Romanticism and Rationalism


Thilly, Frank. “Romanticism and Rationalism.” The Philosophical Review 22, no. 2 (1913): 107. https://doi.org/10.2307/2178366


MODERN philosophy began with an enthusiastic faith in the powers of human reason to reach the truth. It represented a protest against the methods of Scholasticism and demanded a free field for unrestricted inquiry to work out its own salvation. There were differences of opinion as to the nature and certainty of the knowledge actually attainable and as to the sources from which it sprang. But empiricists and rationalists alike regarded as the ideal of knowledge the acquisition of sure and universal judgments which would faithfully represent an existent reality; mathematics appealed to them both as the model of truth that would satisfy the intellectual craving for certainty. And somehow to reach the object, to know it as it is in itself, in its naked purity, was their heart’s desire. The rationalists believed in the possibility of realizing the ideal through reason, that is, of grasping in thought the nature of the thing in itself; the empiricists did not share this faith: neither sense-perception nor thought can give us the object as it is, and knowledge derived from the senses cannot yield more than probability. Both schools, however, agreed in their conception of genuine knowledge as universal and necessary knowledge and in their distrust of sense-perception as a source of ultimate truth. Indeed, the sceptical attitude of the empiricist, first towards natural science, and then towards all knowledge, with the possible exception of mathematics, followed as a necessary consequence from his notion of knowledge as an absolutely certain representation of things exactly as they are. He despaired of the power of either sense-perception or conceptual thought to reach the goal, and he ended in Humian scepticism precisely because his ideal of truth was so extravagant, as extravagant as any rationalist's.


With this outcome of empiricism not all the opponents of rationalism were disposed to come to rest. Unwilling to abandon the possibility of grasping reality as it is, and yet not satisfied with the cheerless conclusions and cold-blooded methods of intellectualism, mystics and faith-philosophers, the Pascals, Huets, Bossuets, Poirets, Bayles, Rousseaus, and Hamanns, appealed to other phases and functions of the human soul for help in stilling the longing for certainty: truth rests upon feeling, faith, or mystical vision of some sort; God is not conceived by the reason, but felt by the heart; the intellect busies itself with mere ideas, unreal shadows; the spirit of mathematics favors fatalism. These anti-intellectualistic tendencies were not new in the history of human thinking; they had accompanied philosophy as a chorus of protest almost from the beginning, whichever now and then threatened to drown out the voices of the leading singers. But what particularly encouraged the reactionary movements in the modern era was the mechanical conception of natural science and the deterministic worldviews to which it had given rise. Descartes and Spinoza both surrendered the natural order to mechanism, the former somewhat hesitatingly, the latter boldly and completely. Descartes had reserved the spiritual world as an independent kingdom from which mechanism was barred, but Spinoza seemed to introduce even into the realm of mind the same rigid determinism that ruled the world of bodies. For both, the physical order was practically a machine; the Aristotelian metaphysics with its emphasis on life and purpose, which had controlled the thoughts of men for two thousand years, eked out a questionable existence in the theology-ridden universities, while all fruitful thinkers joined the ranks of the revolutionaries. It was this situation with its danger to human values that aroused opposition to the intellect and logic as sources of the highest truth, and made converts for fideism, intuitionism, and mysticism.


But other solutions of the problem seemed possible, and they were tried by philosophers. Berkeley and Malebranche sought to way out of the mechanistic dilemma by abolishing or ignoring the world of matter and sinking nature in the mind of God, while Leibniz endeavored to heal the breach between the new mechanical theory and the old teleological interpretation of reality by means of an idealistic pluralism, reconciling the teachings of modern physical science with classical Greek thought and the spiritual demands of Christianity. And with this compromise many in the age of Enlightenment were content. Reason appeared to have accomplished the task which it had set itself when it cast off the guardianship of the School, and had accomplished it without capitulating to materialism, fatalism, and atheism.


II.

