statement implies statements about particular couples, as soon as we know that there are
such particular couples, yet it does not itself assert or imply that there are such particular
couples,

and thus fails to make any statement whatever about any actual particular couple.

The

statement

made

is

about

"couple,"

the universal, and not
couple.

about

this or that

Thus the statement " two and two are four ** deals exclusively with universals, and therefore

may

be known by anybody who is acquainted with the universals concerned and can per-

ceive the relation between

them which the statement asserts. It must be taken as a fact, discovered by reflecting upon our knowledge, that we have the power of sometimes

ON KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS
and therefore
of

165

perceiving such relations between universals,

sometimes knowing general a priori propositions such as those of arithmetic and logic. The thing that seemed
mysterious,

when we formerly considered such
it

knowledge, was that

seemed to anticipate

and control experience. This, however, we can now see to have been an error. No fact
concerning anything capable of being experienced can be
experience.

known independently

of

We know a priori that two things

and two other things together make four things, but we do not know a priori that if Brown and Jones are two, and Robinson and Smith are two, then Brown and Jones and Robinson and Smith are four. The reason is
that this proposition cannot be understood at all unless we know that there are such

Brown and Jones and Robinson and Smith, and this we can only know by
people as
experience.
is

proposition to actual particulars involve experience and In therefore contain an empirical element.
this

Hence, although our general a priori, all its applications

way what seemed mysterious

in our a

166
priori

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY
is

knowledge an error. upon

seen to have been based

It will serve to make the point clearer if we contrast our genuine a priori judgment with an " empirical generalisation, such as all men are

mortals." Here as before, we can understand what the proposition means as soon as we understand the universals involved, namely man and mortal. It is obviously unnecessary to have an individual acquaintance with the

whole human race in order to understand

what our proposition means. Thus the difference between an a priori general proposition

and an empirical generalisation does
;

not come in the meaning of the proposition it comes in the nature of the evidence for it.

In the empirical case, the evidence consists
in

the
all

that

particular instances. men are mortal because

We

believe

we know

that there are innumerable instances of

men

dying, and no instances of their living beyond a certain age. We do not believe it

because

we

see a connection

between the
It

universal
is

man and
if

the universal mortal.

true that

physiology can prove, assum-

ON KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS

1G7

ing the general laws that govern living bodies, that no living organism can last for ever, that
gives a connection between man and mortality which would enable us to assert our proposition without appealing to the special evidence

But that only means that our has been subsumed under a generalisation wider generalisation, for which the evidence
of

men

dying.

is

still

of the

same kind, though more extenof science
is

sive.

The progress

constantly

producing such subsumptions, and therefore giving a constantly wider inductive basis
for scientific generalisations.
this gives

But although
:

a greater degree of certainty, it does not give a different kind the ultimate ground remains inductive, i.e. derived from
instances,

and not an a

priori connection
in logic

of universals such as

we have

and

arithmetic.

opposite points are to be observed concerning a priori general propositions. The
particular instances are known, our general proposition may be arrived at in the first instance by induction, and the
first is

Two

that,

if

many

connection of universals

may

be only sub-

168

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY

sequently perceived. For example, it is known that if we draw perpendiculars to the sides of

a triangle from the opposite angles, all three perpendiculars meet in a point. It would be
quite possible to be
first

led to this proposition

by

actually drawing perpendiculars in many cases, and finding that they always met in a

point
are

;

this experience

for the general proof

and

might lead us to look find it. Such cases

common in the experience of every mathe-

matician.

The other point is more interesting, and of more philosophical importance. It is, that

we may sometimes know a general proposition in cases where we do not know a single inTake such a case as the following numbers can be and will give a third multiplied together,
stance of it.
:

We know

that any two

called their product.

We know

that

all

pairs

of integers the product of

which

is less

than

100 have been actually multiplied together, and the value of the product recorded in the multiplication table. But we also know that the number of integers is infinite, and that only a finite number of pairs of integers ever

will which never have been and never thought of be by any human being. of knowledge of general propositions of which no instance can be given. from the very nature of the case. and does not require any knowledge of instances of the universals in question. and that them deal with integers the product of is which over 10(^ " : Hence we arrive at the proposition All products of two integers.ON KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS have been or ever beings. we ally admitted to be known. are over 100. because it is not perceived that the knowledge of such propositions only requires a knowledge of the relations of universals." Here truth is is a general proposition of which the undeniable. we can never give an in- because any two numbers we may think of are excluded by the terms of the proposition. . stance . will 169 be thought of by human Hence it follows that there are pairs of integers will which never have been and never all of be thought of by human beings. Yet the knowledge of such general propositions is quite vital to a great deal of what is generFor example. This possibility. and yet. is often denied.

as they have appeared We have in the course of our analysis. And the same applies to our knowledge of other people's minds. It follows that all our knowledge concerning physical objects is such that no actual instance can be given. one immediate and one derivative. . but we cannot give instances of the actual physical objects. are only obtained by an inference. Hence we can never know any proposition of the form " " " this is a physical object. that physical opposed to sense-data. and are not things with which we are acquainted. or of any other class of things of which no instance is known to us by acquaintance. We may now to distinguish knowledge of things knowledge of truths. can give instances of the associated sense-data. as something immediately known. In each there are first and two kinds. THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY in our early chapters." where this is objects.170 saw. of take a survey of the sources our knowledge. We Hence our knowledge as to physical objects depends throughout upon this possibility of general knowledge where no instance can be given.

similarity. and also certain abstract logical ciples. relations of space and time. things. Among particulars. there seems to be no principle by which we can decide which can be known by acquaintance. tion.ON KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS Our immediate knowledge called of things. Our derivative knowledge of truths consists of everything that we can deduce from self-evident truths . involves knowledge by descripboth acquaintance and the truths so known may be called self-evident truths. but it is clear that among those that can be so known are sensible qualities. and certain abstract logical universals. according as the things known are particulars or universals. consists of two sorts. Among universals. we have acquaintance with sense-data and (probably) with ourselves. and arithmetical prin- and (though with less certainty) some ethical propositions. Our immediate knowledge of truths may be called intuitive knowledge. Our which we derivative call knowledge of always with something and knowledge of truths. 171 which we acquaintance. Among such truths are included those which is merely state what given in sense.

172 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY of self - by the use deduction. even in dreams is and hallucinations. which does not arise in regard to knowledge of things. whatever may be the object of acquaintance. we can distinguish knowledge This problem does error. from if and becomes necessary to consider at all. But knowledge. all our know- ledge of truths depends upon our intuitive to consider the nature becomes important and scope of intuitive knowledge. i. mark of some Thus the problems conphysical object. If evident principles of If the above account is correct. therefore how. It therefore knowledge of truths raises a further problem. . nected with knowledge of truths arc more the sense-datum. there : no error involved so long as we do not go beyond the immediate object error can only arise when we regard the immediate object. as the . not arise with regard to knowledge by acquaintance. we considered the nature and scope of knowledge by acquaintance. namely the problem it of error. Some of our beliefs turn out to be erroneous. for. at an earlier stage. in much the same way as.e.

first of As the tive judgments. . let us examine the nature and scope of our intuiledge of things.ON KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS difficult 173 than those connected with know- the problems connected with knowledge of truths.

even 174 if we are . this view Almost all our common beliefs are either inferred. In the main. the giving reason has been forgotten. As a rule. for example. from other beliefs which may be regarded as the reason for them. that a perfectly reason there is good reason could be found. Yet we feel.CHAPTER XI ON INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE common impression that everything that we believe ought to be capable of proof. for It is felt by many that a is belief which no reason can be given an unis reasonable belief. or at least of being shown to be highly There is a probable. when challenged. or has even never been consciously present to our minds. Few of us ever ask ourselves. or capable of being inferred. what to suppose the food we are just going to eat will not turn out to be poison. just.

times unconsciously which. who. starting from some simpler self-evident .ON INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE not ready with this belief it 175 in at the moment. or principle. somebut there is no reasoning . The principle itself is constantly used sometimes consciously. such as whether our food is likely to be nourishing and not poisonous. general principle. we shall be driven back to the inductive principle. Starting common we can be driven backfrom point to point. And we are usually justified. which we discussed in Chapter VI. some instance of a general which seems luminously evident. and is not itself capable of being deduced from anything more evident. be driven to a point where we cannot find any further reason. in our reasoning. But beyond that. there seems to be no further regress. until we come to some beliefs of daily life. continues to demand a reason for the reason. and probably before very long. whatever reason we give him. We must But let sooner or later. In most questions of daily life. and where it becomes almost certain that no further reason retically is even theowith the discoverable. us imagine some insistent Socrates.

176

THE PROBLEMwS OF PHILOSOPHY

principle, leads us to the principle of induction And the same holds for as its conclusion.

other logical principles. to us, and we employ

Their truth is evident

them

in constructing

demonstrations
least

some

but they themselves, or at of them, are incapable of
;

demonstration.
Self-evidence, however,
is

not confined to

those

among

general

principles

which are

incapable of proof.
of logical principles

When

a certain number

have been admitted, the but the deduced from them rest can be propositions deduced are often just as selfevident as those that were assumed without
;

proof.

