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Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 71 pages of information about Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy.
and partial:  it continues to operate with all the assumptions of common sense, save the one which it is expressly criticising.  So, in repudiating the material world, this philosophy retains the notion of various agents or subjects gathering experience; and we are not expected to doubt that there are just as many streams of experience without a world, as there were people in the world when the world existed.  But the number and nature of these experiences have now become undiscoverable, the material persons having been removed who formerly were so placed as to gather easily imagined experiences, and to be able to communicate them; and the very notion of experience has been emptied of its meaning, when no external common world subsists to impose that same experience on everybody.  It was not knowledge of existing experiences in vacuo that led common sense to assume a material world, but knowledge of an existing material world led it to assume existing, and regularly reproducible, experiences.

Thus the whole social convention posited by empirical idealism is borrowed without leave, and rests on the belief in nature for which it is substituted.

VIII

Page 21. The literary psychologist may come very near to the truth of experience.

Experience cannot be in itself an object of science, because it is essentially invisible, immeasurable, fugitive, and private; and although it may be shared or repeated, the evidence for that repetition or that unanimity cannot be found by comparing a present experience with another experience by hypothesis absent.  Both the absent experience and its agreement with the present experience must be imagined freely and credited instinctively, in view of the known circumstances in which the absent experience is conceived to have occurred.  The only instrument for conceiving experience at large is accordingly private imagination; and such imagination cannot be tested, although it may be guided and perhaps recast by fresh observations or reports concerning the action and language of other people.  For action and language, being contagious, and being the material counterpart of experience in each of us, may voluntarily or involuntarily suggest our respective experience to one another, by causing each to re-enact more or less accurately within himself the experience of the rest.  Thus alien thoughts and feelings are revealed or suggested to us in common life, not without a subjective transformation increasing, so to speak, as the square of the distance:  and even the record of experience in people’s own words, when these are not names for recognisable external things, awakens in the reader, in another age or country, quite incommensurable ideas.  Yet, under favourable circumstances, such suggestion or revelation of experience, without ever becoming science, may become public unanimity in sentiment, and may produce a truthful and lively dramatic literature.

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