We have now struggled through the quagmires of intellectualist philosophy, and found that neither in its Psychology, which divided the mind’s integrity into a heap of faculties, and comminuted it into a dust-cloud of sensations; nor in its Epistemology, which ignored the will to know and the value of knowing; nor in its Logic, which abstracted thought wholly from the thinking and the thinker, and so finally from, all meaning, could man find a practicable route of philosophic progress. But our struggles will not have been in vain if they have left us with a willingness to try the pragmatist alternative, and convinced us that it is not a wanton innovation, but the only path of salvation for the scientific spirit.
But before we venture on it, it will be well to restore confidence in the solvency of human thought by analysing the causes of the bankruptcy of Intellectualism and exposing the extravagance of the assumptions which conducted to it.
Was it not, after all, an unwarranted assumption that severed the intellect from its natural connection with human activity? No doubt it seemed to simplify the problem to suppose that the functioning of the intellect could be studied as a thing apart, and unrelated to the general context of the vital functions. Again, it was to simplify to assume that thought could be considered apart from the personality of the human thinker. But it should not have been forgotten that it is possible to pay too dearly for simplifications and abstractions, and that they all involve a risk, which the event may show should never have been taken. So it is in this case. Its rash assumptions confront Intellectualism with a host of problems it cannot attack. It can do nothing to assuage the conflict of opinions which all claim truth with equal confidence. It cannot understand the correction of error which is continually proceeding. Nor can it understand, either the existence of error or the meaning of truth, or the means of distinguishing between them. It has no means of testing and confuting even the wildest and maddest assertions. It cannot discriminate between the intuitions of the sage and of the lunatic. It is forced to view energy of will in knowing as a source merely of corruption, and when it finds that as a psychic fact willing is ineradicable, it must conclude that we are constitutionally incapable of that passive reflection of reality which it regards as the sine qua non of truth. Hence, if disinterestedness is the condition of knowing, knowledge is impossible. And it is so entangled in its unintelligible theory of truth as a copying of reality that, rather than renounce it, when it finds that human knowing is not copying, it prefers a surrender to Scepticism.