The Copleston Annotations
following text is correspondence between
(This copy is extracted from web-archive of
Dear Anthony McWatt,
You asked in one of your letters how the MOQ compares with late 19th Century idealism. The answer that follows copies part of Frederick Copleston’s summary of that group in Volume 8 of his “History of Philosophy” and inserts comparisons the MOQ. As I’ve said before, philosophology isn’t my field, and I assume that Copleston’s understanding of the positions of the various idealists is correct. Certainly it’s better than mine, and using it and trusting it filters out a lot of red herring.
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Introductory historical remarks-Literary pioneers Coleridge and Carlyle-Ferrier and the subject-object relation John Grote's attack on phenomenalism and hedonism - The revival of interest in Greek philosophy and the rise of interest in Hegel; B. Jowett and 1. H. Stirling.
1. In the second half of the nineteenth century idealism became the dominant philosophical movement in the British universities. It was not, of course, a question of subjective idealism. If this was anywhere to be found, it was a logical consequence of the phenomenalism associated with the names of Hume in the eighteenth century and J. S. Mill in the nineteenth century. For the empiricists who embraced phenomenalism tended to reduce both physical objects and minds to impressions or sensations, and then to reconstruct them with the aid of the principle of the association of ideas. They implied that, basically, we know only phenomena, in the sense of impressions, and that, if there are metaphenomenal realities, we cannot know them. This is what the MOQ states. Right away it diverges from the absolute idealism that follows. Quality is a phenomenal reality. The nineteenth-century idealists, however, were convinced that things-in-themselves, being expressions of the one spiritual reality which manifests itself in and through the human mind, are essentially intelligible, knowable. In the MOQ there are no things in themselves. Subject and object are correlative because they are both rooted in one ultimate spiritual principle. This is also true in the MOQ. It was thus a question of objective rather than subjective idealism. In the MOQ the term, “objective,” is reserved for inorganic and biological patterns and cannot include “idealism.”
Nineteenth-century British idealism thus represented a revival of explicit metaphysics. That which is the manifestation of Spirit can in principle be known by the human spirit. And the whole world is the manifestation of Spirit. It would seem at first appearance that Quality might be an equivalent of Spirit, but this would be an enormous mistake. Quality is spiritual only to the extent that motorcycles and sausages are spiritual. Science is simply one level of knowledge, one aspect of the complete knowledge to which the mind tends, even if it cannot fully
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actualize its ideal. Metaphysical philosophy endeavours to complete the synthesis.The MOQ agrees with this.
The idealist metaphysics was thus a spiritualist metaphysics, in the sense that for it ultimate reality was in some sense spiritual. And it follows that idealism was sharply opposed to materialism. The MOQ is not opposed to materialism as long is it is understood that materialism is a set of ideas. In so far indeed as the phenomenalists tried to go beyond the dispute between materialism and spiritualism by reducing both minds and physical objects to phenomena which cannot properly be described either as spiritual or as material, we cannot legitimately call them materialists. But these phenomena were evidently something very different from the one spiritual reality of the idealists. And in any case we have seen that on the more positivistic side of the empiricist movement there appeared an at least methodological materialism, the so-called scientific materialism, a line of thought for which the idealists had no sympathy. If the Quantum theory can be called scientifically materialistic, then the MOQ supports scientific materialism.
With its emphasis on the spiritual character of ultimate reality and on the relation between the finite spirit and infinite Spirit idealism stood for a religious outlook as against materialistic positivism and the tendency of empiricism in general to by-pass religious problems or to leave room, at best for a somewhat vague agnosticism. The MOQ is an atheistic religious outlook that solves rather than bypasses religious problems. Indeed, a good deal of the popularity of idealism was due to the conviction that it stood firmly on the side of religion. To be sure, with Bradley, the greatest of the British idealists, the concept of God passed into that of the Absolute, and religion was depicted as a level of consciousness which is surpassed in metaphysical philosophy, while McTaggart, the Cambridge idealist, was an atheist. The MOQ agrees with both. But with the earlier idealists the religious motive was much in evidence, and idealism seemed to be the natural home of those who were concerned with preserving a religious outlook in face of the threatening incursions of agnostics, positivists and materialists. The MOQ resolves this conflict and thus takes both sides. Further, after Bradley and Bosanquet idealism turned from absolute to personal idealism and was once again favourable to Christian theism, though by that time the impetus of the movement was already spent.
It would, however, be a mistake to conclude that British idealism in the nineteenth century represented simply a retreat from the practical concerns of Bentham and Mill into
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the metaphysics of the Absolute. For it had a part to play in the development of social philosophy. Generally speaking, the ethical theory of the idealists emphasized the idea of self-realization, of the perfecting of the human personality as an organic whole, This is true of the MOQ, although “self-realization” is an extremely vague and slippery word. an idea which had more in common with Aristotelianism than with Benthamism. And they looked on the function of the State as that of creating the conditions under which individuals could develop their potentialities as persons. In the MOQ the state is a social pattern, no more. As the idealists tended to interpret the creation of such conditions as a removal of hindrances, they could, of course, agree with the utilitarians that the State should interfere as little as possible with the liberty of the individual. They had no wish to replace freedom by servitude. But as they interpreted freedom as freedom to actualize the potentialities of the human personality, This is another vague phrase that could be the same as Dynamic Quality. and as the removal of hindrances to freedom in this sense involved in their opinion a good deal of social legislation, they were prepared to advocate a measure of State-activity which went beyond anything contemplated by the more enthusiastic adherents of the policy of laissez faire. We can say, therefore, that in the latter part of the nineteenth century idealist social and political theory was more in tune with the perceived needs of the time than the position defended by Herbert Spencer. Benthamism or philosophical radicalism doubtless performed a useful task in the first part of the century. But the revised liberalism expounded by the idealists later in the century was by no means 'reactionary'. It looked forward rather than backward.
The foregoing remarks may appear to suggest that nineteenth-century idealism in Great Britain was simply a native reaction to empiricism and positivism and to laissez faire economic and political theory. In point of fact, however, German thought, especially that of Kant and Hegel successively, exercised an important influence on the development of British idealism. Some writers, notably J. H. Muirhead, have maintained that the British idealists of the nineteenth century were the inheritors of a Platonic tradition which had manifested itself in the thought of the Cambridge Platonists in the seventeenth century and in the philosophy of Berkeley in the eighteenth century. But though
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it is useful to draw attention to the fact that British philosophy has not been exclusively empiricist in character, it would be difficult to show that nineteenth-century idealism can legitimately be considered as an organic development of a native Platonic tradition. The influence of German thought, particularly of Kant and Hegel, cannot be dismissed as a purely accidental factor. It is indeed true that no British idealist of note can be described as being in the ordinary sense a disciple of either Kant or Hegel. Bradley, for example, was an original thinker. But it by no means follows that the stimulative influence of German thought was a negligible factor in the development of British idealism.
A limited knowledge of Kant was provided for English readers even during the philosopher's lifetime. In 1785 a disciple of Kant, F. A. Nitzsch, gave some lectures on the critical philosophy at London, and in the following year he published a small work on the subject. In 1797 J. Richardson published his translation of Principles of Critical Philosophy by J. J. Beck, and in 1798 A. F. M. Willich published Elements of Critical Philosophy. Richardson's translation of Kant's Metaphysics of Morals appeared in 1799; but the first translation of the Critique of Pure Reason, by F. Haywood, did not appear until 1838. And the serious studies of Kant, such as E. Caird's great work, A Critical Account of the Philosophy of Kant (1877), did not appear until a considerably later date. Meanwhile the influence of the German philosopher, together with a host of other influences, was felt by the poet Coleridge, whose ideas will be discussed presently, and in a more obvious way by Sir William Hamilton, though the element of Kantianism in Hamilton's thought was most conspicuous in his doctrine about the limits of human knowledge and in his consequent agnosticism in regard to the nature of ultimate reality.
Among the British idealists proper, Kant's influence may be said to have been felt particularly by T. H. Green and E. Caird. But it was mixed with the influence of Hegel. More accurately, Kant was seen as looking forward to Hegel or was read, as it has been put, through Hegelian spectacles. Indeed, in J. H. Stirling's The Secret of Hegel (1865) the view was explicitly defended that the philosophy of Kant, if properly
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understood and evaluated, leads straight to Hegelianism. Hence, though we can say with truth that the influence of Hegel is more obvious in the absolute idealism of Bradley and Bosanquet than in the philosophy of Green, there is no question of suggesting that we can divide up the British idealists into Kantians and Hegelians. Some pioneers apart, the influence of Hegel was felt from the beginning of the movement. And it is thus not altogether unreasonable to describe British idealism, as is often done, as a Neo-Hegelian movement, provided at least that it is understood that it was a question of receiving stimulus frorn Hegel rather than of following him in the relation of pupil to master.
In its earlier phases the British idealist movement was characterized by a marked concentration on the subject-object relationship. In this sense idealism can be said to have had an epistemological foundation, inasmuch as the subject-object relationship is basic in knowledge. The metaphysics of the Absolute was not indeed absent. For subject and object were regarded as grounded in and manifesting one ultimate spiritual reality. Here the MOQ agrees completely except for that term, “spiritual.” But the point of departure affected the metaphysics in an important way. For the emphasis placed in the first instance on the finite subject militated against any temptation to interpret the Absolute in such a manner as to entail the conclusion that the finite is no more than its 'unreal' appearance. In other words, the earlier idealists tended to interpret the Absolute in a more or less theistic, or at any rate in a pantheistic, sense, the monistic aspect of metaphysical idealism remaining in the background. And this, of course, made it easier to represent idealism as an intellectual support for traditional religion.
Gradually, however, the idea of the all-comprehensive organic totality came more and more into the foreground. Thus with Bradley the self was depicted as a mere 'appearance' of the Absolute, as something which is not fully real when regarded in its prima facie independence. The MOQ agrees. Oneness, nothingness, Quality and Absolute are all referent terms for the same thing. And this explicit metaphysics of the Absolute was understandably accompanied by a greater emphasis on the State in the field of social philosophy. While Herbert Spencer on the one hand was engaged in asserting an opposition between the interests of the free individual and those of the State, the idealists were
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engaged in representing man as achieving true freedom through his participation in the life of the totality. The MOQ supports intellectual freedom from the state but not biological freedom.
In other words, we can see in the idealist movement up to Bradley and Bosanquet the increasing influence of Hegelianism. As has already been indicated, the influence of Kant was never unmixed. For the critical philosophy was seen as looking forward to metaphysical idealism. But if we make allowances for this fact and also for the fact that there were very considerable differences between Bradley's theory of the Absolute and that of Hegel, we can say that the change from emphasis on the subject-object relationship to emphasis on the idea of the organic totality represented a growing predominance of the stimulative influence of Hegelianism over that of the critical philosophy of Kant.
In the final phase of the idealist movement emphasis on the finite self became once again prominent, though it was a question this time of the active self, the human person, rather than of the epistemological subject. And this personal idealism was accompanied by a reapproximation to theism, except in the notable case of McTaggart, who depicted the Absolute as the system of finite selves. But though this phase of personal idealism is of some interest, inasmuch as it represents the finite self's resistance to being swallowed up in some impersonal Absolute, it belongs to a period when idealism in Britain was giving way to a new current of thought, associated with the names of G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, and, subsequently, Ludwig Wittgenstein .
. As far as the general educated public was concerned, the influence of German thought first made itself felt in Great Britain through the writings of poets and literary figures such as Coleridge and Carlyle.
(i) Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) seems to have made his first acquaintance with philosophy through the writings of Neo-Platonists, when he was a schoolboy at Christ's Hospital. This early attraction for the mystical philosophy of Plotinus was succeeded, however, by a Voltairean phase, during which he was for a short time a sceptic in regard to religion. Then at Cambridge Coleridge developed a perhaps somewhat surprising enthusiasm for David Hartley and his associationist psychology. Indeed, Coleridge claimed to be
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more consistent than Hartley had been. For whereas Hartley, while maintaining that psychical processes depend on and are correlated with vibrations in the brain, had not asserted the corporeality of thought, Coleridge wrote to Southey in 1794 that he believed thought to be corporeal, that is, motion. At the same time Coleridge combined his enthusiasm for Hartley with religious faith. And he came to think that the scientific understanding is inadequate as a key to reality, and to speak of the role of intuition and the importance of moral experience. Intuition sometimes is an equivalent of Dynamic Quality. However, it also a kind of biological instinct. Since Western philosophy confuses these two, the MOQ avoids the term. Later on he was to declare that Hartley's system, in so far as it differs from that of Aristotle, is untenable.
Coleridge's distinction between the scientific understanding and the higher reason or, as the Germans would put it, between Verstand (empirical knowledge) and Vernunft (reasoned knowledge) was one expression of his revolt against the spirit of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. He did not, of course, mean to imply that the scientific and critical understanding should be rejected in the name of a higher and intuitive reason. His point was rather that the former is not an omnicompetent instrument in the interpretation of reality, but that it needs to be supplemented and balanced by the latter, namely the intuitive reason. It can hardly be claimed that Coleridge made his distinction between understanding and reason crystal clear. But the general line of his thought is sufficiently plain. In Aids to Reflection (1825) he describes the understanding as the faculty which judges according to sense. Its appropriate sphere is the sensible world, and it reflects and generalizes on the basis of sense-experience. Reason, however, is the vehicle of ideas which are presupposed by all experience, and in this sense it predetermines and governs experience. It also perceives truths which are incapable of verification in sense-experience, and it intuitively apprehends spiritual realities. The MOQ denies this. Reason grows out of experience and is never independent from it. Further, Coleridge identifies it with the practical reason, which comprises the will and the moral aspect of the human personality. J. S. Mill is thus perfectly justified in saying in his famous essay on Coleridge that the poet dissents from the 'Lockian' view that all knowledge consists of generalizations from experience, and that he claims for the reason, as distinct from the understanding, the power to perceive by direct intuition realities and truths which transcend the reach of the senses. The MOQ disagrees.
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In his development of this distinction Coleridge received stimulus from the writings of Kant, which he began to study shortly after his visit to Germany in 1798-9. But he tends to speak as though Kant not only limited the scope of the understanding to knowledge of phenomenal reality but also envisaged an intuitive apprehension of spiritual realities by means of the reason, whereas in point of fact in attributing this power to the reason, identified moreover with the practical reason, Coleridge obviously parts company with the German philosopher. He is on firmer ground when he claims an affinity with Jacobi in maintaining that the relation between reason and spiritual realities is analogous to that between the eye and material objects.
Nobody, however, would wish to maintain that Coleridge was a Kantian. It was a question of stimulus, not of discipleship. And though he recognized his debt to German thinkers especially to Kant, it is clear that he regarded his own philosophy as being fundamentally Platonic in inspiration. In Aids to Reflection he asserted that every man is born either a Platonist or an Aristotelian. I have heard that he got this from Goethe. Aristotle, the great master of understanding, was unduly earthbound. He began with the sensual, and never received that which was above the senses, but by necessity, but as the only remaining hypothesis. That is to say, Aristotle postulated spiritual reality only as a last resort, when forced to do so by the need of explaining physical phenomena. Plato, however, sought the supersensible reality which is revealed to us through reason and our moral will. As for Kant, Coleridge sometimes describes him as belonging spiritually to the ranks of the Aristotelians, while at other times he emphasizes the metaphysical aspects of Kant's thought and finds in him an approach to P]atonism. In other words, Coleridge welcomes Kant's restriction of the reach of understanding to phenomenal reality and thcn tends to interpret his doctrine of reason in the light of Platonism, which is itself interpreted in the light of the philosophy of Plotinus.
These remarks should not be understood as implying any contempt for Nature on Coleridge's part. On the contrary, he disliked Fichte's 'boastful and hyperstoic hostility to Nature, as lifeless, godless, and altogether unholy'. And he
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expressed a warm sympathy with Schelling's philosophy of Nature, as also with his system of transcendental idealism, in which 'I first found a genial coincidence with much that I had toiled out for myself, and a powerful assistance in what I had yet to do'. Coleridge is indeed at pains to reject the charge of plagiarism, and he maintains that both he and Schelling have drunk at the same springs, the writings of Kant, the philosophy of Giordano Bruno and the speculations of Jakob Boehme. However, the influence of Schelling seems to be sufliciently evident in the line of thought which we can now briefly outline.
'All knowledge rests on the coincidence of an object with a subject.' But though subject and object are united in the act of knowledge, we can ask which has the priority. Are we to start with the object and try to add to it the subject? Or are we to start with the subject and try to find a passage to the object? In other words, are we to take Nature as prior and try to add to it thought or mind, or are we to take thought as prior and try to deduce Nature? Coleridge answers that we can do neither the one nor the other. The ultimate principle is to be sought in the identity of subject and object. This is strikingly similar to the MOQ.
Where is this identity to be found? At this point Coleridge is at the same door that Phaedrus was at, but he doesn’t have the key of Quality with him. So he answers: 'Only in the selfconsciousness of a spirit is there the required identity of object and of representation.' What in the world is selfconsciousness of a spirit? But if the spirit is originally the identity of subject and object, it must in some sense dissolve this identity in order to become conscious of itself as object. Ridiculous. Self-consciousness, therefore, cannot arise except through an act of will, How did will get in here? and 'freedom How did freedom get in here? must be assumed as a ground of philosophy, and can never be deduced from it'. The spirit becomes a subject knowing itself as object only through 'the act of constructing itself objectively to itself'. This is the sort of nonsense that has inspired logical positivism.
This sounds as though Coleridge begins by asking the sort of question which Schelling asks, then supplies Schelling's answer, namely that we must postulate an original identity of subject and object, and finally switches to Fichte's idea of the ego as constituting itself as subject and object by an original act. The MOQ regards the ego as a construction of all four sets of static patterns that is capable of responding to Dynamic Quality. Independently of Dynamic Quality, the patterns do not create anything or engage in any original acts. But Coleridge has no intention of stopping short with the ego as his ultimate principle, especially if we mean by this the finite ego. Indeed, he ridicules the 'egoism' of Fichte. Instead, he insists that to arrive at the absolute
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identity of subject and object, of the ideal and the real, as the ultimate principle not only of human knowledge but also of all existence we must 'elevate our conception to the absolute self, the great eternal I am'. Coleridge criticizes Descartes's Cogito, ergo sum and refers to Kant's distinction between the empirical and the transcendental ego. But he then tends to speak as though the transcendental ego were the absolute I am that I am of Exodus and the God in whom the finite self is called to lose and find itself at the same time.