All

arithmetic,

moreover,

can

be

deduced from the general principles

of logic,

yet the simple propositions of arithmetic, " two and two are four," are just such as
as self-evident as the principles of logic.

though this is more disputable, that there are some self-evident " we ought to ethical principles, such as pursue what is good."
It

would seem,

also,

It should

be observed that, in

all

casei of

general principles, particular instances, dealing

ON INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE
the

177

with familiar things, are more evident than general principle. For example, the

law of contradiction states that nothing can both have a certain property and not have
it.

This
it is

is

but

understood, not so evident as that a particular
it is

evident as soon as

rose which

we

see cannot be both red

and

not red.

(It is of

course possible, that parts

may be red and parts not red, or that the rose may be of a shade of pink which we hardly know whether to call red
of the rose

or not

;

but in the former case
is

it is

plain that

the rose as a whole
latter case the

not red, while in the
is

answer

theoretically definite
precise de-

as soon as
finition

we have decided on a
"

red.") It is usually through instances that we come to be able particular to see the general principle. Only those
of

who

are practised in dealing with abstractions

can readily grasp a general principle without the help of instances. In addition to general principles, the other
kind of self-evident truths are those immewill call diately derived from sensation. " truths of perception," and the such truths

We

178

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY
expressing
of

judgments
"

judgments

them we will call perception." But here a

certain

is required in getnature of the truths that ting at the precise

amount

of care

are self-evident.

The actual sense-data

are

neither true nor false.

A

particular patch of

colour
exists
:

which
it is

true or false.

I see, for example, simply not the sort of thing that is It is true that there is such
it

a patch, true that

has a certain shape and degree of brightness, true that it is surrounded by certain other colours. But the patch
itself,

like
is

sense,

of

everything else in the world of a radically different kind from

the things that are true or false, and therefore cannot properly be said to be true. Thus

whatever

self-evident

truths

may

be

obtained from our senses must be different

from the sense-data from which they are
obtained.
It

would seem that there are two kinds
truths
of

of

self-evident

perception,

perhaps in the last analysis the

though two kinds
the
of

may

coalesce.

First,

there

is

kind
the

which simply asserts the

existence

ON INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE
it.

179

sense-datum, without in any way analysing We see a patch of red, and we judge " there is such-and-such a patch of red," or " this is one more strictly " there is that
;

kind of intuitive judgment of perception. The other kind arises when the object of
sense
is

complex, and we subject
If,

it

to

some
see

degree of analysis.

for instance,

we
"

a round patch of red, we patch of red is round."

may
This

judge
is

that

again a

judgment

of perception,

but

it

differs

from

our previous kind. In our present kind we have a single sense-datum which has both
colour and shape the shape is round.
is red and Our judgment analyses the datum into colour and shape, and then recombines them by stating that the red
:

the colour

colour

is

of this kind of

right of

round in shape. Another example " this is to the judgment is " " " " this and that that," where

are

seen simultaneously. In this kind of judgment the sense-datum contains con-

which have some relation to each and the judgment asserts that these other, constituents have this relation.
stituents

180

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY
class of intuitive judgments, ana-

Another

logous to those of sense and yet quite distinct from them, are judgments of memory.
is some danger of confusion as to the nature of memory, owing to the fact that memory of an object is apt to be accompanied

There

by an image of the object, and yet the image cannot be what constitutes memory. This
is

easily seen
is

image

in the

by merely noticing that the present, whereas what is

remembered is known to be in the past. Moreover, we are certainly able to some extent
to compare our image with the object remembered, so that we often know, within somewhat wide limits, how far our image is but this would be impossible, accurate
;

unless the object, as opposed to the image, were in some way before the mind. Thus

the essence of

memory

is

not constituted by

the image, but by having immediately before the mind an object which is recognised as But for the fact of memory in this past.
sense,

we should not know

that there evei

was a past at all, nor should we be able to " understand the word past," any more than

and diffi- thus throws doubt on the trustworthiness of intuitive culty its is judgments in general. Going backward over the day. The case of memory. my memory of what I saw and heard will be so reliable that it would be preposterous to doubt whether there had been a flash at all. If scope as far as possible. no light one. raises a difficulty." blind can understand the word intuitive judg- Thus there must be ments of memory. in the I am absolutely certain that half a minute ago I was sitting same chair in which I am sitting now. struck so long as they are recent. trustworthy in proportion to the vividness of the experience and to its nearness in time. for it is notoriously fallacious. and it is upon them. the house next door was by lightning half a minute ago. ultimately. however. I find things of which I am quite certain. that all our knowledge of the past depends. other things of .ON INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE a " 181 man born light. But let us is This first narrow memory Broadly speaking. And the same applies to less vivid experiences. other things of which I am almost certain.

but if I were as indifferent to my breakfast as a philosopher should be. difficulty of Thus the fallacious first answer to the is memory to say that memory has degrees of self-evidence. in these cases. in the . is It is probable that. As to the conversation at breakfast. reaching a limit of perfect self-evidence and perfect trustworthiness in our memory of events which are recent and vivid. It would seem. and some things of which I am by no means which I am quite certain that I ate my certain. I can recall some effort. what really remembered. and that these correspond to the degrees of its trustworthiness. Thus there is a continual gradation of it easily. I should be doubtful. however. that there are cases of very firm belief in a memory which is wholly false.182 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY I can become certain by thought and by calHng up attendant circumstances. breakfast this morning. and a corresponding gradation the trustworthiness of my memory. some with an in the degree of self-evidence of what I in remember. some only element of doubt. and some not with a large at all.

George IV. what was immediately remembered was his repeated assertion the belief in what he was asserting (if it existed) . would be produced by association with the remembered assertion. In this case.e. is is.ON INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE 183 sense of being immediately before the mind. the principles of logic have the very highest to down . because he had so often said that he was. but a quality which may be more or less from absolute present. Waterloo. and that that self-evidence has degrees: it is not a quality which is simply present or absent. and would therefore not be a genuine case of memory. they can be shown to be not cases of memory in the strict sense at all. One important point about self-evidence made clear by the case of memory. in gradations ranging certainty an almost imperceptible Truths of perception and some of faintness. It would seem that cases of fallacious memory can probably all be dealt with in this way. is something other than what is falsely believed though something generally associated with it. i. is said to have at last believed that he was at the battle of in.

. since. which corresponds to the highest It . Judgments of intrinsic ethical or aesthetic value are apt to have some self-evidence. The inductive principle has less self-evidence than some of the other principles oi logic.184 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY . highly probable that two different notions are combined in " self" evidence as above explained that one of them. Degrees of self-evidence are important in the theory of knowledge. but not much. but merely to say that." Memories have a diminishing self-evidence as they become remoter and fainter the truths of logic and mathematics . where there is a conflict. have (broadly speaking) less self-evidence as they become more complicated. however. seems. truths of immediate degree of self-evidence memory have an almost equally high degree. such as *' what follows from a true premiss must be true. will not be necessary to abandon all connection between self-evidence and truth. if propositions may (as seems likely) have some degree it of self -evidence without being true. the more self-evident proposition is to be retained and the less self-evident rejected.

is really an infallible guarantee of truth. does not give an infallible guarantee. which we cannot as yet develop further.ON INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE 185 degree of self-evidence. After we have dealt with is the nature of truth. which corresponds to all the other degrees. only a suggestion. while the other. we shall return to the subject of self -evidence. in connection with the distinction between knowledge and error. but only a greater or less presumption. however. This. .

but the acquaintance tive. so long. But as regards knowledge is cannot be decepno dualism as regards itself of truths. we may error. as we confine ourselves to knowledge of things. Whatever we quainted with must be something by are : ac- we may draw wrong inferences from our acquaintance. there a dualism. We know that on very many subjects different people hold different and incompatible 186 . as We may is believe what is false as well what true. Thus there is acquaintance. but there is no positive state of mind which can be described as erroneous knowledge of things. at any rate. unlike our knowledge So far as things are concerned. has an opposite. know them or not know them. namely acquaintance.CHAPTER XII TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD Our knowledge of truths.

TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD : 187 hence some oeliefs must be erroopinions neous. rather less difficult. that our belief is not a difficult erroneous ? This is a question of the very greatest difficulty. a preliminary question which is however. to be considered In this chapter we are not asking can know whether a are asking belief is true or false how we we : what is meant by the question It is whether a belief is true or false. satisfactory answer is possible. Since erroneous beliefs are often held just as strongly as true beliefs. and that is What do we : viean by truth and falsehood is ? It is this preliminary question which in this chapter. but for the present " we ask only What is truth ? " and " What " not " is falsehood ? What beliefs are true ? " " and What beliefs are false ? " It is very hoped that a important to keep these different questions . to be clear answer to this question us to obtain an answer to the quesmay help tion what beliefs are true. How are we to know. in a given case. to which no completely There is. it becomes question how they are to be distinguished from true beliefs.

