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Old 04-09-2018, 05:53 PM   #27 (permalink)
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A Pluralistic Universe by William James
I shall myself have use for the diminutive epithets of empiricism. But
if you look behind the words at the spirit, I am sure you will not
find it matricidal. I am as good a son as any rationalist among you to
our common mother. What troubles me more than this misapprehension is
the genuine abstruseness of many of the matters I shall be obliged
to talk about, and the difficulty of making them intelligible at one
hearing. But there two pieces, 'zwei stücke,' as Kant would have said,
in every philosophy--the final outlook, belief, or attitude to which
it brings us, and the reasonings by which that attitude is reached and
mediated. A philosophy, as James Ferrier used to tell us, must indeed
be true, but that is the least of its requirements. One may be true
without being a philosopher, true by guesswork or by revelation.
What distinguishes a philosopher's truth is that it is _reasoned_.
Argument, not supposition, must have put it in his possession. Common
men find themselves inheriting their beliefs, they know not how. They
jump into them with both feet, and stand there. Philosophers must
do more; they must first get reason's license for them; and to the
professional philosophic mind the operation of procuring the license
is usually a thing of much more pith and moment than any particular
beliefs to which the license may give the rights of access. Suppose,
for example, that a philosopher believes in what is called free-will.
That a common man alongside of him should also share that belief,
possessing it by a sort of inborn intuition, does not endear the man
to the philosopher at all--he may even be ashamed to be associated
with such a man. What interests the philosopher is the particular
premises on which the free-will he believes in is established, the
sense in which it is taken, the objections it eludes, the difficulties
it takes account of, in short the whole form and temper and manner
and technical apparatus that goes with the belief in question.
A philosopher across the way who should use the same technical
apparatus, making the same distinctions, etc., but drawing opposite
conclusions and denying free-will entirely, would fascinate the first
philosopher far more than would the _naïf_ co-believer. Their common
technical interests would unite them more than their opposite
conclusions separate them. Each would feel an essential consanguinity
in the other, would think of him, write _at_ him, care for his good
opinion. The simple-minded believer in free-will would be disregarded
by either. Neither as ally nor as opponent would his vote be counted.
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