THIS work must be regarded as a new edition rather than as a mere translation of my book, La Reazione idealistica contro la scienza, published in Italy in 1912, .Jince I have subjected the whole of it to a process of revision with a view to improving it and adapting it to the British public. In the concluding chapter I have gathered together the constructive portions formerly scattered through the whole book, so as to give greater prominence to my personal point of view, which is a form of spiritualistic realism, and to make that view clearer. The outlines of a spiritualistic conception of the world sketched therein have already formed the subject-matter of three addresses given by me in the Philosophical Library of Palermo, founded by Dr. Giuseppe Amato Pojero, a true apostle of philosophy, the study of which he strives to further by both precept and practice. The line of thought adopted by me that of the school of Francesco de Sarlo and his review, La Cul- tura filosofica, defends the rights of the scientific method and of natural reality against the facile denials of the neo- Hegelians. Idealism, which came into vogue in Italy after the decline of positivism, now appears to be on the wane, and the abuse of the dialectic method has resulted in such a confusion of ideas in mental sciences that Croce himself recently lifted his voice in protest against these exaggerations. It is now time to return

vii 6


to realism, and in England, America, and Germany there are already indications of such a return, which this work of mine would fain hasten in Italy, where, if absolute idealism has attained a large measure of success, other vigorous and original currents of thought, which have disputed the victory with it, are by no means lacking.

This productive trend of thought, which merits attention in other countries as well as in Italy, is not touched upon in the present volume, because it was not included in the general plan of my work, which does not aspire to be a complete history of contemporary philosophy, but merely a study of one aspect of it, i.e. of the phenomenon of irrationalism in its relations to criticism of science. Irrationalism, moreover, in spite of the efforts of a few romantic minds, has not taken root in Italy. I shall deal at length with modern Italian philosophy in a separate book, which will also be published in England should the present volume meet with the favourable reception from English readers for which I venture to hope.




The reaction from intellectualism in contemporary philosophy In- tellectualism and anti-intellectualism in the history of philosophy ' Causes of the reaction from Intellectualism . . . xv-xxii







Agnosticism as the consequence of the traditional mathematical method The Ignorabimua of Du Bois-Reymond Criticism of Spencer's agnosticism First germs of the reaction from intellectualism in - Spencer The evolutionary method also leads to reaction . .3-12



The return to the critical method Lange Criticism of the physiological interpretation of the a priori and of the poetical intuition of the Absolute The empirical prejudice in Helmholtz Liebmann and Schultze Criticism of the neo-Kantian school Riehl's monism Criticism of Riehl's philosophy Elimination of the thing in itself and transition to phenomenalistic monism Wundt's critical ideal- ism— Wundt's uncertain position The return to Schopenhauer's voluntarism Von Hartmann's philosophy of the unconscious




Fouillee's idle-force The endeavour to reconcile pragmatism and intellect ualism Ultimate consequences of voluntarism as seen in Paulsen Criticism of voluntarism and the theory of faith Nietzsche's individualistic voluntarism The philosophy of freedom : Ravaisson, Secretan Lotze and the primacy of practical reason Psychological development of the theory of the primacy of practical reason in the phenomenalism of Renouvier Criticism of Renouvier's phenomenalism . . . . . . . . 13-52



Old and new positivism Factors determining the transition from one form to another and their influence upon the thought of Mach Hypo- statisation of the sensorial elements—Science as mental economy Criticism of the traditional mechanical theory Unconscious meta- physic and contradictions in Mach's phenomenalism Petzoldt's law of univocal determination Principle of the minimum effort, as set forth by Avenarius Biological explanation of scientific and philosophic knowledge Introjection Criticism of the philosophy of pure experience Hodgson's metaphysic of experience Klein- peter's subjectivism ....... 53-91



The two attempts at escape from the agnostic position The eternity of thought, as affirmed by Green in opposition to empiricism Criticism of Green's pan-logism lieductio ad absurdum of pan-logism in Bradley's philosophy Criticism of Bradley's dialectic Mystical degeneration of English neo-Hegelianism : M'Taggart . .92-111