In this respect our theory of belief must differ from our theory of acquaintance. we imagine a world of mere matter. and have then had the greatest difficulty in finding a place for falsehood. three requisites which any theory must fulfil. (1) Our theory of its of truth must be such as to admit opposite. and although it would contain what may be . There are three points to observe in the attempt to discover the nature of truth. since in the case of acquaintance of it was not necessary to take account opposite. in the sense in which If correlative to falsehood. (2) It any seems fairly evident that if there were no truth beliefs there could be no falsehood.188 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY is entirely separate. and no truth is either. falsehood. there would be no room for falsehood in such a world. A good many philosophers have failed adequately to satisfy this condition they have constructed : theories according to which all our thinking ought to have been true. since them any confusion between sure to produce an answer which is not really applicable to either.

I believe truly. from it. If I beI. lieve that Charles died on the scaffold. (3) it is But. Hence. prevents again because of what happened long ago. it being and falsehood are properties of beliefs. although truth or of care in arriving at false. which could be dis- covered by merely examining the belief. in the sense in which truths are things of the same kind as falsehoods. to be observed that the truth or falsehood of which a belief always depends upon something lies outside the belief itself." it : " falsehood. not because of any intrinsic quality of my belief. but because of an historical event which happened two and a half centuries ago. I believe of vividness in no degree my belief. truth and falsehood are properties of beliefs and statements hence a world of mere since it would contain no beliefs or matter. I. In fact. If I believe that Charles falsely : died in his bed. statements. would also contain no truth or facts. they . as against what we have just said.TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD called 189 would not contain any truths. and not because of any intrinsic property of my belief.

It — partly by the feeling that. The most important attempt of this sort is at a definition in coherence. the theory that truth consists It is said that the mark of falsehood failure to cohere in the body of and that it is the essence of a truth to form part of the completely rounded system which is The Truth. if truth consists in a correspondence of thought with some- thing outside thought. . The third of the above requisites leads us to adopt the view which has on the whole been commonest among philosophers that — — truth consists in some form of correspondence between is. is our beliefs.190 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY are properties dependent upon the relations of the behefs to other things. By this partly and belief and fact. not upon any internal quality of the beliefs. thought can never know when truth has been attained many — philosophers have been led to try to find some definition of truth which shall not consist in relation to something wholly outside belief. however. by no means an easy matter to discover a form of correspondence to which there are no irrefutable objections.

and yet be quite different from the real past. seem inconsistent with known facts. in such cases. Thus. 19i however. according to which other people and . men of science endeavour to find facts which will rule out all the hypotheses except one. and although. it is dream. it is certain that there are often two or more hypotheses which account for all the known facts on some subject. there is no reason to prefer it to the common-sense view. It may be that. with sufficient imagination. novelist In more scientific matters. a might invent a past for the world that would perfectly fit on to what we know. a great difficulty in this view. it seems not un- common for two able to account for example. or rather two great difficulties. The first is that there is no reason to suppose that only one coherent body of beliefs is possible. and that the outer world has only that hypotheses to be both the facts. there is no reason why they should always succeed.TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD There is. for possible that life is one long rival all degree of reality that the objects of dreams but although such a view does not have . again. In philosophy.

that. it to this definition of " both be true. cannot be established by this . For example. if But find the law of contradiction itself were sub- jected to the test of coherence. Now in order to may know whether two propositions can both be true. and are incoherent when one at least must be false. we must know such truths as the law contradiction. will else. if we should to suppose it false. the two " " and this tree is a beech propositions " this tree is not a beech. nothing be incoherent with anything any longer we choose Thus the laws of logic supply the skeleton or framework within which the test of coherence applies. and they themselves test. the definition of truth because there is no proof that there can be only one coherent system. that " assumes the meaning of co" coherknown. whereas. The other objection truth is herence " ence presupposes the truth of the laws of Two propositions are coherent when logic. of because of the law of contradiction. in fact.192 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY Thus coherence as fails things do really exist." are not coherent.

" and what is the nature of the correspondence which must subsist between beUef and fact. in order that behef may be true. (2) makes truth a property of beliefs. 198 coherence cannot be accepted as giving the meaning of truth. to seek a theory of truth which! allows truth to have an opposite.TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD For the above two reasons. If belief were so regarded. we have (1) In accordance with our three requisites. which could be said to be what is believed. namely falsehood. we should find that. 1 The necessity of allowing for falsehood makes it impossible to regard belief as a relation of the mind to a single object. a property wholly dependent upon the relation of the beliefs. it would not admit of the a . but (3) makes it to outside things. though it is often a most important test of truth after a certain amount of truth has become known. like acquaintance. It remains to define precisely what we mean by " fact. Hence we are driven back to correspondence with fact as constituting the nature of truth.

There is in fact no such object. the belief would be true." if there were such an object. but would have to be always true. This may be made by examples. Hence his for belief cannot possibly consist in a relation to his belief is a relation this object. It might be said that loves Cassio to a different object. that Desde- mona " but it is almost as is difficult to suppose that there such an object as this." Hence it be better to seek for a theory of belief which does not make it consist in a relation will to a single object. It is common to think of relations as though they always held between two terms. when Desdemona does not love Cassio. as it was to suppose that there is " Desdemona's love for Cassio. Desdemona's love for Cassio. Some re- . but in of the mind fact this is not always the case. " namely . We cannot clear say that this belief consists in a relation to a " single object. and therefore Othello cannot have any relation to such an object. Othello believes falsely that Desdemona loves Cassio.194 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY opposition of truth and falsehood.

and for so " on. relation that " Such a proposition as A wishes B to promote " involves a relation of C's marriage with D four terms . three terms. that is D all come in. must." So long as only two terms " " is imbetween come in. if falsehood is to be duly allowed be taken to be a relation between several . to show that there are relations which re- two terms before they can quire more than occur. some four. the relation between. instance. : Similarly jealousy there can be no such requires three people does not involve three at least. London and Edinburgh between York but if London and is Edinburgh were the only places in the world. A and B and C and the relation involved cannot be expressed otherwise than in a form inbe multivolving all four. the relation possible : three terms are the smallest it number that render possible. . The relation involved in judging or believing for. Instances might but enough has been said plied indefinitely. and to say. there could be nothing which was between one place and another.TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD lations 195 demand Take.

since Othello also relation. Thus the it is though not logically rea theory to be avoided if possible. which subsist independently of any minds .196 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY not that terms. be true of some other relation than but believing. " Desdemona's love loves for Cassio. he must not have before his mind a single object." that would require that there should be objective falsehoods. This relation. one of the terms of the When we we four terms. therefore. and is futable. a relation of four terms. various objects concerned that is to say. we take judgment mind and the to be a relation in which the relation which subsists when Othello believes that Desdemona is is loves Cassio." for or " that Desdemona Cassio. believes between two. say that it is a relation of do not mean that Othello has a certain relation to Desdemona. may . plainly. and has the same This relation to loving and also to Cassio. is not a believing relation which Othello has to each of the three . Desdemona all occur severally and loving and Cassio must all be terms in . easier to account for falsehood if this. When Othello Desdemona loves Cassio.

An act of belief or of judgment is the occurrence a mind to between certain terms at some particular time. and there are terms concerning which it judges. and the remaining terms the demona loves Cassio. when Othello judges that Desis the subject. Thus the actual occurrence. are now in a position to understand We what it is that distinguishes a true judgment from a false one.TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD 197 : terms concerned. at the moment when is is Othello is entertaining his belief. called "believing" that the relation knitting together into one complex whole the four terms Othello. In every act of judgment there is a mind which judges. of the relation of believing or judging. objects. loving. We will call the mind the subject in the judgment. . but to all of them together there is only one example of the relation of believing involved. is What is called belief or judgment nothing but this relation of believing or judging. which relates several things other than itself. but this one example knits together four terms. Othello Thus. Desdemona. For this purpose we will adopt certain definitions. and Cassio.

larly." We may say. but their order is different. if Cassio judges that Desdemona loves Othello. metait phorically. puts its objects in a certain of which we may indicate by means the order of the words in the sentence. because the relation of judging places the constituents Simiin a different order in the two cases. e. The sense of relations is the ultimate source of order . while the objects are and Desdemona and loving The subject and the objects together are called the constituents of the judgment.) Othello's mona mona differs judgment that Cassio loves Desdefrom his judgment that Desde- consists of the loves Cassio.g.198 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY Cassio. This property of having a "sense" or "di" rection is one which the relation of judging " " shares with all other relations. (In an inflected language. the constituents of the judgment are still the same. by the difference between nominative and accusative. It will be observed that the relation " of judging has what is called a " or " sense direction. that order. the same thing will be indicated by inflections. in spite of the fact that it same constituents.