All this is obviously cloudy and imprecise. Yes. But it is at any rate clear that Coleridge opposes a spiritualistic interpretation of the human self to materialism and phenomenalism. And it is clearly this interpretation of the self which in his view provides the basis for the claim that reason can apprehend supersensible reality. Indeed, in his essay on faith Coleridge describes faith as fidelity to our own being in so far as our being is not and cannot become an object of sense experience. Our moral vocation demands the subordination of appetite and will to reason, and it is reason which apprehends God as the identity of will and reason, as the ground of our existence, and as the infinite expression of the ideal which we are seeking as moral beings. The MOQ agrees completely with the logical positivists that it is not reason that does this. In other words, Coleridge's outlook was essentially religious, and he tried to bring together philosophy and religion. The MOQ is essentially philosophical. He may have tended, as Mill notes, to turn Christian mysteries into philosophical truths. But an important element in the mission of idealism, as conceived by its more religious adherents, was precisely that of giving a metaphysical basis to a Christian tradition which seemed to be signally lacking in any philosophical backbone. The MOQ supports religion but does not support many Christian traditions.
In the field of social and political theory Coleridge was conservative in the sense that he was opposed to the iconoclasm of the radicals and desired the preservation and actualization of the values inherent in traditional institutions. At one time he was indeed attracted, like Wordsworth and Southey, by the ideas which inspired the French Revolution. But he came to abandon the radicalism of his youth, though his subsequent conservatism arose not from any hatred of change as such but from a belief that the institutions created by the national spirit in the course of its history embodied
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real values which men should endeavour to realize. As Mill put it, Bentham demanded 'the extinction of the institutions and creeds which had hitherto existed', whereas Coleridge demanded 'that they be made a reality'. The MOQ supports both conservatism and liberalism at the same time. Freedom and order are contradictory but both are necessary at the same time.
( ii ) Thomas Carlyle ( 1795-1881 ) belonged to a later generation than that of Coleridge; but he was considerably less systematic in the presentation of his philosophical ideas, and there are doubtless very many people today who find the turbulent prose of Sartor Resartus quite unreadable. However, he was one of the channels through which German thought and literature were brought to the attention of the British public.
Carlyle's first reaction to German philosophy was not exactly favourable, and he made fun both of Kant's obscurity and of the pretensions of Coleridge. But in his hatred of materialism, hedonism and utilitarianism he came to see in Kant the brilliant foe of the Enlightenment and of its derivative movements. Thus in his essay on the State of German Literature (1827) he praised Kant for starting from within and proceeding outwards instead of pursuing the Lockian path of starting with sense-experience and trying to build a philosophy on this basis. The MOQ is Lockean. The Kantian, according to Carlyle, sees that fundamental truths are apprehended by intuition in man's inmost nature. In other words, Carlyle ranges himself with Coleridge in using Kant's restriction of the power and scope of the understanding as a foundation for asserting the power of reason to apprehend intuitively basic truths and spiritual realities.
Characteristic of Carlyle was his vivid sense of the mystery of the world and of its nature as an appearance of, or veil before, supersensible reality. In the State of German Literature he asserted that the ultimate aim of philosophy is to interpret phenomena or appearances, to proceed from the symbol to the reality symbolized. And this point of view found expression in Sartor Resartus, under the label of the philosophy of clothes. It can be applied to man, the microcosm. 'To the eye of vulgar Logic what is man? An omnivorous Biped that wears Breeches. To the eye of Pure Reason what is he? A Soul, a Spirit, and divine Apparition.... Deep-hidden is he under that strange Garment.' And the
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analogy is applicable also to the macrocosm, the world in general. For the world is, as Goethe divined, 'the living visible Garment of God'.
In the State of German Literature Carlyle explicitly connects his philosophy of symbolism with Fichte, who is regarded as having interpreted the visible universe as the symbol and sensible manifestation of an all-pervading divine Idea, the apprehension of which is the condition of all genuine virtue and freedom. And there is indeed no great difficulty in understanding Carlyle's predilection for Fichte. For seeing as he does, human life and history as a constant struggle between light and darkness, God and the devil, a struggle in which every man is called to play a part and to make an all important choice, he naturally feels an attraction for Fichte's moral earnestness and for his view of Nature as being simply the field in which man works out his moral vocation, the field of obstacles, so to speak which man has to overcome in the process of attaining his ideal end.
This outlook helps to explain Carlyle's concern with the hero, as manifested in his 1840 lectures On Heroes, HeroWorship and the Heroic in History. Over against materialism and what he calls profit-and-loss philosophy he sets the ideas of heroism, moral vocation and personal loyalty. Indeed, he is prepared to assert that 'the life-breath of all society [is] but an effluence of Hero-worship, submissive admiration for the truly great. Society is founded on Hero-worship.' The MOQ sees heroism as a rather low-level social quality that can be without intellectual and Dynamic merit. Soldiers are often considered heroic when all they have done is sit where an artillery shell came down. Again, 'Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in the world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here'. That is a defect in the writing of history.
In his insistence on the role of history's 'great men' Carlyle resembles Hegel's and anticipates Nietzsche in some aspects, though hero-worship in the political field is an idea which we are likely to regard with mixed feelings nowadays. However, it is clear that what especially attracted Carlyle in his heroes was their earnestness and self-devotion and their freedom from a morality based on the hedonistic calculus. For example, while aware of Rousseau's shortcomings and faults of character, which made him 'a sadly contracted Hero' Carlyle insists that this unlikely candidate for the title possessed 'the first and chief characteristic of a Hero: he is
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heartily in earnest. In earnest, if ever man was; as none of these French Philosophes were.'
3. In spite of the fact that both men delivered lectures it would be idle to look either to Coleridge or Carlyle for a systematic development of idealism. For a pioneer in this field we have to turn rather to James Frederick Ferrier (1808-64), who occupied the chair of moral philosophy in the University of St. Andrews from 1845 until the year of his death, and who made a great point of systematic procedure in philosophy.
In 1838-9 Ferrier contributed a series of articles to Blackwood's Magazine, which was published with the title Introduction to the Philosophy of Consciousness. In 1854 he published his main work, The Institutes of Metaphysics, which is remarkable for the way in which the author develops his doctrine in a series of propositions, each of which, with the exception of the first fundamental proposition, is supposed to follow with logical rigour from its predecessor. In 1856 he published Scottish Philosophy, while his Lectures on Greek Philosophy and Other Philosophical Remains appeared posthumously in 1866.
Ferrier claimed that his philosophy was Scottish to the core. But this does not mean that he regarded himself as an adherent of the Scottish philosophy of common sense. On the contrary, he vigorously attacked Reid and his followers. In the first place a philosopher should not appeal to a multitude of undemonstrated principles, but should employ the deductive method which is essential to metaphysics and not an optional expository device. In the second place the Scottish philosophers of common sense tended to confuse metaphysics with psychology, trying to solve philosophical problems by psychological reflections, instead of by rigorous logical reasoning. As for Sir William Hamilton, his agnosticism about the Absolute was quite misplaced.
When Ferrier said that his philosophy was Scottish to the core, he meant that he had not borrowed it from the Germans. Though his system was not uncommonly regarded as Hegelian, he claimed that he had never been able to understand Hegel. Indeed, he expressed a doubt whether the German philosopher had been able to understand himself.
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In any case Hegel starts with Being, whereas his own system took knowledge as its point of departure. While the MOQ starts with experience.
Ferrier's first move is to look for the absolute starting-point of metaphysics in a proposition which states the one invariable and essential feature in all knowledge, and which cannot be denied without contradiction. For the MOQ this is, “Some things are better than others.” Every infant knows this before he learns his first word. This is that 'along with whatever any intelligence knows, it must, as the ground or condition of its knowledge, have some cognizance of itself'. Already the subject-object python has him in its coils. The object of knowledge is a variable factor. But I cannot know anything without knowing that I know. To deny this is to talk nonsense. To assert it is to admit that there is no knowledge without self- consciousness, without some awareness of the self.
It follows from this, Ferrier argues, that nothing can be known except in relation to a subject, a self. In other words, the object of knowledge is essentially object-for-a-subject. And Ferrier draws the conclusion that nothing is thinkable except in relation to a subject. From this it follows that the material universe is unthinkable as existing without any relation to subject.
The critic might be inclined to comment that Ferrier is really saying no more than that I cannot think of the universe without thinking of it, or know it without knowing it. If anything more is being said, if, in particular, a transition is being made from an epistemological point to the assertion of an ontological relation, a solipsistic conclusion seems to follow, namely that the existence of the material world is unthinkable except as dependent on myself as subject. Yes, this is the reward of SOM.
Ferrier, however, wishes to maintain two propositions. First, we cannot think of the universe as 'dissociated from every me. You cannot perform the abstraction.' Secondly, each of us can dissociate the universe from himself in particular. And from these two propositions it follows that though 'each of us can unyoke the universe (so to speak) from himself, he can do this only by yoking it on, in thought, to some other self'. This is an essential move for Ferrier to make, because he wishes to argue that the universe is unthinkable except as existing in synthesis with the divine mind.
The first section of the Institutes of Metaphysics thus pur-
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ports to show that the absolute element in knowledge is the synthesis of subject and object. But Ferrier does not proceed at once to his final conclusion. Instead, he devotes the second section to 'agnoiology', the theory of 'ignorance'. We can be said to be in a state of nescience in regard to the contradictions of necessarily true propositions. But this is obviously no sign of imperfection in our minds. As for ignorance, we cannot properly be said to be ignorant except of what is in principle knowable. Hence we cannot be ignorant of, for example, matter 'in itself' (without relation to a subject). For this is unthinkable and unknowable. Further, if we assume that we are ignorant of the Absolute, it follows that the Absolute is knowable. Hence Hamilton's agnosticism is untenable.
But what is the Absolute or, as Ferrier expresses it, Absolute Existence? It cannot be either matter per se or mind per se. For neither is thinkable. It must be, therefore, the synthesis of subject and object. There is, however, only one such synthesis which is necessary. For though the existence of a universe is not conceivable except as object-for-a-subject, we have already seen that the universe can be unyoked or dissociated from any given finite subject. Hence 'there is one, but only one, Absolute Existence which is strictly necessary; and that existence is a supreme, and infinite, and everlasting Mind in synthesis with all things'.
By way of comment it is not inappropriate to draw attention to the rather obvious fact, that the statement 'there can be no subject without an object and no object without a subject' is analytically true, if the terms 'subject' and 'object' are understood in their epistemological senses. It is also true that no material thing can be conceived except as object-for-a-subject, if we mean by this that no material thing can be conceived except by constituting it ('intentionally', as the phenomenologists would say) as an object. But this does not seem to amount to much more than saying that a thing cannot be thought of unless it is thought of. And from this it does not follow that a thing cannot exist unless it is thought of. Ferrier could retort, of course, that we cannot intelligibly speak of a thing as existing independently of being conceived. For by the mere fact that we speak of it, we conceive
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it. If I try to think of material thing X as existing outside the subject-object relationship, my effort is defeated by the very fact that I am thinking of X. In this case, however, the thing seems to be irrevocably yoked, as Ferrier puts it, to me as subject. And how can I possibly unyoke it? If I try to unyoke it from myself and yoke it to some other subject, whether finite or infinite, does not this other subject, on Ferrier's premises, become object-for-a-subject, the subject in question being myself?
It is not my intention to suggest that in point of fact the material universe could exist independently of God. The point is rather that the conclusion that it cannot so exist does not really follow from Ferrier's epistemological premises. The conclusion which does seem to follow is solipsism. And Ferrier escapes from this conclusion only by an appeal to common sense and to our knowledge of historical facts. That is to say, as I cannot seriously suppose that the material universe is simply object for me as subject, I must postulate an eternal, infinite subject, God. But on Ferrier's premises it appears to follow that God Himself, as thought by me, must be object-for-a-subject, the subject being myself. Ferrier’s philosophy demonstrates how far from some idealism the MOQ is.
4. Among Ferrier's contemporaries John Grote (1813-66), brother of the historian, deserves mention. Professor of moral philosophy at Cambridge from 1855 until 1866, he published the first part of Exploratio philosophica in 1865. The second part appeared posthumously in 1900 His Examination of Utilitarian Philosophy (1870) and A Treatise on the Moral Ideals (1876) were also published after his death. It is true that nowadays Grote is even less known than Ferrier, but his criticism of phenomenalism and of hedonistic utilitarianism is not without value.
Grote's critique of phenomenalism can be illustrated in this way. One of the main features of positivistic phenomenalism is that it first reduces the object of knowledge to a series of phenomena and then proceeds to apply a similar reductive analysis to the subject, the ego or self. In effect, therefore, the subject is reduced to its own object. The MOQ avoids this reduction. Or, if preferred, subject and object are both reduced to phenomena which are assumed to be the basic reality, the ultimate entities out of which selves and physical objects can be reconstructed by
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thought. But this reduction of the self or subject can be shown to be untenable. In the first place talk about phenomena is not intelligible except in relation to consciousness. But phenomena exist independently of talk about them. We are getting into the old logical positivist fallacy here of saying, “If we cannot talk about it it must not exist.” For that which appears, appears to a subject, within the ambit, so to speak, of consciousness. We cannot go behind consciousness; If by consciousness he means intellectual consciousness the answer is, “Yes, we can. Value goes behind consciousness. It exists where there is no intellectual consciousness.” and analysis of it shows that it essentially involves the subject-object relationship. In primitive consciousness subject and object are virtually or confusedly present; In the pre-intellectual consciousness of an infant value is present and there are no subjects and objects and they are progressively distinguished in the development of consciousness until there arises an explicit awareness of a world of objects on the one hand and of a self or subject on the other, this awareness of the self being developed especially by the experience of effort. As, therefore, the subject is present from the start as one of the essential poles even in primitive consciousness, No it isn’t it cannot be legitimately reduced to the object, to phenomena. Yes it can. At the same time reflection on the essential structure of consciousness shows that we are not presented with a self-enclosed ego from which we have to find a bridge, as in the philosophy of Descartes, to the non-ego. The MOQ agrees with this last sentence.
In the second place it is important to notice the way in which the phenomenalists overlook the active role of the subject in the construction of an articulated universe. The subject or self is characterized by teleological activity; it has ends. It is the preintellectual value, not the subject, that does these things.And in pursuit of its ends it constructs unities among phenomena, not in the sense that it imposes a priori forms on a mass of unrelated, chaotic data, but rather in the sense that it builds up its world in an experimental way by a process of auto-correction. Again, It is the preintellectual value, not the subject, that does these things. On this count too, therefore, namely the active role of the self in the construction of the world of objects, it is clear that it cannot be reduced to a series of phenomena, its own immediate objects. Yes, it can, and these phenomena are not its objects. They are it’s source.
In the sphere of moral philosophy Grote was strongly opposed to both egoistic hedonism and utilitarianism. The MOQ says hedonism is the intellectual advocacy of biological quality, utilitarianism is the intellectual advocacy of social quality. He did not object to them for taking into account man's sensibility and his search for happiness. On the contrary, Grote himself admitted the science of happiness, 'eudaemonics' as he called it, as a part of ethics. What he objected to was an exclusive concentration on the search for pleasure and a consequent neglect of other aspects of the human personality, especially
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man's capacity for conceiving and pursuing ideals which transcend the search for pleasure and may demand self-sacrifice. Hence to 'eudaemonics' he added 'aretaics', the science of virtue. Notice the root of arete here. And he insisted that the moral task is to achieve the union of the lower and higher elements of man's nature in the service of moral ideals. For our actions become moral when they pass from the sphere of the merely spontaneous, as in following the impulse to pleasure, into the sphere of the deliberate and voluntary, impulse supplying the dynamic element and intellectually-conceived principles and ideals the regulative element. The MOQ agrees strongly agrees here, with the exception that it is the Dynamic element that supplies the impulse.
Obviously, Grote's attack on utilitarianism as neglecting the higher aspects of man through an exclusive concentration on the search for pleasure was more applicable to Benthamite hedonism than to J. S. Mill's revised version of utilitarianism. But in any case it was a question not so much of suggesting that a utilitarian philosopher could not have moral ideals as of maintaining that the utilitarian ethics could not provide an adequate theoretical framework for such ideals. Grote's main point was that this could be provided only by a radical revision of the concept of man which Bentham inherited from writers such as Helvétius. Hedonism, in Grote's opinion, could not account for the consciousness of obligation. For this arises when man, conceiving moral ideals, feels the need of subordinating his lower to his higher nature. The MOQ agrees.
5. We can reasonably see a connection between the idealists' perception of the inadequacy of the Benthamite view of human nature and the revival of interest in Greek philosophy which occurred in the universities, especially at Oxford, in the course of the nineteenth century. We have already seen that Coleridge regarded his philosophy as being fundamentally Platonic in inspiration and character. But the renewal of Platonic studies at Oxford can be associated in particular with the name of Benjamin Jowett (1817-93), who became a Fellow of Balliol College in 1838 and occupied the chair of Greek from 1855 to 1893. The defects in his famous translation of Plato's Dialogues are irrelevant here. Particularly his confusion of arete and virtue. The point is that in the course of his long teaching career he contributed powerfully to a revival of interest in Greek thought. And it is not without significance that T. H. Green
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and E. Caird, both prominent in the idealist movement, were at one time his pupils. Interest in Plato and Aristotle naturally tended to turn their minds away from hedonism and utilitarianism towards an ethics of self-perfection, based on a theory of human nature within a metaphysical framework.
The revival of interest in Greek thought was accompanied by a growing appreciation of German idealist philosophy. Jowett himself was interested in the latter, particularly in the thought of Hegel; and he helped to stimulate the study of German idealism at Oxford. The first large-scale attempt, however, to elucidate what Ferrier had considered to be the scarcely intelligible profundities of Hegel was made by the Scotsman, James Hutchison Stirling (1820-1909), in his two-volume work The Secret of Hegel, which appeared in 1865 .
Stirling developed an enthusiasm for Hegel during a visit to Germany, especially during a stay at Heidelberg in 1856; and the result was The Secret of Hegel. In spite of the comment that if the author knew the secret of Hegel, he kept it successfully to himself, the book marked the beginning of the serious study of Hegelianism in Great Britain. In Stirling's view Hume's philosophy was the culmination of the Enlightenment, while Kant, who took over what was valuable in Hume's thought and used it in the development of a new line of reflection, fulfilled and at the same time overcame and transcended the Enlightenment. While, however, Kant laid the foundations of idealism, it was Hegel who built and completed the edifice. And to understand the secret of Hegel is to understand how he made explicit the doctrine of the concrete universal, which was implicit in the critical philosophy of Kant.