The aesthetic and moral conception of the universe : Secretan, Ravaisson fimile Boutroux and the contingency of natural laws Criticism of the theory of contingency Milhaud and the limits of logical certainty Bergson's doctrine of intuition Fundamental error of Bergson's system The two new rules of invention pro- pounded by Wilbois The will of spiritual activity in scientific construction according to Le Roy The physical world as an instrument of moral life Ethical action as a means of penetrating reality Criticism of intuitionism Theoretical value of science Criticism of Duhem's arguments against the objective value of science . 115-161





Pragmatism as evolutionary transformation of English empiricism The pragmatism of Peirce Utilitarianism and pragmatism Reasons for the prevalence of pragmatism : James's will to believe Differences between la philosophie nouvelle and pragmatism The humanism of Schiller Dewey's instrumental logic Prag- matical elimination of the duality of subject and object Plasticity of experience according to James Ideas as instruments of action Criticism of pragmatism .... . 162-195




The philosophy of values and the primacy of practical reason Philo- sophy as the science of universal values : Windelband Reduction of Being to the Ought Natural and historical sciences Criticism of * the philosophy of values Historical knowledge in Miinsterberg's philosophy of values Attempt to deduce all values systematically The historic world of subjective wills and the mechanical world of objects Criticism of Miinsterberg's philosophy Miinsterberg's super-jEJgro and Royce's absolute consciousness Reduction of the external meaning to the internal meaning of the idea Error The world of science and the world of valuation Criticism of Royce's philosophy Ward on the realm of nature and the realm of ends 196-273




Traditional geometry and the new theories of Gauss, Lobatchewsky, and Bolyai The empiricism of Riemann and Helmholtz and the dispute with the Neo-Kantians Intuition and concept in geometry Tannery on the contingency of geometrical truths The general geometry of Calinon and Lechalas Criticism of these theories : the a priori properties of space Vain attempt at an a priori deduction of three-dimensional space : Cohen, Natorp Impossibility of an experimental proof of Euclidean geometry : Stallo, Poincare, Couturat Euclidean geometry more rationally complete than the rest 277-305





Fusion of logic with mathematics towards the middle of the nineteenth century Peano's logistic and its application to arithmetic and the geometrical calculus Fieri Whitehead's universal algebra Russell on the identity of logic and mathematics Ordinal and cardinal, finite and infinite numbers The continuum Geometry as a hypo- thetico-deductive system The analytic character of mathematical truths according to Couturat Intuition in mathematics Irre- ducibility of mathematics to logistic Criticism of the hypothetico- deductive systems A priori synthesis in mathematics Russell on the philosophical consequences of mathematical logic The new realism Meinong's theory of objects Criticism of Russell's theory . 306-345



Traditional mechanism Carnot's principle Evolutionary genesis of chemical elements Physical chemistry Energetics in Rankine and Spencer Ostwald's phenomenalistic programme Criticism of the traditional mechanical theory Energy as a universal substance Reduction of matter to energy Energetics and vital psychic phenomena Criticism of energetics : Ostwald the phenomenalist, and Ostwald the metaphysician Mechanics as the necessary basis of energetics ........ 346-373



Vain endeavours to reduce all physical qualities to figure and movement alone Duhem's new mechanics The economic and objective value of scientific theories Criticism of Duhem's theory . . 374-389


The two types of ideation amongst physicists : the abstract and the concrete— The nominalist ic prejudice of the theory of models : Hertz Value of concrete representations in physical theory The model not an indispensable means of discovery Fertility of the concept ........ 390-404





Intuitionism, pragmatism, and intellectualism as partial views The reality of concrete thought Concrete thought as the necessary organ of philosophical enquiry The substantiality of the Ego The sophisms of the idealist Proof of realism The truth of self-con- sciousness— The knowableness of nature Mind the truth of nature Natural monads The sense in which the contents of sensation are real Concept of nature The vicious circle of empiricism Irreduci- bility of thought to practical activity Inadequacy of nominalism Theoretical value of the scientific concept History, science, philo- sophy— Impossibility of a dialectical deduction of the categories Ideal genesis of the scientific categories Cause, substance, quantity, time, space Primitive and derivative categories Ideal genesis and value of the mechanical interpretation of physical phenomena Spiritual meaning of science Epistemological proof of the existence of God Faith in the value of science is faith in God Denial of the conflict between pure reason and practical reason Legitimacy of other types of science, differing from mechanics The categories of liberty and finality The accusation of anthropomorphism Eternity of creation ...... 405-479

