Winds Of Doctrine eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 215 pages of information about Winds Of Doctrine.
or more of which an existing thing might appropriate, existence would be altogether impossible.  The realm of essence is merely the system or chaos of these fundamental possibilities, the catalogue of all exemplifiable natures; so that any experience whatsoever must tap the realm of essence, and throw the light of attention on one of its constituent forms.  This is, if you will, a trivial achievement; what would be really a surprising feat, and hardly to be credited, would be that the human mind should grasp the constitution of nature; that is, should discover which is the particular essence, or the particular system of essences, which actual existence illustrates.  In the matter of physics, truly, we are reduced to skimming the surface, since we have to start from our casual experiences, which form the most superficial stratum of nature, and the most unstable.  Yet these casual experiences, while they leave us so much in the dark as to their natural basis and environment, necessarily reveal each its ideal object, its specific essence; and we need only arrest our attention upon it, and define it to ourselves, for an eternal possibility, and some of its intrinsic characters, to have been revealed to our thought.

Whatever, then, a man’s mental and moral habit might be, it would perforce have affinity to some essence or other; his life would revolve about some congenial ideal object; he would find some sorts of form, some types of relation, more visible, beautiful, and satisfying than others.  Mr. Russell happens to have a mathematical genius, and to find comfort in laying up his treasures in the mathematical heaven.  It would be highly desirable that this temperament should be more common; but even if it were universal it would not reduce mathematical essence to a product of human attention, nor raise the “beauty” of mathematics to part of its essence.  I do not mean to suggest that Mr. Russell attempts to do the latter; he speaks explicitly of the value of mathematical study, a point in ethics and not directly in logic; yet his moral philosophy is itself so much assimilated to logic that the distinction between the two becomes somewhat dubious; and as Mr. Russell will never succeed in convincing us that moral values are independent of life, he may, quite against his will, lead us to question the independence of essence, with that blind gregarious drift of all ideas, in this direction or in that, which is characteristic of human philosophising.


The time has not yet come when a just and synthetic account of what is called pragmatism can be expected of any man.  The movement is still in a nebulous state, a state from which, perhaps, it is never destined to issue.  The various tendencies that compose it may soon cease to appear together; each may detach itself and be lost in the earlier system with which it has most affinity.  A good critic has enumerated

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Winds Of Doctrine from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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