Essays in Radical Empiricism - William James

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Essays in Radical Empiricism

by William James (1842-1910) American Philosopher & Psychologist, Founder of Pragmatism

Here follows the (almost) complete work of William James' Essays in Radical 
Empiricism, transcribed by Phillip McReynolds. [ Not included is the last 
chapter, "La Notion de Conscience," since the chapter is completely in 
French and I could not be bothered to type it in at present. I will 
probably scan it in sooner or later and am working on a translation. 
Expect updates accordingly.] 
Page numbers are from the Longmans, Green and Co. edition of Essays in 
Radical Empiricism and A Pluralistic Universe in one volume, published 
in 1943. Underscores bewteen words indicate italics in the original. 
To the best of my knowledge this work is now in the public domain as it 
was copyrighted 1912 by Henry James, who died in 1916. 
There are probably mistakes here. If you let me know about them, I'll 
attempt to correct them. In any case, no warranty is issued 
as to the correctness or completeness of this work nor 
concerning its suitability to any purpose whatsoever. If you accept 
these conditions you may freely use and distribute this transcription as 
you like, provided that you don't try to sell it or otherwise make a 
profit off of my work. 
Phillip McReynolds 

[Table of Contents] 
'THOUGHTS' and 'things' are names for two 
sorts of object, which common sense will always 
find contrasted and will always practically 
oppose to each other. Philosophy, reflecting 
on the contrast, has varied in the 
past in her explanations of it, and may be 
expected to vary in the future. At first, 
'spirit and matter,' 'soul and body,' stood for 
a pair of equipollent substances quite on a par 
in weight and interest. But one day Kant undermined 
the soul and brought in the transcendental 
ego, and ever since then the bipolar 
relation has been very much off its balance. 
The transcendental ego seems nowadays in 
rationalist quarters to stand for everything, in 
empiricist quarters for almost nothing. In the 
hands of such writers as Schuppe, Rehmke, 
Natorp, Munsterberg -- at any rate in his 
earlier writings, Schubert-Soldern and others, 
the spiritual principle attenuates itself to a 
thoroughly ghostly condition, being only a 
name for the fact that the 'content' of experience 
_is_known_. It loses personal form and activity 
-- these passing over to the content -- 
and becomes a bare _Bewusstheit_ or _Bewusstsein_ 
_uberhaupt_ of which in its own right absolutely 
nothing can be said. 
I believe that 'consciousness,' when once it 
has evaporated to this estate of pure diaphaneity, 
is on the point of disappearing altogether. 
It is the name of a nonentity, and has no right 
to a place among first principles. Those who 
still cling to it are clinging to a mere echo, the 
faint rumor left behind by the disappearing 
'soul' upon the air of philosophy. During the 
past year, I have read a number of articles 
whose authors seemed just on the point of abandoning 
the notion of consciousness,(1) and substituting 
for it that of an absolute experience 
not due to two factors. But they were not 
1 Articles by Bawden, King, Alexander, and others. Dr. Perry is 
frankly over the border 
quite radical enough, not quite daring enough 
in their negations. For twenty years past I 
have mistrusted 'consciousness' as an entity; 
for seven or eight years past I have suggested 
its non-existence to my students, and tried to 
give them its pragmatic equivalent in realities 
of experience. It seems to me that the hour 
is ripe for it to be openly and universally discarded. 
To deny plumply that 'consciousness' exists 
seems so absurd on the face of it -- for undeniably 
'thoughts' do exist -- that I fear some 
readers will follow me no farther. Let me then 
immediately explain that I mean only to deny 
that the word stands for an entity, but to insist 
most emphatically that it does stand for a 
function. There is, I mean, no aboriginal stuff 
or quality of being, contrasted with that of 
which material objects are made, out of which 
our thoughts of them are made; but there is a 
function in experience which thoughts perform, 
and for the performance of which this 
quality of being is invoked. That function is 
_knowing_. 'Consciousness' is supposed necessary 
to explain the fact that things not only 
are, but get reported, are known. Whoever 
blots out the notion of consciousness from his 
list of first principles must still provide in some 
way for that function's being carried on. 
My thesis is that if we start with the supposition 
that there is only one primal stuff or 
material in the world, a stuff of which everything 
is composed, and if we call that stuff 
'pure experience,' the knowing can easily be 
explained as a particular sort of relation 
towards one another into which portions of 
pure experience may enter. The relation itself 
is a part of pure experience; one if its 'terms' 
becomes the subject or bearer of the knowledge, 
the knower,(1) the other becomes the object 
known. This will need much explanation 
before it can be understood. The best way to 
1 In my _Psychology_ I have tried to show that we need no knower 
other than the 'passing thought.' [_Principles of Psychology, vol. I, 
pp. 338 ff.] 
get it understood is to contrast it with the alternative 
view; and for that we may take the 
recentest alternative, that in which the evaporation 
of the definite soul-substance has proceeded 
as far as it can go without being yet 
complete. If neo-Kantism has expelled earlier 