INDEX 481-483


1. The Reaction from InteUectualism in Contemporary Philosophy. One of the essential characteristics of contemporary thought is undoubtedly the reaction from intellectualism ID all its forms. The mind of man, which could not rest content with a simple trans- ference of results attained by the methods of the natural sciences to the realm of philosophy, and was reluctant to stay its steps on the threshold of the dim temple of the Unknowable, sought within itself other and deeper activities which should throw open the portals of mystery. Art, moral lif e, and religious belief were called upon to fill the void left by scientific knowledge ; and the reaction went so far as to extend to the human intellect as a whole a distrust which should have been confined to scientific naturalism and its claim to be able to comprehend the infinite riches of mind and nature within a few mechanical formulas. The ruined shrines of the Goddess of Reason, who for so long had tyrannised over the mind, were invaded by the rebel forces of f eeling, will, imagination, and every obscure and primitive instinct: thus it came about that Schopenhauer achieved a posthumous triumph over his hated rival Hegel, whose hearers he had in his lifetime vainly endeavoured to entice away, even though he fixed his own lectures for the same hour. Once the blind power of impulse was exalted and the sure guidance of the intellect abandoned, the door was opened to every kind of arbitrary specula- tion ; hence the confusion, Byzantinism, and dabbling in philosophy which during the last twenty years have



obscured thought and masqueraded under the fine- sounding name of idealism. 0 unhappy Idealism, how many intellectual follies have been committed in thy name ! Theosophy, the speculations of the Kabala, occultism, magic, spiritualism, all the mystic ravings of the Neo-Platonists and Neo-Pythagoreans, the most antiquated of theories, debris of every kind, heaped haphazard on the foundation of the speculations of the ages all these have returned to favour in defiance of the dictates of logic and common sense. Balance and the sense of direction have to a certain extent been lost, the light of intelligence quenched, and man gropes in the gloom of wild inspirations, direct intuitions, and mysterious miracles in the search for some new truth which shall satisfy the inmost needs of the human mind.

2. Intettectualism and Anti - Intellectualism in ike History of Philosophy. The reaction from pure intel- lectualism, which reached its zenith towards the end of the last century, is nothing new in the history of philosophy, but a phenomenon which recurs whenever thought indulges in exaggerated rationali sm. In Greece the splendid affirmation of the concept against the sub- jectivism of the Sophists and the intellectualism which had carried all before it from Socrates to Aristotle was followed by the sceptical dissolution which ended in the ravings of the mystics of Alexandria ; while the glow of Christian sentiment came to fill the void left by a cold intellectualism in minds confused by the contradictory formulas of the various systems and the quibbles of destructive dialectic. All through the Middle Ages we see this antithesis of mystic faith and love, which breaks out from time to time with fresh force in protest against the excesses of rationalism : the paradoxical " Credo quia absurdum " of Tertullian stands in opposition to the bold assertions of the gnostics; the "Amo ut intelligam" of S. Bernard and the Victorines marks the reaction of feeling from the in- temperate dialectic of Abelard's " Intelligo ut credam " ;