But reason itself was not wholly satisfied with its success. Ianthe face of Hume's vigorous attacks upon the pretensions of rationalism, the question of the validity of scientific and metaphysical knowledge could not be ignored, and account had also to be taken of the protests of the will against encroachments upon its freedom and its moral and religious yearnings. Kant offered a new compromise that would save everything worth saving rational knowledge, modern science, the basal truths of the old metaphysics, and the most precious human values. His problem was, as one of his contemporaries stated it, "to limit Hume’s scepticism, on the one hand, and the old dogmatism, on the other, and to refute and destroy materialism, fatalism, atheism, as well as Schwdrmerei and superstition." We can have genuine knowledge, universal and necessary judgments, in physics and mathematics, but such knowledge applies to phenomena only; we cannot know things in themselves in this way. The old a priori metaphysics with its mathematical ideal, the old rational psychology, cosmology, and theology go by the board: there is and can be no scientific proof of the soul, of freedom, of immortality, or of the existence of God. Here the case is given to the sceptics: natural science, that is, mathematics and physics, cannot. reveal to us the true nature of things, the core of reality: it is limited to the outside, to mere appearance. Knowledge in the scientific sense is possible, only where there is sense-perception, in the domain of space and time: concepts without percepts are empty. And within the field of nature, in the realm of physical and mental phenomena, inexorable law reigns: every physical process, and every human act conceived as part of this process, is absolutely determined, a necessary link in the causal mechanical chain. The tribute to modern science is bravely paid. For the scientific understanding, for our human intelligence with its spatial and temporal categories, nature is a machine in which there is no room for the novel, the unique, and the individual; everything, the self included, is laid out in a serial temporal order, and the entire empirical realm is subject to law.


But there is another side to Kant's philosophy, a door through which entrance can be gained to the world of things in themselves and which is closed against natural science with its sense-experiences and discursive understanding. There is a higher kind of truth than the knowledge of sense-perceived things: truth based on the moral consciousness of man or practical reason, which proclaims us to be free beings, not subject to the mechanism of nature, and gives us an insight into the spiritual world. The moral law within us is a sure guarantee of freedom, an ideal kingdom of ends, immortality, and God: all these are necessary implications of the categorical imperative. We cannot penetrate reality through the husk of sense-experience; the scientific manipulation of sensations can never carry us beyond the outside into the heart of things where freedom and purpose reigns. Nor can immediate experience reveal to us the promised land: the closer we get to immediacy, the nearer we get to chaos and the farther from truth: percepts without concepts are blind. Neither can we ever intuit or envisage the real; that would mean a face to face greeting of the thing in itself, a power of intellectual intuition which we do not possess. "Freedom, God, and immortality transcend all sense-perception; they are not objects of knowledge and science, but objects of necessary thought and faith."


Kant's chief object, after all, was to discredit the discursive understanding as an instrument of ultimate truth, the same intelligence which the sceptics, faith-philosophers, intuitionists, and mystics, before and after his day, distrusted and rejected. He destroyed its knowledge to make room for a rational faith in a supersensible world. The scientific study of outer and inner nature, as conceived by him, will not help us in our attempt to get to the bottom of things; a metaphysic erected upon empirical foundations is built on sand. If there were not another, deeper source of truth in the practical reason, we should not only know nothing of freedom and the ideal world but be unable to free ourselves from the mechanism of nature. It is moral truth that both sets us free and demonstrates our freedom. The effort of reason to think itself into the heart of reality by means of the discursive intellect is doomed to failure and must be abandoned.


Und was sie deinem Geist nicht offenbaren mag,

Das zwingst du ihr nicht ab mit Hebeln und mit Schrauben.


But Kant does not seek in sentimentalism or mysticism the solution of the world-riddle; he had contempt for all Schawardmereiof this sort, for Schwdrmerei ins Uberschwdngliche, he is unwilling to leave the safe footing of reason and would climb into the supersensible by rational steps from rational moral principles.


