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Lecture 2: The Concrete Universal

Universal as a general rule.

WE are in the habit of thinking that we have raised the level of our experience when we have discovered anything that approaches a general rule. And it is true that prima facie we have done so. We have relied on the principle of community or continuity in experience. That is to say, we have followed some conjunction of properties beyond the case in which we first found them conjoined, and have trusted it to hold good under conditions other than those under which we first came upon it. In doing this we have pursued the tendency on which all knowledge depends—the tendency of experience to be “universal”; that is to say, to carry us beyond any given piece of itself by exhibiting a character which throws light upon further and different contexts, and receives light from them. It is needless to give examples; every general statement, applying a single predicate to a number of different cases, is an instance in point.

Further, in doing this we have made an appreciable advance towards the ideal of truth; that is, towards a rendering of experience which shall be free from self-contradiction—free, I mean, from different interpretations of the same facts in the same relations. Every general rule, in so far as it includes within a single interpretation an area of experience which might have been discordantly apprehended, decreases the possibility of such a discrepancy, and is, therefore, so far as it goes, a movement towards the completion of knowledge as a coherent whole. The instinct or impulse which thus far we appear to take as our guide is apt to express itself in some such formula as “Same causes, same effects,” or more generally, “It is the same that produces the same.”1 And this some-times passes for the characteristic principle of knowledge and intelligence—a principle depending on repetition of similars2 and the recognition of them as they recur. But we have said enough to show that from the very beginning this conception is untrue. Even the baldest generality has its value in the differences of context which it includes and which it illuminates. What the real principle of intelligence is we shall see as we develop this characteristic in a region beyond mere generality.

Defects of general rule.

1. But the abstract generalisation, considered with reference to truth, has defects which were sufficiently signalised in the very dawn of logical theory by Plato's critical estimate of the exact or mathematical sciences. And, following him, almost all considerable thinkers have pointed out that a body of knowledge, if understood in the sense of a body of highly abstract rules and inferences, must be said prima facie to depart from what is given in experience, and truth, if taken in a similar sense, to abandon fact.3 It is History, we are even told, by what I take to be a rash interpretation of this familiar doctrine, to which we must look for the type of living experience. Or, in a “new philosophy,” we may be referred to an “intuition,” the very existence of which in its purity seems a doubtful assumption. These, I repeat, are to my mind rash interpretations. But they point to something which is common ground. For better or worse, the historical tense, the genuinely personal subject, the point of departure which we indicate by such terms as “this” and “mine,” are unknown to the processes of science. A general statement is an extract or an abstract. It has even been called hypothetical. Certainly it is not in the fullest sense categorical. Its terms are not, as they stand, affirmed to be actual reality. It tells us things about reality; it points out consequences which must flow from the application to it of specified conditions. It does not pretend to speak of real beings in their whole and fundamental nature. That is to judge categorically in the full sense; to make assertions regarding the nature of the universe as a whole. And this can be done, if at all, by Philosophy alone. For Philosophy is essentially of the concrete and the whole, as science is essentially of the abstract and the part. It may be said, then, with some degree of truth, that science deals with experienced existence at secondhand. It “murders to dissect.” The imputation, as we pointed out, is an old one, and is not, of course, in truth, a hostile impeachment, but a simple recognition of the functions of science and of its rank in a logical system. For this reason, if taken as the exclusive basis of a world-theory, science will always be open to the criticism which has recently been launched against mechanical theories of evolution. But also, it is false to argue as if a mechanical theory could contribute nothing to the construction and apprehension of the whole. Mathematical reasoning itself is synthetic, and in the continuity of experience all combinations, however homogeneous their elements, can reveal new properties, stand in relation with new qualities, and throw light upon their nature. The geometrical character of any line is continuous with and essential to the significance which it bears in the most concrete work of art.

The principle of Abstraction has often been criticised as it is embodied in the traditional doctrine of Extension and Intension. It is enough to glance at the tree of Porphyry to see whither such a doctrine must lead. The most general knowledge—that which continues into wider comprehensiveness such a series as Man, Animal, Organism, Material body—must obviously be the least instructive, and must have its climax in complete emptiness.

It is, indeed, the same reason which compels the progressive generalisation to diminish the depth of knowledge, and which forbids the general rule at any stage whatever to deal with the whole of a concrete subject, or, as it was phrased above, to be categorical.

And this underlying reason is to be found in the attempt to cut in two the essential principle of continuity. The endeavour of the simple generalisation is to pursue an identity apart from differences. Its method, therefore, is omission. The generality is framed by attending to the common qualities of a number of individuals, and disregarding their differences. This procedure has two inevitable results. It prohibits the consideration of any world or structure of which the individuals before us are members, and by the same necessity it prohibits the consideration of the entire or concrete nature of any individual by itself. These two consequences are inevitable, because, so long as identity is construed as excluding diversity, no world or structure can be constituted by the identical properties of individuals. Individuals taken per se as members of a class in virtue of identical properties are ex hypothesi parts or members of a whole of repetition, and, so far, of no other kind of whole whatever. And each individual of those so taken can be considered only in respect of the property in virtue of which it is a member of the class. The differences within that property itself, and those which constitute the whole remaining content of the individual nature, are ruled out ab initio by the method. While we are faithful to such a conception there can be no thought of a whole of individuals, and, for the same reason, none of an individual as a whole. The general statement is restricted to affirming the property or properties repeated within each similar member of the class; and their membership of a concrete system, either constituted by their fellows of the class, as in the world of humanity, or by groups of dissimilar units, as in the reciprocally dependent organisms of a locality, is forbidden to appear as a source of further knowledge about them.

We have, here in fact, the relation of classification by resemblance to grouping by reciprocal determination. The former might be compared to the attempt to explain a human body or a steam-engine by classifying the parts of each in terms of their resemblances to one another. The latter would be typified by the way in which the function of the whole system is accounted for by the co-operation and division of labour due to the different structures and qualities of its constituent members. And it is important to notice that the former mode of consideration, however serviceable for certain purposes, is essentially due to a superficial application of the very same principle which is more fully realised in the latter. The identification, for example, of Plato's Forms with “the objective correlates of class-concepts” would render it absolutely impossible to conceive them as a world of interdependent members, such as is implied in the Form of the Good, and in the conception of a universe of reality.

It must be added, to avoid misunderstanding, that we are not reducing the precise determinations of science, for example, the law of gravitation, to the level of commonplace class-predications resting on superficial observation.

What we are affirming comes to this, that if, by an inadequate theory, the function of the former is interpreted as merely to recognise a common attribute in its recurrent examples, to apprehend “the same producing the same,” then such a reduction is erroneously effected, and the operation of scientific principles in leading to novelty whether of truth or of practice is made wholly unintelligible.

‘World’ a better type of the universal, and is one with the Individual. Why trust the nisus towards a cosmos?

2. The endeavour to remove contradiction in experience is therefore more successful when it explicitly assumes a further shape, such as is indicated by the term “a whole of parts,”“an organism,” “a system,” or more generally “a world.”

At present we are only desirous to grasp the principle of the distinction between all these forms of experience, on the one hand, and the abstract generality, on the other; and it is not necessary to enter upon the differences between these several conceptions themselves.4 The most inclusive of the terms above-mentioned is “world” or “cosmos.” A world or cosmos is a system of members, such that every member, being ex hypothesi distinct, nevertheless contributes to the unity of the whole in virtue of the peculiarities which constitute its distinctness. And the important point for us at present is the difference of principle between a world and a class. It takes all sorts to make a world; a class is essentially of one sort only. In a word, the difference is that the ultimate principle of unity or community is fully exemplified in the former, but only superficially in the latter. The ultimate principle, we may say, is sameness in the other;5 generality is sameness in spite of the other; universality is sameness by means of the other.

Thus the true embodiment of the logical universal takes the shape of a world whose members are worlds. “Whose members are worlds”—for the same reason which made it inevitable for the mere generality to be defective by the omission of contents which differentiate the class-members from one another. The universal in the form of a world refers to diversity of content within every member, as the universal in the form of a class neglects it. Such a diversity recognised as a unity, a macrocosm constituted by microcosms,6 is the type of the concrete universal.