S. Thomas vainly strives to reconcile these conflicting principles in a higher synthesis, defining clearly the limits of faith and reason. The antithesis of feeling" lives on, although in a more moderate form, in the " lumen superius," the " excessus mentalis et mysticus " of S. Bonaventura who counsels his followers to appeal for penetration into the highest truth : to " gratiam, non doctrinam " ; " desiderium, non intellectum " ; " cali- ginem, non claritatem " ; indeed, another antithesis is added in the voluntarism of Henry of Ghent and John Duns Scotus, which places " Voluntas imperans intellectui est causa superior respectu actus eius " in opposition to the " Simpliciter tamen intel- lectus est nobilior quam voluntas " of S. Thomas. The exaggerated subtleties of the scholastics and the interminable controversies between the followers of S. Thomas and those of Scotus lead by way of Ockham's scepticism to a re-awakening of the spirit of mysticism in Eckhart and Gerson. The epic struggle still con- tinues in modern philosophy ; the first triumphs of mathematical natural science encouraged the boldness of Cartesianrationalism, against which the tormenting doubt </ of the mystic Pascal struggles in vain. Intellectualism, not content with its theoretical domain, would fain in the teaching of Spinoza invade that of moral life as well, vainly deceiving itself into the belief that it can interpret the action of the passions more geometrico, and reaches its extreme in the claim of Wollaston to be able to express the supreme laws of duty as logical relations, a claim calling forth the just re- action of the sentimentalists from Shaftesbury to Smith. The mind of man is once more irresistibly drawn in the opposite direction by the piercing analyses of Berkeley and Hume and the critical genius of Kant, which is at one and the same time the apotheosis of the physico- mathematical method in the order of phenomena and the irrevocable condemnation thereof as an organ of speculation. We see the antithesis once more in the traditional form of feeling regarded as the direct revela-


tion of God in the mystical writings of Jacobi, and in the form of the primacy of practical reason in the work

Sof Kant and Fichte, while in the revolt of the romanti- cists, the Schlegels, Tieck, Novalis, and Schelling, it takes on the new aspect of poetic intuition which , ranks the concreteness of aesthetic vision higher i than abstract mathematicism, the individual than the universal, the changeful life of history than the inflexible formulas of mechanical science. In Hegel reason strives to break away from the motionless formulas of the old logic and to comprehend within the triad of a higher dialectic that concrete develop- ment which eluded the schemes of mathematical intel- lectualism, but for all its gigantic efiorts it fails to dominate the manifold complexity of experience, or to absorb into the idea the productive wealth of intuition and the vivid glow of feeling ; and, while speculative Pan-logism is celebrating the funeral rites of the dead and gone divinities of the romanticists art and religion, superseded now by thought we behold the gods arising once more from the tombs to which Hegel and his teaching had consigned them rising full of the ardour of youth in the mysticism of the later philosophy of Schelling, in the feeling and religious faith with which Schleiermacher and Hamilton sought to supplement our poor intellectual science of the finite and conditioned, in the belligerent will of Schopenhauer who strives to express his deep sense of rhythm in music, beyond the realm of precise concepts. The over-depreciation of scientific intellectualism and of mechanical and abstract mathematicism, which is characteristic of all idealistic speculation, and its claim to take the place of science and to substitute for it a fantastic system of natural philosophy are followed by a fresh glorification of the physical mathe- matical method, which in its turn, in the exaggerated reaction which set in, laid claim to the place of philo- sophy, thus invading the realm of the mind. Thus, passing over the criticism of Kant, we return to the


naturalism of the eighteenth century with its crass ignorance of the epistemological problem. Scientific intellectualism, however, after vainly striving to express the highest manifestations of life and consciousness by the aid of its formulas, is forced to stop short at the limits already denned by the genius of Kant. The " Ignorabimus " of Du Bois-Reymond, the Unknowable of the philosopher of First Principles, are the most explicit confession of the inability of that method to solve the problems of most vital interest to the mind of man.

3. Causes of the Reaction from Intellectualism. Could thought rest easy in this complacent agnosticism ? Could it silence the ever - questioning voice within ? There were two ways of escaping this intolerable situa- tion : either to turn to the other functions of the^mind jojJ^e'g5m^ion~oTthe problem which had baffled the in- teSeCT7or~to elimmate_the_i)roblem altogether, by proving jt-4iO be due_tp^Jaulty^ per^ectiy^and to a false_con- cieption of science andjoi-the value ci_scieiitinc_theories. Both 'ways ~have been tried ; on the one hand, by a return to the moralism of Fichte and the aestheticism of the romanticists, into which the rebellious genius of Nietzsche had breathed new life, the will, as the creative source of all values and of unfettered aesthetic^ intuition, is exalted above the intelligence ; while, on the other, the bases of the mechanical conception and of its chief instruments geometrical intuition and mathematical calculation are subjected to a searching examination. This analysis, to which men of science themselves were impelled by the discovery of the new principles of energy, and by meta-geometrical con- ceptions, resulted in stress being laid upon the active <* work of the mind in the construction of scientific laws and theories, and has therefore contributed to the triumph of that line of philosophic thought which holds that the fullest revelation of reality is to be found in the aesthetic point of view, and in the practical functions of consciousness. In this way speculative