It is noteworthy that Stirling regarded Hegel not only as standing to modern philosophy in the relation in which Aristotle stood to preceding Greek thought but also as the great intellectual champion of the Christian religion. He doubtless attributed to Hegel too high a degree of theological orthodoxy; but his attitude serves to illustrate the religious interest which characterized the idealist movement before Bradley. According to Stirling, Hegel was concerned with proving, among other things, the immortality of the soul. In the MOQ there is no soul, except as a literary expression. And though
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there is little evidence that Hegel felt much interest in this matter, Stirling's interpretation can be seen as representing the emphasis placed by the earlier idealists on the finite spiritual self, an emphasis which harmonized with their tendency to retain a more or less theistic outlook. The MOQ is atheistic.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF IDEALISM
T. H. Green's attitude to British empiricism and to German thought-Green's doctrine of the eternal subject, with some critical comments- The ethical and political theory of Green -E. Caird and the unity underlying the distinction between subject and object-J. Caird and the philosophy of religion. W. Wallace and D. G. Ritchie.
1. Philosophers are not infrequently more convincing when they are engaged in criticizing the views of other philosophers than when they are expounding their own doctrines. And this perhaps somewhat cynical remark seems to be applicable to Thomas Hill Green (1836-82), Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and White's professor of moral philosophy in that university from 1878 to the year of his death. In his Introductions to Hume's Treatise of Human Nature, which he published in 1874 for the Green and Grose edition of Hume, he made an impressive broadside attack on British empiricism. But his own idealist system is no less open to criticism than the views against which he raised objections.
From Locke onwards, according to Green, empiricists have assumed that it is the philosopher's business to reduce our knowledge to its primitive elements, to the original data, and then to reconstruct the world of ordinary experience out of these atomic data. Apart, however, from the fact that no satisfactory explanation has ever been offered of the way in which the mind can go behind the subject-object relationship and discover the primitive data out of which both minds and physical objects are supposed to be constructed, The MOQ is precisely a satisfactory explanation of the way in which the mind can go behind the subject-object relationship and discover the primitive data out of which both minds and physical objects are constructed,the empiricist programme lands us in an impasse. On the one hand, to construct the world of minds and physical objects the mind has to relate the primitive atomic data, discrete phenomena. In other words, it has to exercise activity. On the other hand,
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the mind's activity is inexplicable on empiricist principles. It is explicable when value is brought into the picture. For it is itself reduced to a series of phenomena. And how can it construct itself? Value constructs it. Further, though empiricism professes to account for human knowledge, it does not in fact do anything of the kind. When value is included as the source of empirical phenomena it does do so. For the world of ordinary experience is interpreted as a mental construction out of discrete impressions; and we have no way of knowing that the construction represents objective reality at all. Objective reality is the most valued intellectual construction. In other words, a consistent empiricism leads inevitably to scepticism. Not when value is included.
Hume himself, as Green sees him, was an outstanding thinker who discarded compromise and carried the principles of empiricism to their logical conclusion. 'Adopting the premises and method of Locke, he cleared them of all illogical adaptations to popular belief, and experimented with them on the basis of professed knowledge.... As the result of the experiment, the method, which began with professing to explain knowledge, showed knowledge to be impossible.' Knowledge is a set of static patterns of value. 'Hume himself was perfectly cognizant of this result, but his successors in England and Scotland would seem so far to have been unable to look it in the face.' The MOQ faces it and overcomes it.
Some philosophers after Hume, and here Green is evidently referring to the Scottish philosophers of common sense, have thrust their heads back into the thicket of uncriticized belief. Others have gone on developing Hume's theory of the association of ideas, apparently oblivious of the fact that Hume himself had shown the insufficiency of the principle of association to account for anything more than natural or quasi-instinctive belief. In other words, Hume represented both the culmination and the bankruptcy of empiricism. This bankruptcy exists only in subject-object empiricism. It does not exist in an empiricism that includes value as the source of empirical knowledge. And the torch of inquiry 'was transferred to a more vigorous line in Germany'.
Kant, that is to say, was the spiritual successor of Hume. 'Thus the Treatise of Human Nature and the Critique of Pure Reason, taken together, form the real bridge between the old world of philosophy and the new. They are the essential "Propaedeutik" without which no one is a qualified student of modern philosophy.' It does not follow, however, that we can remain in the philosophy of Kant. For Kant looks forward to Hegel or at any rate to something resembling Hegelianism. Green agrees with Stirling that Hegel developed
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the philosophy of Kant in the right direction; but he is not prepared to say that Hegel's system as it stands is satisfactory. It is all very well for the Sundays of speculation, as Green puts it; but it is more difficult to accept on the weekdays of ordinary thought. There is need for reconciling the judgments of speculative philosophy with our ordinary judgments about matters of fact and with the sciences. Hegelianism, however, if taken as it stands, cannot perform this task of synthesizing different tendencies and points of view in contemporary thought. The work has to be done over again.
In point of fact the name of Hegel does not loom large in the writings of Green. The name of Kant is far more prominent. But Green maintained that by reading Hume in the light of Leibniz and Leibniz in the light of Hume, Kant was able to free himself from their respective presuppositions. And we can justifiably say that though Green derived a great deal of stimulus from Kant, he read him in the light of his conviction that the critical philosophy needed some such development, though not precisely the same, as that which it actually received at the hands of the German metaphysical idealists, and of Hegel in particular.
In the introduction to his Prolegomena to Ethics, which was published posthumously in 1883, Green refers to the temptation to treat ethics as though it were a branch of natural science. This temptation is indeed understandable. For growth in historical knowledge and the development of theories of evolution suggest the possibility of giving a purely naturalistic and genetic explanation of the phenomena of the moral life. The MOQ gives a purely naturalistic and genetic explanation of the phenomena of the moral life. But what becomes then of ethics considered as a normative science? The MOQ is normative. The answer is that the philosopher who 'has the courage of his principles, having reduced the speculative part of them [our ethical systems] to a natural science, must abolish the practical or preceptive part altogether'.
Quality is the most practical preception we have. The fact, however, that the reduction of ethics to a branch of natural science involves the abolition of ethics as a normative science should make us reconsider the presuppositions or conditions of moral knowledge and activity. This is what the MOQ does. Is man merely a child of Nature? Yes. Quality is nature. Or is there in him a spiritual principle which makes knowledge possible, whether it be knowledge of Nature or moral knowledge? The MOQ says there is no spiritual principle in man that makes knowledge possible. Nature does the whole job.
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Green thus finds it necessary to start his inquiry into morals with a metaphysics of knowledge. And he argues in the first place that even if we were to decide in favour of the materialists all those questions about particular facts which have formed the subject of debate between them and the spiritualists, the possibility of our explaining the facts at all still remain to be accounted for. 'We shall still be logically bound to admit that in a man who can know a Nature—for whom there is a "cosmos of experience"—there is a principle which is not natural and which cannot without a UOTEpOV '.TpÔTEpOV be explained as we explain the facts of nature.' The MOQ says there is a principle and it is natural and it can explain everything.
According to Green, to say that a thing is real is to say that it is a member in a system of relations, the order of Nature. The MOQ says experience is reality. It doesn’t need a system of relations to be real. But awareness or knowledge of a series of related events cannot itself be a series of events. This is what Green gets himself into when he defines reality in this way. Nor can it be a natural development out of such a series. In other words, the mind as an active synthesizing principle is irreducible to the factors which it synthesizes. But Quality is not a factor synthesized by the mind. Mind is a set of intellectual patterns synthesized by Quality. True, the empirical ego belongs to the order of Nature. But my awareness of myself as an empirical ego manifests the activity of a principle which transcends that order. Now he is heading in the direction of the MOQ. In fine, 'an understanding—for that term seems as fit as any other to denote the principle of consciousness in question—irreducible to anything else, "makes nature" for us, in the sense of enabling us to conceive that there is such a thing'. Yes, but Quality is a better term for what he is talking about than “understanding.” Understanding is an intellectual activity. Pure, immediate, “artistic” valuation is not.
We have just seen that for Green a thing is real in virtue of its membership in a system of related phenomena. At the same time he holds that 'related appearances are impossible apart from the action of an intelligence'. Nature is thus made by the synthesizing activity of a mind. It is obvious, however, that we cannot seriously suppose that Nature, as the system of related phenomena, is simply the product of the synthesizing activity of any given finite mind. Though, therefore, it can be said that each finite mind constitutes Nature in so far as it conceives the system of relations, we must also assume that there is a single spiritual principle, There is that word “spiritual” again. Whenever I hear it I smell a rat. an eternal consciousness, which ultimately constitutes or produces Nature.
From this it follows that we must conceive the finite mind as participating in the life of an eternal consciousness or in-
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telligence which 'partially and gradually reproduces itself in us, communicating piece-meal, but in inseparable correlation, understanding and the facts understood, experience and the experienced world'. This amounts to saying that God gradually reproduces his own knowledge in the finite mind. Here comes the rat. And, if this is the case, what are we to say about the empirical facts relating to the origin and growth of knowledge? For these hardly suggest that our knowledge is imposed by God. Green's answer is that God reproduces his Here, with the word “his,” is the anthropomorphism of the rat. All we need now is a priest to collect money for the rat and pocket it for himself. I really have no use for these smart-talking theists. They destroy religion. own knowledge in the finite mind by making use, so to speak, of the sentient life of the human organism and of its response to stimuli. There are thus two aspects to human consciousness. There is the empirical aspect, under which our consciousness appears to consist 'in successive modifications of the animal organism'. And there is the metaphysical aspect, under which this organism is seen as gradually becoming 'the vehicle of an eternally complete consciousness'.
Green thus shares with the earlier idealists the tendency to choose an epistemological point of departure, the subject-object relationship. Under the influence of Kant, however, he depicts the subject as actively synthesizing the manifold of phenomena, as constituting the order of Nature by relating appearances or phenomena. This process of synthesis is a gradual process which develops through the history of the human race towards an ideal term. And we can thus conceive the total process as an activity of one spiritual !!!!! principle which lives and acts in and through finite minds. In other words, Kant's idea of the synthesizing activity of the mind leads us to the Hegelian concept of infinite Spirit. Now he has capitalized it.
At the same time Green's religious interests militate against any reduction of infinite Spirit to the lives of finite spirits considered simply collectively. It is true that he wishes to avoid what he regards as one of the main defects of traditional theism, namely the representation of God as a Being over against the world and the finite spirit. Hence he depicts the spiritual life of man as a participation in the divine life. But he also wishes to avoid using the word 'God' simply as a label either for the spiritual life of man considered universally, as something which develops in the course of the evolution of human culture, or for the ideal of complete knowl
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edge, an ideal which does not yet exist but towards which human knowledge progressively approximates. He does indeed speak of the human spirit as 'identical' with God; but he adds, 'in the sense that He is all which the human spirit is capable of becoming'. God is the infinite eternal subject; and His complete knowledge is reproduced progressively in the finite subject in dependence, from the empirical point of view, on the modifications of the human organism. Thus we make the slow journey from reason to Bible-babble. These are the people who create logical positivists as a reaction.
If we ask why God acts in this way, Green implies that no answer can be given. 'The old question, why God made the world, has never been answered, nor will be. We know not why the world should be; we only know that there it is. In like manner we know not why the eternal subject of that world should reproduce itself, through certain processes of the world, as the spirit of mankind, or as the particular self of this or that man in whom the spirit of mankind operates. We can only say that, upon the best analysis we can make of our experience, it seems that so it does.' The reason he “knows not why” is that he has abandoned intelligence for religious conformity. Actually Green is saying things that are very close to the MOQ and it is angering to see him curtseying in this way to medieval dogmatic superstition. The selling out of intellectual truth to the social icons of organized religion is seen by the MOQ as an evil act.
In Green's retention of the idea of an eternal subject which 'reproduces itself' in finite subjects and therefore can not be simply identified with them it is not unreasonable to see the operation of a religious interest, a concern with the idea of a God in whom we live and move and have our being. But this is certainly not the explicit or formal reason for postulating an eternal subject. For it is explicitly postulated as the ultimate synthesizing agent in constituting the system of Nature. And in making this postulate Green seems to lay himself open to the same sort of objection that we brought against Ferrier. For if it is once assumed, at least for the sake of argument, that the order of Nature is constituted by the synthesizing or relating activity of intelligence, it is obvious that I cannot attribute this order to an eternal intelligence or subject unless I have myself first conceived, and so constituted, it. And it then becomes difficult to see how, in Ferrier's terminology, I can unyoke the conceived system of relations from the synthesizing activity of my own mind and yoke it on to any other subject, eternal or otherwise. Right. But the MOQ avoids all these problems.
It may be objected that this line of criticism, though possibly valid in the case of Ferrier, is irrelevant in that of Green. For Green sees the individual finite subject as par
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ticipating in a general spiritual life, the spiritual life of humanity, which progressively synthesizes phenomena in its advance towards the ideal goal of complete knowledge, a knowledge which would be itself the constituted order of Nature. Hence there is no question of unyoking my synthesis from myself and yoking it to any other spirit. My synthesizing activity is simply a moment in that of the human race as a whole or of the one spiritual principle which lives in and through the multiplicity of finite subjects. This could be “quality” except for that word “spiritual.” Remember that people were burned at the stake to release their “spirits” from their bodies. Quality inheres in high-priced sausages. Spirit does not.
In this case, however, what becomes of Green's eternal subject? If we wish to represent, say, the advancing scientific knowledge of mankind as a life in which all scientists participate and which moves towards an ideal goal, there is, of course, no question of 'unyoking' and 'yoking'. But a concept of this sort does not by itself call for the introduction of any eternal subject which reproduces its complete knowledge in a piecemeal manner in finite minds.
Further, how precisely, in Green's philosophy, are we to conceive the relation of Nature to the eternal subject or intelligence? Let us assume that the constitutive activity of intelligence consists in relating or synthesizing. Now if God can properly be said to create Nature, it seems to follow that Nature is reducible to a system of relations without terms. And this is a somewhat perplexing notion. If, however, the eternal subject only introduces relations, so to speak, between phenomena, we seem to be presented with a picture similar to that painted by Plato in the Timaeus, in the sense, that is to say, that the eternal subject or intelligence would bring order out of disorder rather than create the whole of Nature out of nothing. In any case, though it may be possible to conceive a divine intelligence as creating the world by thinking it, terms such as 'eternal subject' and 'eternal consciousness' necessarily suggest a correlative eternal object. And this would mean an absolutization of the subject-object relationship, similar to that of Ferrier. All these objections occur because Green is overburdening the word “conscious.” When you use “quality” they vanish.
Objections of this sort may appear to be niggling and to indicate an inability to appreciate Green's general vision of an eternal consciousness in the life of which we all participate. But the objections serve at any rate the useful purpose of drawing attention to the fact that Green's often acute
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criticism of other philosophers is combined with that rather vague and woolly speculation which has done so much to bring metaphysical idealism into disrepute.
3. In his moral theory Green stands in the tradition of Plato and Aristotle, in the sense that for him the concept of good is primary, not that of obligation. Sounds like the MOQ. In particular, his idea of the good for man as consisting in the full actualization of the potentialities of the human person in an harmonious and unified state of being recalls the ethics of Aristotle. Green does indeed speak of 'self-satisfaction' as the end of moral conduct, but he makes it clear that self-satisfaction signifies for him self-realization rather than pleasure. He is getting very close to “quality.” We must distinguish between 'the quest for self-satisfaction which all moral activity is rightly held to be, and the quest for pleasure which morally good activity is not'. This does not mean that pleasure is excluded from the good for man. But the harmonious and integrated actualization of the human person's potentialities cannot be identified with the search for pleasure. For the moral agent is a spiritual subject, not simply a sensitive organism. And in any case pleasure is a concomitant of the actualization of one's powers rather than this actualization itself.
Now it is certain that it is only through action that a man can realize himself, in the sense of actualizing his potentialities and developing his personality towards the ideal state of harmonious integration of his powers. Zen argues that it is through stillness, not action, that a man can realize himself, in the sense of actualizing his potentialities and developing his personality towards the ideal state of harmonious integration of his powers. And it is also obvious that every human act, in the proper sense of the term, is motivated. It is performed in view of some immediate end or goal. Quality. But it is arguable that a man's motives are determined by his existing character, in conjunction with other circumstances, and that character is itself the result of empirical causes. static quality. In this case are not a man's actions determined in such a way that what he will be depends on what he is, what he is depending in turn on circumstances other than his free choice? True, circumstances vary; but the ways in which men react to varying circumstances seem to be determined. statically And if all a man's acts are determined, is there any room for an ethical theory which sets up a certain ideal of human personality as that which we ought to strive to realize through our actions? Yes, Dynamic Quality.
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Green is quite prepared to concede to the determinists a good deal of the ground on which they base their case. But at the same time he tries to take the sting out of these concessions. The MOQ needs to concede nothing. 'The propositions, current among "determinists", that a man's action is the joint result of his character and circumstances , is true enough in a certain sense, and , in that sense, is quite compatible with an assertion of human freedom.' In Green's view, it is not a necessary condition for the proper use of the word 'freedom' that a man should be able to do or to become anything whatsoever. To justify our describing a man's actions as free, it is sufficient that they should be his own, in the sense that he is truly the author of them. And if a man's action follows from his character, if, that is to say, he responds to a situation which calls for action in a certain way because he is a certain sort of man, the action is his own; he, and nobody else, is the responsible author of it. The freedom-order issue is handled much more simply and precisely in the MOQ by the static-Dynamic split.
In defending this interpretation of freedom Green lays emphasis on self-consciousness. In the history of any man there is a succession of natural empirical factors of one kind or another, natural impulses for example, which the determinist regards as exercising a decisive influence on the man's conduct. Green argues, however, that such factors become morally relevant only when they are assumed, as it were, by the self-conscious subject, that is, when they are taken up into the unity of self-consciousness and turned into motives. They then become internal principles of action; and, as such, they are principles of free action.
