of unmethodic guessing to be a philosophy very seriously.
To ‘give and receive argument’ appears
to me to be of the very essence of Philosophy.
As for M. Bergson, I yield to no one in admiration
for his brilliancy as a stylist and the happiness
of many of his illustrations. But I have always
found it difficult to grasp his central idea—if
he really has one—because his whole doctrine
has always seemed to me to be based upon a couple
of elementary blunders which will be found in the
opening chapter of his Donnees Immediates de la
. We are there called on to reject
the intellect in Philosophy on the grounds (1) that,
being originally developed in the services of practical
needs, it can at best tell us how to find our way
about among the bodies around us, and is thus debarred
from knowing more than the outsides
(2) that its typical achievement is therefore geometry,
and geometry, because it can measure only straight
, necessarily misconceives the true character
of ‘real duration’. Now, as to the
first point, I should have thought it obvious that
the establishment of a modus vivendi
fellows has always been as much of a practical need
as the avoidance of stones and pit-falls, and the alleged
conclusion about the defects of the intellect does
not therefore seem to me to follow from M. Bergson’s
premisses, even if we had any reason, as I do not
see that we have, to accept the premisses. And
as to the second point, I would ask whether M. Bergson
possesses a clock or a watch, and if he has, how he
supposes time is measured on them? He seems to
me to have forgotten the elementary fact that angles
can be measured as well as straight lines. (I might
add that he makes the further curious assumption that
all geometry is metrical.) It may be that something
would be left of the Bergsonian philosophy if one eliminated
the consequences of these initial blunders, but I
do not know what the remainder would be. At any
rate, the anti-intellectualism which M. Bergson and
his disciple, Professor Carr, seem to regard as fundamental
will have to go, unless different and better grounds
can be found for it. I must leave it to others
to judge of the adequacy of this apology.
Varisco, The Great Problem (Macmillan).
Varisco, Know Thyself (Macmillan).
Aliotta, The Idealistic Reaction against Science
Bertrand Russell, Our Knowledge of the External
World (Open Court
Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy
A.N. Whitehead, The Principles of Natural
Knowledge (Cambridge Press).
G.E. Moore, Ethics (H.U.L.).
W. McDougall, Philosophy (H.U.L.).
A.N. Whitehead, Introduction to Mathematics