criticism, determined by imperious demands of the mind which positivism failed to satisfy, came into contact with the new criticism which the new theories called into being in the realm of science itself, thus shaking dogmatic belief in the old geometry and in traditional mechanical science. This valid co-operation of physi- cists and mathematicians distinguishes the struggle against intellectualism of the closing years of the nineteenth century from the analogous movement of the beginning of the present century ; it is also more intense and more extensive, especially as regards its critical aspect. The scientific method which Kant and the idealists had declared to be inadequate in the domain of the absolute had successfully resisted all attacks, entrenching itself within the citadel of the phenomenon which Kant himself had fortified so strongly with his vigorous criticism, but towards the end of the century the reaction spread to this sphere also, and science was not only divested of its speculative office, but its theoretical value was denied as well.

The prevalence of Darwinism and of the theory of evolution in general contributed not a little to this radical change in the concept of science. From this standpoint consciousness too appeared to be a complex of functions, whose meaning could not differ from that of the other organic functions : it was but an additional weapon in the struggle for existence, a means of adapta- tion. The theoretical function could not be regarded as an exception to this utilitarian value a value, that is to say, of an essentially practical order of psychic life as a whole, and the forms of thought, like the other types of the biological world, could not therefore be considered as being immutable and eternal, but rather as being subject to a continuous process of formation by means of successive adaptations to new conditions of life.1 Science is no longer the standard by which every form of knowledge is gauged, as was the case in the days of the old positivism ; it is no longer the eternal mould into which human consciousness must be forced


if it would attain to certainty ; it too is an organism capable of that development, renewal, and change of structure which enable it better to fulfil its biological function. That very theory of evolution which had at first sight appeared to prove the mechanical method afresh, and to give it a new weapon wherewith to subdue the rebel world of life, helped rather to depreciate its value and to shake its foundations. Regarded in the light of evolution, was the world what the mechanical theory had held it to be, an eternal persistence of un- changeable substances, an eternal repetition of necessary movements subject to unchangeable laws ; or was it rather a perennial becoming, an incessant renewal of forms which cannot be foreseen, and which cannot therefore be subject to the rigid necessity of determinism? i Is not variability, that is to say, the possibility of the ; new, presupposed in all evolution ? Can the new be confined within the limits of any mathematical formula ? How can mechanics, the science of eternal types, mirror the transient life of the real ? It is not to the motionless ideas of reason that we must turn if»we would sound the depths of being and grasp it in the productive moment of its generation, but rather to the free creations of imagination and energy. Not sub specie aeternitatis, but sub specie generations is the motto of modern logic.2

The researches of psycho - physiology and more especially the analyses of perception, which proved the subjective character of those sensory elements which the mechanical theory had raised to the rank of ultimate reality, contributed largely to the change in the conception of science and of knowledge in general. Are not resistance, space, and time presentations no less dependent on the special physiological structure than sounds, colours, tastes, and smells ? What right have we to regard the one class as objective and primary, the other as subjective and secondary ? Helmholtz considers that the only distinction which can fairly be drawn between these elements is of a practical kind,


in as much as some of them are of more assistance to us than others as guides to reality, awakening in us, as they do, expectations which are habitually verified.

In the first glow of enthusiasm to which these re- searches gave birth, the possibility of discovering the psychological origin of these presentations and of resolving them into their elements seemed to be a clear proof of the empirical nature of geometrical truths and therefore, also, of mechanics ; thus from this point of view also doubt was cast upon the apodeictic value of science more geometrico demonstrate,.