This theory, which is in some respects reminiscent of Schelling's theory of freedom, is perhaps hardly crystal clear. I would say so. But it is clear at least that Green wishes to admit all the empirical data to which the determinist can reasonably appeal, and at the same time to maintain that this admission is compatible with an assertion of human freedom. Perhaps we can say that the question which he asks is this. Given all the empirical facts about human conduct, have we still a use for words such as 'freedom' and 'free' in the sphere of morals? Green's answer is affirmative. The acts of a self-conscious subject, considered precisely as such, How can a “self-conscious subject“ be considered “precisely?” I turn positivist when I read statements like this. can properly be said to be free acts. Actions which are the result of physical compul
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sion, for example, do not proceed from the self-conscious subject as such. They are not really his own actions; he cannot be considered the true author of them. And we need to be able to distinguish between actions of this type and those which are the expression of the man himself, considered not merely as a physical agent but also as a self-conscious subject or, as some would say, a rational agent.
Mention of the fact that for Green self-realization is the end of moral conduct may suggest that his ethical theory is individualistic. But though he does indeed lay emphasis on the individual's realization of himself, he is at one with Plato and Aristotle in regarding the human person as essentially social in character. In other words, the self which has to be realized is not an atomic self, the potentialities of which can be fully actualized and harmonized without any reference to social relations. Either Copleston is summarizing too much or Green’s philosophy is rambling and disconnected here. This is just a smorgasbord of pleasant platitudes. On the contrary, it is only in society that we can fully actualize our potentialities and really live as human persons. And this means in effect that the particular moral vocation of each individual has to be interpreted within a social context. So what is society? Does Green ever say? Hence Green can use a phrase which Bradley was afterwards to render famous, by remarking that 'each has primarily to fulfil the duties of his station'.
Given this outlook, it is understandable that Green lays emphasis, again with Plato and Aristotle but also, of course, with Hegel, on the status and function of political society, the State, which is 'for its members the society of societies'. It will be noted that this somewhat grandiloquent phrase itself indicates a recognition of the fact that there are other societies, such as the family, which are presupposed by the State. But Hegel himself recognized this fact, of course. And it is clear that among societies Green attributes a preeminent importance to the State.
Precisely for this reason, however, it is important to understand that Green is not recanting, either explicitly or implicitly, his ethical theory of self-realization. He continues to maintain his view that 'our ultimate standard of worth is an ideal of personal worth. All other values are relative to value for, of, or in a person.' This ideal, however, can be fully realized only in and through a society of persons. There is a conflict between what Green calls “personal worth” and what he calls “society” but Green does not resolve it here. He just straddles it. Society is thus a moral necessity. And this applies to that larger form
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of social organization which we call political society or the State as well as to the family. But it by no means follows that the State is an end itself. On the contrary, its function is to create and maintain the conditions for the good life, that is, the conditions in which human beings can best develop themselves and live as persons, each recognizing the others as ends, not merely as means. In this sense the State is an instrument rather than an end in itself. It is indeed an error to say that a nation or a political society is merely an aggregate of individuals. For use of the word 'merely' shows that the speaker overlooks the fact that the individual's moral capacities are actualized only in concrete social relations. It implies that individuals could possess their moral and spiritual qualities and fulfil their moral vocation quite apart from membership of society. At the same time the premiss that the nation or the State is not 'merely' a collection of individuals does not entail the conclusion that it is a kind of self-subsistent entity over and above the individuals who compose it. 'The life of the nation has no real existence except as the life of the individuals composing the nation.' These platitudes all seem good enough for a college commencement address, but they don’t crystallize into a structured moral philosophy the way the MOQ does.
Green is therefore quite prepared to admit that in a certain sense there are natural rights which are presupposed by the State. For if we consider what powers must be secured for the individual with a view to the attainment of his moral end, we find that the individual has certain claims which should be recognized by society. It is true that rights in the full sense of the term do not exist until they have been accorded social recognition. Indeed, the term 'right', in its full sense, has little or no meaning apart from society. At the same time, if by saying that there are natural rights which are antecedent to political society we mean that a man, simply because he is a man, has certain claims which ought to be recognized by the State as rights, it is then perfectly true to say that 'the State presupposes rights, and rights of individuals. It is a form which society takes in order to maintain them.'
It is sufficiently obvious from what has been said that in Green's view we cannot obtain a philosophical understanding of the function of the State simply by conducting an historical investigation into the ways in which actual political socie-
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ties have in fact arisen. We have to consider the nature of man and his moral vocation. Similarly, to have a criterion for judging laws we have to understand the moral end of man, to which all rights are relative. 'A law is not good because It enforces "natural rights", but because it contributes to the realization of a certain end. We only discover what rights are natural by considering what powers must be secured to a man in order to the attainment of this end. These powers a perfect law will secure to their full extent.'
From this close association of political society with the attainment of man's moral end it follows that 'morality and political subjection have a common source, "political subjection" being distinguished from that of a slave, as a subjection which secures rights to a subject. That common source is the rational recognition by certain human beings—it may be merely by children of the same parent—of a common well-being which is their well-being, and which they conceive as their well-being, whether at any moment any one of them is inclined to it or no, . . .' Obviously, any given individual may be disinclined to pursue what promotes this common well-being or good. Hence there is need for moral rules or precepts and, in the political sphere, for laws. Moral obligation and political obligation are thus closely linked by Green. The real basis of an obligation to obey the law of the State is neither fear nor mere expediency but man's moral obligation to avoid those actions which are incompatible with the attainment of his moral end and to perform those actions which are required for its attainment
It follows that there can be no right to disobey or rebel against the State as such. That is to say, 'so far as the laws anywhere or at any time in force fulfill the idea of a State there can be no right to disobey them'. But, as Hegel admitted, the actual State by no means always measures up to the idea or ideal of the State; and a given law may be incompatible with the real interest or good of society as a whole. Hence civil disobedience in the name of the common good or well-being can be justifiable. Obviously, men have to take into account the fact that it is in the public interest that laws should be obeyed. And the claim of this public interest will usually favour working for the repeal of the objectionable
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law rather than downright disobedience to it. Further, men ought to consider whether disobedience to an objectionable law might result in some worse evil, such as anarchy. But the moral foundation of political obligation does not entail the conclusion that civil disobedience is never justified. Green sets rather narrow limits to the scope of civil disobedience by saying that to justify our practising it we ought to be able 'to point to some public interest, generally recognized as such'. But from what he subsequently says it does not seem that the proviso 'generally recognized as such' is intended to exclude entirely the possibility of a right to civil disobedience in the name of an ideal higher than that shared by the community in general. The reference is rather to an appeal to a generally recognized public interest against a law which is promulgated not for the public good but in the private interest of a special group or class.
Given Green's view that the State exists to promote the common good by creating and maintaining the conditions in which all its citizens can develop their potentialities as persons, it is understandable that he has no sympathy with attacks on social legislation as violating individual liberty, when liberty signifies the power to do as one likes without regard to others. Some people, he remarks, say that their rights are being violated if they are forbidden, for example, to build houses without any regard to sanitary requirements or to send their children out to work without having received any education. In point of fact, however, no rights are being violated. For a man's rights depend on social recognition in view of the welfare of society as a whole. And when society comes to see, as it has not seen before, that the common good requires a new law, such as a law enforcing elementary education, it withdraws recognition of what may formerly have been accounted a right.
Clearly, in certain circumstances the appeal from a less to a more adequate conception of the common good and its requirements might take the form of insisting on a greater measure of individual liberty. For human beings cannot develop themselves as persons Unless they have scope for the exercise of such liberty. But Green is actually concerned with opposing laissez-faire dogmas. He does not advocate curtail
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ment of individual liberty by the State for the sake of such curtailment. Indeed, he looks on the social legislation of which he approves as a removal of obstacles to liberty, that is, the liberty of all citizens to develop their potentialities as human beings. For example, a law determining the minimum age at which children can be sent to work removes an obstacle to their receiving education. It is true that the law curtails the liberty of parents and prospective employers to do what they like without regard to the common good. But Green will not allow any appeal from the common good to liberty in this sense. Private, sectional and class interests
however hard they may mask themselves under an appeal to private liberty, cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the creation by the State of conditions in which all its citizens have the opportunity to develop themselves as human beings and to live truly human lives.
With Green, therefore, we have a conspicuous example of the revision of liberalism in accordance with the felt need for an increase in social legislation. He tries to interpret, we can say, the operative ideal of a movement which was developing during the closing decades of the nineteenth century. His formulation of a theory may be open to some criticism. But it was certainly preferable not only to laissezfaire dogmatism but also to attempts to retain this dogmatism in principle while making concessions which were incompatible with it.
In conclusion it is worth remarking that Green is not blind to the fact that fulfilment of our moral vocation by performing the duties of our 'station' in society may seem to be a rather narrow and inadequate ideal. For 'there may be reason to hold that there are capacities of the human spirit not realizable in persons under the conditions of any society that we know, or can positively conceive, or that may be capable of existing on the earth'. Hence, unless we judge that the problem presented by unfufilled capacities is insoluble, we may believe that the personal life which is lived on earth in conditions which thwart its full development is continued in a society in which man can attain his full perfection. 'Or we may content ourselves with saying that the personal selfconscious being, which comes from God, is for ever continued
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in God.' Green speaks in a rather non-committal fashion. It seems to me that Green’s fashion is not so much non-committal as half-formed. He pursues the meaning of his terms only insofar as they defend a stand-pat, status-quo, do-nothing conservatism. When he gets into “spirit” and “God” and “man’s station in life” we see this motive more clearly. But his personal attitude seems to be much more akin to that of Kant, who postulated continued life after death as an unceasing progress in perfection, than to that of Hegel, who does not appear to have been interested in the question of personal immortality, whether he believed in it or not.
4. The idea of a unity underlying the distinction between subject and object becomes prominent in the thought of Edward Caird (1835-1908), Fellow of Merton College, Oxford (1864-6), professor of moral philosophy in the University of Glasgow (1866-93) and Master of Balliol College, Oxford (1893-1907). His celebrated work, A Critical Account of the Philosophy of Kant, appeared in 1877, a revised edition in two volumes being published in 1889 under the title The Critical Philosophy of Kant. In 1883 Caird published a small work on Hegel, which is still considered one of the best introductions to the study of this philosopher. Of Caird's other writings we may mention The Social Philosophy and Religion of Comte (1885), Essays on Literature and Philosophy (two volumes, 1892), The Evolution of Religion (two volumes, 1893) and The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers (two volumes, 1904). The two last named words are the published versions of sets of Gifford Lectures.
Though Caird wrote on both Kant and Hegel, and though he used metaphysical idealism as an instrument in interpreting human experience and as a weapon for attacking materialism and agnosticism, he was not, and did not pretend to be, a disciple of Hegel or of any other German philosopher. Indeed, he considered that any attempt to import a philosophical system into a foreign country was misplaced. It is idle to suppose that what satisfied a past generation in Germany will satisfy a later generation in Great Britain. For intellectual needs change with changing circumstances.
In the modern world, Caird maintains, we have seen the reflective mind questioning man's spontaneous certainties and breaking asunder factors which were formerly combined. For example, there is the divergence between the Cartesian point of departure, the self-conscious ego, and that of the empiricists, the object as given in experience. And the gulf between the two traditions has grown so wide that we are told that
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we must either reduce the physical to the psychical or the psychical to the physical. In other words, we are told that we must choose between idealism and materialism, as their conflicting claims cannot be reconciled. Again, there is the gulf which has developed between the religious consciousness and faith on the one hand and the scientific outlook on the other, a gulf which implies that we must choose between religion and science, as the two cannot be combined. Yes, these are primary conflicts that the MOQ addresses.
When oppositions and conflicts of this kind have once arisen in man's cultural life, we cannot simply return to the undivided but naïve consciousness of an earlier period. Nor is it sufficient to appeal with the Scottish School to the principles of common sense. For it is precisely these principles which have been called in question, as by Humian scepticism. Hence the reflective mind is forced to look for a synthesis in which opposed points of view can be reconciled at a higher level than that of the naive consciousness.
Kant made an important contribution to the fulfilment of this task. But its significance has, in Caird's opinion, been misunderstood, the misunderstanding being due primarily to Kant himself. For instead of interpreting the distinction between appearance and reality as referring simply to different stages in the growth of knowledge, the German philosopher represented it as a distinction between phenomena and unknowable things-in-themselves. And it is precisely this notion of the unknowable thing-in-itself which has to be expelled from philosophy, as indeed Kant's successors have done. And the MOQ does also. When we have got rid of this notion, we can see that the real significance of the critical philosophy lies in its insight into the fact that objectivity exists only for a self-conscious subject. Up to this point the MOQ is in agreement. In other words, Kant's real service was to show that the fundamental relationship is that between subject and object, which together form a unity-in-difference. The MOQ does not support this. It says object and subject are levels of evolution that taken together do not form a unity. There is still value which has been left out. Once we grasp this truth, we are freed from the temptation to reduce subject to object or object to subject. Once we grasp the MOQ we are also freed from the temptation to reduce subject to object or object to subject. For this temptation has its origin in an unsatisfactory dualism which is overcome by the theory of an original synthesis. The distinction between subject and object emerges within the unity of consciousness, a unity which is fundamental. In the MOQ value is more fundamental.
According to Caird, science itself bears witness in its own
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way to this unity-in-difference. True, it concentrates on the object. At the same time it aims at the discovery of universal laws and at correlating these laws; and it thus tacitly presupposes the existence of an intelligible system which cannot be simply heterogeneous or alien to the thought which understands it. In other words, science bears witness to the correlativity of thought and its object.
Though, however, one of the tasks allotted to the philosopher by Caird is that of showing how science points to the basic principle of the synthesis of subject and object as a unity-in-difference, he himself gives his attention chiefly to the religious consciousness. And in this sphere he finds himself driven to go behind subject and object to an underlying unity and ground. This sounds like the MOQ. Subject and object are distinct. Indeed, 'all our life moves between these two terms which are essentially distinct from, and even opposed to, each other'. Yet they are at the same time related to each other in such a way that neither can be conceived without the other. And 'we are forced to seek the secret of their being in a higher principle, of whose unity they in their action and reaction are the manifestations, which they presuppose as their beginning and to which they point as their end'. This is exactly what the MOQ says.
This enveloping unity, which is described in Platonic phrases as being 'at once the source of being to all things that are, and of knowing to all beings that know', is the presupposition of all consciousness. And it is what we call God. It does not follow, Caird insists, that all men possess an explicit awareness of God as the ultimate unity of being and knowing, of objectivity and subjectivity. An explicit awareness is in the nature of the case the product of a long process of development. Up to this point the MOQ agrees. And we can see in the history of religion the main stages of this development. At this point the MOQ diverges.
The first stage, that of 'objective religion', is dominated by awareness of the object, not indeed as the object in the abstract technical sense of the term, but in the form of the external things by which man finds himself surrounded. The MOQ would say that “objective religion” is preceded by awareness of values, as in infants before they learn to distinguish shapes, and in lower biological species such as earthworms which probably do not distinguish objects but do distinguish what is better and worse. At this stage man cannot form an idea of anything 'which he cannot body forth as an existence in space and time'. We can assume that he has some dim awareness of a unity comprehending both himself and other things; but he cannot
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form an idea of the divine except by objectifying it in the gods.
The second stage in the development of religion is that of 'subjective religion'. Here man returns from absorption in Nature to consciousness of himself. And God is conceived as a spiritual being standing apart from both Nature and man and as revealing Himself above all in the inner voice of conscience.
In the third stage, that of 'absolute religion', the selfconscious subject and its object, Nature, are seen as distinct yet essentially related, and at the same time as grounded in an ultimate unity. And God is conceived 'as the Being who is at once the source, the sustaining power, and the end of our spiritual lives'. This does not mean, however, that the idea of God is completely indeterminate, so that we are forced to embrace the agnosticism of Herbert Spencer For God manifests Himself in both subject and object, and the more we understand the spiritual life of humanity on the one hand and the world of Nature on the other, so much the more do we learn about God who is 'the ultimate unity of our life and of the life of the world'. The MOQ would add a fourth stage where the term “God” is completely dropped as a relic of an evil social suppression of intellectual and Dynamic freedom. The MOQ is not just atheistic in this regard. It is anti-theistic.
Insofar as Caird goes behind the distinction between subject and object to an ultimate unity, we can say that he does not absolutize the subject-object relationship in the way that Ferrier does. At the same time his epistemological approach, namely by way of their relationship, seems to create a difficulty. For he explicitly recognizes that 'strictly speaking, there is but one object and one subject for each of us'. That is to say, for me the subject-object relationship is, strictly, that between myself as subject and my world as object. And the object must include other people. Even if, therefore, it is granted that I have from the beginning a dim awareness of an underlying unity, it seems to follow that this unity is the unity of myself as subject and of my object, other persons being part of 'my object'. And it is difficult to see how it can then be shown that there are other subjects, and that there is one and only one common underlying unity. Common sense may suggest that these conclusions are correct. But it is a question not of common sense but rather of seeing how the conclusions can be established, once we have adopted
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Caird's approach. Taken by itself, the idea of an underlying unity may well be of value. But arrival at the conclusion at which Caird wishes to arrive is not facilitated by his point of departure. And it is certainly arguable that Hegel showed wisdom in starting with the concept of Being rather than with that of the subject-object relationship. I think this is a good criticism. Hegel’s Being is yet another term for our growing list of terms meaning the same thing: Oneness-Nothingness-Quality-Absolute-Being.
5. It has been said of John Caird (1820-98), brother of Edward, that he preached Hegelianism from the pulpit. A Presbyterian theologian and preacher, he was appointed professor of divinity in the University of Glasgow in 1862, becoming Principal of the University in 1873. In 1880 he published An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, and in 1888 a volume on Spinoza in Blackwood's Philosophical Classics Some other writings, including his Gifford Lectures on The Fundamental Ideas of Christianity ( 1899 ), appeared posthumously.
In arguing against materialism John Caird maintains not only that it is unable to explain the life of the organism and of consciousness, but also that the materialists, though undertaking to reduce the mind to a function of matter, tacitly and inevitably presuppose from the outset that the mind is something different from matter. After all, it is the mind itself which has to perform the reduction. In an analogous manner he argues that the agnostic who says that God is unknowable betrays by his very statement the fact that he has an implicit awareness of God. 'Even in maintaining that the human mind is incapable of absolute knowledge the sceptic presupposes in his own mind an ideal of absolute knowledge in comparison with which human knowledge is pronounced defective. The very denial of an absolute intelligence in us could have no meaning but for a tacit appeal to its presence. An implicit knowledge of God in this sense is proved by the very attempt to deny it.' This is casuistry. If you deny knowing anything about rutabagas in Russia, does the fact that you are denying it prove that you really do know something about rutabagas in Russia?