The recognition of this logical form as the true type of universality is the key to all sound philosophy. It is possible, indeed, that even in face of such a recognition those philosophers may prove to hold the more suitable language who deny that thought can ever be one with the real. But at any rate, we are bound to follow thought as it obviously develops itself towards a higher vitality and a fuller perfection, in the certainty that if it is itself a vanishing form, it will point us the way to what lies beyond, and when necessary, introduce us to its nature. We may be told that there are other sides of experience to be developed, and we must not assume that by following the development of thought we are on the road to perfection. A warning like this sounds well before we have begun to feel the pulse of experience at all; but it really rests on the false pre-supposition that we have different minds in different activities of mind. If we view experience bona fide, and follow where its connections lead us, noting the relation of incompleteness to completeness in all the responses of mind, it does not matter from what point we start. It is like going up a hill; you only need to keep ascending, and you must reach the top. You cannot study thought and not be led to will and feeling, nor will or feeling and not be led back to thought.

The concrete universal may be contrasted with the general rule as a centre of radii compared with a superficial area. The test of universality which it imposes is not the number of subjects which share a common predicate, but rather than this, the number of predicates7 that can be attached to a single subject. It is the degree in which a systematic identity subordinates diversity to itself, or, more truly, reveals itself as the spirit of communion and totality, within which identity and difference are distinguishable but inseparable points of view. The account of a judgment whose subject is a proper name, in Mr. Bradley's,8 or any similar Logic, is a good introduction to what is meant by a concrete universal.9

3. We said that the key to all sound philosophy lies in taking the concrete universal, that is, the individual, as the true type of universality. We are often told that the individual cannot be made by a combination of universals.10 It is true that it cannot be made by a combination of generalities, but the reason is that it is itself the superior and the only true type of universal.

But, it may be objected, assuming that this is so, that the tendency of experience to carry us from one step to another is universality, and that such a tendency in its fulfilment leads us not to general rules, but to a construction of macrocosm and microcosms, why, nevertheless, should we respect this result? Why should we consider that the structure so developed partakes of being and of trueness, as Plato might tell us, and is something more than a castle in Spain?

The argument courted by such an objection must always be the same in essence, but may begin from either end of the process which it analyses.

The whole is truth.

(1) It may point out, on the one hand, that to doubt is to assert a ground for doubting, and that the tendency of the logical progression, however far from fulfilment, is “to leave no room for doubt”; that is to say, to organise experience in such a way that at whatever point you may try to pick up a positive content and push it against the system, you will be shown that the effort is anticipated, and only takes you back into the system itself. This is to appeal to the principle that truth or reality is the whole. According to this, the reason why you cannot contradict the truth is that it leaves outside it no που̑ στω̑ on which a contradiction could be “grounded.” We shall in effect be illustrating this point when we deal below with the power of the concrete universal—its capacity in the way of unifying experience. I may, however, be permitted to adduce an elementary example of the process and principle I have in mind.

How could a competent astronomer meet the doubt expressed by a child, whether in a first or second childhood, who should deny en bloc the revelations of astronomy, and who should say that the Sun and Stars were in fact—here would come his difficulty, but, let us suppose him to urge,—just about what they look like to the naked eye? I take it that so long as the doubt remained indefinite it would not be possible to deal with it directly. You cannot force such a sceptic to follow a scientific construction. The doubter, even if a child, is already aware that there is some kind of method which professes to get step by step to the result which he distrusts. It is just this method which his indefinite doubt refuses to follow. To him it is all artificial talk, which he cannot see any point in. He refuses to believe that you can go from step to step in the mode which science adopts. His doubt, if arrested at this point, amounts to refusing to commit himself, and defying the astronomer to draw him on beyond the mere momentary spectacle of the heavens. It is the scepticism which, if consistent, would be inert and dumb.

A doubt of this type has no material ground against the system of experience. It has, perhaps, a certain prima facie formal ground, in the immense apparent interval between first appearances and the results of science. But this, again, unless formulated, is no ground at all; and if formulated would stand on the same basis as any material allegation against the system of science.

Now if the doubter makes a positive allegation, whether material or formal, in support of his scepticism, then at once he is lost. If you say, the sun is a lantern, lit up every morning and put out at night, or the stars are holes in a sort of dish cover, through which the light beyond shines through, then, I presume, the competent astronomer has you in his power. You have given a rival interpretation of the appearances. You have picked up a fragment of experience which you are attempting to push against the system of sciences, a something which you treat as outside it and as thus destroying its universality. In doing so, however, you acknowledge universality as the test; you are no longer rejecting the system in toto, but are calling upon it to alter itself, and admit your interpretation into its texture. But, so far as it is the whole, the system can reply: “We know all that already; we already possess your interpretation, but in a shape which effects the object implied in every interpretation of appearances, which, in the shape you gave it, it failed to do. You wanted, of course, to connect your vision of the starry heavens with other experiences and ideas so as to express what it was for you in the completest way. But we possess the experiences which you used for that purpose, together with an enormous mass of others. And we can show you that by using them as you did it is impossible to attain the complete expression you desired, because in that way they cannot be united with the full appearances in question, or with the mass of other experience. On the other hand, we can show you a set of connections which will at all events draw out the nature of your experience very much more completely and in far greater union with the rest of experience. We can show you that you were only attempting imperfectly and in confusion what is here, at least comparatively, perfect and complete.” The main line of the argument is familiar from Plato downwards. But I have modified it so as to emphasise that side of its implication which consists in the principle that “the truth may be defined as the whole.” The whole is the truth, because if you doubt indefinitely you advance nothing against it; if you attempt to push forward a contrary, you agree that “something is,” and you can be shown that your something is already contained in the system against which you have advanced it.

Non-contradiction involves a world or whole.

But (2) we may begin at the other end of the process, and analyse its inmost nature under the head of the criterion. I am not introducing this subject for its own logical interest, but merely, in the treatment of the concrete universal, to point out that the appeal to “the whole” is not a detached or arbitrary procedure, but the same thing with the principle otherwise known as the principle of noncontradiction.

The essence of the matter, as I understand it, is simply the determinate development of the character of being. We have the inevitable line of thought definitely traced in Plato—in almost any of the great dialogues, and still more strikingly and fundamentally in the whole evolution of his logical theory taken together. And we have it, if with defective detail, yet substantially on an incontrovertible basis, in Hegel's Dialectic. I will venture to state it in a few plain sentences. What is, is by determinate self-maintenance. There is no meaning in “it is” apart from “it is what it is.” It acts, or possesses predicates, and its action or its predicates are “what it is.” Now there is a sound sense, as Plato is careful to explain, in which “is” and “is not” can and must be united in the determination of the same content. But in as far as “is” affirms a certain determinate self-maintenance and “is not” affirms a different one, or the character of otherness in general, so far to attach the two as predicates to the same point of being is to allege that in its self-maintenance it fails to maintain itself. This is so far to destroy the character of being as an expression for any positive experience. It is to posit and to annul in the same act. In so far then, as an experience presents an appearance of this kind, a combination of “is” and “is not” (or “is other”) without any distinction in the subject of affirmations, it falls short of the character of being. We cannot hold that “it is” in the strict sense of the term. It undoes itself; and fails to conserve itself in any actual character. In as far, on the other hand, as the appearance of hostility to self is removed, by transforming the content of experience in question into what is relatively a system, such as to accept both this and the other as co-operative and no longer conflicting members, the experience “is” in a higher degree; its self-maintenance includes more of reality; and is pro tanto less likely to be confronted with external facts beyond its power to assimilate. This is the process which Plato indicates in Republic v. Everyday experience, he says in effect, tumbles backwards and forwards between “is” and “is not.” To-day a thing is experienced as beautiful, to-morrow, in another light or in another mood, as ugly. This minute we pronounce a thing large; the next minute we have turned to compare it with something else, and we pronounce it small. This is because the beauty we judge by in the first case, and the magnitude we judge by in the second, are fragments and not worlds. If the one judgment were adequately grounded, i.e. included the right conditions and were guarded by the right distinctions, it could not so lightly, and ultimately it could not at all, pass over into its contrary. There would still be beauty and ugliness, largeness and smallness, but they would be differents and not contraries. They would not both be predicated, without ground or reservation, of the same subject. When we know what beauty fully means, and have found it in a world of our experience, then, in proportion to the extent and coherence of that world as an inclusive content, it is hard for any change of temper or of surroundings to make us say “it is ugly.”

What we have been describing is in other words the self-maintenance or self-assertion of the universal. The universal is just that character of experience which overcomes the “is not” by reducing it to an element harmonious with and corroborative of the “is.” It is “the self in the other.”

