Well, take an object and an idea, and assume that the latter is true of the former—as eternally and absolutely true as you like. Let the object be as much ‘as’ the idea thinks it, as it is possible for one thing to be ‘as’ another. I now formally ask of Professor Pratt to tell what this ’as’-ness in itself consists in—for it seems to me that it ought to consist in something assignable and describable, and not remain a pure mystery, and I promise that if he can assign any determination of it whatever which I cannot successfully refer to some specification of what in this article I have called the empirical fundamentum, I will confess my stupidity cheerfully, and will agree never to publish a line upon this subject of truth again.
Professor Pratt has returned to the charge in a whole book, [Footnote 1: J. B. Pratt: What is Pragmatism. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1909.—The comments I have printed were written in March, 1909, after some of the articles printed later in the present volume.] which for its clearness and good temper deserves to supersede all the rest of the anti-pragmatistic literature. I wish it might do so; for its author admits all my essential contentions, simply distinguishing my account of truth as ‘modified’ pragmatism from Schiller’s and Dewey’s, which he calls pragmatism of the ‘radical’ sort. As I myself understand Dewey and Schiller, our views absolutely agree, in spite of our different modes of statement; but I have enough trouble of my own in life without having to defend my friends, so I abandon them provisionally to the tender mercy of Professor Pratt’s interpretations, utterly erroneous tho I deem these to be. My reply as regards myself can be very short, for I prefer to consider only essentials, and Dr. Pratt’s whole book hardly takes the matter farther than the article to which I retort in Part I of the present paper.
He repeats the ’as’-formula, as if it were something that I, along with other pragmatists, had denied, [Footnote: Op. cit., pp. 77- 80.] whereas I have only asked those who insist so on its importance to do something more than merely utter it—to explicate it, for example, and tell us what its so great importance consists in. I myself agree most cordially that for an idea to be true the object must be ‘as’ the idea declares it, but I explicate the ’as’-ness as meaning the idea’s verifiability.
Now since Dr. Pratt denies none of these verifying ‘workings’ for which I have pleaded, but only insists on their inability to serve as the fundamentum of the truth-relation, it seems that there is really nothing in the line of fact about which we differ, and that the issue between us is solely as to how far the notion of workableness or verifiability is an essential part of the notion of ‘trueness’—’trueness’ being Dr. Pratt’s present name for the character of as-ness in the true idea. I maintain that there is no meaning left in this notion of as-ness or trueness if no reference to the possibility of concrete working on the part of the idea is made.