As expressed in this particular quotation, Caird's theory is obscure. But it can be elucidated in this way. Caird is applying to knowledge in particular Hegel's thesis that we cannot be aware of finitude without being implicitly aware of infinity. More casuistry. The infinity which finitude makes us aware of is a secondary experience that grows out of intellect. It is not the same as the infinity out of which finitude grows. The MOQ agrees with what Hegel seeks to prove but disagrees with his specious way of proving it. To put it in Zen terms, infinity is understood by subtracting finitude, not by making intellectual deductions from finitude. Experience teaches us that our minds are finite and imperfect. But we could not be aware of this except in the light of an implicit idea of complete or absolute knowledge,
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a knowledge which would be in effect the unity of thought and being. It is this implicit or virtual idea of absolute knowledge which constitutes a vaguely-conceived standard in comparison with which our limitations become clear to us. Further, this idea draws the mind as an ideal goal. It thus operates in us as a reality. And it is in fact an absolute intelligence, in the light of which we participate. See what happens when you make deductions from finitude? The intellect that is making the deductions is now assumed to be the infinity! This is why the Buddhists use the term “nothingness.” It shuts out the attempted encroachment of intellect into areas that are beyond its scope.
Obviously, it is essential for Caird to maintain the view expressed in the last two sentences. For if he said simply that we strive after complete or absolute knowledge as an ideal goal, we should probably conclude that absolute knowledge does not yet exist, whereas Caird wishes to arrive at the conclusion that in affirming the limitations of our knowledge we are implicitly affirming a living reality. Hence he has to argue that in asserting the limitations of my intelligence I am implicitly asserting the existence of an absolute intelligence which operates in me and in whose life I participate. He thus utilizes the Hegelian principle that the finite cannot be understood except as a moment in the life of the infinite Whether the employment of these Hegelian principles can really serve the purpose for which Caird employed them, namely to support Christian theism, is open to dispute. But he at any rate is convinced that they can.
John Caird also argues, in the same way as his brother that the interrelation of subject and object reveals an ultimate unity underlying the distinction. The MOQ says there is an ultimate unity but the interrelation of subject and object does not reveal it. As for the traditional proofs of God's existence, they are exposed to the customary objections, if they are taken as claiming to be strictly logical arguments. If, however, they are interpreted more as phenomenological analyses of ways 'by which the human spirit rises to the knowledge of God, and finds therein the fulfilment of its own highest nature, these proofs possess great value'. It is not quite clear perhaps where this great value is supposed to lie. Caird can hardly mean that logically invalid arguments possess great value if they exhibit ways in which the human mind has as a matter of fact reached a conclusion by faulty reasoning. So presumably he means that the traditional arguments possess value as illustrating ways in which the human mind can become explicitly conscious of an awareness which they already possess in an implicit and
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obscure manner. This point of view would allow him to say both that the arguments beg the question by presupposing the conclusion from the start and that this does not really matter, inasmuch as they are really ways of making the implicit explicit.
Like Hegel, John Caird insists on the need for advancing from the level of ordinary religious thought to a speculative idea of religion, in which 'contradictions' are overcome. For example, the opposed and equally one-sided positions of pantheism and deism are both overcome in a truly philosophical conception of the relation between the finite and the infinite, a conception which is characteristic of Christianity when rightly understood. As for specifically Christian doctrines, such as that of the Incarnation, Caird's treatment of them is more orthodox than Hegel's. He is, however, too convinced of the value of the Hegelian philosophy as an ally in the fight against materialism and agnosticism to consider seriously whether, as McTaggart was later to put it, the ally may not turn out in the long run to be an enemy in disguise, inasmuch as the use of Hegelianism in the interpretation of Christianity tends, by the very nature of the Hegelian system, to involve the subordination of the content of the Christian faith to speculative philosophy and, indeed, a tie-up with a particular system.
In point of fact, however, John Caird does not adopt the Hegelian system lock, stock and barrel. What he does is rather to adopt from it those general lines of thought which seem to him to possess intrinsic validity and to be of service in supporting a religious outlook in the face of contemporary materialist and positivist tendencies. He thus provides a good example of the religious interest which characterized a large part of the idealist movement in Great Britain.
6. Among those who contributed to spreading a knowledge of Hegelianism in Great Britain William Wallace (1844-97), Green's successor as White's professor of moral philosophy at Oxford, deserves a mention. In 1874 he published a translation, furnished with prolegomena or introductory material, of Hegel's Logic as contained in the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. He later pub
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lished a revised and enlarged edition in two volumes, the translation appearing in 1892 and the greatly augmented Prolegomena in 1894. Wallace also published in 1894 a translation, with five introductory chapters, of Hegel's Philosophy of Mind, again from the Encyclopaedia. In addition he wrote the volume on Kant (1882) for Blackwood's Philosophical Classics series and a Life of Schopenhauer (1890). His Lectures and Essays on Natural Theology and Ethics, which appeared posthumously in 1898, show clearly the affinity between his thought and John Caird's speculative interpretation of religion in general and of Christianity in particular.
Though we must refrain from multiplying brief references to philosophers who stood within the ambit of the idealist movement, there is a special reason for mentioning David George Ritchie (l853-1903), who was converted to idealism by Green at Oxford and who in 1894 became professor of logic and metaphysics in the University of St. Andrews. For while the idealists in general were unsympathetic to systems of philosophy based on Darwinism, Ritchie undertook to show that the Hegelian philosophy was perfectly capable of assimilating the Darwinian theory of evolution. After all, he argued, does not Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest harmonize very well with Hegel's doctrine that the real is the rational and the rational the real, and that the rational, representing a value, triumphs over the irrational? And does not the disappearance of the weaker and less fitted for survival correspond with the overcoming of the negative factor in the Hegelian dialectic? Hegel is not under survey here or this would be an interesting area to explore.
It is true, Ritchie admitted, that the Darwinians were so concerned with the origin of species that they failed to understand the significance of the movement of evolution as a whole. We must recognize the facts that in human society the struggle for existence takes forms which cannot be properly described in biological categories, and that social progress depends on co-operation. But it is precisely at this point that Hegelianism can shed a light which is shed neither by the biological theory of evolution taken purely by itself nor by the empiricist and positivist systems of philosophy which are professedly based on this theory.
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Though, however, Ritchie made a valiant attempt to reconcile Darwinism and Hegelianism, the construction of 'idealist' philosophies of evolution, in the sense of philosophies which endeavoured to show that the total movement of evolution is towards an ideal term or goal, was actually to take place outside rather than inside the Neo-Hegelian current of thought.
ABSOLUTE IDEALISM: BRADLEY
Introductory remarks- The Presuppositions of Critical History - Morality and its self-transcending in religion - The relevance of logic to metaphysics-The basic presupposition of metaphysics-Appearance: the thing and its qualities, relations and their terms, space and time, the self-Reality: the nature of the Absolute-Degrees of truth and reality-Error and evil-The Absolute, God and religion-Some critical discussion of Bradley's metaphysics.
It was in the philosophy of Francis Herbert Bradley (1846-1924) that emphasis on the subject-object relationship was decisively supplanted by the idea of the suprarelational One, the all-embracing Absolute. Of Bradley's life there is little which needs to be said. In 1870 he was elected a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and he retained this post until his death. He did not lecture. And the quantity of his literary output, though substantial, was not exceptional. But as a thinker he is of considerable interest, especially perhaps for the way in which he combines a radical criticism of the categories of human thought, when considered as instruments for apprehending ultimate reality, with a firm faith in the existence of an Absolute in which all contradictions and antinomies are overcome
In 1874 Bradley published an essay on The Presuppositions of Critical History, to which reference will be made in the next section. Ethical Studies appeared in 1876, The Principles of Logic in 1883, Appearance and Reality in 1893, and Essays on Truth and Reality in 1914. Other essays and articles were collected and published posthumously in two volumes in 1935 under the title Collected Essays. A small book of Aphorisms appeared in 1930.
Bradley's enemies were those of the idealists in general,
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namely empiricists, positivists and materialists, though in his case we have to add the pragmatists. Since the MOQ is pragmatic and empirical this would apparently put it on Bradley’s enemy list. As a polemical writer he did not always represent his opponents' views in a manner which they considered fair; but he could be devastating, and on occasion none too polite. His own philosophy has often been described as Neo-Hegelian. But though he was undoubtedly influenced by Hegelianism, the description is not altogether appropriate. It is true that both Hegel and Bradley were concerned with the totality, the Absolute. But the two men held markedly different views about the capacity of the human reason to grasp the Absolute. Hegel was a rationalist, in the sense, that is to say, that he regarded reason (Vernunft), as distinct from understanding (Verstand), as capable of penetrating the inner life of the Absolute. He endeavoured to lay bare the essential structure of the self-developing universe, the totality of Being; and he showed an overwhelming confidence in the power of dialectical thought to reveal the nature of the Absolute both in itself and in its concrete manifestations in Nature and Spirit. Bradley's dialectic, however, largely took the form of a systematic self-criticism by discursive thought, a criticism which, in his opinion at least, made clear the incapacity of human thought to attain any adequate grasp of ultimate reality, of what is really real. The MOQ clearly sides with Bradley. The world of discursive thought was for him the world of appearance; and metaphysical reflection showed that it was precisely this, by revealing the antinomies and contradictions engendered by such thought. Bradley was indeed convinced that the reality which is distorted by discursive thought is in itself free from all contradictions, a seamless whole, an all-comprehensive and perfectly harmonious act of experience. Note the use of the term “harmonious” here. It is the same synonym for Quality that ZMM shows Henri Poincaré used. The point is, however, that he did not pretend to be able to show dialectically precisely how antinomies are overcome and contradictions solved in the Absolute. In the MOQ they are not “solved” in the Absolute but emerge from it. To be sure, he did in fact say a good deal about the Absolute. And in view of his thesis that ultimate reality transcends human thought, it is arguable that in doing so he showed a certain inconsistency. What is it? Copleston does not seem to say. But the point which is relevant here is that Bradley gave expression not so much to Hegelian rationalism as to a peculiar combination of scepticism and fideism; of scepticism through his depreciation of
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human thought as an instrument of grasping reality as it really is, and of fideism by his explicit assertion that belief in a One which satisfies all the demands of ideal intelligibility rests on an initial act of faith that is presupposed by all genuinely metaphysical philosophy. Faith is not required for an understanding of Quality. Here Quality succeeds where Bradley’s Absolute and Hegel’s Being and the Buddhist Nothingness and the Hindu Oneness and the theists’ God and Allah and you-name-it; all of them fail. For quality, no faith is required because there is no way you can disbelieve that there is such a thing as quality. You cannot conceive of or live in a world in which nothing is better than anything else.
In reaching this characteristic position Bradley was influenced to a certain extent by Herbart's view that contradictions do not belong to reality itself but emerge only through our inadequate ways of conceiving reality. The MOQ agrees. This is not to suggest that Bradley was an Herbartian. He was a monist, whereas the German philosopher was a pluralist. But the late Professor A. E. Taylor relates that when he was at Merton College, he was recommended by Bradley to study Herbart as a wholesome correction to undue absorption in Hegelian ways of thinking. And an understanding of Herbart's influence on Bradley helps to correct any overemphasis on Hegelian elements in the latter's philosophy.
Bradley's philosophy, however, cannot be adequately described in terms of influence exercised by other thinkers It was in fact an original creation, in spite of the stimulus derived from such different German philosophers as Hegel and Herbart. In some respects, for instance in the way in which the concept of 'God' is represented as transcended in that of the suprapersonal Absolute, Bradley's thought shows clear signs of the influence of German absolute idealism. And the way in which the tendency of earlier British idealists to absolutize the subject-object relationship gives way before the idea of the totality, the One, can be said to represent the triumph of the absolute idealism which is associated above all with the name of Hegel. But British absolute idealism, especially in the case of Bradley, was a native version of the movement. It may not be as impressive as the Hegelian system; but this is no good reason for depicting it as no more than a minor replica of Hegelianism.
2. In his essay on The Presuppositions of Critical History Bradley writes that the critical mind must provisionally suspect the reality of everything before it. At the same time 'critical history must have a presupposition, and this presupposition is the uniformity of law'. That is to say, 'critical history assumes that its world is one', this unity being that
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of the universality of law and of 'what loosely may be termed causal connection'. History does not start by proving this unity; it presupposes it as the condition of its own possibility, though developed history confirms the truth of the presupposition.
There is no mention here of the Absolute. Indeed, the world of causal connections is relegated by Bradley in his metaphysics to the sphere of appearance. But in the light of the later development of his thought we can see in the idea of the unity of the world of history as a presupposition of historiography a hint of the idea of a total organic unity as the presupposition of metaphysics. And this suggestion seems to be supported by Bradley's assertion in a note that 'the universe seems to be one system; it is an organism (it would appear) and more. It bears the character of the self, the personality to which it is relative, and without which it is as good as nothing. Hence any portion of the universe by itself cannot be a consistent system; for it refers to the whole, and has the whole present in it. Potentially the whole (since embodying that which is actually the whole), in trying to fix itself on itself, it succeeds only in laying stress on its character of relativity; it is carried beyond and contradicts itself'. To be sure, this is not precisely a statement of the doctrine of the Absolute as we find it in Appearance and Reality, where the Absolute is certainly not depicted as a self. At the same time the passage serves to show how Bradley's mind was dominated by the idea of the universe as an organic whole. All this is in agreement with the MOQ.
3. Bradley's Ethical Studies is not a metaphysical work. Indeed, on reading the first essay one may receive the impression that the writer's line of thought has more affinity with the modern analytic movement than with what would naturally be expected from a metaphysical idealist. For Bradley concerns himself with examining what the ordinary man understands by responsibility and imputability, and he then shows how two theories of human action are incompatible with the conditions of moral responsibility which are implicitly presupposed by 'the vulgar'.
On the one hand, the ordinary man implicitly assumes that he cannot legitimately be held morally responsible for
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an action unless he is the same man who performed the action. And if this assumption is taken to be correct, it excludes that form of determination which is based on the associationist psychology and to all intents and purposes does away with any permanent self-identity. The MOQ not only holds that there can be morality without the creation of an independent self, it holds that nothing whatsoever is apart from this morality. 'Without personal identity responsibility is sheer nonsense; and to the psychology of our Determinists personal identity (with identity in general) is a word without a vestige of meaning.' On the other hand, the ordinary man assumes that he cannot legitimately be held morally responsible for an action unless he is truly the author of it, unless it proceeds from him as effect from cause. And this assumption rules out any theory of indeterminism which implies that human free actions are uncaused and does away with the relation between a man's action and his self or character. For the agent as described by this sort of theory is 'a person who is not responsible, who (if he is anything) is idiotic'. This is an ancient quarrel that the MOQ happily avoids.
Bradley is, of course, the last man to suggest that we should take the beliefs of the ordinary man as a final court of appeal. But for the moment he is concerned not with expounding a metaphysical theory of the self but with arguing that both determinism and indeterminism, when understood in the senses mentioned above, are incompatible with the presuppositions of the moral consciousness. And the positive conclusion to be drawn is that the moral consciousness of the ordinary man implies a close relation between actions for which one can legitimately be held responsible and one's self in the sense of character.
Though, however, Ethical Studies is not a metaphysical work, either in the sense that Bradley sets out to derive ethical conclusions from metaphysical premises or in the sense that he explicitly introduces his metaphysical system, it certainly has a metaphysical bearing or significance. For the upshot of the work is that morality gives rise to contradictions which cannot be resolved on the purely ethical level and that it points beyond itself. True, in this work morality is depicted as leading on to religion. But elsewhere religion is depicted as leading on to the philosophy of the Absolute.
For Bradley the end of morality, of moral action, is self-realization. The MOQ can be stretched to take this point of view if by “self” is meant all static patterns of quality, and “self realization” is the disappearance of all static patterns into Dynamic Quality—but this is quite a stretch. And it follows that the good for man cannot be
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identified with 'the feeling of self-realizedness', or indeed with any feeling. Hedonism therefore, which locks on the feeling of pleasure as the good for man, is ruled out. In the MOQ it is the exclusive pursuit of biological quality. In Bradley's view, as in that of Plato, the hedonist should logically assert that any action is moral which produces greater pleasure in the agent. For consistent hedonism admits only of a quantitative standard of discrimination. Once we introduce, with J. S. Mill, a qualitative distinction between pleasures, we require a standard other than the feeling of pleasure and have thus in effect abandoned hedonism. The truth of the matter is that Mill's utilitarianism expresses a groping after the ethical idea of self-realization, and that it is hindered from arriving fully at this idea by its illogical attempt to retain hedonism at the same time. 'May we suggest, in conclusion, that of all our utilitarians there is perhaps not one who has not still a great deal to learn from Aristotle's Ethics?
In making pleasure the sole good hedonism is a hopelessly one-sided theory. Another one-sided theory is the Kantian ethics of duty for duty's sake. But here the trouble is the formalism of the theory. We are told to realize the good will, 'but as to that which the good will is, it [the ethics of duty for duty's sake] tells us nothing, and leaves us with an idle abstraction'. Bradley safeguards himself from the charge of caricaturing the Kantian ethics by saying that he does not intend to give an exegesis of Kant's moral theory. At the same time he states his belief that the Kantian ethical system 'has been annihilated by Hegel's criticism'. And Hegel's main criticism was precisely that the Kantian ethics was involved in an empty formalism. These arguments appear because duty and reality and self-realization are not all integrated into one system as they are in the MOQ.
Bradley does not disagree, any more than Hegel did, with the view that the end of morality is the realization of a good will. The term “will” is translated by the MOQ as “attraction to Quality.” This doesn’t sound like the common meaning of the word because in the common meaning will is a property of an autonomous self-realizing individual. The MOQ, like the Buddhists and the Determinists (odd bedfellows) says this “autonomous individual” is an illusion. His point is that content must be given to this idea. And to do this we must understand that the good will is the universal will, If Bradley had stopped here the MOQ would agree. the will of a social organism. But he didn’t stop there and the MOQ strongly disagrees that the universal will is the will of the social organism. For this means that one's duties are specified by one's membership of the social organism, and that 'to be moral, I must will my station and its duties'. Hitler couldn’t have agreed more.