The reaction irom intellectualism, which is, in my opinion, the predominant characteristic of contemporary philosophy, will act as our guide in the study of the prevailing tone of present-day thought touching the theory of knowledge. By the general term " intel- lectualism," taken in the widest sense of the word, we shall understand those epistemological systems which assign an autonomous value to the cognitive function,3 and we shall therefore regard as forms of reaction all those currents of thought which make the value of science and of knowledge in general depend upon the ends of other functions of the mind and rank will and imagination above intellect.


1 Sergi, I! Origine dei fenomeni psichici e la loro significazione biologica (Milan, 1885), p. 72.

2 Dewey, " Does Reality possess Practical Character ? " Essays Philo- sophical and Psychological in Honour of W. James (London, 1908).

* Intellectualism in the strict sense of the word is the reduction of all the functions of the mind to intellectual processes. The pragmatists and intuitionists, however, in their polemic against the intellectualists, apply the term also to those who, though not going so far, yet look upon the intelligence as a theoretic function of intrinsic value, and do not consider it as identical with or subordinate to practical activity. It would be waste of time to enter upon a discussion of the justifiability of using the word in this sense ; the essential thing is that we should clearly understand what concepts we attach to the word.







1. Agnosticism as the Consequence of the Traditional Mathematical Method. Agnosticism was the logical outcome of a prejudice which had become more and more deeply rooted in thought from the time of the Renaissance on : a prejudice which affirms that there is no other form of knowledge save that of which we have the perfect model in mathematical physics. The rich results yielded by the quantitative method of studying natural phenomena which modern science had opposed to the fruitless multiplication of hypo- thetical qualities led to over -estimation of this type of knowledge : everything which could not be com- prised in this scheme, everything which from its very nature could not be comprehended within the narrow limits of a precise formula, was for ever banned from the /domain of knowledge. Even Kant could not wholly shake off this prejudice ; for although the intuition of genius taught him to discern beyond the realm of mathematics and physics that of Aesthetics and. .jnoxal -values, he yet considered them as being beyond the pale of true knowledge, and as belonging to the domain of feeling, contemplation, and faith. Positivism with its apotheosis of the scientific method, with its claim to give a comprehensive explana- tion not merely of natural reality, but also of ethics and aesthetics, by constructing the whole sphere of philosophy on scientific principles, carried this prejudice



to its extreme consequences, declaring those problems for which, from its one-sided, restricted point of view, it could find no adequate solution to be insoluble, and was thus led by faulty perspective to attribute to the nature of human knowledge that inadequacy which was due rather to its own method and system.

P 2. The Ignorabimus of Du Bois-Reymond. Du Bois- Reymond x lays down the dogma that the one and only true exact science is mechanics ; all points of view based on teleological, aesthetic, and qualitative principles are but anthropomorphic conceptions, from which we must free ourselves that we may consider nothing in the world but the quantitative aspects of the move-

ynent of material masses. What, then, is the essence and source of matter, force, motion, and of their dis- tribution ? A mystery which baffles human know- ledge ! How does the qualitative complexity of sensa- tion and consciousness issue from this world of purely homogeneous magnitudes ? Yet another mystery ! How about the source of life, the finality of organisms, the highest functions of the mind and free will ? These too are inscrutable enigmas, otherwise we might well ask ourselves : Are these bounds really the Pillars of Hercules of human knowledge ? Do they not rather mark the limits of your partial and fragmentary con- ception ? Du Bois-Reymond, taking as his starting- point the old prejudice that knowledge is but the power of formulating mechanically, unhesitatingly choeses the first alternative, and cries, " Ignorabimus ! " But the mind of man with its higher ideals refused to submit to this " Ignorabimus," and, since science had declared herself unable to satisfy its loftiest moral aspirations and attributed her failure to the congenital defects of our reason, what more natural than that it should seek to meet the requirements of life in some other way ? Scientific intellectualism with its sceptical conclusions prepared the soil for the various forms of reaction; indeed it went farther, and sowed the seed, leaving, as did Spencer, the revelation of the Absolute



to religious belief, and to a vague indefinite consciousness incapable of being expressed in precise concepts.