And yet, in spite of all his rationalism, his appeal is, nevertheless, an appeal to the heart; faith in the moral ideal saves us from agnosticism, materialism, and determinism; we know because we believe in the moral law. It is true, as Schelling says, the Critique of Pure Reason did not refute dogmatism, but dismissed its case from the tribunal of theoretical reason. The discursive understanding, as understood by Kant, is helpless in metaphysics, involving itself in hopeless antinomies; unless philosophy can discover other methods and sources of knowledge than those employed in mathematical physics, it cannot shake off the incubus of a block-universe. That is what troubled both Jacobi and Kant, compelling the former to seek refuge in feeling, the latter in a rational moral faith. Spinozism had become popular in Germany during the latter part of the eighteenth century and appealed to many thinkers as the most consistent dogmatic system, indeed, as the last word of speculative metaphysics. Lessing and Goethe had been attracted to it, and the young Fichte heroically accepted its rigid determinism as inevitable. It was Kant's solution of the controversy between the head and the heart that provided an escape from the causal bugbear and made the 'new' philosophy spread like wildfire, winning for its modest author the proud title which he had claimed for himself as "the reformer of philosophy." To Fichte it came as a revelation and a revolution that caused the Sciolistic scales to drop from his eyes and converted him into an eloquent and lifelong apostle of freedom.


Fichte and Schelling grappled with the same problem as Kant; they, too, endeavored "to deliver man from the terrors of the objective world," as Schelling once expressed it; only they weren’t satisfied with merely thinking the thing in itself, they yearned to see it face to face, in intellectual or artistic intuition, through function which Kant had denied to human reason, but which his two successors held to be possible by an act of will. They both shared, also, Kant's view of the powerlessness of the intellect to pierce through the surfaces of things into the living, pulsating heart of reality. No romanticist of our own day can be more emphatic than they in accusing the discursive understanding of deadening and mechanizing life and everything that comes within the sphere of its paralyzing influence. “Conceptual thinking," Fichte warns us again and again, "transforms the immediate life-process into stationary and dead existence," and Schelling harps on the same string in countless brilliant variations. The ordinary intelligence with its scientific method, forever searching after causes, forever relating, can accomplish nothing outside of the field of dead being to which it should confine its attention. Only by a kind of philosophical conversion, by a sudden leap of the mind, as it were, can man raise himself out of the machinery of nature and become conscious of the inner, active, self-determining reality in himself. You can prove that you are not a thing, a mere product of nature, only by refusing to be a thing; the only way of escape from materialism and determinism is by an act of freedom in which you come face to face with spontaneous life. "What is described in concepts," Schelling tells us, "is at rest, hence there can be concepts only of things and of that which is finite and sense-perceived. The notion of motion is not motion itself, and without intuition we should never know what motion is. Freedom, however, is comprehended only by freedom, activity only by activity. If we had no intellectual intuition, we should be caught eternally in our objective ideas, . . . and there could be no transcendental thinking, no imagination rising above sense-experience, no philosophy, either theoretical or practical."


All this means that natural science and philosophy have their special fields and special methods, that the former merely scratches the surface of reality, while the latter grasps its meaning: "the true philosophy is interested in the living, moving element in nature." We can understand the world when and only when we rise from death into life, and we can know life only by being alive and free, hence philosophy begins with an act of will. Iin Anfang war die That. The phenomenal world is a means of realizing the living will of the world, and sense-perception and intelligence are instruments in the service of the will, which for Fichte is a moral will, for Schelling an absolute will, an elan vital.

These two post-Kantians are, like their master, voluntarists in the double sense of making will the basal principle of reality and of the knowledge of reality. They are instrumentalists inscribing to sense-perception and intelligence a practical value though conceiving them as incapable of revealing the living truth. They are pragmatists when they declare that the controversy between materialism and idealism, mechanism, and freedom, cannot be decided by theoretical reason, but only by “inclination and interest," that is, by the will to believe. They are intuitionists: we cannot refute materialism or prove idealism to one who has not made himself free and does not experience freedom in himself; indeed, we cannot even make the problem mean anything to him. And with Kant and many others of the age they are humanists, proclaiming the worth and dignity of man, and so reflecting in their philosophy the spirit of ethical individualism which had found expression in the French revolution.


III.