" " is the uniting rein which believing and subject and objects are arranged lation. terms into a complex loves relation holds it unites the If whole. is Othello Desdemona. there is a complex object. but the whole which results from their being united must be complex. judging other relation." The terms united by the relation may be themselves complex. in a certain order by the "sense" of the . there is of those a complex object formed of the union terms and conversely. " " spoke of the relation called judging " as " or knitting together into one believing but we need not concern ourselves We complex whole the subject and the In this respect. there is a complex.TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD and series . When an act of believing occurs. objects. 199 and a host of mathematical con- cepts further with this aspect. or may be simple. there " such a complex whole as Othello's love for Desdemona. wherever . there its is a relation which relates constituents. i is exactly like every Whenever a between two or more terms. Wherever there is a relation which relates certain terms.

in which the relation which was one of the objects of the belief relates the other objects. there another complex unity. the it relation loving. is not " the cement. e. a " relation —in this instance. " relation as it occurs in the act of loving. when a there is no such complex unity On . Thus. the other hand." which is composed exclusively of the objects of the belief. belief is false. The cement the relation is believing." the act of believing. with the relation which was one of the objects occurring now as the cement that binds together the other objects of the belief.g. is not the relation which creates the unity of the complex whole conThe sisting of the subject and the objects. if Othello believes truly is that Desdemona loves Cassio. as occurs in — in the structure." is When the belief true..200 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY of relation believing." one must be as Among the objects. is one of the objects But this relation. in the same order as they had in the belief." it is a brick believing. then there a complex unity. we saw in considering " Othello believes that Desdemona loves Cassio. " Desdemona's love for Cassio.

if are united by the is the belief true . taken in the order which they hood that we were in search of. not. then relation. . then there no such complex for Cassio. or (in something not involving general) any mind at all. and false when it does not. for the condition of the truth of a belief beliefs. it is false. for the sake of definiteness. This false- constitutes the definition of truth and Judging or believing is a certain complex unity of which if the remaining a mind is a constituent constituents. is form a complex unity.TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD composed only If Othello believes falsely that is 201 of the objects of the oelief. Thus although truth and falsehood are in a sense properties of beliefs. then the belief true if not. that the objects of the belief are two terms and a believing. have in the belief. . Desdemona loves Cassio. yet they are extrinsic properties." it unity as " Desdemona's love Thus a belief is true when corresponds to a certain associated complex. Assuming. it is false. the in a certain order if terms being put " " of the sense the by the two terms in that order relation into a complex. but is .

(6) depend on minds for do not depend on minds ." we will call Desdemona and Cassio the object-terms. but only its objects. and loving the object-relation. for the two facts that beliefs (o) their existence. This correspondence ensures and its absence entails Hence we account simultaneously truth. ing fact." consisting of the object-terms related by the object-relation in the same order as they have then this complex unity is called the fact corresponding to the belief.202 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY belief. believes truly A when there mind. It will be seen that minds do not create truth or falsehood. only the objects of the believes. the mind . but when once the beliefs are created. Thus a belief is true when there is a corresponding fact. If there is We may restate our theory as follows If a com- " plex unity Desdemona's love for Cassio. ' falsehood. we take such a belief as " Othello believes that Desdemona loves Cassio. and is false when there is no correspondin the belief. for their truth. which is a corre- sponding complex not involving the mind. They create beliefs.

This considera- tion will occupy the next chapter. except in the concern future things special case where they which are within the power of the person catching trains. . such as not (except in exceptional cases) in any way involve the mind of the person who has the belief. and this fact does believing. What makes a belief true is a fact. we have next of to consider this what ways there are or that belief is knowing whether true or false. Having now decided what we mean by truth and falsehood.TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD cannot make them true or 203 false.

There can be no doubt that some of our beliefs are is false. . first decide what we mean is by " easy as knowing. than the question as to how we can know what is This question will occupy us in the present chapter. AND PROBABLE OPINION The question as to what is we mean by truth in the and falsehood. we must. ERROR. which we considered of much less interest preceding chapter." and this question might be supposed. 204 is not so . In other words. however. can we ever know anything at all.CHAPTER XIII KNOWLEDGE. true and what erroneous certainty thus we are led to inquire what we can ever have that such and such a belief is not erroneous. or do we merely sometimes by good luck believe what true ? Before we can attack this question.

it may by good fortune announce what after- wards turns out to be the right result. But late if he believes that Mr.'* could be defined as believe is When what we true. have knowis Thus it is clear that a true belief not . since the late Prime Minister was Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman. yet this belief. way used. would not be thought to constitute knowledge. But in spite of the truth of their belief.KNOWLEDGE AND ERROR At ledge first 205 sight we might imagine that know" true belief. though true. he believes what is true. and it may produce belief in some of its less experienced readers. he will still believe that Prime Minister's last name began with a B. To commonly stance : cord with the in which the word is If a man believes take a very trivial inthat the late Prime Minister's last name began with a B. If a newspaper. Balfour was the the late Prime Minister. by an intelligent anticipation. announces the result of a battle before any telegram giving the result has been received. they cannot be said to ledge. it might be supposed that we had achieved a knowledge But this would not acof what we believe.

Balfour valid deductions from the true premiss that the late Prime Minister's name began with a B. the conclusion does not follow from the premisses. I cannot be said to know that Socrates was a Greek. If I know that all Greeks are men and that Socrates was a man.206 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY it is knowledge when belief. the premisses from which it is deduced are true. and I infer that Socrates was a Greek. it is too wide. deduced from a false called In like manner. a true belief cannot be knowledge when it is deduced by a even if fallacious process of reasoning. Such a definition is at once too wide and too narrow. The man who late was the Prime Minister may proceed to draw believes that Mr. although my premisses and my conclusion are true. Thus we shall . because should be true. because. But are we to say that nothing is knowledge except what is validly deduced from true premisses ? Obviously we cannot say this. but he cannot be said to know the conclusions reached by these deductions. In the it is first place. not enough that our premisses they must also be known.

it is a cir- assumes that we already one sort of know what is meant by " known premisses. constantly happens that people entertain a true belief. for the Leaving on one sider the moment. it is The chief objection to It that it unduly limits knowledge." In this statement there is no formal defect. as a matter of fact. as opposed to intuitive knowledge. cular definition : This. which has grown up in them because of some piece of intuitive knowledge from which it is capable of being validly inferred. the sort we call derivative. the beliefs produced by . side. " Derivative knowledge is what say : We may is validly deduced from premisses known intuitively.KNOWLEDGE AND ERROR 207 have to amend our definition by saying that knowledge is what is vaHdly deduced from known premisses. for example. however. let us con- above suggested definition of de- rivative knowledge. been inferred by any logical process. therefore." It can. Take. but it leaves the definition of intuitive still know- ledge to seek. at best define knowledge. the question of intuitive knowledge. but from which it has not.

since this the sort of announcement which would not are quite amply justified in believing that the newspaper asserts that the King is dead. and not av/are. except on reflection. If the newspapers announce the death of the King. we are fairly well justified in believing that the is King is dead. and could be performed by the reader. gradually and painfully to a realisation of their meaning.208 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY reading. And we the intuitive knowledge upon which our belief is based is knowledge of the existence of sense- data derived from looking at the print which gives the news. it is not in fact letters to their performed. This knowledge scarcely who cannot except in a person read easily. A child may be aware of the shapes of the letters. Thus although a valid inference from the meaning is possible. reading passes at once to But anybody accustomed to what the letters mean. But here if it be made were false. and pass rises into consciousness. since he does not in fact perform any operation which can be called logical . that he has derived this knowledge from the is sense-data called seeing the printed letters.

and the person in question could become aware of this connection by reflection. since " " the word discoverable is vague it does : not " tell us in order to how much reflection may be needed make the discovery." as we shall . by which we pass from one belief to another the fact many : passage from the print to its meaning illustrates these ways. then. This renders our definition of derivative knowledge less precise than we could wish. pro- a valid logical connection. besides logical inference. admit such psychological inference as a means of obtaining derivative " there is knowledge. There are in ways. These ways may be called psychological inference. provided a discoverable logical inference which runs parallel to the psychological inference. admit as derivative knowledge whatever is the result of intuitive knowledge even vided there is if by mere association. 200 say- Yet it would be absurd to that the reader does not know that the news- paper announces the King's death. We must.KNOWLEDGE AND ERROR inference. therefore." We shall. But in fact " is knowledge merges into " not a precise conception : it probable opinion.

When a belief is true. does not arise over derivative knowSo long ledge. however. supplies the possibility of distinguishing certain truths as self-evident in a sense which ensures infallibility. but over intuitive knowledge. therefore. we have the test of intuitive knowledge to fall back upon. should not be sought. a corresponding fact. Our theory of truth. as we are dealing with derivative knowledge. : with some degree of doubt. it is by no means easy to discover any criterion by which to distinguish some as true and In this question it is scarcely possible to reach any very precise result all our knowledge of truths is infected others as erroneous. in which the several objects of the belief form a single there is . Something may the difficulties be done. however. But in regard to intuitive beliefs. since any such definition must be more or less misleading. and a theory which ignored this fact would be plainly wrong. to mitigate of the question. A very precise definition. The chief difficulty in regard to knowledge. to begin with. we said.210 see THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY more fully in the course of the present chapter.