When, therefore, we say that the criterion of truth and of reality is one, and is the character of non-contradiction, this assertion rests on the general nature of experience as outlined above, and more particularly on its nature as universal. And we can see that we are thus experiencing, as it were from the other end, the same principle which in its results revealed itself as the concrete universal. For, as we have just observed, the removal of contradiction involves the character of a “world”; and this character we must ascribe to Plato's ἀγαθόν and, in ultimate interpretation, to Kant's Noumenon, to every principle in fact which seriously aspires to express the full nature of being.

It is often thought that the criterion should belong to a special class of principles which are distinguished by the peculiarity that they cannot be denied without being affirmed by the denial. Such a principle, it may be said, is expressed by the assertion that there is a self-consistent reality; for to say that there is no self-consistent reality (or even that reality need not be self-consistent) implies a degree of insight into the nature of things and the conditions of true assertion regarding it, which in turn involves as its basis the postulate of a reality with a coherent nature of its own—the very principle intended to be denied. An obvious case of the kind, again, is the affirmation that every judgment lays claim to truth; for no disclaimer of the pretension to truth can be framed which has not as a main part of its content the claim to embody a truth—the truth of the disclaimer.

It is true that in the case of principles thus expressed the absurdity of denying the significant law of Identity—the proposition that statements true of reality can be made—reveals itself “within the compass of a lady's ring.” But it is a mistake, I suggest, to regard these as logically peculiar cases—case of a priori truth—and therefore to rely wholly on the formal refutation of scepticism which they seem to afford, neglecting the fuller account of noncontradiction, as the principle of the “more” of positive experience and of its self-maintenance, which was drawn out in the last paragraph.

For the impossibility of being denied, without eo ipso being affirmed, which characterises these very simple propositions, only attaches to them in consequence of the extreme emptiness of experience in so far as they appeal to it. For, so far, a proposition implying any possibility at all of a stable experience, even if negative in form, is sufficient to establish all that such principles as these formally contend for, which amounts in one shape or another, to no more than the reality of some persistent or objective experience. In a word, if you say anything, in the indicative mood, it commits you to the affirmation of a something; and this is why even the formula “there is nothing,” strictly taken, must involve the affirmation of an objective world.

But it is a mistake, so far as I can see, to treat this apparently immediate certainty, which is at bottom equivalent to the abstraction “something is,” as superior in logical value to the certainty of any well-established world of concrete experience, although in a purely formal sense the latter may seem to be at a disadvantage, i.e. to be incapable of being formulated as a content of a priori truth. For the apparent disadvantage arises precisely from the fact that here, where we appeal to an advanced phase of the construction of experience, it is prima facie conceivable that any particular elements of the concrete world, however closely knit up with the whole, might be denied in the precise context which they claim, and yet leave standing the world to which they immediately belong. While in the case of the formal principles, to which that of non-contradiction in its abstract shape belongs, if their content could be removed or destroyed by denial, then the whole world would be gone—no content at all would be left to experience. And therefore, because even denial, as we have seen, implies a real something, we say that in denying these principles we inevitably reaffirm them; that is, we affirm a something, which (so deficient in multiplicity is the content of experience to which they appeal) is necessarily one with the affirmation of them in their abstract shape. If you say “there is nothing,” you assert that there is something; if you say “there is no truth” you are proclaiming that there is this truth at least; if you say, “contradictory assertions may both be true”—you are asserting the notion of truth which the nexus of your proposition destroys. In other words, when thinking of experience under these general characteristics, e.g. that A is A, we can deny none of them, because if we deny at all we deny everything; and that is an attempt which even the form of negative assertion suffices to frustrate.

But this distinction, which seems to confer a special guarantee upon principles of the type in question, is in truth merely apparent, and due to our insufficient perception of logical context. For the proof of everything that is proved is ultimately one and the same, namely, that if it is to be denied, nothing can be affirmed. And as it is impossible to deny everything, a proposition so guaranteed must be allowed to stand. Now a certainty thus grounded is really and in the spirit of logic greater in proportion as the whole of experience is fuller and more coherent; for the difficulty of denying everything obviously becomes enhanced as everything becomes a more completely apprehended cosmos with a fuller self-maintenance. But the distinction in favour of the principles whose denial directly affirms them arises in the following way. Though the certainty of experience as a whole grows with its completeness and organisation, yet the power to claim that certainty as guaranteeing particular propositions in any precise and literal form, is diminished by the same cause as that which increases the certainty of experience as a whole, that is to say, its diversity and comprehensiveness. For however sound we may hold a special proof to be, it must remain prima facie possible in an advanced stage of experience to deny the precise and literal assertion made by any single and so to speak departmental proposition, and yet to leave standing, apparently untouched, a large proportion of organised experience. The resources in the way of certainty are immensely greater, but become eo ipso much more difficult to use.

Yet to a great extent this difficulty is illusory; and if we choose as necessary propositions of advanced experience those which indicate vital functions or whole departments of our world rather than those which specify precise and literal fact, we can realise and make available the greater certainty which attaches to a full content of knowledge as compared with any abstract content whatever. We cannot stake our whole belief in reality on the literal and exact formulation even of such principles as the Law of Gravitation, the principle of the Conservation of Energy, the existence of God, still less of special conclusions in the special sciences. But we can and do stake it on the general “trueness and being” of whole provinces of advanced experience, such as religion, or morality, or the world of beauty and of science. And these are a higher and deeper evidence of the being and nature of the real than are the formally undeniable judgments, undeniable because implying only the minimum of experience, to which the abstract shape of the principle of non-contradiction belongs.

The above argument amounts to denying the distinction between necessary and contingent truth—truth the denial of which involves a self-contradiction, and truth the denial of which is only a contradiction when seen in its connection with other parts of experience. The test of the inconceivability of the contradictory,11 if rightly understood, applies alike to both these classes of truths. I am sure that, for the reasons above stated, Leibniz’ extraordinarily vraisemblable defence of the distinction cannot ultimately be maintained. Every true proposition is so in the last resort because its contradictory is not conceivable in harmony with the whole of experience; in other words, is not merely a contradiction of fact but a self-contradiction. This is easily seen, if we fill in its S and P as the rest of experience determines them.12

And further, when we take this point of view, the fuller ranges of experience with reference to which we say that the truth is the whole, reveal themselves as not separate in kind, but as a further confirmation and manifestation, in its complete growth and maturity, of the truth which in its undifferentiated form presents itself in abstract principles such that their denial involves their affirmation. So-called “contingent” truth might in this sense be held truer and more fundamental than what passes as “necessary,” just as secondary qualities may in some sense be held more real and fundamental than primary. The law of contradiction might still hold its formal place if there were no such thing as beauty or organised knowledge or social life or religion, but the guarantee of its necessity, the difficulty of accepting the alternative of believing in nothing, would be very considerably weakened.

Truth or the whole as non-contradiction or satisfaction. What whole?

4. Having now connected the concrete universal with the abstract form of the principle of non-contradiction, and shown that the conception of truth as “the whole” is a realisation and embodiment of the latter, we might pursue the consideration of the concrete universal as the clue to Individuality.

But before proceeding with our subject, there is a possible misconception which must be met.

If you take the principle of non-contradiction, or of the whole, as criterion, it may be said, you can get out of it no distinction between truth, goodness, and beauty, and you leave it to be supposed that all satisfaction of the need for harmony is of the same type; and that truth and beauty are simply names for what suits us and makes our experience satisfactory. Truth and beauty would therefore collapse into one under the heading of the good and would be undistinguishable from whatever is found felicitously subservient to practice. This is what a Pragmatist might say. And the first and general answer would be, that the principle of the concrete universal does apply to all types of experience, and that alike in knowledge, in life, and in enjoyment it is the harmoniously concrete which is the higher and the more real. And the meaning of this is, that in none of the three aspects can the self as it happens to be serve as a test of reality. In following the law of the universal, it must transmute itself and undergo expansion and correction, obeying the necessity imposed by the real, with which it aims to be, but as given is not, at one. This is enough to dispose of the essential contention of the Pragmatist, the point of which lies in a confusing truth with goodness, and β reducing the goodness, so made ultimate standard, to the satisfaction13 of the given self.

The essential notion of reality as a spring of adjustment in the self is incompatible with this doctrine, whatever form of experience template.