At first sight this Hegelian point of view, with its reminiscences of Rousseau, may seem to be at variance with Brad-
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ley's doctrine that the end of morality is self-realization. But all depends, of course, on how the term 'self' is understood. For Bradley, as for Hegel, the universal will, which is a concrete universal What on earth is a “concrete universal?” existing in and through its particulars, represents the individual's 'true' self. Apart from his social relations, his membership of a social organism, the individual man is an abstraction. This is ridiculous. The individual man is primarily a biological organism. 'And individual man is what he is because of and by virtue of community.' Hence to identify one's private will with the universal will is to realize one's true self.
What does this mean in less abstract terms? The universal will is obviously the will of a society. I have learned over the years that when someone uses the word “obviously” in a sentence you should study that sentence closely. If it were obvious he wouldn’t need to say it was obvious. In this case it is not only not obvious, it is wrong. At this point I see only evidence that Bradley is advocating a totalitarian society. And as the family, the basic society, is at the same time preserved and taken up in political society, the State, the emphasis is placed by Bradley, as by Hegel, on the latter. To realize oneself morally, therefore, is to act in accordance with social morality, that is with 'the morality already existing ready to hand in laws institutions, social usages, moral opinions and feelings'.
This view obviously gives content to the moral law, to the command of reason to realize the good will. But, equally obviously, morality becomes relative to this or that human society. Bradley does indeed try to maintain a distinction between lower and higher moral codes. It is true that the essence of man is realized, however imperfectly, at any and every stage of moral evolution. But ‘from the point of view of a higher stage, we can see that lower stages failed to realize the truth completely enough, and also, mixed and one with their realization, did present features contrary to the true nature of man as we now see it'. At the same time Bradley's view that one's duties are specified by one's station, by one's place and function in the social organism, leads him to assert that morality not only is but ought to be relative. That is to say, it is not simply a question of noting the empirical fact that moral convictions have differed in certain respects in different societies. Bradley maintains in addition that moral codes would be of no use unless they were relative to given societies. In fine, 'the morality of every stage is justified for that stage; and the demand for a code of right in itself apart from any stage, is seen to be the asking for an impossibility'.
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It scarcely needs saying that the very idea of a moral code involves the idea of a relation to possible conduct, and that code which had no relation at all to a man's historical and social situation would be useless to him. But it does not necessarily follow that I must identify morality with the existing moral standards and outlook of the society to which I happen to belong. Amen. Indeed if, as Bradley admits, a member of an existing society can see the defects in the moral code of a past society, there does not seem to be any adequate reason why an enlightened member of the past society should not have seen these defects for himself and have rejected social conformism in the name of higher moral standards and ideals. This is, after all, precisely what has happened in history.
In point of fact, however, Bradley does not reduce morality simply to social morality. I think that in philosophy when you make a statement, you should let it rise or fall as it is tested against reality. You should not make a statement and then fudge a little here and make an exception there and bend of meaning elsewhere in order to accommodate objections as they come in. For in his view it is a duty to realize the ideal self; and the content of this ideal self is not exclusively social. But he said it was social. For example, 'it is a moral duty for the artist or the inquirer to lead the life of one, and a moral offence when he fails to do so'. This is fudging. True, the activities of an artist or of a scientist can, and generally do, benefit society. But 'their social bearing is indirect, and does not lie in their very essence'. More fudging. This idea is doubtless in tune with Hegel's attribution of art to the sphere of absolute spirit, rather than that of objective spirit, What on earth is “objective spirit?” where morality belongs. But the point is that Bradley's assertion that 'man is not man at all unless social, but man is not much above the beasts unless more than social' might well have led him to revise such statements as that 'there is nothing better than my station and its duties, nor anything higher or more truly beautiful'. If morality is self-realization, and if the self cannot be adequately described in purely social categories, morality can hardly be identified with conformity to the society to which one belongs. Right. Copleston has caught him in his contradiction here.
Yet in a sense all this is simply grist to Bradley's mill. For, as has already been mentioned, he wishes to show that morality gives rise to antinomies or contradictions which cannot be overcome on the purely ethical level. In the MOQ there is no other “level”.For example, and this is the principal contradiction, the moral law demands the perfect identification of the individual will with the ideally good and universal will, though at the same time
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morality cannot exist except in the form of an overcoming of the lower self, a striving which presupposes that the individual will is not identified with the ideally good will. I don’t see the problem here. In other words, morality is essentially an endless process; but by its very nature it demands that the process should no longer exist but should be supplanted by moral perfection. Perhaps this problem is created by the absence of a distinction between enlightenment and unenlightenment. In unenlightenment morality is a progress toward enlightenment. In enlightenment this process is supplanted by moral perfection.
Obviously, if we deny either that overcoming of the lower or bad self is an essential feature of the moral life or that the moral law demands the cessation of this overcoming, the antinomy disappears. If, however, we admit both theses, the conclusion to be drawn is that morality seeks its own extinction. Yes, unenlightened morality seeks it extinction in enlightened morality. That is to say, it seeks to transcend itself. 'Morality is an endless process and therefore a self-contradiction; and, being such, it does not remain standing in itself, but feels the impulse to transcend its existing reality.' If the moral law demands the attainment of an ideal which cannot be attained as long as there is a bad self to be overcome, and if the existence in some degree of a bad self is a necessary presupposition of morality, the moral law, we must conclude, demands the attainment of an ideal or end which can be attained only in a supra-ethical sphere. This is not a problem for the MOQ.
As far as Ethical Studies is concerned, this sphere is that of religion. The moral ideal is 'not realized in the objective world of the State'; but it can be realized for the religious consciousness. It is true that 'for religion the world is alienated from God, and the self is sunk in sin'. At the same time for the religious consciousness the two poles, God and the self, the infinite and the finite, are united in faith. For religious faith the sinner is reconciled with God and justified, and he is united with other selves in the community of the faithful. Thus in the sphere of religion man reaches the term of his striving and he fulfils the demand of morality that he should realize himself as 'an infinite whole' a demand which can be only imperfectly fulfilled on the ethical level through membership in political society. The MOQ bypasses all this ecclesiastical terpsichore.
Morality, therefore, consists in the realization of the true self. The true self, however, is 'infinite'. This means that morality demands the realization of the self as a member of an infinite whole. But the demand cannot be fully met on the level of the ethics of my station and its duties. Ultimately,
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indeed, it can be met only by the transformation of the self in the Absolute. And in this sense Bradley's account of morality is pregnant with metaphysics, the metaphysics of the Absolute. Here he is coming closer to the MOQ which also unites metaphysics with ethics. But in Ethical Studies he is content to take the matter as far as the self-transcending of morality in religion. The self-transcending of religion is left to the explicit metaphysics of Appearance and Reality.
4. Turning to Bradley's logical studies, we must note in the first place his concern with separating logic from psychology. This is a separation that is not important to the MOQ because the MOQ regards psychology, with its objectification of the subjective, as metaphysically unsound. Needless to say, he does not question the legitimacy of inquiries into the origin of ideas and into the association between ideas, inquiries which had occupied so prominent a place in empiricist philosophy from Locke to J. S. Mill. But he insists that they belong to the province of psychology, and that if we confuse logical and psychological inquiries, we shall find ourselves giving psychological answers to logical questions, as the empiricists were inclined to do. 'In England at all events we have lived too long in the psychological attitude.' I do know what he includes under the term “psychology.” That should be explained here but is not.
Bradley starts his logical studies with an examination of the judgment, considered not as a combination of ideas, which have to be previously treated, but as an act of judging that something is or is not the case. In the MOQ something is “the case” if it has high intellectual quality. It is true, of course, that we can distinguish various elements within the judgment. But the logician is concerned not with the psychological origin of ideas or concepts nor with the influence of mental associations but with the symbolic function, the reference, which concepts acquire in the judgment. Sort of like mathematics, I would suppose. 'For logical purposes ideas are symbols, and they are nothing but symbols.' Terms acquire a definite meaning or reference in the proposition and the proposition says something which is either true or false. The logician should concern himself with these aspects of the matter, leaving psychological questions to the psychologist.Again, I don’t know what he means here. If he does really stick to symbols that have no reference to the experienced world, the logician is not going to say anything meaningful.
Bradley's anti-psycholigizing attitude in logic has won him a good mark from modern logicians including those whose general philosophical outlook is more or less empiricist. But the connection between his logic and his metaphysics is generally regarded much less benevolently. On this point, however, we have to be careful. On the one hand Bradley does
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not identify logic with metaphysics. And he regards his inquiries into the forms, quantity and modality of judgments and into the characteristics and types of inference as pertaining to logic, not to metaphysics. On the other hand in the preface to the first edition of The Principles of Logic he implicitly admits that 'I am not sure where logic begins or ends'. In the MOQ logic begins and ends in rhetoric, of which it is an important branch. Rhetoric begins and ends in cultural patterns. Cultural patterns begin and end in biology. Biological patterns begin and end in inorganic nature. And some of his logical theories have an obvious connection with his metaphysics, a connection which I wish to illustrate briefly by one or two examples.
As every judgment is either true or false, Not so. we are naturally inclined to assume that it asserts or denies a fact, its truth or falsity depending on its correspondence or lack of correspondence with some factual state of affairs. Here, without warning, Bradley suddenly plunges us into the middle of a subject-object dichotomy. “Whoa,” one wants to say, “Who is this ‘we?’ “What is this ‘factual state of affairs?’ How did they get separated in the first place?” But while a singular judgment such as 'I have a toothache' or 'This leaf is green' seems at first sight to mirror a particular fact, reflection shows that the universal judgment is the result of inference and that it is hypothetical in character. For example, if I say that all mammals are warm-blooded, I infer from a limited number of instances a universal conclusion; and what I am actually asserting is that if at any time there is something which possesses the other attributes of being a mammal, it also possesses that of warm-bloodedness. The judgment is thus hypothetical; and a gap is introduced between ideal content and actual fact. For the judgment is asserted as being true even if at any given time there are no actually existing mammals.
According to Bradley, however, it is a mistake to assume that though the universal judgment is hypothetical, the singular affirmative judgment enjoys the privilege of being tied to a particular fact or experience, which it mirrors. If I say that I have a toothache, I am referring, of course, to a particular pain of my own; but the judgment which I enunciate could perfectly well be enunciated by someone else who would obviously be referring to a different toothache, his own and not mine. True, we can try to pin down the reference of singular judgments by the use of words, such as 'this', 'that', 'here' and 'now'. But though this device serves very well for practical purposes, it is not possible to eliminate every element of generality from the meaning of these particularizing expressions. If someone holds an apple in his
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hand and says 'This apple is unripe', I am obviously perfectly well aware what apple is being referred to. But the judgment 'This apple is unripe' is not tied to this particular apple: it could be uttered by someone else, or indeed by the same man, with reference to some other apple. The singular affirmative judgment, therefore, does not enjoy any special privilege of being a mirror of existent fact.
The conclusion which Bradley wishes to draw is that if the judgment is regarded as a synthesis or union of ideas, every judgment is general, and that a gap is thus introduced between ideal content and reality. 'Ideas are universal, and, no matter what it is that we try to say and dimly mean, what we really express and succeed in asserting is nothing individual.' If, therefore, an abstract universal judgment is hypothetical and so divorced to some extent from actual reality, it is no use thinking that in the singular judgment we can find an unequivocal reference to a particular fact. The observation of that fact can be unequivocal but the language of the judgment All judgments are tarred with the same brush. The MOQ agrees with this.
In point of fact, however, 'judgment is not the synthesis of ideas, but the reference of ideal content to reality'. And it is Bradley's contention that the latent and ultimate subject of any judgment is reality as a whole, reality, we may say, with a capital letter. 'Not only (this is our doctrine) does all judgment affirm of Reality, but in every judgment we have the assertion that "Reality is such that S is P".' If, for example, I assert that this leaf is green, I am asserting that reality as a whole, the universe, is such that this leaf is green. There is no such thing as an isolated particular fact. So-called particular facts are what they are only because reality as a whole is what it is.
This point of view has an evident bearing on the relative adequacy of different types of judgment. For if reality as a whole is the latent ultimate subject of every judgment, it follows that the more particular a judgment is, the less adequate is it as a description of its ultimate subject. Further, an analytic judgment, in the sense of one which analyses a particular given sense-experience, distorts reality by arbitrarily selecting elements from a complex whole and treating them as though they constituted a self-sufficient particular
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fact, whereas there are no such facts. The only self-sufficient fact is reality as a whole. Very good.
Bradley thus turns his back on the empiricist belief that the more we analyse, the closer we approach to truth. The MOQ does not turn its back on the empiricist belief that the more we analyse, the closer we approach to truth. Truth is the highest quality static intellectual pattern and analysis has shown over and over again historically that it improves the quality of intellectual patterns. The MOQ, however does agree with Bradley that Dynamic Quality, the Absolute, is not to be understood through analysis, since once it is analyzed it is no longer the Absolute. It has been assumed that 'analysis is no alteration, and that, whenever we distinguish, we have to do with divisible existence'. This assumption, however, is a 'cardinal principle of error and delusion'. In reality truth, as Hegel saw, is the whole.
This may suggest that we shall come nearer to an apprehension of reality if we turn away from the immediate judgments of sense to the general hypotheses of the sciences. But though in this sphere there is less fragmentation, there is also a much higher degree of abstraction and of mental construction. If reality consists of what is presented to the senses, the abstractions of the sciences seem to be further removed from reality than the immediate judgments of sense. And if reality does not consist of the wealth of sensuous phenomena, can we really suppose that it consists of logical constructions and scientific abstractions? 'It may come from a failure in my metaphysics, or from a weakness of the flesh which continues to blind me, but the notion that existence could be the same as understanding strikes as cold and ghost-like as the dreariest materialism. That the glory of this world in the end is appearance leaves the world more glorious, if we feel it is a show of some fuller splendour but the sensuous curtain is a deception and a cheat, if it hides some colourless movement of atoms, some spectral woof of impalpable abstractions, or unearthly ballet of bloodless categories ' Here Bradley is clearly making the case for Dynamic Quality.
This oft-quoted passage is directed not only against the reduction of reality to scientific generalizations which form a web through whose meshes there slips the whole wealth of sensible particulars, but also against the Hegelian idea that logical categories reveal to us the essence of reality and that the movement of dialectical logic represents the movement of reality. And Bradley's general point of view is that the process of judgment and inference, or, better, the process of discursive thought, is unable to grasp and represent reality. To be sure, for the purposes of practical life and of the sciences discursive thought is a perfectly adequate instrument.
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This is shown by its success. But it does not necessarily follow that it is a fit instrument for grasping ultimate reality as it is in itself. This is in complete accord with the MOQ, except that the MOQ regards both the static and Dynamic realities being opposed here are ultimate reality. To say that one is right and the other wrong is incorrect.
When Bradley was writing The Principles of Logic, he tried to avoid metaphysics as much as he felt possible. In the second edition, published twenty-nine years after the publication of Appearance and Reality, there is naturally more reference to metaphysics, together with modifications or corrections of some of the logical views advanced in the first edition. In other words, Bradley's explicit metaphysics reacted on his logic. In any case, however, it is quite clear that his logical theories have from the start a metaphysical relevance, even if the main conclusion is perhaps a negative one, namely that discursive thought cannot comprehend reality. At the same time, as Bradley remarks in his additional notes, if reality is the whole, the totality, it must somehow include thought within itself.
5. In his introduction to Appearance and Reality Bradley remarks that 'we may agree, perhaps, to understand by metaphysics an attempt to know reality as against mere appearance, or the study of first principles or ultimate truths, or again the effort to comprehend the universe, not simply piecemeal or by fragments, but somehow as a whole'. Most of us would probably accept his contention that a dogmatic and a priori assertion of the impossibility of metaphysics should be ruled out of court. And it is obviously reasonable to say that if we are going to make the attempt to understand reality as a whole, it should be made 'as thoroughly as our nature permits'. But in view of what has been said in the last section about the shortcomings of discursive thought it may seem odd that Bradley is prepared to make the attempt at all. He insists, however, that it is natural for the reflective mind to desire to comprehend reality, and that even if comprehension in the full sense turns out to be unattainable, a limited knowledge of the Absolute is none the less possible. This is very similar to the path followed in Lila.
Now, if we describe metaphysics from the start as an attempt to know reality as contrasted with appearance, we presuppose that this distinction is meaningful and valid. And if we say that metaphysics is an attempt to understand re-
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ality as a whole, we assume, at least by way of hypothesis, that reality is a whole, that there is in the same sense a One. But Bradley is perfectly prepared to admit that metaphysics rests on an initial presupposition. 'Philosophy demands, and in the end it rests on, what may fairly be termed faith. The MOQ does not rest on faith. In the MOQ faith is very low quality stuff, a willingness to believe falsehoods. It has, we may say, to presuppose its conclusion in order to prove it.' No, a hypothesis is not an act of faith.
What precisely is the content of this assumption or presupposition or initial act of faith? In the appendix which he added to the second edition of Appearance and Reality Bradley tells us that 'the actual starting-point and basis of this work is an assumption about truth and reality. I have assumed that the object of metaphysics is to find a general view which will satisfy the intellect, and I have assumed that whatever succeeds in doing this is real and true, and that whatever fails is neither. This is a doctrine which, so far as I can see, can neither be proved nor questioned.'
The natural way of interpreting this passage, if it is taken simply by itself, seems to be this. The scientist assumes that there are uniformities to be discovered within his field of investigation. Otherwise he would never look for them. And he has to assume that the generalizations which satisfy his intellect are true. Further investigations may lead him to modify or change his conclusions. But he cannot proceed at all without making some presupposition.
That is true but this presupposition is not an act of faith. Faith occurs when in the presence of conclusive contrary information he still clings to his presupposition.
Similarly, we are free to pursue metaphysics or to leave it alone; but if we pursue it at all, we inevitably assume that a 'general view' of reality is possible, and therefore that reality as a whole is intelligible in principle. If by “intelligible” is meant intellectually intelligible, then the MOQ does not state that reality as a whole is intelligible in principle. We further inevitably assume that we can recognize the truth when we find it. We assume, that is to say, that the general view which satisfies the intellect is true and valid. For our only way of discriminating between rival general views is by choosing the one which most adequately satisfies the demands of the intellect.