211 The belief is said to constitute it fulfils knowledge of this fact. theoretically. (2) by fact means itself. provided those further somewhat vague conditions which we have been considering in the present chapter. in several parts are judged to be (1) by means of related as they are in fact related . two ways in which it may be known : which its a judgment. Thus in regard to any complex fact. you can at that hour know the is fact that the sun of the fact setting of : this is knowledge . of For example. besides the knowledge constituted by belief. we may also have the kind of knowledge constituted by perception (taking this word in its widest possible But in regard to sense). though to objects of the senses. if you know the hour the sunset. look knowledge of things. by way but you can also.KNOWLEDGE AND ERROR complex. of acquaintance with the complex which may (in perception. if to the west and actually see the setting sun you then know the same fact by the way of : knowledge of truths the weather is fine. it is a large sense) be called by no means confined Now it will be . there are. any fact.

The first way. the complex whole. is The second way gives us liable to error. be distinguished. therefore only parts do actually have that possible relation which makes them combine to form such a complex. the . and yet the judgment may occur.212 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY way of observed that the second knowing a complex fact. when we have acquaintance with the fact which corresponds to the truth. on the contrary. and demands only the reality of its when the relation may the parts and the relation not relate those parts in that way. and is when way of acquaintance. the only possible while the first way. like all judgment. is there really is such a fact. When Othello believes that Desdemona loves Cassio. gives us the parts and the relation severally. one giving an XI we suggested that there might absolute guarantee of truth. : It will be remembered that at the end of Chapter be two kinds of self-evidence. We may say that a truth in the first is self-evident. and most absolute sense. the other only a These two kinds can now partial guarantee.

we say that the truth that these terms are so related has the first or . since there is only one person who can be acquainted with the mental things or the sense-data concerned." This would be a fact with which no one could have acquaintance except Desdemona in the sense of self-evidence that sidering. " would be Desdemona's love for Cassio.KNOWLEDGE AND ERROR 218 corresponding fact. whom Thus no fact about any particular existing thing can be selfevident to more than one person. facts about universals do not privacy. On the other hand. All mental facts. Cassio (if it and all facts concerning sense-data. if his belief were true. where we know by acquaintance to a complex fact consisting of certain terms in a certain relation. hence a relation between universals may be known have this by acquaintance In all cases many different people. hence we are con- the truth that Desdemona loves were a truth) could only be selfevident to Desdemona. Many minds may be acquainted with the same universals . have this same privacy there is only one person to : they can be self-evident in our present sense. .

and in these judgment that the terms are so related must be true. it is necessary to we have to analyse the given complex fact " " out the sun and " shining " as separate constituents of the fact. and " the thence proceed to make the judgment sun is shining. But although this sort of self-evidence is an cases the absolute guarantee of truth.214 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY absolute kind of self-evidence. a judgment believed to correspond to the fact is not absolutely infallible. Suppose we first perceive the sun shining." In passing from the perception to the judgment. Thus this sort of selfevidence is an absolute guarantee of truth. in the case of any given judgment. it does not enable us to be absolutely certain. The second sort of self -evidence will be that . which is a complex fact. In this process it : is possible to fact commit an first error . hence even where a has the or absolute kind of self-evidence. it may if it But not really correspond to the does correspond (in the sense explained in the preceding chapter). that the judgment in question is true. then it must be true. because fact.

the case of a horse trotting away from us along a hard road. become doubtful whether there was any noise then we think we no longer hear at all anything. and is not derived from direct perception of a fact as a single complex whole. we listen comes a moment when we . and at last we know we no longer . one blue and one green. from the very highest degree down to a bare inclination in favour Take. hear anything. gradually. Or again: Suppose we are comparing two shades of colour. there is a continual gradation of self-evidence. from the highest degree to the least. but if the green colour is gradually . This second kind of self-evidence will have degrees. for example. if think perhaps it was imagination or the blind at last we upstairs or our own heart-beats . not in the sensedata themselves. hoofs is complete there intently. In this process. but in the judgments based on them.KNOWLEDGE AND ERROR 215 which belongs to judgments in the first instance. At first our certainty that we hear the of the belief. We can be quite sure they are different shades of colour .

and then a moment when we know that we cannot see any difference.216 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY more and more like the blue. . there will come a moment we can see any difference. this connection has often only a very small degree hence errors of reasoning are not improbable where the difficulty is great. Take for example a piece of reasoning in geometry. of self -evidence In difficult reasoning. at each step in connection of premiss and conclusion should : be self-evident. then blue. or in any other case where there is a continuous gradation. and it seems plain that the higher degrees are more to be trusted than the lower degrees. It is not enough that the axioms from which we start should be self-evident it is necessary the reasoning. the also that. and so must their connection with the conclusions deduced from them. Thus self-evidence of this sort is a matter of degree . then a greenybecoming blue. first altered to be a blue-green. The same thing happens in tuning a musical are doubtful whether when we instrument. knowledge our ultimate premisses must have some degree of selfIn derivative evidence. .

and also believe hesitatingly. part of In regard to probable opinion. called probable opinion.KNOWLEDGE AND ERROR From what has been said it is 217 evident that. is called know- 1 ledge. we can . f erred provided it is either intuitive or in-| (logically or psychologically) it from] ' intuitive logically. the highest degree of self -evidence. is called error. from the existence of noteworthy sense-data and the simpler truths of logic and arithmetic. What we not] firmly believe. because it is. down to judgments which seem only just more probable than their opposites. What we firmly believe. there will be a gradation in trustworthiness. true. ' if it is if it is what we or is neither knowledge nor error. knowledge from which follows What we firmly believe. which may be taken as quite certain. if we assume that intuitive knowledge is trustworthy in proportion to the degree of its self-evidence. if it is true. both as regards intuitive knowledge and as regards derivative knowledge. Thus the derived from. something which has not may be greater what would commonly pass as knowledge is more or less probable opinion.

when we consider the order and coherence which they introduce into a mass of probable opinion. the test of coherence condemns the dreams and confirms the waking life. to such matters as the distinction between dreams and waking life. way that many The same thing applies to general philosophical hypotheses. in particular. of become more probable than any one them would be individually. they become pretty nearly certain. more probable than they would be in isolatheir probability. but may often use as a criterion. we should hardly know whether to believe the dreams or the waking life. ally I A if body of individu- probable opinions. they are mutually coherent. were as coherent one with another as our days. though it increases probability . It is in this scientific fit hypotheses acquire into a coherent They and thus become system of probable opinions. Often in a single case such hypotheses may seem highly doubtful. This applies. As it is. while yet. If our dreams. which we rejected as the definition of truth.218 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY derive great assistance from coherence. night after night. tion. But this test.

. unless there is certainty already Thus at some point in the coherent system.KNOWLEDGE AND ERROR wnere it is 219 successful. by itself. the mere organisation of probable opinion will never. transform it into in- dubitable knowledge. never gives absolute certainty.

such and is 220 . and that the proposed proofs that.CHAPTER XIV THE LIMITS OF PHILOSOPHICAL KNOWLEDGE we have said hitherto concerning we have scarcely touched on many philosophy. There can be no doubt that the hope of finding reason to believe such theses as these has been the chief inspiration of many life-long students of philosophy. In all that matters that occupy a great space in the most philosophers. It would seem that knowledge concerning the universe as a whole not to be obtained by metaphysics. and so on. I believe. the illusoriness of matter. the essential rationality of the universe. the unreality of all evil. such things as the fundamental dogmas of religion. at any rate. This hope. in virtue of the laws of logic. very many profess to be able to prove. is vain. Most philoor. by a priori metaphysical — sophers writings of — reasoning.

and obviously incapable of existing without the complement supplied by the rest of the world. in modern times. which is that of many. are not capable of surviving a critical scrutiny. according to Hegel. According to the interpretation I shall adopt. Hegel's philosophy very difficult. from a single bone. and has the merit of giving an interesting and important type of philosophy. and commentators differ the true interpretation of it. of the kind of view which we wish to examine. is was Hegel (1770-1831). sees what kind of animal the whole must have been. so the metaphysician. if not most of the as to commentators. Just as a comparative anatomist. his main thesis is that everything short of the Whole is obviously fragmentary. In this chapter we shall briefly consider the kind of way in which such reasoning is to discovering whether attempted.THE LIMITS OF KNOWLEDGE 2J1 such things must exist and such and such others cannot. what the whole of reality must be — . with a view we can hope that it may be valid. The great representative. sees. from any one piece of reality.

no opposite. will be found. according to Hegel. . the next piece. but to it must be synthesis. to be pass into its antithesis. or antithesis . less incomplete idea. equally in the world of thought and in the if thought. the idea new we idea. according to him.222 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY its Every apparently separate piece of reality has." which. In the world of we take any idea which is abstract or incomplete. and no need of . we become find. neverstill theless. these contra- dictions turn the idea in question into its opposite. in turn. and in order to escape. hooks which grapple it to the next piece large . the synthesis of our original idea and its antithesis. until the whole universe is reconstructed. has fresh hooks. with which not wholly complete. though less incomplete than started with. and so on. we have which This is to find a new. if world of things. has no incompleteness. combined in a new In this " waj'^ Hegel advances until he reaches the Absolute Idea. at least in outlines. as it were. we we involved forget in contradictions its on examination. This essential incompleteness appears. that. incompleteness.