3. Criticism of Spencer's Agnosticism. The philo- sopher of First Principles goes even farther than Du Bois - Reymond, striving as he does to prove that the ultimate essence of things eludes not only scientific knowledge, but^ also speculative reason, and tEat because human knowledge can of necessity be but relative. Agnostic positivism, using as its weapons the transcendentalism of Kant, which Hamilton 2 and Mansel 3 had pressed into the service of faith, is forced back on its negative side, on the ancient forms of traditional mysticism, which, though latent, had never really perished, and was ever ready to rise again to do battle with the theological rationalism of the extreme school. In the theory of the Unknowable we see the reappearance of the mystical tendency, finding expres- sion not in the moderate formula " Credo ut intelligam," but rather in the blind aberration involved in " Credo quia absurdum," since the absurd unknowable is in its ultimate analysis but the confession of the powerless- ness of that rationalism which is supposed to reconcile the conflicting claims of science and theology. But, we may ask, must thought inevitably lead to such an absurd conclusion ? If we examine the Unknowable closely, we shall find that it is simply something which we think or at least vaguely feel to be actual, but which we affirm that we cannot know. We must here make sure that we clearly understand in exactly what sensewe use the word "know," since it is just the arbitrary limitation of its meaning which has given rise to certain alleged antinomies.

Spencer admits no other knowledge than that which subjects fact to law, classifying it, resolving it into its abstract relations, determining in what respects it resembles other facts or differs from them ; but side by side with this form of mediate knowledge which seeks the intelligible element in the phenomenon brought to its notice, there exists that immediate knowledge which consists in the direct life of conscious reality


as manifested in its individual physiognomy. Any form of consciousness, however embryonic and rudi- mentary, is already a knowing of the content which is manifested in it. The pain which I feel at a given moment is an actual fact, known by me to be such, though I may not be able to subject it to law, classify it in a system of concepts, or explain it scientifically ; real too is the world of colour, sound, and form in its un- ending variety. The error of abstract rationalism, in its scientific and speculative forms alike, lies in its claim to be able to reduce reality in its entirety to a system of relations, since there exists an individual aspect of things which cannot be expressed in its con- creteness by means of abstract relations. It is for this reason that we find ourselves confronted by in- soluble antinomies when we attempt to realise this pure system of relations, that we vainly endeavour to find a fixed point in the process of reasoning which leads us from one relation to another, a goal which cannot be in its turn a relation unless we are prepared to continue the process indefinitely. Thought, whose function is the establishment of relations, cannot reach this absolute goal, but our consciousness is not forced to seek it beyond the indefinite series of relations, since it is found within itself as an original possession in immediately experienced facts. Knowledge founded on pure logic is thus doomed to grope in the empty darkness of its own contradictions, unless it will take refuge in the luminous atmosphere of concrete conscious- ness. If_by " knowing " we understand simply the reduction~oi phenomena to law and their dissolution into abstract elements, then the unknowable will be found, not beyond the bounds of experience, but in the facts themselves in as much as they possess a concrete physiognomy which cannot be translated into abstract relations, and even our own individuality, as presented to us by experience, will be unknown to us ! If, on the other hand, we understand by the term " knowledge " not merely logical reflection, but also the immediate


life of the real, nothing is unknowable, since everything which we regard as real becomes a content of our consciousness the very moment we recognise its reality. Try as it may, thought cannot call its own objective value in question, and, while endeavouring to prove its own relativity, posits as the absolute term of reference something made of like substance with itself ! This is proved by Spencer's Unknowable, which in the doctrine of transfigured realism is conceived of as the cause of phenomena, as being at once single and the manifold, in its variations which correspond to empirical changes ; as a substance possessed of persistent modes connected by an indissoluble relation with their conditioned effects space, time, motion, and force. And yet it is alleged that we know nothing about it ! Moreover, we are supposed to have found an absolute model of reality face to face with which thought must perforce own its impotence, as if this model were not just as much a thought ! Logical activity will brook no limits, since in the very act of denning these limits it comprehends and transcends them in its universal concepts. A reality^ absolutely eluding thought is an epistemological absurdity ; how can we affirm that it \ exists without thinking of it in some way ?