Considered in itself this point of view is reasonable enough. But difficulties arise when we bear in mind Bradley's doctrine about the shortcomings of discursive thought. And it is perhaps not surprising to find expression being given to a somewhat different view. Thus in a supplementary note to the sixth chapter of his Essays on Truth and Reality
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Bradley maintains that the One which is sought in metaphysics is not reached simply by a process of inference but is given in a basic feeling-experience. This sounds like Quality. 'The subject, the object, and their relation, are experienced as elements or aspects in a One which is there from the start.' That is to say, on the pre-reflective level there is an experience 'in which there is no distinction between my awareness and that of which it is aware. There is an immediate feeling, a knowing and being in one, with which knowledge begins.' Indeed, 'at no stage of mental development is the mere correlation of subject and object actually given'. Even when distinctions and relations emerge in consciousness, there is always the background of 'a felt totality'. This is a very clear description of Zen enlightenment.
This point of view is possibly compatible with that previously mentioned, though one would not normally describe a basic immediate experience as an 'assumption'. In any case Bradley's thesis that there is such an experience enables him to give some content to the idea of the Absolute, in spite of the shortcomings of discursive thought. Metaphysics is really an attempt to think the One which is given in the alleged primitive feeling-experience. In a sense this attempt is foredoomed to failure. For thought is inevitably relational. But inasmuch as thought can recognize the 'contradictions' which emerge when reality is conceived as a Many, as a multiplicity of related things, it can see that the world of common sense and of science is appearance. And if we ask, 'Appearance of what?', reference to the basic experience of a felt totality enables us to have some inkling at any rate of what the Absolute, ultimate reality, must be. We cannot attain a clear vision of it. To do so, we should have to be the comprehensive unified experience which constitutes the Absolute. We should have to get outside our own skins, so to speak. But we can have a limited knowledge of the Absolute by conceiving it on an analogy with the basic sentient experience which underlies the emergence of distinctions between subject and object and between different objects. In this sense the experience in question can be regarded as an obscure, virtual knowledge of reality which is the 'presupposition' of metaphysics and which the metaphysician tries to recapture at a higher level. This is really an excellent statement of the MOQ position.
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In other words, Bradley admits the truth of the objection that metaphysics presupposes its own conclusion, but he regards it not as an objection but rather as a clarification of the nature of metaphysics. In view, however, of the importance of the theme it is regrettable that he does not develop his thesis more at length. Perhaps the MOQ can be seen as such a development.
As it is, he speaks in a variety of ways, employing terms such as presupposition, assumption, faith and immediate experience. And though these different ways of speaking may be compatible, we are left in some doubt about his precise meaning. Yes. However, we are probably justified in laying emphasis on Bradley's thesis that there is an immediate experience of 'a many felt in one', and that this experience gives us an inkling of the nature of the Absolute.
6. By the nature of the case there is not much that can be said by way of positive description either about the alleged pre-reflective experience of a felt totality or about the infinite act of experience which constitutes the Absolute. And it is hardly surprising if Bradley concentrates his attention on showing that our ordinary ways of conceiving reality give rise to contradictions and cannot yield a 'general view' capable of satisfying the intellect. But it is not possible to enter here into all the details of his dialectic. We must confine ourselves to indicating some of the phases of his line of thought.
(i) We are accustomed to group the world's contents into things and their qualities, This is a different use of the word “quality.” To prevent confusion the MOQ calls these “properties” as does scientific description. in Scholastic language into substances and accidents, or, as Bradley puts it, into the substantive and adjectival. But though this way of regarding reality is embedded in language and undoubtedly has a practical utility, it gives rise, Bradley maintains, to insoluble puzzles.
Consider, for example, a lump of sugar which is said to have the qualities of whiteness, hardness and sweetness. If we say that the sugar is white, we obviously do not mean that it is identical with the quality of whiteness. For if this were what we meant, we could not then say that the lump of sugar is hard, unless indeed we were prepared to identify whiteness and hardness. It is natural, therefore, to conceive the sugar as a centre of unity, a substance which possesses different qualities.
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If, however, we try to explain what this centre of unity is in itself, we are entirely at a loss. And in our perplexity we are driven to say that the sugar is not an entity which possesses qualities, a substance in which accidents inhere, but simply the qualities themselves as related to one another. Yet what does it mean to say, for example, that the quality of whiteness is related to the quality of sweetness? The MOQ would say it is an inorganic pattern of values. If, on the one hand, being related to sweetness is identical with being white, to say that whiteness is related to sweetness is to say no more than that whiteness is whiteness. If, on the other hand, being related to sweetness is something different from being white, to say that whiteness is related to sweetness is to predicate of it something different from itself, that is, something which it is not.
Obviously, Bradley is not suggesting that we should cease to speak about things and their qualities. His contention is that once we try to explain the theory implied by this admittedly useful language, we find the thing dissolving into its qualities, while at the same time we are unable to give any satisfactory explanation of the way in which the qualities form the thing. In the MOQ repeated experience of the pattern gives it its “thingness.” All sorts of ephemera pass in front of the scientist’s eye but the patterns he values are those that repeat themselves. In brief, no coherent account can be given either of the substance-accident theory or of phenomenalism.
(ii) Now let us rule out the substance-accident theory and confine our attention to qualities i.e. properties and relations. In the first place we can say that qualities without relations are unintelligible. When we substitute “properties” for “qualities” we see that properties and relations are pretty much the same thing. For one thing, we cannot think of a quality without conceiving it as possessing a distinct character and so as different from other qualities. And this difference is itself a relation.
In the second place, however, qualities taken together with their relations are equally unintelligible. On the one hand qualities cannot be wholly reduced to their relations. For relations require terms. The qualities must support their relations; and in this sense qualities can be said to make their relations. On the other hand a relation makes a difference to what is related. Hence we can also say that qualities are made by their relations. A quality must be 'at once condition and result'. But no satisfactory account of this paradoxical situation can be given. I think all this tangle-footedness occurs because cause properties and relations are being given some sort of reality here that is independent of empirical knowledge.
Approaching the matter from the side of relations we can
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say at once that without qualities they are unintelligible. For relations must relate terms. But we are also driven to say that relations are unintelligible even when they are taken together with their terms, namely qualities. For a relation must be either nothing or something. If it is nothing, it cannot do any relating. But if it is something, it must be related to each of its terms by another relation. And we are then involved in an endless series of relations.
A Scholastic reader of this ingenious piece of dialectic would probably be inclined to remark that a relation is not an 'entity' of the same logical category as its terms, and that it makes no sense to say that it requires to be related to its terms by other relations. But Bradley does not, of course, intend to say that it is sensible to talk about relations being related to their terms. His point is that they must either be so related or be nothing at all, and that both theses are unacceptable. And his conclusion is that 'a relational way of thought—any one that moves by the machinery of terms and relations—must give appearance, and not truth. It is a makeshift, a device, a mere practical compromise, most necessary, but in the end most indefensible.'
To say roundly that thinking which employs the categories of terms and relations does not give us truth, seems to be an exaggeration even on Bradley's premises. For, as will be seen later, he expounds a theory of degrees of truth, a theory which does not admit any simple distinction between truth and error. It is clear, however, that what he means is that relational thinking cannot give us Truth with a capital letter. That is to say, it cannot disclose the nature of reality as contrasted with appearance. For if the concept of relations and their terms gives rise to insoluble puzzles, it cannot be an instrument for attaining the 'general view' which will satisfy the intellect.
Bradley's position can be clarified in this way. It has sometimes been said that he denied external relations and accepted only internal relations. But this statement can be misleading. It is true that in Bradley's view all relations make a difference to their terms. In this sense they are internal. At the same time they cannot be simply identified with the terms which they relate. And in this sense there not only can
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but also must be external relations, though there cannot indeed be a relation which exists entirely on its own, and to which it is purely accidental whether it happens to connect terms or not. Hence Bradley can say: 'External relations, if they are to be absolute, I in short cannot understand except as the supposed necessary alternative when internal relations are denied. But the whole "Either-Or", between external and internal relations, to me seems unsound.' Apparently Bradley sees the materialistic explanation of the world as one held together by relationships, and he is out to destroy the validity of these.
At the same time it is precisely the rejection of 'Either-Or' and the assertion of 'Both-And' which gives rise to Bradley's critique of relational thought. Relations cannot be external in an absolute sense. But neither can they be wholly internal, completely merged with their terms. And it is the difficulty in combining these two points of view which leads Bradley to conclude that relational thought is concerned with the sphere of appearance, and that ultimate reality, the Absolute, must be supra-relational.
(iii) Bradley remarks that anyone who has understood the chapter in Appearance and Reality on relation and quality 'will have seen that our experience, where relational, is not true; and he will have condemned, almost without a hearing, the great mass of phenomena'. We need not, therefore, say much about his critique of space, time, motion and causality. It is sufficient to illustrate his line of thought by reference to his critique of space and time.
On the one hand space cannot be simply a relation. For any space must consist of parts which are themselves spaces. And if space were merely a relation, we should thus be compelled to make the absurd statement that space is nothing but the relation which connects spaces. On the other hand, however, space inevitably dissolves into relations and cannot be anything else. For space is infinitely differentiated internally, consisting of parts which themselves consist of parts, and so on indefinitely. And these differentiations are clearly relations. Yet when we look for the terms, we cannot find them. Hence the concept of space, as giving rise to a contradiction, must be relegated to the sphere of appearance.
A similar critique is applied to the concept of time. On the one hand time must be a relation, namely that between 'before' and 'after'. On the other hand it cannot be a relation.
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If it is a relation between units which have no duration, 'then the whole time has no duration, and is not time at all'. If, however, time is a relation between units which themselves possess duration, the alleged units cannot be really units but dissolve into relations. And there are no terms. It may be said that time consists of 'now's'. But as the concept of time involves the ideas of before and after, diversity is inevitably introduced into the 'now'; and the game starts once more.
(iv) Some people, Bradley remarks, are quite prepared to see the external spatio-temporal world relegated to the sphere of appearance, but will assure us that the self at least is real. For his own part, however, he is convinced that the idea of the self, no less than the ideas of space and time, gives rise to insoluble puzzles. Obviously, the self exists in some sense. But once we start to ask questions about the nature of the self, we soon see how little value is to be attached to people's spontaneous conviction that they know perfectly well what the term means.
On the one hand a phenomenalistic analysis of the self cannot be adequate. If we try to equate a man's self with the present contents of his experience, our thesis is quite incompatible with our ordinary use of the word 'self'. For we obviously think and speak of the self as having a past and a future, and so as enduring beyond the present moment. If, however, we try to find a relatively enduring self by distinguishing between the relatively constant average mass of a man's psychical states and those states which are clearly transitory, we shall find that it is impossible to say where the essential self ends and the accidental self begins. We are faced with 'a riddle without an answer'.
On the other hand, if we abandon phenomenalism and locate the self in a permanent unit or monad, we are again faced with insoluble difficulties. If all the changing states of consciousness are to be attributed to this unit, in what sense can it be called a unit? And how is personal identity to be defined? If, however, the unit or monad is depicted as underlying all these changing states, 'it is a mere mockery to call it the self of a man'. It would be absurd to identify a man's self with a kind of metaphysical point.
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Bradley's conclusion is that 'the self is no doubt the highest form of experience which we have, but, for all that, is not a true form'. The earlier idealists may have thought that the subject-object relationship was a firm rock on which to build a philosophy of reality, but in Bradley's opinion the subject, no less than the object, must be relegated to the sphere of appearance. The MOQ concurs with all of this.
7. Reality for Bradley is one. The splintering of reality into finite things connected by relations belongs to the sphere of appearance. Which the MOQ calls “static patterns of value.” The word “appearance” seems to suggest these static patterns are unreal. The MOQ does not make this suggestion. But to say of something that it is appearance is not to deny that it exists. 'What appears, for that sole reason, most indubitably is; and there is no possibility of conjuring its being away from it.' Further, inasmuch as they exist, appearances must be comprised within reality; they are real appearances. Here he comes close to an oxymoron. “Appearance” is a poor word for reality. Indeed, 'reality, set on one side and apart from all appearance, would assuredly be nothing'. In other words, the Absolute is the totality of its appearances: it is not an additional entity lying behind them. Now he is saying the same thing as the scientific materialists.
At the same time appearances cannot exist in the Absolute precisely as appearances. That is to say, they cannot exist in the Absolute in such a way as to give rise to contradictions or antinomies. For the whole which we seek in metaphysics must be one which completely satisfies the intellect. In the Absolute, therefore, appearances must be transformed and harmonized in such a way that no contradictions remain.
What must the Absolute, or reality, be, for such a transformation of appearances to be possible? Bradley answers that it must be an infinite act of experience, and moreover, sentient experience. 'Being and reality are, in brief, one thing with sentience; they can neither be opposed to, nor even in the end distinguished from it.' Again, 'the Absolute is one system, and its contents are nothing but sentient experience. It will hence be a single and all- inclusive experience, which embraces every partial diversity in concord.' You can see why people turn to the logical positivists after reading something like this. The MOQ agrees with everything Bradley is saying here but the term, “Absolute,” and its subsequent description here conveys nothing to the man-in-the-street. It is a description empty of common meaning.
Use of the term 'sentient experience' should not, of course, be taken to imply that according to Bradley the Absolute can be identified with the visible universe as animated by some kind of world-soul. The Absolute is spirit. There is brand of vodka called “Absolut.” 'We may fairly close this work then by insisting that Reality is spiritual. When you hear the words “spirit” and “faith” always look for a traditional religionist trying to sneak his goods in the back door. Bradley is obviously not one of these, but he lived at a time when these people had a lot of influence and were raising hell about Darwin so that may be why he used the words. They are certainly not essential to his metaphysics, or if they are, the MOQ is a great improvement over his metaphysics, because like the positivists, the MOQ drops spirit and faith, cold.
Outside of spirit there is not, and there cannot be, any real-
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ity, and, the more that anything is spiritual, so much the more is it veritably real.'
We may very well ask, however, what Bradley means by saying that reality is spiritual, and how this statement is compatible with describing reality as sentient experience. And to answer these questions we must recall his theory of an immediate basic feeling-experience or sentient experience in which the distinction between subject and object, with the consequent sundering of ideal content from that of which it is predicated, has not yet emerged. This is Dynamic Quality. On the level of human reflection and thought this basic unity, a felt totality, breaks up and externality is introduced. The world of the manifold appears as external to the subject. But we can conceive as a possibility an experience in which the immediacy of feeling, of primitive sentient experience, is recovered, as it were, at a higher level, a level at which the externality of related terms such as subject and object ceases utterly. The Absolute is such an experience in the highest degree. In other words, the Absolute is not sentient experience in the sense of being below thought and infra-relational: it is above thought and supra-relational, including thought as transformed in such a way that the externality of thought to being is overcome. The MOQ agrees.
When, therefore, the Absolute is described as sentient experience, this term is really being used analogically. The MOQ uses it literally. 'Feeling, as we have seen, supplies us with a positive idea of nonrelational unity. In the MOQ feeling corresponds to biological quality. The idea is imperfect, but is sufficient to serve as a positive basis', as a positive basis, that is to say, for conceiving ultimate reality. And reality or the Absolute can properly be described as spiritual inasmuch as spirit is definable as 'a unity of the manifold in which the externality of the manifold has utterly ceased'. This is a long way from that entity which flies to heaven at death. I think Bradley is warping the term to make it connect with his metaphysics. In the human mind we find a unification of the manifold; but the externality of the manifold has by no means utterly ceased. The human mind is thus only imperfectly spiritual. 'Pure spirit is not realized except in the Absolute.'
It is important to understand that when Bradley describes the Absolute as spiritual, he does not mean to imply that it is a spirit, a self. Inasmuch as the Absolute is its appearances, as transformed, it must include within itself all the elements, so to speak, of selfhood. 'Every element of the uni-
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verse, sensation, feeling, thought and will, must be included within one comprehensive sentience.' But it would be extremely misleading to apply to the infinite universe a term such as 'self', which connotes finitude, limitation. Whatever happened to self-realization? (pp 218, 220 and 221)The Absolute is supra-personal, not infra-personal; but it is not a person, and it should not be described as a personal being.
In other words, the Absolute is not a sentient life below consciousness. But consciousness involves externality; and though it must be comprised within the Absolute, it must be comprised within it as transformed in such a way that it is no longer what it appears to us to be. Hence we cannot properly speak of the Absolute as conscious. All that we can say is that it includes and at the same time transcends consciousness.
As for personal immortality, Bradley admits that it is just possible. But he considers that a future life 'must be taken as decidedly improbable'. And he evidently does not believe in it, though his main concern is with arguing that a belief in personal immortality is required neither for morality nor for religion. True, the finite self, as an appearance of the Absolute, must be included within it. But it is included only as somehow transformed. And it is clear that the transformation required is for Bradley of such a kind that an assertion of the personal immortality of the finite self would be quite inappropriate.
8. The Absolute, therefore, is all its appearances, every one of them; but 'it is not all equally, but one appearance is more real than another'. That is to say, some appearances or phenomena are less far removed than others from all-inclusiveness and self-consistency. Hence the former require less alteration than the latter in order to fit into the harmonious, all-inclusive and self-consistent system which constitutes reality. 'And this is what we mean by degrees of truth and reality.'
The criteria of truth are coherence and comprehensiveness 'Truth is an ideal expression of the Universe, at once coherent and comprehensive. It must not conflict with itself, and there must be no suggestion which fails to fall inside it Perfect truth in short must realize the idea of a systematic whole.' Thought sunders, as Bradley puts it, the what from
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the that. We try to reconstitute the unity of ideal content and being by proceeding beyond singular judgments of perception to ever more comprehensive descriptions of the universe. Our goal is thus a complete apprehension of the universe in which every partial truth would be seen as internally, systematically and harmoniously related to every other partial truth in a self-coherent whole.
This goal is, however, unattainable. We cannot combine comprehensiveness with an understanding of all particular facts. For the wider and more comprehensive our relational scheme becomes, the more abstract it becomes: the meshes of the net become wider, and particular facts fall through. Further, our relational thinking, as we have already seen, is not in any case fitted to grasp reality as it is, as one fully coherent and comprehensive whole. 'There is no possible relational scheme which in my view in the end will be truth. . . . I had long ago made it clear (so I thought) that for me no truth in the end was quite true....'