wholly rational. so he believes —to — we saw the universe whole. and wholly the contrary. Thus Hegel reaches the conclusion that Absolute Reality forms one single harmonious system. space and time and matter If and and all striving and struggling would disappear. can be proved be entirely due to our fragmentary piecemeal view of the universe. is The Absolute therefore. when the arguments in support of it are carefully examined. Nevertheless. evil. not as all Reality it . \ In this conception. as we may suppose God sees it. something to which we could wish to yield assent. in logically Any appearance to the world we know. not in space or time. and we should see instead an eternal evil ] perfect unchanging spiritual unity. not in any degree spiritual.THE LIMITS OF KNOWLEDGE further 223 Idea. there is undeniably something sublime. they appear to involve much confusion and many unwarrantable assumptions. The fundamental tenet upon which the system . adequate to describe Absolute lower ideas only describe appears to a partial view. development. but it reality as is to one who simultaneously surveys the Whole.

its own nature.224 is THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY built up is that what is incomplete must be not self-subsistent. turns " " upon the notion of the nature of a thing. and so on thus. he could not be what he is. but must need the support of other things before it can exist. is constituted A man's nature. This whole point of view. He is essentially and obviously a fragment of reality he : taken as the sum-total would be self-contradictory. example. by his loves and hatreds. therefore. be part " " If we mean of the thing. although it must. which he knows or loves or hates. which seems to mean "' all the truths about the thing. It is held that whatever has relations to things outside itself must contain some reference to those outside things in not. according to the above usage." It is of course the case that a truth which connects one thing with another thing could not subsist if the other thing did not subsist. of the nature . for by his memories and the rest of his knowledge. is But a truth about a thing not part of the thing itself. and could be what it is if those outside things did not exist. however. but for the objects .

when this use of the word " nature " is employed." in the above sense. But if the word nature " is used in this we shall have to hold that the thing known when its " nature " is not may known. ( 1 ) acquaintance with a thing does not logically involve a knowledge of its relations. relations does not involve a of all of its relations nor a knowledge knowledge of its . between knowsense. or at any rate is not known completely.THE LIMITS OF KNOWLEDGE " " by a thing's nature thing. We may have knowledge of a thing by acquaintance even if we know very few propositions about it theoretically we need not know any — propositions about it. And although acquaintance with a thing is involved in our knowing any one proposition about a thing. knowledge is of its " nature. be ledge of things and knowledge of truths. acquaintance with a thing does not involve knowledge of its " " nature in the above sense. and (2) a knowledge of some of its not involved. There is a confusion. Thus. Hence. then plainly all 225 the truths about the " nature " unless we cannot know a thing's we know all the thing's re" lations to all the other things in the universe.

withthis out knowing all that the dentist (who is not acquainted with it) can tell me about its cause. I may be ac- quainted. and are unable to know the characters of those parts . we also cannot prove the unreality of space and time and matter and evil. This it only seems to follow because we already. And if we cannot prove this. from the mere fact that it is the thing its relations it is we cannot deduce that it must have the it various relations which in fact has. It follows that know we cannot prove that the universe as a whole forms a single harmonious system such as Hegel believes that it forms. " nature and without therefore knowing its " in the above sense.226 " THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY " in the nature above sense. with my toothache. and knowledge may be as complete as knowledge by acquaintance ever can be. for example. piecemeal investigation of the world. That is to say. Thus the fact that a thing has relations does not prove that are logically necessary. for this is deduced by Hegel from the fragmentary and relational character Thus we are left to the of these things.

not even empty space. and is borne out by the whole examination of human knowledge which has occupied our previous chapters. is more and more in the direction of showing dictory.THE LIMITS OF KNOWLEDGE of the universe that are 227 remote from our exit is perience. in by space and and time appear to be infinite Space If we extent. it is difficult to believe that we shall finally reach a last point. travel along a straight line in either direction. This result. and that very little can be proved a priori from considerations of what must illustration of this is afforded be. is in harmony with the inductive and scientific temper of our age. A good time. disappointing as to those whose hopes have been raised by the systems of philosophers. is if . 1 that the supposed contradictions were illusory. beyond which there nothing. The whole tendency of modern thought. however. and infinitely divisible. Most of the great ambitious attempts of metaphysicians have proceeded by the at- tempt to prove that such and such apparent features of the actual world were self-contra- and therefore could not be real. Similarly.

— collections of things. however small the distance between them may be every distance : can be halved.228 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY in imagination we travel backwards or forwards in time. and the halves can be halved In time. and so on ad infinitum. and that therefore the time. . or of instants in finite. infinite extent and infiiiite divisibility philosophers have advanced arguments tending to show that there could be no infinite similarly. with not even empty time beyond Again. — however little time may elapse between two moments. again. it seems evident that there will be other moments between them. Thus space and time appear to be infinitely But as against these apparent facts divisible. number must be of points in space. Thus a contradiction emerged between the apparent nature of space and time and the supposed impossibility of infinite collections. seems evident that there must be other points between them. it is difficult to believe that we shall reach a first or last time. it if it. appear and time we take any two points on a line. Thus space to be infinite in extent.

not characteristic of the jective . deduced the impossibihty of space and time. Now. notably Georg Cantor. and one of the great sources of metaphysical constructions is dried up. have not been content with showing that space as it is commonly supposed to be is possible they have shown also that many other forms of . but only contradictory of certain rather obstinate mental prejudices. who first emphasised this contradiction. They are not in fact self-contradictory. and were formerly supposed to be necessary by philosophers. The mathematicians. it sibility of infinite collections has appeared that the imposwas a mistake. owing to the labours of the mathematicians. which he declared to be merely sub- and since his time very many philotime sophers have believed that space and are mere appearance.THE LIMITS OF KNOWLEDGE 229 Kant. are now known to derive their appear- . space are equally possible. however. so far as logic can show. Hence the reasons for regarding space and time as unreal have become inoperative. however. which appear to common sense to be necessary. Some of Euclid's axioms. world as it really is.

is it Thus the position logic presents many kinds of space as possible apart from experience.230 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY ance of necessity from our mere familiarity with actual space. some less — from that in which we live. where distances such as we can measure are concerned. that impossible to discover by observation whether our actual space is strictly it is Euclidean or of one of these other kinds. and experience only Thus. our knowledge of what may be is enormously increased. In- our knowledge of what it stead of being shut in within narrow walls. which these axioms are false. while partially decides between them. and logic showed this one kind to be impossible. the mathemati- cians have used logic to loosen the prejudices of common sense. of which every nook and cranny could be . And some of these spaces differ so little from Euclidean space. is has become less than was formerly supposed to be. completely reversed. and not from any a priori By imagining worlds in logical foundation. that experience left Formerly appeared only one kind of space to logic. Now. and to show the possibility of spaces differing — some more.

Thus in regard to physical objects. from such and such a datum. there our choice. as we have seen. presenting innumerable alternatives which are closed and leaving to experience the task of deciding.THE LIMITS OF KNOWLEDGE explored. instead of being. . where decision is possible. we need some connection of universals. enabling us. time has happened. But in all cases of knowledge by description. in other directions as well. as formerly. logic. between the many worlds which to unrefiective sense. for. logic offers for common Thus knowledge as to what exists becomes limited to what v/e can learn from experience not to what we can actually experience. to some extent. to infer an object of a certain sort as implied by our datum. 281 in an open where much remains unknown because there is so much to know. the bar to possibilities. What has happened in the case of space and we find ourselves world of free possibilities. has become the great liberator of the imagination. — is much knowledge by description concerning things of which we have no direct experience. to The attempt to prescribe the universe by means of a priori principles has broken down .

Our deri- vative knowledge always depends upon some pure a priori knowledge and usually also de- pends upon some pure empirical knowledge. and enables cular things with which we us to draw inferences from the particular facts given in empirical knowledge. Principles such as the law of gravitation or rather are rendered highly are proved. to such prin- law of gravitation. which is the source of is our other . which gives us connections between universals. which tells us of the existence and some of the properties of partiare acquainted. The same applies to the law of causality.232 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY is itself for example. the principle that sense-data are signs of physical objects of universals . probable. . Thus our all intuitive knowledge. and pure a priori knowledge. or. knowledge of truths. to descend to what ciples as the is less general. a connection and it is only in virtue of this principle that experience enables us to acquire knowledge concerning physical objects. of two sorts pure empirical knowledge. such as the principle of induction. by a combination of experience with some wholly a priori principle.