There is hardly a type of Romantic philosophy clamoring for recognition today that has not its counterpart in the anti-intellectualistic movements of the period inaugurated by Kant. Indeed, it would not be difficult to trace the descent of the contemporary leaders of the new thought through the long line of ‘new' thinkers which runs unbroken through the nineteenth century. The names are familiar to every student of the history of philosophy; Jacobi, Herder, Fries, Schleiermacher, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Joseph de Maistre, Maine de Biran, Royer-Collard, Victor Cousin, Th. Jouffroy, Ravaisson, Renouvier, Boutroux, Sir William Hamilton, Mansel, and even Bradley, can all be appealed to in support of doctrines which are engaging philosophers of the present day. These romantic teachings are symptoms of dissatisfaction with the methods and results of our rationalistic science and philosophy, expressions of the same spirit of impatient discontent which is manifesting itself everywhere in modern life. We are dissatisfied; economically, politically, socially, morally, religiously, and intellectually dissatisfied; and our philosophies are mirroring the turmoil of our souls. Forgone thing, we are tired of the old systems, idealistic and materialistic, rationalistic and empiristic, the old arguments, the old methods, the old categories, the old logic, the old terminologies, sick and tired of them all. Familiarity breeds contempt in the world of ideas no less than in the world of things; repetition of the old truths and the old labels deadens the intellect; we want new names for old ways of thinking. We long for change and are inclined to welcome every effort to begin the whole work of philosophy over again. But the chief ground of discontent with the traditional science and philosophy is to be sought in their theoretical results, or rather, in their supposed results. The yearnings of the heart are chilled by the contemplation of the vast machinery of a universe of which the individual forms an insignificant and vanishing part. Whether with Huxley we accept the mechanism of natural science with its claim that "the entire world, animate and inanimate, is the result of the mutual interaction, according to definite laws, of forces possessed by the molecules which made up the primitive nebulosity of the universe," or conceive the world as an interlocked system of ideas realizing an absolute purpose from which there is absolutely no escape, the fate of the individual is sealed from the very start.


So musst du sein, dir kannst du nicht entfiiehen.

So sagten schon Sibyllen und Propheten.


Whether we begin with moving atoms or logical concepts or universal purposes, the individual seems to become a mere phantom, a temporary arrangement of eternal particles of matter or the passing thought of a determined God. His beliefs, his yearnings, his loves and hates, his aspirations, and ideals, all these are mere incidents, inevitable creakings and strainings, in the interlockings of the machinery of nature. It is not remarkable that, threatened to be caught in the never stopping wheels, the modern man should shriek out in pain and protest against such a fate and refuse to have it so. The very terribleness of the conception fascinated him at first, held him spellbound, and even kindled in him a spirit of exaltation, an excited desire to be spun along over the cataract and to be dashed against the rocks below. But now that the novelty has worn off, his bravado is all gone. Like the Romanticists of the past century, he is searching for a way of escape; as the dread of Spinozism had driven them to fideism, mysticism, intuitionism, and moralism, so the bugbear of mechanical, logical, and teleological absolutism is driving the new philosophers away from the cheerless abode of intellectualism in quest of a refuge where they may warm their hearts in the contemplation of ethical and religious values and be at peace, or where they may strive to bend aplastic world to human needs.

What characterizes the new currents in our contemporary thought is their opposition to any theory that degrades human life to the ro1e of an epiphenomenon, that makes man a puppet, that leaves no place for human values. If, the pragmatist asks, everything, man included, is a mere effect of the primitive nebula or infinite substance, what becomes of moral responsibility, freedom of action, individual effort, and aspiration; what, indeed, of need, uncertainty, choice, novelty, and strife? Another characteristic is the interest in the living, moving, pulsating element of existence. Reality for the latter-day opponent of rationalism, no less than for his earlier brother, is not a dead, static thing, not a mere skeleton of bone and sinew, but flesh and blood, full of life and movement and never-ending change. This view of reality helps to intensify the distrust of the intellect already aroused by its failure to satisfy the longings of the will. Our estimate of the competence of the understanding to do justice to reality will, in a measure, depend upon what we believe reality to be; our theory of knowledge will rest upon our metaphysics. If we identify the world with what we experience objectively or subjectively, if we believe that we come face to face with the real in inner or outer perception or in both, and intelligence appears to give us a different report, we will repudiate intelligence. That is what some of the older Romanticists proceeded to do: the intellect was deposed because it did not tell the truth.