But the further answer is that not only is there in all approach to reality an adjustment of the self, but the adjustment takes different forms according to the function of the self which is in play. The question is simply whether the nature of things can interest us for its own sake, apart from the concrete endeavour to transform our lives and their world. When once the conception of a world which possesses being beyond our own has distinguished itself from the tentative endeavour to supply our wants, it seems inevitable that we should be interested in such a world purely from the point of view of what it is, if only because we have the idea of it, which necessarily aspires to complete itself. As to the facts, Mr. Bradley's14 criticism of Bain's doctrine of practice and belief deals sufficiently with them, and has not, to my knowledge, met with an answer. Not all truth is subordinate to practice, or has, as sought for and held, any connection with practice at all.15 In a word, in all our functions, “theoretical,” “practical,” and “contemplative,”we seek or accept real reality, and we never entertain a thought of modifying it. If, therefore, a neglect of the distinction were inevitable—if all forms of self-expression must be ranked together either as “vision”or as “action”—the old point of view which makes θϵωρία the truest and highest πρα̑ξις would be preferable to subordinating truth to “action” in the sense of change. But there is no reason for confounding plain distinctions either in one direction or in the other.

The concrete universal embodies the nisus of thought to individuality.

5. We now return to the concrete universal as a clue to individuality. We are regarding it in general as the type of complete experience, and from this point of view its characteristics are the same whether we think of it as the object of knowledge, of will, or of enjoyment.

In the first place, then, we have to meet the common contention that our thought is purely discursive, and is therefore unable so much as to approach to the type of self-contained reality. It almost seems at times that in speaking about thought different philosophers have not the same experience in mind.16 The tradition of the British school, starting from a theory for which thought is decaying sense, is corroborated by the modern analysis according to which thought is an abstracting and generalising faculty, and science a departure from factual experience.17 To some extent, as we saw, this view is justified by the primary character of abstract science; to some extent also it must be admitted that the contents of sense-perception are not transparent to finite thought, and so far it is a linking and transition between contents which are not a unity for it. The double aspect of finite life constitutes here, as everywhere, the difficulty and interest of philosophy. For, on the other hand, it has been urged, and we feel, that it is thought which constructs and sustains the fabric of experience, and that it is thought-determinations which invest even sense-perception with its value and its meaning. It is only in part, then, that our thought is discursive; it has also an intuitive aspect, in which it remains, within itself, secure in the great structures of its creation. The ultimate tendency of thought, we have seen, is not to generalise, but to constitute a world.18 It is true that it presses beyond the given, following the “what”beyond the limits of the “that.” But it is also true that in following the “what” it tends always to return to a fuller “that.” If its impulse is away from the given it is towards the whole—the world. And as constituting a world it tends to return to the full depth and roundness of experience from which its first step was to depart. In a “world,” a “concrete universal,”we do not lose directness and significance as we depart from primary experience; on the contrary, every detail has gained incalculably in vividness and in meaning, by reason of the intricate interpretation and interconnection, through which thought has developed its possibilities of “being.” The watchword of concrete thinking is “Philosophiren ist dephlegmatisiren, vivificiren.” “A second of time obeys different laws of proportion according as it is an element in an hour, in a musical phrase, or in an act of forbearance respectively. In Plato's language, it gets more ‘determined’at each step; it remains the same itself, but it acquires new significance, and is linked to larger issues.”19

Following this clue, we shall be inclined to see in thought the principle of concreteness rather than of abstraction, and to recognise the highest truth or reality of which thought is capable in the fullest experience, the most self-contained world which finite minds can attain to from any given point. It is fully admitted that no absolutely self-contained experience is accessible to finite intelligences, and that therefore they must always be on one side discursive. On the other hand, so far as a difference between the less and the more true or real is within our horizon at all, it is by this standard—the standard of wholeness or self-containedness, which unites with the principle of non-contradiction in the characteristic of logical stability,20 that the difference must be estimated. And, in so far as this estimate can be made, it involves a character in which thought is at home with itself, and is not driven from pillar to post to make its fortune. All students are familiar with Mr. Bradley's criticism of the “thing” and the “self,”the apprehension of beauty, and even the moral and religious consciousness. It is fully in the spirit of Plato,21 and original and brilliant as it is in detailed execution, the reception of it by philosophical opinion, as if it introduced a principle new and unheard of in Idealism, has always been to me a source of the greatest amazement. It is plain, even if it were not plainly stated, that the possibility of estimating the comparative remoteness of these experiences from the Absolute implies in them, on the other hand, positive degrees of the character which constitutes reality, and which I have ventured to identify with logical stability. In as far as such types of experience take the form of self-centred worlds we may adopt them as examples of what we mean by the concrete universal, in which the aspiration of all experience to be a whole partially comes to its rights. Only, in as far as they partake of such a character, I hardly see how we can deny to them an aspect in which thought is at home with itself in reality, and assumes the attitude of an intuitive understanding.

We may take as an example a work of art.22 This is an object in which we can realise what the Greeks meant by Theoria. In its essence, as a thing of beauty, and neglecting its aspect as a physical object or movement, it is self-contained and a true whole, possessing its significance in itself, and not driving our thought beyond it to a detached meaning and explanation. Every point in it carries the burden, or lives with the life, of the whole. Of course its unity and independence are imperfect,23 but that makes no difference when we once understand that we are talking about matters of degree within finite experience. The point to be grasped is simply the contrast between the relation of abstract generalisation on the one hand, and of concrete modes of thinking on the other, to completeness of experience. In the latter we see the return to the fulness of experience which thought in the former appeared to abandon. Pursuing the same law or principle—the removal of contradiction—the mind tends to arrive at experience incomparably more living and intense, as also incomparably more logical and rational, than that of every-day perception. The true office of thought, we begin to see, is to build up, to inspire with meaning, to intensify, to “vivify.” The object which thought in the true sense has worked upon is not a relic of decaying sense, but is a living world, analogous to a perception of the beautiful, in which every thought-determination adds fresh point and deeper bearing to every element of the whole. We may think of a great business organisation, the economic life of a great city, the moral life of a society, as seen by the casual observer, as subjected to general formulae by the statistical investigator, or as grasped by an active participant, who is also a student,24 familiar with all its aspects, and competent to realise the relation of its purposes to their expression. The more concrete knowledge is the more vital for being methodically precise, and more precise for being more intimately vital, just as the touch of a painter or a musician depends for its vital value on its extraordinary quantitative and qualitative accuracy, which it owes in turn to the dominating sense of the whole. Logical exactitude in the full and true sense is not a deadening but a vitalising quality. Form, interdependence, significance, self-completeness are characters as of thought at its best, so of vitality at its highest. This is the general character by which the concrete universal gives us the clue to the individual. We will further draw it out in three closely-connected relations. Thought, we are insisting, is not a separate faculty of something known as the intelligence. It is the active form of totality, present in all and every experience of a rational being—perhaps, in a degree, in every experience in the universe.

The negligent Dualism must and can be overcome in principle.

6. When thought is pronounced purely discursive, and so contrasted as secondary and extraneous with immediate experience and activity, it is being opposed, I imagine, to the content of sensation, to the living force of will, and to the immediacy and interest of feeling. On all of these oppositions the conception of the concrete universal can throw some light, though it cannot abolish a distinction of aspects, characteristic of the finite mind, and necessary to the richness of experience. On these matters altogether it seems worth while to remark that, if philosophy is to make any definite advance, it must make an effort to get behind the old idea of the irreducible dualism involved in man's nature as at once spiritual and animal. It is very easy to be in a hurry, and say “of course thought cannot see through the differences of the sensuous world, or play a part in feeling or volition other than that of the reflective onlooker; how can we possibly exhibit the distinctions of green and red, of love and hate, of choice and refusal, as operations of the intelligence? Therefore thought is purely discursive, and has to accept its matter from elsewhere, and experience can never be a whole.”And it is no less easy to say, “Man in ideal experience must become purely spiritual; and thought must find its completion, if it is to be homogeneous, apart from the world of sense, of feeling or of action.” But the task of philosophy is just to have the care and patience necessary to disentangling and estimating the signs and media by which man's animal nature gives utterance to his spiritual being, and without which our ideas of his perfection, imperfect as they are, would be more imperfect still.

I will say a word on the nature of thought in general, and then point out its participation in the forms of experience which are held to be most alien to it.