THE LIMITS OF KNOWLEDGE Philosophical knowledge. characteristic of The essential philosophy. has had a mainly negative result. it searches out any inas the result of consistencies there may be in these principles. when disengaged from irrelevant detail. which makes it a study distinct from science. and the results obtained by philosophy are not radically different from from scientific those obtained from science. It examines critically the principles employed in science and in daily life . as regards the special doctrines of the bolder metaphysicians. said if 233 what has been above is true. the principles underlying the sciences were capable. of giving us knowledge concerning the universe as a whole. is criticism. such knowledge would have the same claim on our . knowledge there is no special source of wisdom which is open to philosophy but not to science. But as regards what would be com- . belief as scientific but our inquiry has not reknowledge has vealed any such knowledge. a critical inquiry. and therefore. If. does not differ essentially . as many philosophers have believed. no reason for rejecting them has appeared. and it only accepts them when.

no argument can begin.234 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY : monly accepted as knowledge. if any result is to be Against this absolute scepticism. man When. our result is in we have seldom found the main positive reason to reject such knowledge as the result of our criticism. and our scepticism can never be refuted. . it pose a certain limitation. is of philosophy as If necessary to imwe adopt the attitude of the complete sceptic. placing ourselves wholly outside all knowledge. to be of compelled return within the circle knowledge. and we have seen no reason to suppose incapable of the kind of knowledge which he is generally believed to possess. and asking. But it is not difficult to see that scepticism of this achieved. from to this outside position. For all refutation must begin with some piece tants share . however. Hence the criticism of knowledge which philosophy employs must not be of this destructive kind. of knowledge which the dispufrom blank doubt. no logical argument can be advanced. we are demanding what is impossible. we speak a criticism of knowledge.

he could feel certain that he really knew it. His " consisted in doubting whatever doubt seemed doubtful . In regard to such knowledge. But there are beliefs — such. as the belief that physical objects exactly resemble our sensedata which are entertained until we begin — to reflect.THE LIMITS OF KNOWLEDGE kind is 235 unreasonable. Descartes' " methodi- cal doubt. but are found to melt away when subjected to a close inquiry." is with which modern philosophy is began. such as knowledge of the existence of our sense-data. but rather the we are asserting to be " methodical the essence of philosophy. to ask himself whether. in pausing. with each ap- parent piece of knowledge. Such beliefs philosophy will bid us reject. unless some new line of argument is found to support them. Some knowledge. kind of criticism which not of this kind. for example. But to reject the beliefs which do not . philo- sophical criticism does not require that we should abstain from belief. appears quite indubitable. This is the kind of criticism which constitutes philosophy. on reflection. however calmly and thoroughly we reflect upon it.

since human beings are fallible. however closely we examine them.236 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY to any objections. is not reasonable. determines to re- but that which considers each piece of apparent knowledge on its merits. Philosophy may claim justly that it diminishes the risk of error. and that in some cases it renders the risk so small as to be practically negligible. risk of error That some remains must be admitted. The criticism aimed at. . without reason. and retains ject. and is not what philosophy advocates. To do more than this is not possible in a world where and more than this no mistakes must occur . whatever still appears to be knowledge when this consideration is completed. is not appear open that which. prudent advocate of philosophy would claim to have performed. in a word.

This view of philosophy appears to result. in view of the fact that many men. hair-splittingdistinctions. are inclined to doubt whether philosophy is of the problems be well to consider.CHAPTER XV THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY Having now come of philosophy. it will to the end of our brief and very incomplete review conclusion. under the influence of science or of practical affairs. It is the more necessary to consider this question. what is and why it ought to be studied. partly from a wrong conception of the kind of goods which philosophy strives to 237 . partly from a wrong conception of the ends of life. in the value of philosophy any- thing better than innocent but useless trifling. and controversies on matters concerning which knowledge is impossible.

if we are not to fail in our en- deavour to determine the value of philosophy. that the value of philosophy must be primarily sought. of philosophy has any value at If all the study for others than students of philosophy. through the meof inventions. dium innumerable . thus people who are wholly ignorant of it the study of physical science is to be recommended. who realises that is one who recognises only material men must have food oblivious of the necessity for the body. needs. because of the on the student. is useful to achieve. not only. there . anywhere. but If all men of providing food for the mind. were well off. therefore. if poverty and disease had been reduced to their lowest possible point.288 THE PROBLEMS 01 PHILOSOPHY Physical science. what are wrongly called The " practical " man. or primarily. must be only upon the lives who study It is in these effects. This utility effect does not belong to philosophy. we must first free our minds from the prejudices of men. as is " practical this " word is often used. indirectly. But further. but rather because of the effect on mankind in general. of those it through if its effects it.

maintained that philosophy has had any very great measure of success in its attempts to provide definite answers to its questions. he will. The knowledge it is the kind of knowledge which gives and system to the body of the sciences. and beliefs.THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY 239 would still remain much to be done to produce a valuable society and even in the existing world the goods of the mind are at least as . goods can be persuaded that the study of philosophy is not a waste of time. It is exclusively among the goods of the mind that the value of philosophy is to be found and those who are not indifferent to these only . But it cannot be prejudices. But if you put the same question to a philosopher. like all other studies. If you ask a mathematician. a mineralogist. aims primarily at knowledge. if he is . unity and the kind which results from a critical aims at examination of the grounds of our convictions. Philosophy. or definite any other man of learning. his answer will last as long as you are willing to listen. important as the goods of the body. what body of truths has been ascertained by his science. a historian.

have to confess that his study has not achieved positive results such as have been achieved by other sciences." Similarly. and becomes a sepaThe whole study of the heavens. only a part of the truth concerning the uncertainty of philosophy. at present. a part of philosophy. is called philosophy. the uncertainty of philosophy is more apparent those questions which are already than real : capable of definite answers are placed in the sciences.240 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY candid. which was. as soon as definite knowledge concerning any subject becomes possible. There are many questions —and among them . no definite answer can be given. now been separated from philosophy and has become the science Thus. the mathematical principles of natural philosophy. however. rate science. remain to form the residue which This is. this subject ceases to be called philosophy. until very lately. It is true that this is partly accounted for by the fact that. was once Newton's great work included in philosophy . the study of was called the " human mind. has of psychology. to a great extent. while those only to which. which now belongs to astronomy.

may it is to continue part of the business of philosophy consideration of such questions. But it would seem that. whether answers be otherwise discoverable or not. so far can see. to examine all the approaches to them. however slight be the hope of discovering an answer.THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY those that are of to our spiritual life 241 the profoundest interest — which. Yet. or Is is it a fortuitous concourse of atoms ? consciousness a permanent part of the unigiving hope of indefinite growth in wisdom. the universe any unity of plan or purpose. the answers of them suggested by philosophy are none demonstrably true. and variously answered by various philosophers. or is it a transitory accident on a verse. and to keep alive that which is speculative interest in the universe . small planet on which become impossible ? must ultimately Are good and evil of life importance to the universe or only to man ? Such questions are asked by philosophy. to make us the aware of their importance. must remain insoluble to the as we human intellect unless its powers become of quite a Has different order from what they are now.

They have supposed that what is of most importance in religious beliefs could be proved by strict demonstration to be true. of such attempts. we shall be compelled to renounce . the hope of finding philosophical proofs of religious beliefs. it is In order to judge necessary to take a to form an methods and its limitations. to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. have held that philosophy could establish the truth of certain answers to such fundamental questions. Many philosophers. The value of philosophy is. the value of philosophy must not depend upon any supposed body of definitely ascertainable knowledge to be ac- quired by those who study it. therefore. On such a subject it would be unwise to survey of human knowledge. it is true.242 THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY apt to be killed by confining ourselves to definitely ascertainable knowledge. once more. in- definite clude as part of the value of philosophy any set of answers to such questions. and opinion as to its but if the investipronounce dogmatically gations of our previous chapters have not led us astray. The . in fact. Hence. We cannot.

and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously reAs soon as we begin to philosophise. on the contrary. from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation. Philo- what sophy. we find. as we saw in our opening chapters. mind / without the co-operation or consent of hisj To such a man the world . is many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. finite. jected. obvious common objects rouse no questions.THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY man who 243 has no tincture of philosophy goes Hfe imprisoned in the prejudices dethrough rived from common sense. tends to become definite. that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given. and from his convictions which have grown up in deliberate reason. Thus. never travelled into the region of liberating . though unable to tell us with certainty is the true answer to the doubts which able to suggest it raises. while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are. it greatly increases our knowledge what they may be it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have as to .

2i4

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY
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in

is

and confined,

which the philosophic

life

The private world
ful

of instinctive interests

a

small one, set in the midst of a great and powerworld which must, sooner or later, lay our

private world in ruins. Unless we can so enlarge our interests as to include the whole

outer world,

we remain

like a garrison in a

beleaguered fortress, knowing that the enemy prevents escape and that ultimate surrender

THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY
is

245

inevitable.

In such a
strife

life

there

is

no peace,

between the insistence of In one desire and the powerlessness of will. or another, if our life is to be great and way
free,
strife.

but a constant

we must escape
of escape

this

prison and this

One way

is

by philosophic con-

templation. Philosophic contemplation does not, in its widest survey, divide the universe

two hostile camps friends and foes, helpful and hostile, good and bad it views
into

the

whole

impartially.
it

templation, when

is

Philosophic conunalloyed, does not

aim at proving that the rest of the universe akin to man. All acquisition of knowledge is an enlargement of the Self, but this enlargement is best attained when it is not directly
is

sought.

It is
is

obtained when the desire for

alone operative, by a study knowledge which does not wish in advance that its
objects should have this or that character, but adapts the Self to the characters which
it

finds in its objects.