Not all our contemporary anti-intellectualists are, however, prepared to go so far. Bergson admits that science and logic cannot grasp the core of reality; science breaks it up, arrests it and schematizes it in its rigid forms. We cannot draw off the flowing vital process in static logical concepts. Le mot est brutal; just because it is universal, every definition robs the immediate of its individual character. Where there is life and movement, conceptual thinking finds its occupation gone. But this does not mean that intelligence is without its raison d'etre, and that the methods and results of natural science are to be abandoned as false trails. The work of the intellect is not without purpose; it owes its origin to practical needs; it is, as pragmatists have insisted, an instrument in the service of the will to live. And yet it is not merely such a tool for Bergson. Conceptual thought is well-adapted for employment in a dead world, and such a world confronts it in inert matter: here mechanism reigns and here the discursive understanding has cognitive value. Where there is no individuality, no inwardness, nothing but dead surface, science and logic have practical and theoretical worth. In its own peculiar field intelligence is king. But the trouble comes when the logical mind extends its operations to the world in which everything is moving, growing, becoming, living. Baffled by the infinite variety and change of forms, and taking the whirling flux for illusion, the intellect proceeds to construct a bony skeleton, a rigid framework, and substitutes this, as the true reality, for the disturbing and unpleasant temporal succession. It keeps forever reading static elements, eternal causes, and substances, into the flux, and dropping out as mere appearance what does not fit into the logical scheme. Life and consciousness cannot be treated mathematically, scientifically, logically; the scientist who studies and analyzes them in the ordinary mathematical-physical ways, cuts them up, destroys them, and misses their meaning. The metaphysician cannot give us scientific knowledge of them; philosophy is and remains a direct vision of reality, a Weltanschauung in the literal sense of the term, intuition. Intuition is life, real and immediate life envisaging itself. There is something in the universe analogous to the creative spirit of the poet, a living pushing force, which eludes mathematical intelligence, and which can be appreciated only by a kind of divining sympathy, a feeling which often gets nearer to the essence of things that reason. A normal philosophy must do justice to both intelligence and intuition, for only by a union of these two faculties will the philosopher succeed in approximating the truth. The Critique of Pure Reason would be right, and metaphysics would be impossible if mathematical-physical knowledge were the only form of truth, but for Bergson, as for Fichte, Schelling, and, indeed, for Kant himself, there are other sources of knowledge, upon which a satisfactory worldview may be based.

Bergson sharply distinguishes between intelligence and intuition, science, and philosophy, and is led to do so by the cleavage his metaphysics makes between the world of matter and the world of life and mind. Like his fellow-countryman Descartes, he abandons the corporeal realm to mechanism; whatever of life and movement there is in nature is due to the elan vital that pushes itself through obstructing matter and flows in channels fashioned by itself. Matter itself is dead, life and consciousness are everything but that, for to live is to create and invent. Dualism becomes especially marked in the case of the self with its free will. We cannot strap the ego, which is both a unity and a plurality, upon the conceptual framework used for the external world. The intellect looks at reality from the outside and can understand only such existences as have nothing but an outside; in the presence of the true realities, it is condemned to relativity and symbolism; it operates with pictures, rigid concepts, substitutes, and symbols of the absolute; it cannot break itself of its habit of cutting things into strips and measuring and counting them. With qualities and movements, with life and consciousness, with the 'growing personality, all of which have to be caught on the wing, as it were, only intuition candela; intelligence can at best give us nothing but snapshots of life, while intuition seizes its movement.