The nature of thinking is not exhausted in the abstract reflective judgment or course of inference. Its essence lies in the passage of a being or content beyond itself, in a word, ideality, adjustment, or the universal. It is one, therefore, with the experience of freedom. “He who talks of freedom, and excludes thought, knows not what he says.”25 The identity of the two conceptions lies in the transformation of the alien into the kindred, the affirmation of self in and through the other. Where we have this, we have the essence of thought, and it is easy to see that we have it in the higher phases of all finite experience, sentient, emotional, conative, as well as cognitive. The characteristic embodiments of thought within finite life are knowledge (including sense-perception), love, and work or activity.

Sensation can become transparent to thought.

i. It is true prima facie that the contents of sense-perception are not transparent to thought. As such and by themselves they cannot be defined;26they cannot be brought as members into an intelligible system. They are not objects in which reason can by logical process recognise its own nature, as it can in life and purpose, and even in mechanical connections. This is prima facie true, but it is not the whole truth, and it just misses the fundamental principle.

The contents of sense-perception, like everything else, reveal a new character in becoming elements of a new whole. Although, like everything else, undefinable in their minimum significance, they acquire in fresh combinations fresh meanings, which must be rooted in what they are. And it would not be justifiable to suppose that the contents of sense, in the actual context in which we apprehend them, are devoid of meaning in which their nature has been drawn out and rendered explicit by contrast and relation. It is certain that they speak to us, that they convey meanings to our complex nature as a whole, though it is true that our thought must fail to interpret adequately in other language what they have to say.

The strongest case of this enhanced significance is no doubt in the world of beauty. For the thought which has become expert in this world, such media as sound, colour, form, rhythm, and metre have undoubtedly a logic and a necessity of their own. The universal—the straining towards the whole—is in them as in all experience; and it is idle to deny their constructive and creative nisus the name of thinking, because it does not operate through what we call par excellence logical language and conceptions attached to words. The rhythm that completes a rhythm, the sound that with other sounds satisfies the educated ear, the colour that is demanded by a colour-scheme, are I take it as necessary and as rational as the conclusion of a syllogism.27

Some reference to this characteristic may include or at least may illustrate the idea that to know the conditions of occurrence of a sensation is one with and supersedes the presentation of the sensuous element itself. There seem to be two directions in which such a suggestion might be interpreted. It might mean a restriction of reality to an intelligible world, after the fashion of Plato's forms as commonly understood, implying that sensation is a nullity and a matter of indifference; or it might imply that sensation can become so transparent to thought, so definitely absorbed in expressiveness, that its contingent and unintelligible character is done away, and it becomes a revelation undistinguishable from, though involving a special perfection in, the meaning which it expresses. Something of this kind we can almost conceive, when we think of the highest moods of aesthetically creative sympathy. And according to the principle on which I shall later have to insist, it is from these fullest experiences that our clues should be sought, if we desire to apprehend how life can most nearly approach perfection. “Colour,” it has been said, “is a spirit upon things by which they become expressive to the spirit.”28 And we see that in a concrete universal there may be a beginning of a transfiguration of sense which at a higher level would remove the alienation between sense and thought. It is always an illusion, more or less, to think, that you can remove the expression, and leave the meaning. It is like thinking that we should lose nothing of a friend's personality if we were never to hear his voice again. If all sensation became to us like the tones of a voice we know, or the touch of a hand we love, we should realise the inseparability of the symbol and the symbolised.29

Thought is the life of feeling.

ii. We have also, in claiming any higher status for thought, to meet the current idea of its relation to feeling. The same antagonism which common sense is apt to find between thought and sentient experience, rooted in the same ideas of abstraction and of decaying sense, it also emphatically finds between thought and feeling, whether feeling is taken in the sense of immediate psychical being, of emotion towards an object, or of pleasure and pain.

In all these respects the experience of aesthetic enjoyment may again serve as a type. If there could be a Hedonistic standard of excellence, it would be of an analogous nature to the degree of aesthetic enjoyment. For here the feeling is necessarily and notably one with and proportional to certain determinate attributes of the object. And though we are not prepared to reduce the “higher” pleasure to the “greater” one, and therefore cannot attach ourselves to Hedonism, yet it is true that in the aesthetic object there is something which characterises the feeling responsive to it in a way susceptible of objective valuation, though not necessarily of valuation in terms of pleasurableness. As with sensation, so with emotion or pleasure-pain, it is the concrete universal that draws them out of their blankness and exhibits them as aspects of the difference made to a living world by contents in which it is affirmed or negated; and thus makes explicit the “more” and “greater”of which they are capable. It seems probable on the whole that Pleasurableness and Emotion vary in value directly and not inversely as the constructive achievement of thought on which they attend. We need only reflect for a moment on the greater works of art to see that this must be so. If, as may be the case, there is a specially concentrated intensity which goes with the blank formlessness of the fiercer pleasures and pains—a subject which Plato and Aristotle have thoroughly worked out—it is an intensity, which, however it may be explained, has in it relatively less and not more of “being and of trueness.” It negates the expansion of the self, and in some way forces the whole to concentrate itself into what cannot contain it. We feel ourselves smothered in it, and driven into a cul de sac.30 In the kinds and degrees of love, as in those of pleasure-pain, we can see the difference made by approaching to the character of thought—the character of a harmonious world.

And even if we take feeling as immediate psychical being, the relation remains the same. All thought, no doubt, has a mediate side; but all concrete thought has become immediate no less than mediate. In fact, what the great philosophers meant by thought, the highest possible phase of realisation, is much what most people mean (so far as they grasp the notion of it at all) when they speak of feeling.31 For if we admit thought to be in part intuitive, a unity asserted through diversity, there is no longer anything to prevent it from reproducing the character of feeling in the sense of immediate apprehension; an immediate apprehension which is the totality of a mediate discourse. This is the sort of apprehension, which a name, familiar and adored, awakes in us.

Thought the essence of free activity.

iii. To act is to exhibit the same essential nature. It is to go beyond the starting-point, and in going beyond it, to remain at home.32 Both sides are essential, and when either is absent, the full conception of activity is not realised. It will be pointed out below, that, if, as is alleged, the conception of causal interaction between spatial things originates in our personal sense of activity, it is a singularly unhappy piece of anthropomorphism, which has reacted most deplorably on the conception of its archetype. For causal activity, as we ascribe it to nature, is just what it is impossible for us to experience; and our own experience of activity is just what we cannot without utter confusion ascribe to natural things. No activity is “ours” in which we do not remain at home as well as go abroad; the mere effect of body upon body can never constitute an act of an originative being. To be active, in the sense in which we experience activity, means to be a “free cause”33 and not a natural cause—that is to say, not to be a term in a succession, perceptible only to an observer, but to be a world which reshapes itself in virtue of its nature and that of its content, and, in doing so, extends its borders, and absorbs and stamps itself upon something that before seemed alien. If we want to interpret our experience of activity we should go to Leibniz and Spinoza, or to the more modern conception of a “free cause.” And then we should find that without assimilating conation to cognition (except that cognition is, of course, a conation) we must recognise in all conation, as at least in all other finite experience, the essential character of thought.

It may be observed for the sake of clearness that not all thought is cognition, though all cognition is thought. Cognition is a conation determined by special interests and ideas; they are independent ideas, and not parasitic; but the form of experience which they determine is not the complete and exclusive form of the unity which experience seeks. Their advantage as candidates for the place of sole end, or criterion of perfection—an advantage the undue assertion of which would constitute intellectualism—rests on the defective formulation of opposing views. Cognition at any rate emphatically exhibits that self-transcendent character of thought which constitutes its freedom and initiative. For these are essentially forms of adjustment and adaptation; they mean that there is an appearance of friction and antagonism which by the right kind of self-assertion can be transformed into responsiveness and co-operation. If the same character were fully recognised, as it might be, by the “activist,” to coin an expression, and the voluntarist, in their account of the mainspring of experience, they might soon destroy the tendency to identify thinking with cognition. But if the champions of freedom and spontaneity insist on tearing up the roots of these very qualities, by making them in Spinoza's sense “passive”—that is to say, unconnected with adequacy of ideas to an objective situation; then there is liable to be a reaction towards finding in cognition those essentials of a free and active being which are denied by the advocates of will.

But neither extreme is inevitable; nor has either been adopted by Greek or modern Idealism. Will and activity mean the operation of the nature of thought through the expansion of ideas into fact; but are not confined to, though they include, that operation of certain special ideas which constitutes the province of cognition.

The goal of the Universal.