Self is not obtained
it is,

This enlargement of when, taking the Self as
is

we try to show that the world

so similar

246

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY
it is

to this Self that knowledge of

possible

without any admission of what seems alien. The desire to prove this is a form of self-assertion,

and like

all self-assertion, it is
it is

an obstacle

to the growth of Self which which the Self knows that it

desires,

and

of

capable.

Self-

assertion, in philosophic speculation as else-

where, views the world as a means to its own ends thus it makes the world of less account
;

than

Self,

and the

Self sets

bounds to the

greatness of its goods. In contemplation, on the contrary, we start from the not-Self,

and through
universe

its

Self are enlarged

greatness the boundaries of through the infinity of the
;

the

mind which contemplates
is

it

achieves some share in infinity. For this reason greatness of soul
fostered

not

asphilosophies similate the universe to Man. Knowledge is

by

those

which

a form of union of Self and not-Self
all

;

like

union,

it is

impaired by dominion, and
to force the uni-

therefore

by any attempt

verse into conformity with what we find in ourselves. There is a widespread philosophical tendency towards the view which tells

THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY
us that

247

man
is

is

the measure of

all

things,

that truth

man-made, that space and time
of universals are properties of

and the world the mind, and

that,

if

there be anything not

created by the mind, it is unknowable and of no account for us. This view, if our previous
discussions were correct,
is
it

untrue

;

but in

addition to being untrue,
value, since

has the effect of
all

robbing philosophic contemplation of
gives
it it

that

fetters contemplation to

Self. What it calls knowledge is not a union with the not-Self, but a set of prejudices,

habits,
veil

and

desires,

making an impenetrable

between us and the world beyond. The man who finds pleasure in such a theory of
knowledge is the domestic
not be law.
like the

man who

never leaves

circle for fear his

word might

The true philosophic contemplation, on the
contrary, finds its satisfaction in every enlargement of the not-Self, in everything that

magnifies the objects contemplated, and thereby the subject contemplating. Everything, in contemplation, that
is personal or that depends upon habit. private, everything

248

THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY
and

self-interest, or desire, distorts the object,

seeks.

hence impairs the union which the intellect By thus making a barrier between

subject and object, such personal and private things become a prison to the intellect. The
free intellect will see as

God might see, without

and now, without hopes and fears, without the trammels of customary beliefs and traditional prejudices, calmly, dispassionof knowately, in the sole and exclusive desire
a here
as impersonal, as purely as it is possible for man to contemplative, Hence also the free intellect will value attain.

ledge

— knowledge

more the abstract and universal knowledge
into which the accidents of private history do

not enter, than the knowledge brought by the senses, and dependent, as such knowledge

must
of

upon an exclusive and personal point view and a body whose sense-organs distort
be,

as

much

as they reveal.

The mind which has become accustomed to the freedom and impartiality of philosophic
contemplation will preserve something of the same freedom and impartiality in the world of
action and emotion.
It will

view

its

purposes

is the unalloyed desire for truth. since no definite answers can.THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY and 249 desires as parts of the whole. because these questions enlarge our conception of what . war with hopes and fears. in action. and his liberation from the thraldom of narr-^w the rest. : not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions. Thus contemplation enlarges not only the objects of our thoughts. but also the objects of our actions and our all affections : it makes us citizens of the universe. with the absence of insistence that results from seeing them which as infinitesimal fragments in a world of all the rest man's deeds. is the very same quality of mind which. to sum up our discussion of the value of philosophy Philosophy is to be studied. Thus. and not only to those who are judged useful or admirable. be known to be true. and in emotion is that universal love which can be given to all. as a rule. not only of one walled city at In this citizenship of the universe consists man's true freedom. in conis templation. is justice. unaffected by any one The impartiality which. but rather for the sake of the questions themselves .

enrich our intellectual imagination.250 is THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY possible. through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates. . and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation but above . the mind rendered great. all because. and becomes capable of that union with the universe which also is constitutes its highest good.

Transespecially Books VI and VTI. Golden Treasury : Descartes Ross. Spinoza : Meditations. Translated by Hale White and Amelia Stirling. 1898. Oxford. The following are specially recom- mended Plato Republic. Translated by Haldane and Cambridge University Press. Latta. Leibniz : Translated by R. : / 251 . Berkeley Hume Kant : : Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. Prolegomena to every Future Metaphysic. Ethics.BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE The student who wishes to acquire an elementary knowledge of philosophy will find it both easier and more profitable to read some of the works of the great philosophers than to attempt to derive an all-round view from hand-books. The Monadology. Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. : : lated Series. by Davies and Vauqhan. 1911.

.

231 : Facts. 27. 235 Description. 27. 172. 65 Analytic. 222 Acquaintance. mental ? Divisibility. 35. 28.. 127ff. 125. 81 170 ff. 74. 11.INDEX The interrogations indicate Absolute idea. 218 Colours. 118. 190 ff. 191 Duration. 92. 114. 35.. 148 Cat. Generalisation. mental. Falsehood. 114. 116 : Bradley. 166 Geometry. 27. 28 Experience immediate. 35 Cogito. 114. Critical Philosophy. 244 Contradiction. physical. 156 Belief. 172 Hegel. not asserted. law of 129 . 23. 151 Bismarck. 18. 234 Dreams.. 40. 217. instinctive. 114. 113. Correspondence of belief and fact. 134 Error. 62 253 . 136 Arithmetic. 9. 50 Empiricists. 121. 130 Hallucinations. 39 Berkeley. 68. 22. 149. 34-5. 116. 120. definition of. Being. 30. 149. 130 Association. 60 ff. 125. 221 ff. 97. infinite. 129. 24. 214 Coherence. 12. 30. 85. 56. 52-3. 69. 89 236 Excluded Middle. 126 Deduction. 201 215 Contemplation. 113 Existence. 190-3. Act. 211 vdth Self ? 78 ff. 151 Correspondence of sensedata and physical objects. 72 170. ff. 123 Descartes. 37. 13. 24 places wliere a view is discussed.. 71. 36 Causality. 61 extended by descriptions. 129 Cause. 155 knowledge of. Hume. 227-8 Doubt. empirical. 128 Appearance. 12. 49. 107. ff. 93. 38. 101 1613. 187 54-6. A priori. 94. 172. 59. 186 ff. 186 ff..

90 Qualities. 70. 114. 134 Philosophy. constituents of. 76. 65-'/ of judgment. 148 Motion. 235 174-85. 171. 123. 177-9. 114 Logic. 58 ' INDEX 43-6 Locke. 72-92. 22. 231 Light... 225 of universe. 171. 170 definition of. 30 ff. 18. 159 Laws. 237-50 uncertainty of. 114. Idealism. 56 Identity. 149. 93-108. of. general. 195-7 Kant.. 94 ff. 22. 134 . 102. 232 of futme. 19. 217 Probability. 207-9 Objectof apprehension. abstract. 145 Perception. theory of. 209 Infinity. 81 the only reality ? 21 what 154 is in the. 227 ff. 148 Rationalists. Judgment. 180-4 Microscope. 239-44 Physical objects.254 35 Ideas. 121 Knowledge by acquaintance and by : description. 95. lUff. ideas and principles. 61 ff. 76. 233. 58-71 defined. 115 Leibniz. 130 Matter. 149 innate. 2''0. 214 indubitable intuitive. logical and psychological. 114 Platonic. 229 99 Nature of a thing. value of. 104.. 142 ff. 241 only of mental things ? i I I 64 ff. 175 grounds 19. Principles. Innate. Idealists. 42-57 Memory. 170. 148 Monism. 84 ff. 20. 40. 119. 170 Plato. 167 principle of. 53. 224 Necessity.105. of general principles. 204 fT. laws of. "0 philosophical. 18. 131 of things and of truths. 145 Propositions. 132. 114 Introspection. 103. law of. 197 Particular. 113 Induction. 148 Monadism. 210 ff. 14 Mind. ? 8. 142 ff. 60 ff. 50. general. 109-26 Probable opinion.96.. 239 Phenomena. 76 Monad. derivative. 62 ff. 24. 26-41 nature of. Mathematics. 69. 72. 68 existence of. 68 109-26. 144. 104. 192. 114 Proper names.81. Inference. 126-41.

50 ff. 33-8 45 ff. 73. 76. 198 Resemblance. 15 ijpace. 151 Verbs. 27. 229 knowledge of. 81. 213 not mental. 212 201 Sensation. of. 116 Self. 136 Time. physical. 42. 98 Universals. sense of. 160. 227 ff. 24 Relations. 213 Uniformity of Nature.INDEX Reality. 176 ff. ff. 28-30 Solipsism. 142-57. 36. 77 Thought. . 186 of. 132 Sense-data. Space. 148. 197 Swift. 183. degrees of. 147 ff. 1947. 16 Truth. 134 78 ff. multiple. 17. Self -consciousness. Euclidean and non-Euclidean. ff. 17.. 159. laws of. 70.. 150. 151. 231 certainty Shapes. 17. 255 ff. 224-6. 12. 47 Spinoza. Self-evidence. 132. 160 Russia. 113. 122 Thing in itself. Touch. 23. Emperor of. 227 ff. 215 definition two kinds of. 158-73. 147-8 Subject. 135. 139.

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