The sharp distinction which Bergson makes between matter and mind is not always consistently adhered to in his works and perhaps does not represent the final form of his philosophy; but as it stands, it reminds us somewhat of the dualistic metaphysics of Descartes. Unlike his predecessor, however, he does not advance upon the spiritual citadel of reality by way of logical arguments, but takes it by storm, seizes it by direct inner vision like the German Romanticists. We cannot think ourselves into life and mind but must grasp them without the intervention of intellectual reflection, which would at once begin to block them out. James, too, discredits the intellect; for him also philosophy is more a matter of passionate vision than of logic. We must behind the conceptual function altogether; in this he agrees with Bergson, but his sympathies seem to lie with Hume and Mill rather than with Schelling in looking to the more primitive flux of the sensational life for reality's true shape. The French philosopher looks inward for reality's true shape, the American outward. It is not true, as Hegel held, that whatever is real irrational and whatever is rational is real; whatever is experienced is real. But English empiricism is no more satisfactory than German rationalism, James tells us, simply because it is not empirical, not radical enough, because it does violence to the sensational flux, instead of taking it just as it comes. Philosophy should seek this kind of living understanding of the movement of reality, not follow science in vainly patching together fragments of its dead results. Radical empiricism makes for pluralism: experience shows us multiplicity, diversity, opposition, and not a block-universe, not the completely organized harmonious system of the Absolutists and Monists in which all differences and oppositions are reconciled. Pluralism takes perceptual experience at its face value, and such experience reveals countless independent individual beings. The concrete perceptual flux, taken just as it comes, offers in our activity-situations perfectly comprehensible instances of causal agency. Free will means nothing but real novelty: we also experience perceptual novelties all the while. Hence there is room for chance, for novelty, for freedom in the world of radical experience.


Moreover, the pluralistic universe satisfies the demands of our moral nature, while there is no room for morality in the rigorous deterministic universe of the absolutist. In such a world of novelty and change, in which not everything is the necessary effect of something else, man is free to risk realizing his ideal. Each concrete moral situation is something new, special, unique, in which the agent must eventually judge and act for himself.


James bases his worldview upon the testimony of immediate experience and upon the demands of the human will. The intellect in the form of natural science and the old philosophies fastens a block-universe upon us, while the will cries out for independence and a plastic malleable world, and unanalyzed experience gives us the world we want. Pragmatism not only suggests that we trust direct experience and follow the will but modifies the conception of truth to meet the situation. The will itself becomes the test of truth; the test of a theory, belief, or doctrine is its practical consequences, its effect upon us, its relation to the human will. "The possession of truth is not amending in itself, but only a preliminary means to other vital satisfactions. “Always ask yourself what difference it will make in your experience whether you accept materialism or spiritualism, determinism or free will, atheism or theism. One is a doctrine of despair, the other a doctrine of hope. "On practical principles, if the hypothesis of God works satisfactorily in the widest sense of the word, it is true. Experience shows that it certainly does work." "Truth in science is what gives us the maximum possible sum of satisfactions, taste included, but consistency both with previous truth and novel fact is always the most imperious claimant." Yet consistency is not the sole criterion of truth, according to James; in order to be true, a philosophy must satisfy other than logical demands. And the practical, moral, and religious demands favor pluralism, freedom and individualism, spiritualism, and theism. The will demands consistency, coherency; the will to know, the intelligence, asserts its rights in James, so much of the old rationalism is still in his bones, but he refuses to make intelligence the absolute judge: knowledge is not knowledge that does not satisfy all the cravings of the will.


In the case of conflict preference is to be given to what will satisfy the life-long hunger in the human heart. James can take this position because he believes that the will somehow reaches down into a mysterious spiritual underworld, and that its cravings can be satisfied in the world of experience, that they can be made true. A belief or theory is true insofar as it can be made to work in the field of human experience.


IV.

Peculiar to the anti-intellectualistic philosophies of the present-day is their antagonism to ultra-deterministic systems of any kind, materialistic or idealistic. They all plead for a more elastic universe, for a world in which human life can amount to something more than a mere puppet show or a drama in which the characters simply play the parts cast for them. They all repudiate a world in which freedom, initiative, individual responsibility, novelty, adventure, risk, chance, romance, life as the individual unspoiled by philosophy, seems to live it, are lacking; the interest is shifted from the universal to the particular, from the machine-like to the organic, from the intellect to the will, from logic to intuition, from the theoretical to the practical, from God to man. Recent Romanticism demands a world in which the human being shall have a fighting chance, in which the cards are not stacked against him from the start, in which things can happen that were not on the bills, which, with effort, he can fashion to his purposes and ideals, in which he can succeed and fail. It wants the world back again as it revealed itself to ordinary unreflecting common sense.