7. Thus by pursuing the conception of the logical universal we have arrived at the idea of something complete and self-contained, in which sensation becomes transparent and feeling becomes determinate.

Individuality = a worldself-complete.

i. This idea is the idea of the Individual, and Individuality is the ultimate completeness of that character of wholeness and non-contradiction which we first generalised under the name of logical stability. It is all one whether we make non-contradiction, wholeness, or Individuality our criterion of the ultimately real. What we mean by it is in each case the same; we mean that which must stand; that which has nothing without to set against it, and which is pure self-maintenance34 within.

Individuality, it has been said, has prima facie two extremes. An “atom”35 may claim it, on the ground that it is less than can be divided; a world may claim it, on the ground that its positive nature is ruined if anything is added or taken away. In the ultimate sense, the sense indicated above, it is common ground that there can only be one individual, and that, the individual, the Absolute.36 It is not, however, my primary object here to carry further the theory of the Absolute. My purpose is rather, accepting ultimate Individuality as the character which our fullest experience tends to approach, to draw conclusions as to the nature and position of the human beings to whom in a secondary sense we apply the term Individuals.

Individual is positively unique, i.e. has his own quality.

ii. The first and most important matter that the argument leads me to insist on is this, that Individuality is essentially a positive conception. There has been far too great a tendency37 to state the essence of Individuality not as the being oneself, but as the not being some one else. And in the Absolute no doubt these two sides must come together; in a perfect arrangement there can be no mere repetition, but in finite experience it is all-important on which of the two we insist. Uniqueness as guaranteed by a negative relation to other series38 is one thing; as constituted by a profound or comprehensive content it is another thing. The one may descend to eccentricity; the other is in itself originality. Originality, within finite conditions, is not in principle excluded by agreement or even by a large measure of repetition. Its essence lies in the richness and completeness of a self, not in the non-existence of any other self approximating to it. The merely exclusive relation is in the first place purely formal, giving no clue to the content of the individuality; and in the next place, if insisted on, it tends to become dangerous. All that is true in it is that individuals must be distinct; to say that in every sense they are not each other soon becomes untrue. The individual is individual primarily because his own content is stable and self-contained; the ultimate individual has indeed no other individual to be distinguished from.

Individuality prior to purpose.

iii. The uniqueness which is made the mark of individuality is often stated in the form of uniqueness of purpose. We shall return to the subject of purpose when it is necessary to speak of teleology. But it is important to remark at this point that the conception of purpose shares the purely de facto character of negative individuality. A purpose, after all, is nothing but a want, or at most, a wanted object.39 It gives no guarantee of depth or value by being a purpose which only one being entertains. It is, moreover, something which cannot be ascribed to a timeless reality; and admitting that a timeless reality is a conception open to dispute, it is still the case that a purpose is nothing more in essence than a partial element of a logical whole which is (whether necessarily or not) drawn out in time. And there is no reason to expect that the part which at any moment remains unfulfilled and so presents itself as a “want”—a contradiction set up by the incompleteness of the world to which it belongs, is a matter of pre-eminent interest or value. I n short, as a want in a finite mind a purpose may be “distinctive,” but a higher quality of content, as representing a profound necessity of a highly organised world, would be needed to make it individual. It is not the de facto purpose, but the quality and comprehensiveness of the world that sets the purpose, that makes or mars the individuality.

The individual is infinite but not a series.

iv. The same set of contrasts appears in the connection of individuality with infinity.

It has already been attempted40 to show that recent investigations on the subject of infinity leave the distinction between self-completeness and endlessness, for philosophical purposes, where it was before. The individual, if our treatment of the problem has any justification, is characterised by self-containedness or self-completeness; and includes endless detail only in the sense in which any endeavour is endless which proceeds in the solution of a problem by a method demonstrably inadequate. To take a simple though all-important example; to know God in spatial extension or in a temporal series would be a task involving endlessness.41 And in as far as that which is to be known is a reality, and its nature—the nature of God or of the Absolute—inevitably when approached in a certain way gives rise to the endless procedure, it might even be affirmed that the endlessness was actually real. But this could not mean that the endless series was given. I note, indeed, that the infinite numbers of modern mathematics, are, so far as I can follow the account of them, not to be reached by enumeration.42 Their nature is rather that of a class concept involving an extension consisting of “all possible cases,” which is practically left indefinite, although it is clear that there must be a number corresponding to it. Attention has long ago been called to this characteristic of class concepts on purely logical ground;43and it would almost seem that here again we have a concept or definition that demands the completeness of a series, rather than a series that is actually complete.

We conclude, then, that the Individual is one in idea with the true infinite, and is the embodiment of the concrete universal, which is the universal as asserting itself to the full through identity and through difference together. It is complete and coherent—characters whose connection is established by the relation above drawn out between wholeness and non-contradiction. And in the ultimate sense there can be only one Individual.

Is the Spiritual inward?

8. To form a just estimate of what is involved in the nature of Individuality or the concrete universal, it is necessary to examine the common antithesis of inward and outward.

The “inward” not spatial nor mechanical.

i. The Individual is one with the spiritual, and the characteristic of the spiritual in its proper nature is inwardness as opposed to externality. But it is important to interpret these terms correctly. The terms are evidently taken from the experience of the mind as aware of its own processes, in contrast with the character of space in which objects appear as outside one another. Mental process is inward because its component phases are typically inseparable, although diverse. The possession of one carries with it that of the other.

Memory is inward because its diversity is bound up with the being of the mind; you cannot take the one and leave the other. Inwardness is diversity without dissociation. Matter is outward, because, as it seems, you can take part of it and leave part, without essentially modifying either. It would be untrue to say that the parts of space in no way presuppose each other; but prima facie the connection is not given within each, and spatial objects refuse to form a self or centre of experience,44 though they may be inconceivable without one. Such, in general, is the character of Nature, taken as independent non-psychical existence. It is, as thus hypostasised, the type of being most remote from spirit and from individuality.45

With the externality of Nature is bound up the conception of Mechanism. The essence of it is that the world consists of elements, complete in themselves, and yet determined in relation to elements beyond them. If not complete in themselves the elements would be at the mercy of the whole, and their claims to be its self-subsistent components would be gone. If not determined by others, the elements would not manifest even the appearance of entering into and constituting an orderly world. And yet, these two pretensions, the claim to have a nature of their own, or really to be, and the admission that they have their reality in a behaviour determined ab extra by relations, form when taken together, the crudest case of externality. The element behaves according to relations which connect it with the whole, but it has in itself a being—a purely physical or self-external existence—which possesses no communion with the whole. Thus its behaviour is conceived as something betwixt and between; it does not refuse all response to the system in which it stands, but it responds, we might say, ignorantly and narrowly, “speaking when spoken to” but in no way showing a sympathy with its world beyond the definite reactions which answer, each to each, to particular solicitations. According to an old distinction, it acts according to law, and not from the idea of law. It pursues a routine, and takes no account of purpose.

True inwardness is outwardness absorbed.

ii. All this is the received account of the antithesis between the inward or spiritual and the outward or natural,46which culminates in the opposition between spirit and extension; and between purposiveness and mechanism. It is, as I understand, when formulated by philosophy, a partly controversial and partly provisional account. That is to say, in the first place it reiterates from a hostile point of view the ideas of Naturalism, which means, those of uncritical metaphysic founding itself on conceptions current within the natural sciences. And in the next place it recognises that in the different types of our experience there is a certain prima facie justification for such distinctions, without admitting that they can contain ultimate truth.

My reason for drawing out the contrast of inward and outward at the present point, is to repudiate what I take to be a misapplication of it.

Inwardness, when meant to be the equivalent of Individuality or the character of spirit, should be taken as a type of experience superior to externality and including it. But there is a natural tendency, partly due to the apparent correspondence of the metaphors, partly to the evasiveness which shrinks from all concrete synthesis, to interpret inwardness as the co-ordinate contrary of externality.47 The inward thus conceived, drops from the inclusive concrete to the exclusive abstract. The mere inner, Hegel will always tell us, is the mere outer. Individuality, instead of being the fulness of life and content, becomes the bare abstraction of a holy of holies which if it could be entered would prove an empty shrine. Structure, Logic, Determinateness, are banished as implying externality and mechanism.