4. First Germs of the Reaction from Intellectualism in Spencer. If Kant, Hamilton, and Mansel pronounce the Absolute to be unknowable, it is because they wrongly restrict the circle of knowledge to abstract intelligibility ; yet at bottom they too grant the possi- bility of a revelation of this reality in the mind of man. Hamilton writes :

By virtue of a wonderful revelation we are thus, in the con- sciousness of our inability to conceive anything but the relative and the finite, inspired to believe in the existence of something unconditioned beyond the sphere of comprehensible reality.

And Spencer explicitly recognises that the so-called Unknowable does not absolutely elude consciousness, but is rather presented thereto in a form differing from precise and determined thought :


Besides that definite consciousness of which logic formulates the laws, there is also an indefinite consciousness which cannot be formulated. Besides complete thoughts, besides the thoughts which, though incomplete, admit of completion, there are thoughts which it is impossible to complete and yet which are still real in the sense that they are normal affections of the intellect. . . . The error fallen into by philosophers intent on demonstrating the limits and conditions of consciousness consists in assuming that consciousness contains nothing but limits, conditions, to the entire neglect of that which is limited and conditioned. It is forgotten that there is something which alike forms the raw material of definite thought and remains after the definiteness which thinking gave to it has been destroyed.4

Does not this sound like the voice of Bergson ?

. . . Autour de la pensee conceptuelle subsiste une frange indistincte qui en rappelle l'origine.5

The indefinite consciousness of which Spencer speaks becomes the fundamental organ of philosophy in " infoifovft gsfom. If it be this indefinite

consciousness surrounding logical thought which presents I to us the absolute, the culminating point of every reality, according to the opponents of intellectualism, has it not a cognitive value far beyond the limited, phenomenal consciousness of the intellect ? But Spencer is still too much under the influence of the old mathematical prejudice to draw these bold conclusions from his own premisses ; he therefore persists in designating as un- knowable that aspect of reality which cannot be classified and ordered by the scientific method ; he makes a tremendous effort to apply a single mathematical formula to the perennial evolution of mind and nature, to subject the concrete reality of becoming to a law of persistency, to a system of intelligible relations which is outside the limits of time. It is an endeavour which is doomed to failure, and will cause the final crash of the structure of scientific intellectualism, a structure whose founda- tions are already undermined by its own confession of impotence, by proving its inadequacy in the realm of phenomena as well.



5. The Evolutionary Method also leads to Reaction. The law of preservation from which Spencer is deceived into deducing the necessity of the evolutionary process only applies to the quantitative relations of the forces at work in the system ; hence it can give us no information as to the direction the changes will take. The qualitative transformation of forces, on the other hand, is subject to the law of degradation,6 according to which the imperceptible differences, and more especially the inequalities existing in the redistribution of energy in respect to masses, constantly tend to diminish, so that the natural course taken by physical phenomena makes for the greater homogeneity of the system, though this is diametrically opposed to Spencer's assertion. As far as the principle of conservation is concerned, it is a matter of indifference whether we pass from the homogeneous form of heat to differing forms of 'energy, or whether the process be reversed, since in either case it remains unchanged in its totality.

As Lalande 7 has well said, this permanency would be equally true even if the progress of the world were suddenly to be reversed, supposing, that is to say, trees were to grow smaller instead of taller, till they returned to the germs from which they had developed, and mankind were to grow towards youth instead of age, reaching the embryonic stage at the end of life instead of at the beginning. Nor is this hypothesis purely fantastical ! There are many biological instances of retrogression or involution of organs,8 yet the law of the persistence of force is in no way affected thereby. For that matter, does not Spencer himself deduce from the law of conservation the necessary dissolution of the system when its cycle has been accomplished ? How marvellous is this law, from which we may deduce on the one hand, when it suits us so to do, the necessity of passing to the heterogeneous, and on the other with equal facility the no less necessary return to primitive homogeneity !

The evolutionary process cannot be deduced from a


system of mathematical laws. To the physicist, who would seek in the development of natural phenomena the permanent and universal relations of co-existence and succession, the world is ever the same in its totality and unchangeable in its inexorable mechanical laws. From this point of view the individual aspects of things must be considered as illusions of the senses ; we are under the impression