There is much that is good in these new tendencies. For one thing they have put the old classical systems on their mettle and are making them justify their existence.


Was du ererbt von deinen Vatern hast,

Erwirb es um es zu besitzen.

Without antagonisms, without battles to fight, philosophy easily falls to sleep, sinks into "the deep slumber of a decided opinion. “Conflict is better than self-satisfied assurance or indifference. War is the Father of all and the King of all, in the domain of mind as everywhere else, and there is nothing so dead as an accepted creed. "Both teachers and learners go to sleep at their post," Mill is right, "as soon as there is no enemy in the field. “A philosophy that is done, is a philosophy that is done for.

Des Menschen Thatigkeit kann allzuleicht erschlaffen,

Er liebt sich bald die unbedingte Ruh'.


In addition to the important service which the new thinkers have rendered in helping to rejuvenate philosophy, they have also aided in focusing attention upon points that are apt to be lost sight of. They have again pushed to the front the question of the relation of natural science and philosophy, the whole knowledge-problem, and have emphasized the significance of human values in the scheme of things: questions which call forever new answers with the progress of human inquiry. They have warned us against mistaking the universal framework of reality for reality itself and have insisted on our keeping close to concrete experience. They protest against a one-sided metaphysic, a metaphysic that fails to do justice to all the varied experiences of mankind and interprets the world in terms of mere aspects of experience, conceiving it as a physical, logical, or teleological machine. They refuse to accept as complete the account of reality written by the outward-looking intellect and to picture it in analogy with the knowing human mind. They accentuate the dynamic character of reality, the Heraclitean worldview as against the static absolutes of the Eleatics and conceive being in analogy with the human will.


All these points and many others in the writings of the newest reformers of philosophy are well taken and have been emphasized again and again in the history of speculation. The new doctrines are not new in principle, as we have seen, and their champions often thunder too much in the index. The motives behind their wholesale distrust of the intellect are fear of depreciation of standard moral and religious values, a preconceived metaphysics, and an all-too narrow conception of intelligence. Distrust of reason based on cravings of the will is not necessarily a bona fid distrust. It is not rational to discredit the intelligence because it fails to give us the world we want, or the heaven we want, or the God we want. The direst need cannot make black, white though it may persuade us to paint it white. Nor does the fact that hypotheses happen to please the will to believe, or succeeding this sense, make these hypotheses true. The will to be deceived, though it may stifle the will to know, does not make truth. It is necessary to give reasons for taking the side of the will to believe, that is, to appeal to the intelligence, the same intelligence that has helped to free us from the slavery of nature and the slavery of our own superstitions. Such an appeal is made by every anti-intellectualist, yes, by every pragmatist who asks us to accept his theory because it is rational, because it accounts for the facts as he sees the facts, because it is true, true in the old sense of the word.


It may be held that where knowledge leaves us in the lurch, faith comes into its own, that of two equally unprovable hypotheses that one is to be accepted which works in the sense of satisfying ethical and religious needs. As a piece of practical advice to be followed or not, philosophy need not concern itself with this statement. But there is objection to calling the hypothesis true because it chimes in with our desires or works in that way. Truth and utility are not the same, and it does not add to our understanding of things to identify them. We may interpret utility so as to include in its logical consistency and scientific verification, refusing to accept anything as true that does not satisfy the will for consistency as well as explain the facts of our experience. But in that case, we are simply abandoning the pragmatic test and adopting a time-honored rationalistic standard. We may refuse to accept anything as true that does not satisfy both the will for intelligibility and the moral and religious will, but we can do that only in case the thing does not really satisfy the will to understand. The mere fact that a theory leaves no room for free will, pluralism, immortality, or God, does not make it false, even though belief in such ideas should happen to help us over the dismal places in life. What satisfies the will to believe in God may not satisfy the will to understand our world of experience. The will to believe must itself be rendered intelligible; reasons must be given for accepting its demands, and these reasons must satisfy the will to know. And reasons are always given, even by faith-philosophers; they construct a world for us in which the will to believe will not constitute an irrational element. Kant accepted the categorical imperative and its implications because he believed in a rational universe and because a universe did not seem intelligible to him in which human reason could demand an irra