Technically speaking, the point is that absence of externality seems most cheaply purchased by rejecting all determinations because they seem to be possible starting-points of external relations. And, therefore, the inward or spiritual ceases to be a world and becomes an empty point, as, for instance, in the ego or free will of popular philosophy in contrast with, say, the will of a society or the inspiration of a religious enthusiasm. It is to this misconception that the emptiness of most accounts of the higher experiences48 is in a great measure due; and such emptiness in its turn promotes the misconception. It is true, of course, that our accounts of an experience essentially beyond our own can only be abstract and provisional. But it is not true that the contents and objects which form the interest of finite experience can in principle be taken as abolished into vacancy, however they may be transformed. A world cannot consist, so far as I understand, of spiritual centres without circumferences, nor can they, as inward centres in the popular sense, form circumferences for each other.49 Individuality and true spiritual inwardness do not lie at all in that direction. Externality can subsist only as subordinated to inwardness; but inwardness can subsist only in the conquest of externality. The tendency to accept the self-external—nature or matter—as self-existent, must be corrected in the higher experience; as in fact this tendency can never completely maintain itself in any actual consciousness. But to deny its self-existence is one thing, to deny its subsistence as the object or determinate character50 necessary to spiritual reality is quite another. The “outer” is the content of the “inner,” and granting that these expressions no longer are suitable language for the absolute experience, yet it is a blunder of principle to analyse the outer into a series of inners deprived of all outer. There are two distinct modes of conceiving the advance in spirituality, the one to resolve all externality into series or complexes of psychical centres;51 the other to conceive it as raised to an adequate object or character for individuals whom it characterises.

The moral is, then, that as we approach Individuality we are not to look for diminution of content, of structure, of determinateness. Individuality will show itself as inwardness and spirituality, not by emptiness and abstraction, not even by blank intensity of incommunicable feeling, but, in a word, by the characteristics of “a world.” Mechanism and externality will in a sense be superseded, but not by inwardness as their co-ordinate contrary. Part will not be bound to part within the whole purely by quantitative reaction; but, in principle, we should expect the adjustment of quantitative determinations to be infinitely more delicate and more subtly precise—though not insisted on as numerable—as they become concomitants or vehicles of a more intensely focussed significance. In the same way we should expect to find in the higher individuality not more but less of what is commonly called spontaneousness, if that means “indetermination,” laxity of connection, and unaccountable new development; and more of logic, more of expansion towards giving full effect to demands which emerge by systematic necessity from the articulation of the whole; less of the urgency of exclusive feeling, more of the definite emotions attaching to fuller self-expression; less of the mere passion of mystical religion; more of the amor intellectualis Dei resting on clear spiritual insight. Inwardness will not be the banishment of all that seems outward, but the solution of the outward in the circulation of the total life.52

Revolting from Mechanism we should go not to History but to Art and Religion.

9. The failure to find a satisfactory type of experience in the abstract or conditional judgments of mechanistic science, may lead us elsewhere than to the concrete universal or cosmos conceived as individual. And so we find the genuine experience, which thought as abstract science fails to grasp, identified with “the historical.”53 “The actual is wholly historical.”It is contrasted both with natural science, and with thought as such, quite in the tone of naïve Realism. It alone is concrete experience; richer than thought, which can only be universal and relational (note the confusion of universal and general), giving only science, not existence. It is contingent, admitting contingency into the heart of things as against the necessity of thought-connections. It is the life and the end, while science is the means. I presume that we have here the influence of an ideal of individuality. The intention must be to take as a basis the life of persons, who in some sense pass for individuals, and within whose soul-process in time all finite experience must be included.

Such view, as was said just now, seems little better than Natural Realism. We are to accept as richer than thought a reality consisting in the fragmentary diorama of finite life-processes unrolling themselves in time, seen from the outside, not strictly knowable because a tissue of mere conjunctions; and yet not given, because a mere construction on the basis of the present; and contingent through and through, not having so much as stripped off the form of conjunction which makes true connection impossible.

History is a hybrid form of experience, incapable of any considerable degree of “being or trueness.” The doubtful story of successive events cannot amalgamate with the complete interpretation of the social mind, of art, or of religion. These interpretations, when attempted in connection with a narrative of events, fall into separate chapters, isolated from the narrative. The great things, which are necessary in themselves, become within the narrative contingent, or ascribed by most doubtful assumptions of insight, to this actor or that on the historical stage. The study of Christianity is the study of a great world-experience; the assignment to individuals of shares in its development is a problem for scholars, whose conclusions, though of considerable human interest, can never be of supreme importance. Are we, indeed, to see the philosophy of history joining hands with the “psychological valet,”54 who takes upon him to interpret the minds and natures of great men as if he was God's spy?

And the reason for taking this hybrid form of experience for the type of reality lies in ignoring the concrete universal. This is the defect which leads us to suppose that concreteness and contingency are inseparable, and makes us confound the apparent contingency of details within a cosmos, whose main members are necessary to the whole,55 with the contingency at the heart of a spatiotemporal world of incident, which has never been recreated by experience of the fullest type. It is impossible for life at its best to be contingent, and if “freedom”is mentioned, it must be remembered that freedom is the logic of individuality, and as remote as possible from contingency. To say that reality can only be found in the given, and not in its expansion and interpretation through thought, is surely the ancient fallacy of naïve Realism. If thought had a point of departure foreign to existence, then it would be idle to speak of either generating the other. But the connection of thought and existence, whatever it may be, is not so simply disposed of as this. We have on our hands the world or worlds of experience in their fullest and most exact realisation, and in them, as we have seen, we find thought inseparable from the recognition of what things are for us at their best.56 Social morality, Art, Philosophy, and Religion take us far beyond the spatio-temporal externality of history; these are concrete and necessary living worlds, and in them the finite mind begins to experience something of what individuality must ultimately mean.

The object of the present lecture has been to remove from various points of view the prejudice which sees in the individual not a positive cosmos, with its own logic and organisation, expressive, in spite of its immediate unity, of a determinate being, but an empty and exclusive point, whose spontaneity and purposiveness mean an initiative that draws upon no positive source, and focusses in itself no positive striving of the universe. In subsequent lectures we shall further illustrate the former conception with reference to the problems of teleology and interaction.

  • 1.

    Bergson, L'Évolution, p. 49, “Il faut le même pour obtenir le même.” Cf. p. 177, “L'intelligence rejette toute création.”

  • 2.

    Bergson, L'Évolution, p. 49, “Notre action…ne peut se mouvoir que parmi les répétitions.” See author's Logic, 2nd ed., Book ii. 174 ff.

  • 3.

    Bradley's Principles of Logic, e.g. 92-3. I assume that the highest segment of Plato's divided line is to be interpreted as implying a return to the concrete, from which the second highest has departed.

  • 4.

    See Taylor, Elements of Metaphysic, p. 96.

  • 5.

    The principle will be defended when we come to speak of the criterion of truth and reality.

  • 6.

    It is the opinion of distinguished recent thinkers that in such a macrocosm the numbers of microcosms may be actually endless, and that, within every microcosm the complexity of detail may be endless also (see e.g. Taylor, Elements of Metaphysic, bk. xi., ii. 5 and iv. 10). I cannot understand how this is compatible with the determinate self-containedness of a truly infinite whole, unless we are speaking of appearances, such as space and time, which through their imperfection suggest an endless series. Could the solution of our difference lie here? viz., that a true infinite gives rise to an appearance of endless variety in so far as it is interpreted exclusively through characteristics inadequate to the whole? Cf. Appearance and Reality, p. 290, “In its isolation as a phenomenon Nature is both finite and infinite, and so proclaims itself untrue.” It is almost as if you were always losing your place in a book and so reading its pages ad infinitum in different combinations, with some repetition. Cf. Logic, 2nd ed., i. 163. You never get out of the series, because you never get nearer the whole. But the important matter, on which as I understand we are agreed, is that even if the true infinite include endlessness, yet endlessness is not enough to constitute a true infinite.

    And, though incompetent to estimate the doctrine of self-representative series I may venture a remark, which seems to me relevant, on the tendency to take it as a type of infinity. It is so taken, as I gather, not because of its endlessness, but because of its self-determination. Well and good; let it be granted that proper parts similar to the whole constitute self-representation. But in truly typical infinite wholes, the self-representation is present in a way curiously analogous to that involved in the series in question, but characteristically different. In a sense, the differentiated organ or spiritual element of a true infinite does contain or repeat the structure of the whole, not, however, by a one-to-one correspondence of terms, but by a differentiated response to organic necessities. A great country does not represent itself by mapping itself on a portion of its surface, but by developing, say, a university at one point, a church at another, a manufacturing town at a third. All these are proper parts repeating the whole structure of the whole, and a good deal could be done to show in detail how this is true. But it would not, of course, be a one-to-one correspondence of terms. A mind, again, does not represent itself by thinking over its thoughts ad infinitum, but by the varied “thought, word, and deed” in each and all of which its nature becomes incarnate. In both cases what might be serial protrusions are turned back into self-contained organs, and what would, if unsatisfied, set up an endlessness, if satisfied, finds a home to rest in, and maintains its whole “chez soi.”