Now, if we take it that for Bradley the standard in reference to which we have to measure degrees of truth is the ideal truth which perpetually eludes our grasp, we seem to be left without any standard or criterion which can be of practical use. But Bradley's line of thought seems to be this. 'The criterion of truth, I should say, as of everything else, is in the end the satisfaction of a want of our nature.' i.e. quality We do not know in advance what satisfies the intellect. But by using our intellect in the attempt to understand the world we discover that what satisfies us is coherence and comprehensiveness, as far as we are able to find them. This, then, is what we are aiming at, the ideal goal of perfect coherence and comprehensiveness. But to be able to distinguish between different degrees of truth it is not necessary to have attained this goal. For reflection on the degrees of satisfaction and dissatisfaction which we experience in our actual attempt to understand the world will enable us to make corresponding distinctions between degrees of truth.
9. If the Absolute is its appearances, it must in some sense be or contain error and evil. And though Bradley disclaims the ability to explain precisely how they are transformed in the Absolute, he at any rate feels that it is incumbent on
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him to show that they are not positively incompatible with his theory of ultimate reality. The MOQ, on the other hand, explains evil in evolutionary terms that are compatible with its theory of ultimate reality.
The line which Bradley takes in regard to error follows from his theory of degrees of truth. If undiluted truth, so to speak, is identified with the complete truth, every partial truth must be infected with some degree of error. In other words, any sharp distinction between truth and error disappears. An erroneous judgment does not constitute a peculiar kind of judgment. All human judgments are appearance; and all are transformed in the Absolute, though some need a more radical transformation than others. The transformation of what we call erroneous judgments, therefore, does not demand special treatment. It is all a question of degree.
As for evil in the sense of pain and suffering, Bradley suggests that it does not exist, as such, in the infinite act of experience which constitutes the Absolute. The possibility of this can be verified to some extent within the field of our own experience, by the way in which a small pain can be swallowed up, as it were, or neutralized by an intense pleasure. This suggestion is hardly a source of much consolation to the finite sufferer; but Bradley is understandably unwilling to envisage the Absolute as undergoing pain. In the MOQ pain is negative biological quality, and is not considered to be mere “Appearance.”
In treating of moral evil Bradley makes use of the interpretation to which reference has already been made. Moral evil is in a sense a condition of morality, inasmuch as the moral life consists in an overcoming of the lower self. But morality tends, as we have seen, to transcend itself. And in the Absolute it no longer exists as morality. Absolute experience transcends the moral order, and moral evil has no meaning in this context. In the MOQ Quality and morality are identical and morality is never dismissed.
10. Can Bradley's Absolute be properly described as God? Bradley's answer is plain enough: 'for me the Absolute is not God'. Obviously, if we meant by God simply ultimate reality, without any further specification, the Absolute would be God. But Bradley is thinking of the concept of God as a personal being; and he will not allow that personality can be predicated of the Absolute. Good for him. True, to speak of the Absolute as impersonal would be misleading. For this would suggest that the Absolute is infra-personal. In point of fact personality must be contained within reality, so that the Absolute cannot
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be less than personal. But, as so contained, personality is transformed to such an extent that we cannot speak of the Absolute as personal 'if the term "personal" is to bear anything like its ordinary sense'. Reality 'is not personal, because it is personal and more. It is, in a word, suprapersonal.' This is good.
Some theistic philosophers would obviously comment that they predicate personality of God in an analogical sense and not, as Bradley seems to suppose, in a univocal sense. As predicated of God, the term 'personal' does not imply finitude or limitation. This, however, is precisely the line of argument to which Bradley objects. In his view theistic philosophers begin by wishing to satisfy the demands of the religious consciousness. That is to say, they desire to reach the conclusion that God is personal, a being to whom man can pray and who can hear man's prayers. But they then pursue a line of argument which progressively eliminates from the concept of personality all that gives it concrete content or meaning for us. And the proper conclusion of this line of argument is that God is not personal but superpersonal, above personality. The conclusion, however, which these philosophers actually assert is the one which they wish to arrive at, not the one which follows from the line of argument which they actually employ. It is not that they are deliberately dishonest. It is rather that they take a word which has a definite range of meaning when applied to human beings, evacuate it of its content and then imagine that it can be meaningfully applied to God. In point of fact, if we once admit that terms such as 'personal' cannot be applied to God in the sense which they ordinarily bear in our language, we create a chasm between personality and God. 'Nor will you bridge the chasm by the sliding extension of a word. You will only make a fog, where you can cry out that you are on both sides at once. And towards increasing this fog I decline to contribute.' Excellently said.
The question, however, is not simply whether God should be called personal or super-personal. It must be remembered that Bradley's Absolute is its appearances. It is the universe as transformed. If therefore we understand by God a being who transcends the world in such a way that he cannot be
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identified with it, it is obvious that God and the Absolute cannot be equated. We could call the Absolute 'God'. But Bradley's contention is that the term already has in ordinary speech a meaning which is different from that of the term 'Absolute'. Hence confusion results if the two are identified. And in the interest of clarity, and of intellectual honesty, it is preferable to say that the Absolute is not 'God'. The MOQ agrees.
This point of view affects what Bradley has to say of religion. If we assume that for the religious consciousness God is a being distinct from the external world and the finite self, we can only conclude that this consciousness is involved in a self-contradiction. On the one hand it looks on God as the one true reality. And in this case God must be infinite. On the other hand it conceives God as distinct from the multiplicity of creatures and so as one being, even if the greatest, among many. And in this case God must be limited, finite. If, therefore, when we speak of religion, we are thinking of its concept of ultimate reality, we are compelled to conclude that it belongs to the sphere of appearance, and that, just as morality passes into religion, so does religion pass into the metaphysics of the Absolute. 'If you identify the Absolute with God, that is not the God of religion.... Short of the Absolute God cannot rest, and having reached that goal, he is lost and religion with him.'
There is, however, another point of view to which Bradley gives expression. The essence of religion he maintains is not knowledge. Nor is it feeling. 'Religion is rather the attempt to express the complete reality of goodness through every aspect of our being. In this sense the MOQ is a religion. And, so far as this goes, it is at once something more, and something higher, than philosophy.' The precise meaning of this definition of religion may not be immediately evident; but it is at any rate clear that there is no question of religion, as so defined, passing into metaphysics.
In the MOQ, in which goodness is central, this passage is made. Religion may still be appearance; but so is philosophy. And 'the completion of each is not to be found except in the Absolute'. It is obvious from what has been said that Bradley by no means has the desire of some of the earlier British idealists to use metaphysics to support the Christian religion. Nor does the MOQ. But it is equally obvious that he does not share He-
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gel's sublime confidence in the power of speculative philosophy. Nor does the MOQ.
In conclusion we can mention Bradley's passing suggestion of the need for a new religion and religious creed. He obviously does not think that metaphysics can justify Christianity, as Hegel thought that it could. Indeed, Bradley would doubtless think it misleading to apply the name of Christianity to 'absolute religion' as interpreted by Hegel. At the same time it might be possible to have 'a religious belief founded otherwise than on metaphysics, and a metaphysics able in some sense to justify that creed.... Though this fulfilment is a thing which I cannot myself expect to see and though the obstacles in the way are certainly great, on the other hand I cannot regard it as impossible.' I think that in time it will be seen that the MOQ fulfills this prophesy.
1 1. In the preface to Appearance and Reality Bradley quotes from his note-book the celebrated aphorism, 'metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct, but to find these reasons is no less an instinct'. This remark is clearly not intended as a flat denial of the view expressed in the same preface that 'the metaphysician cannot perhaps be too much in earnest with metaphysics', provided at any rate that he recognizes the limitations of metaphysics and does not exaggerate its importance. Bradley himself takes seriously his own contention that 'the chief need of English philosophy is, I think, a sceptical study of first principles . . . an attempt to become aware of and to doubt all preconceptions'. This element of scepticism, 'the result of labour and education', is represented by the dialectic of appearance, the critique of our ordinary ways of thought. At the same time the element of belief 'upon instinct' is represented by Bradley's explicit statement, to which reference has already been made, that metaphysics rests on a basic presupposition or assumption or initial act of faith, and by the whole doctrine of the Absolute as a completely self-coherent and comprehensive totality.
This element of belief 'upon instinct' occupies a prominent position in the development of Bradley's metaphysics. In the MOQ instinct is biological quality. Consider, for example, the theory of the transformation of appearances in the Absolute. The theory is not, of course eschatological in character. That is to say, Bradley is not sug-
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gesting that at some future apocalyptic date the phenomena which give rise to contradictions or antinomies will undergo a transformation. He maintains that they exist here and now in the Absolute otherwise than they appear to us to exist. The completely harmonious and all-inclusive experience which constitutes the Absolute is a present reality, not simply something which will come into being in the future. But Bradley does not profess to be able to tell us precisely in what this transformation consists. The MOQ takes takes the Oriental line, that it is a falling away of static patterns achievable by meditation or other disciplines. The Buddha also does not tell us precisely in what this transformation consists. He simply says “See for yourself.” What he does is to argue from possibility to actuality. We can show, for instance, that the transformation of error is not impossible. And if it is not impossible, it is possible. And if it is possible, it is an actual reality. 'For what is possible, and what a general principle compels us to say must be, that certainly is.'
The same holds good of the transformation of pain. 'That which is both possible and necessary we are bound to think real.' Similarly, of the transformation of moral evil Bradley remarks that 'if possible, then, as before, it is indubitably real'. Again, 'the "this" and "mine" are now absorbed as elements within our Absolute. For their resolution must be, and it may be, and so certainly is. And as a final example we can mention the transformation of finite centres of consciousness, which 'evidently is real, because on our principle it is necessary, and because again we have no reason to doubt that it is possible'.
An obvious objection to this line of argument is that we can hardly be said to know that the required transformation is possible, unless we are able to show how it can take place. How, for example, can we legitimately claim to know that finite centres of consciousness can exist as elements within one infinite absolute experience without any disharmony or 'contradiction', unless we are able to show how they can so exist? It is really not enough to say that nobody can prove the impossibility of our thesis. After all, there is very considerable difficulty, prima facie at least, in seeing how finite centres of consciousness can be said to exist as elements within one unified and harmonious experience. And the burden of proof lies on the shoulders of those who claim that it is possible rather than of those who say that it is not possible. You are never going to be able to prove the existence of that which lies beyond static patterns by piling on more static patterns to prove it. Copleston is saying that if isn’t on the menu then there isn’t any meal. The Buddha is saying, “Just eat.”
It may be said in reply that as Bradley believes both that
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reality is one infinite self-coherent and all-inclusive experience and that appearances are real, and not simply illusory, appearances, he must also believe that the required transformation of appearances is not only possible but also actual. This is quite true. The point is, however, that Bradley is forced to draw this conclusion only because of an initial assumption or presupposition or hypothesis about reality. The assumption is not proved by the dialectic of appearance. True, the elimination of substance, of the substantial, is skilfully used to suggest that all finite things are adjectival to one reality. But Bradley's criticism of substance is itself open to criticism. And in any case the fact, if it is a fact, that our ordinary ways of conceiving reality give rise to contradictions and antinomies does not of itself prove that reality is a selfcoherent whole. For reality might be precisely what the dialectic reveals it as being, namely incoherent. If we go on to assert that reality, as contrasted with appearance, is a selfcoherent totality, this is because we have already decided that reality must be of this nature. References to a primitive sentient experience of a 'felt totality' will not help us much. The idea of such an experience may indeed serve as an analogue for conceiving the Absolute, if we have already decided that there must be an Absolute. But it can hardly be said to prove that it is necessary to postulate the Absolute, as Bradley conceives it.
It is true that Bradley's line of thought can be presented in a plausible way. If we are going to try to understand reality at all, we must assume that reality is intelligible. Not true. Hence we must take it that the real is that which satisfies the demands of the intellect. An account of reality which is riddled with self-contradictions does not satisfy the intellect. We must therefore conclude that in reality, as contrasted with appearance, all contradictions are overcome. And in the end this means that we must accept the doctrine of a completely harmonious and all-inclusive totality, the Absolute.
Though, however, it is reasonable to claim that no account of reality which is riddled with contradictions can be accepted as true, it obviously does not follow that we have to accept Bradley's contention that all our ordinary and scientific ways of conceiving reality are in fact riddled with contra-
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dictions. True, concepts such as those of space, time and the self have for centuries provided philosophers with problems or puzzles. But we would probably not be inclined to acquiesce in the conclusion that the problems are insoluble on the ground that the concepts are inherently self-contradictory, unless we already believed that reality is different from what it appears to be.
Further, when Bradley makes statements about the Absolute, they are apt to cause no less difficulty than, say, the concept of an enduring self. For example, we are told that 'the Absolute has no history of its own, though it contains histories without number.... The Absolute has no seasons, but all at once it bears its leaves, fruit and blossoms.' Now if Bradley's Absolute were transcendent, we could understand the statement that it has no history of its own. But, in his view, the appearances of the Absolute are internal to it: it is nothing apart from them. Hence history, change, development are internal to it. Yet at the same time it 'has no seasons'. The thesis is, of course, that change is 'transformed' in the Absolute. But if it is so transformed that it is no longer what we call change, it is difficult to see how the Absolute can be said to contain histories without number. And if change is not so transformed as to be no longer change, it is difficult to see how the Absolute can be said to have no history. For, to repeat, it is its appearances.
The obvious answer to this line of criticism is that it is illegitimate to expect perfect self-coherence from metaphysics. For, given Bradley's interpretation of the shortcomings of human thought, it follows necessarily that any concept of the Absolute which we are capable of forming belongs itself to the sphere of appearance. Indeed, the whole of metaphysics is appearance. Nor does Bradley hesitate to admit this. As we have seen, he declares that philosophy, no less than religion, reaches its completion in the Absolute. That is to say, philosophy is an appearance which, as transformed, is included in the infinite experience which constitutes the Absolute but which transcends our grasp. It is no matter for surprise, therefore, if metaphysical statements themselves fail to attain an ideal standard of self-coherence.
This is true enough. But it simply adds point to the con-
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tention that in the long run Bradley's assertion of the Absolute rests on an initial act of faith. In the MOQ this objection is overcome. In the long run it is the 'must be' which is decisive. For Bradley's sceptical mind all constructions of human thought, including the metaphysics of the Absolute, must be relegated to the sphere of appearance. He allows indeed for degrees of truth. And he is convinced that the metaphysics of the Absolute in truer than, say, a concept of reality as consisting of many separate things linked by relations. But this does not alter the fact that speculative philosophy is appearance, and not identical with absolute experience. As has been already noted, Bradley does not share Hegel's confident 'rationalism'. Hence we can say that his scepticism extends even to metaphysics, as is indeed suggested by the aphorism quoted at the beginning of this section. This scepticism is combined, however, with a firm belief that reality in itself, transcending our powers of comprehension, is a comprehensive, completely harmonious totality, an all-embracing perfectly self-coherent eternal experience.
It is not altogether surprising if contemporary British philosophers, when writing on Bradley, have tended to concentrate on the puzzles which he raises in regard to our ordinary ways of thought and to pass over his doctrine of the Absolute in a rather cursory manner. One reason for this is that the logical puzzles raised by Bradley can often be treated on their own, without reference to any act of faith in the One, and that they are in principle capable of being definitely solved. For example, in order to decide whether it is true to say that space cannot be and at the same time must be a relation or set of relations, it is not necessary to discuss the transformation of space in the Absolute. What we need in the first place is to clarify the meaning or meanings of 'space'. Again, if we take Bradley's thesis that the concept of relation is self-contradictory, as on the one hand all relations make a difference to their terms and so must be internal to them, while on the other hand they must in some sense fall between and connect their terms and so be external to them, we have a problem which we can hope to solve, provided that we are prepared for the requisite clarificatory analysis. We can understand what is meant by Bradley's thesis and what questions
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have to be answered in order to decide whether or not it is true.
At the same time we obviously miss what one might call the essential Bradley, if we use Appearance and Reality simply as a quarry for detached logical puzzles. For the philosopher is clearly a man who is possessed by the idea of the Absolute, of a completely self-consistent and all-inclusive whole. And it is easy to understand how his philosophy has been able to arouse the interest of Indian thinkers who have not abandoned the native traditions of Hindu speculation, and of some Western philosophers who have an initial sympathy with this line of speculation. For there is at any rate some affinity between Bradley's theory of speculation and the Indian doctrine of Maya, the phenomenal world which veils the one true reality. Not just affinity, but identity. Obviously, both Bradley and the Indian philosophers in question are faced with the same difficulty, namely that every concept which we can form of ultimate reality must itself belong to the sphere of appearance. But their initial 'visions' are similar, and it is a vision which can exercise a powerful attraction on some minds. Perhaps what we need is a serious inquiry into the bases of this vision or initial inspiration, an inquiry which is not dominated by the a priori assumption that what Bradley speaks of as a presupposition or act of faith must be devoid of objective value. It is an inquiry which possesses considerable importance in regard to the foundations of speculative metaphysics. I think what Copleston is asking for here is precisely what the MOQ provides. As was stated in ZMM there was a time many years ago when I looked through the pantheon of philosophers for resemblances to the MOQ. Since Bradley was always classified as an idealist, it did not seem important to investigate him thoroughly because the MOQ rejects the metaphysical assertion that the fundamental reality of the world is idea.
But the description of Bradley as an idealist is completely incorrect. Bradley’s fundamental assertion is that the reality of the world is intellectually unknowable, and that defines him as a mystic.
So It has really been a shock to see how close Bradley is to the MOQ. Both he and the MOQ are expressing what Aldous Huxley called "The Perennial Philosophy," which is perennial, I believe, because it happens to be true. Bradley has given an excellent description of what the MOQ calls Dynamic Quality and an excellent rational justification for its intellectual acceptance. It and the MOQ can be spliced together with no difficulty into a broader explanation of the same thing.
A singular difference is that the MOQ says the Absolute is of value, a point Bradley may have thought so obvious it didn't need mentioning. The MOQ says that this value is not a property of the Absolute, it is the Absolute itself, and is a much better name for the Absolute than "Absolute." Rhetorically, the word "absolute" conveys nothing except rigidity and permanence and authoritarianism and remoteness. "Quality," on the other hand conveys flexibility, impermanence, here-and-now-ness and freedom. And it is a word everyone knows and loves and understands—even butcher shops that take pride in their product. Beyond that the term, “value,” paves the way for an explanation of evolution that did not occur to Bradley. He apparently avoided discussing the world of appearances except to emphasize the need to transcend it. The MOQ returns to this world of appearances and shows how to understand these appearances in a more constructive way.