  • 7.

    The expression serves to explain the general nature of the contrast. It is not meant that number is a real test, though it may be a consequence, of richness and completeness of being.

  • 8.

    Principles of Logic, p. 61.

  • 9.

    The universal, as possessed by the mind, is essentially a system or habit of self-adjusting response or reaction, whether automatic or in thought, over a certain range of stimulation. An acquired skill such as that of a cricketer, is a good example. Thus resemblance is quite an inadequate category for it. It deals quite equally with difference. So that I cannot at all accept Mr. Lindsay's dictum in his work on Bergson, p. 228. “The difference (between A and A´ in induction) must for our purpose be ignored.” Adjustment to the difference is the whole point. See author's Logic, 2nd ed., ii. 184.

  • 10.

    E.g. Schiller, Humanism, 123-6.

  • 11.

    The inconceivability of the contrary, in the strict sense, would not establish any truth. Two contrary propositions may both be false.

  • 12.

    E.g. “Beauty [which we are referring to as an accepted experience] is not a reality.” This is in principle of the same type as “there is no truth,” though a shade less directly self-contradictory, because you might formally deny the being of beauty and yet leave other reality standing, whereas the second proposition would not leave even itself standing. But you could not substantially deny the reality of beauty and yet leave experience standing, and therefore the denial is substantially self-contradictory.

  • 13.

    Whether this is admitted by Pragmatism or not, I will commit myself to saying that all we want either to overthrow the latter, or to make it a truism, is to be allowed to argue upon the nature and conditions of satisfaction.

  • 14.

    Principles of Logic, p. 18 ff.

  • 15.

    If, that is, “practice”is to be distinguished as one type of the satisfaction of a conation. Truth is, of course, a satisfaction of a conation; one hardly likes to suggest that there has been drawn from this fact a simply and directly fallacious inference. But the example of Hedonism warrants the opinion that even in expert controversy the sine qua non may be confused with the essence.

  • 16.

    Ward, Naturalism and Agnosticism, ii. 282. Bergson, p. 32 above.

  • 17.

    See R. L. Nettleship in Biography of Green, i. 118 ff.; and Logic Lectures, Remains, i. 173; Green in review of John Caird, Works, iii. 142; cf. Bradley, Logic, p. 92.

  • 18.

    This is so even in Induction. The aspect of generalisation even here is quite subordinate. See author's Logic, 2nd ed., ii. 174 ff.

  • 19.

    Nettleship, Remains, i. 329.

  • 20.

    See above, p. 46.

  • 21.

    Cf., for example, on the self, the monster simile in Rep. ix., and the condemnation of the phenomenal soul in x.; and on the finite perception of beauty the well-known place symposium, 210 e.

  • 22.

    Here I am glad to have Professor Taylor with me, at least in some degree. See Elements of Metaphysic, pp. 32-3.

  • 23.

    Appearance, 2nd ed., p. 465.

  • 24.

    Contrast the assumption that dualism is inevitable. Ward on business and the looker-on, Naturalism and Agnosticism, ii. 133-4.

  • 25.

    Hegel's Gesch. d. Philosophie, iii. 477, Eng. Trans. iii. 401.

  • 26.

    But then this is really true of every term. Definition is always in principle further determination.

  • 27.

    Nettleship, Remains, i. 178, “To say that a combination of two tones is musically wrong is to say that ‘I cannot, consistently with the law or principles of musical thinking, conceive or hold together those two tones.’ To sum up then, each sort of object has its own laws, and each such law is a law of conception.” Cf. Whistler's Life, i. 185. A visitor to Whistler's studio remarked that the upright line in the panelling of the wall was wrong…adding “of course, it's a matter of taste.” To which Whistler replied…“remember, so that you may not make the mistake again, it's not a matter of taste at all, it's a matter of knowledge.” I do not say he was precisely right but he was right as implying a necessity of the type of rational necessity.

  • 28.

    Pater, Essays on the Renaissance, 2nd ed., p. 63. The passage is very relevant.

  • 29.

    Compare the idea, often suggested, that in music we unconsciously hear the numerical relations of the vibrations which underlie the sounds. This is no doubt overstrained; but in the arts which appeal to sight we certainly are affected in this way by underlying proportions which condition the whole effect.

  • 30.

    Nettleship, Remains, i. 336. I do not say it has no special claim to reality.

  • 31.

    Nettleship, Biography of Green, p. 118.

  • 32.

    Hegel, Rechts-Philosophie, Sect. 7.

  • 33.

    Green, Prolegomena, sect. 77; and Joachim, Ethics of Spinoza, pp. 199-200.

  • 34.

    The purest self-maintenance must, in a sense, involve negation, though not contradiction, see Lect. VI. 3.

  • 35.

    The atom, as incapable of organised self-maintenance, would really be the extreme opposite of the true individual.—Appearance, 2nd ed., p. 364. Cp. Leibniz on atoms versus monads.

  • 36.

    We say then with Mr. Bradley, following, of course, Plato and Hegel, that the Individual, which as we have seen is the only true form of the universal, is the Real. The curious misconception through which this principle has been rejected by and maintained against Idealism has sprung from the negative or exclusive notion of the Individual. Thus Mr. Schiller's perfect Individual would be one of a multitude, say an angel. Humanism, p. 124, cf. Ritchie, Darwin and Hegel, i, 100, with the reference to Seth's Hegelianism and Personality.

  • 37.

    Royce, i. 456-460.

  • 38.

    The guarantee can never be final, Bradley, Mind, lxxiv. 167.

  • 39.

    For the distinction see Green, Prolegomena, sect. 85.

  • 40.

    Page 38, footnote.

  • 41.

    On the question whether infinite progression as such involves a contradiction see Review of McTaggart's Commentary on Hegel's Logic; Mind, January 1911.

  • 42.

    Russell, Principles of Mathematics, sect. 342, ff.

  • 43.

    Knowledge and Reality, pp. 64-5.

  • 44.

    See Timaeus, 52 c. It is plain that for a perfect apprehension there can be in this sense no externality.

  • 45.

    Appearance, 2nd ed., p. 552.

  • 46.

    Cf. “The outward and visible sign,” and “inward and spiritual grace.” It is plain that spiritual is here opposed to visible.

  • 47.

    Taylor, Metaphysic, p. 99.

  • 48.

    Cf. James, Varieties of Religious Experience.

  • 49.

    The spiritual body, to use my own phrase, conceived by Mr. Bradley, Appearance, pp. 340-41, would be, I presume, relatively external; a system of differences more or less fixed against each other. I cannot see how there should be a universe without at least some such system.

  • 50.

    Character as opposed to object, if it is urged that minds at their best are what they know.

  • 51.

    See below, Lect. X. The body seems to be not so much a symbol or repetition of the soul as its basis and complement; i.e. the “truth” of the two would involve a reconstruction of the soul as well as of the body. And thus again the body cannot be taken as consisting of monads which are not the soul; this would deprive the soul of an essential factor; unless indeed we say that the other monads, which enter into the body, also enter into the soul.

  • 52.

    That these are not words without meaning may be realised in some degree by the student of Dante or Wordsworth, and indeed of all art, science, and history.

  • 53.

    Ward, Nat. and Agn. ii. 280.

  • 54.

    Hegel, Philosophie des Rechts, sect. 124. Cf. Green, Prolegomena, sect. 293.

  • 55.

    See above, p. 48 ff., on necessity and totality.

  • 56.

    If it is true that in all predication the subject is Reality, and, further, that there are no ideas which do not qualify this subject, it follows that the truth of the ontological argument is conceded in principle, and the value of the knowledge to be obtained by it is only a question of degree—that is, of the reservation under which any given predicate truly qualifies reality. This seems important, as the right way of putting the problem of truth and reality, though open, of course, to such criticism as Mr. Bradley's in Appearance, 2nd ed., pp. 396-7; Schiller, Humanism, p. 251.