forms of dualism, we shall have expelled all 
forms if we are able to expel neo-kantism in its 
For the thinkers I call neo-Kantian, the word 
consciousness to-day does no more than signalize 
the fact that experience is indefeasibly dualistic 
in structure. It means that not subject, 
not object, but object-plus-subject is the minimum 
that can actually be. The subject-object 
distinction meanwhile is entirely different from 
that between mind and matter, from that between 
body and soul. Souls were detachable, 
had separate destinies; things could happen to 
them. To consciousness as such nothing can 
happen, for, timeless itself, it is only a witness 
of happenings in time, in which it plays no 
part. It is, in a word, but the logical correlative 
of 'content' in an Experience of which the 
peculiarity is that _fact_comes_to_light_ in it, that 
_awareness_of_content_ takes place. Consciousness 
as such is entirely impersonal -- 'self' and its 
activities belong to the content. To say that I 
am self-conscious, or conscious of putting forth 
volition, means only that certain contents, for 
which 'self' and 'effort of will' are the names, 
are not without witness as they occur. 
Thus, for these belated drinkers at the Kantian 
spring, we should have to admit consciousness 
as an 'epistemological' necessity, even if 
we had no direct evidence of its being there. 
But in addition to this, we are supposed by 
almost every one to have an immediate consciousness 
of consciousness itself. When the 
world of outer fact ceases to be materially present, 
and we merely recall it in memory, or 
fancy it, the consciousness is believed to stand 
out and to be felt as a kind of impalpable inner 
flowing, which, once known in this sort of experience, 
may equally be detected in presentations 
of the outer world. "The moment we try 
to fix out attention upon consciousness and to 
see _what_, distinctly, it is," says a recent writer, 
"it seems to vanish. It seems as if we had before 
us a mere emptiness. When we try to introspect 
the sensation of blue, all we can see is 
the blue; the other element is as if it were diaphanous. 
Yet it _can_ be distinguished, if we 
look attentively enough, and know that there 
is something to look for."(1) "Consciousness" 
(Bewusstheit), says another philosopher, "is 
inexplicable and hardly describable, yet all conscious 
experiences have this in common that 
what we call their content has a peculiar reference 
to a centre for which 'self' is the name, 
in virtue of which reference alone the content 
is subjectively given, or appears.... While 
in this way consciousness, or reference to a 
self, is the only thing which distinguishes a conscious 
content from any sort of being that 
might be there with no one conscious of it, yet 
this only ground of the distinction defies all 
closer explanations. The existence of consciousness, 
although it is the fundamental fact of 
psychology, can indeed be laid down as certain, 
can be brought out by analysis, but can 
1 G.E. Moore: _Mind_, vol. XII, N.S., [1903], p.450. 
neither be defined nor deduced from anything 
but itself."(1) 
'Can be brought out by analysis,' this 
author says. This supposes that the consciousness 
is one element, moment, factor -- call it 
what you like -- of an experience of essentially 
dualistic inner constitution, from which, if you 
abstract the content, the consciousness will remain 
revealed to its own eye. Experience, at 
this rate, would be much like a paint of which 
the world pictures were made. Paint has a dual 
constitution, involving, as it does, a menstruum (2) 
(oil, size or what not) and a mass of 
content in the form of pigment suspended 
therein. We can get the pure menstruum by 
letting the pigment settle, and the pure pigment 
by pouring off the size or oil. We operate 
here by physical subtraction; and the usual 
view is, that by mental subtraction we can 
separate the two factors of experience in an 
1 Paul Natorp: _Einleitung_in_die_Psychologie_, 1888, pp. 14, 112. 
2 "Figuratively speaking, consciousness may be said to be the one 
universal solvent, or menstruum, in which the different concrete kinds 
of psychic acts and facts are contained, whether in concealed or in 
obvious form." G.T.Ladd: _Psychology,_Descriptive_and_Explanatory_, 
1894, p.30. 
analogous way -- not isolating them entirely, 
but distinguishing them enough to know that 
they are two. 
Now my contention is exactly the reverse of 
this. _Experience,_I_believe,_has_no_such_inner_duplicity;_ 
_but_by_way_of_addition_ -- the addition, to a 
given concrete piece of it, other sets of experiences, 
in connection with which severally its 
use or function may be of two different kinds. 
The paint will also serve here as an illustration. 
In a pot in a paint-shop, along with other 
paints, it serves in its entirety as so much saleable 
matter. Spread on a canvas, with other 
paints around it, it represents, on the contrary, 
a feature in a picture and performs a spiritual 
function. Just so, I maintain, does a given undivided 
portion of experience, taken in one 
context of associates, play the part of a knower, 
of a state of mind, of 'consciousness'; while in 
a different context the same undivided bit of 
experience plays the part of a thing known, of 
an objective 'content.' In a word, in one group 
it figures as a thought, in another group as a 
thing. And, since it can figure in both groups 
simultaneously we have every right to speak of 
it as subjective and objective, both at once. 
The dualism connoted by such double-barrelled 
terms as 'experience,' 'phenomenon,' 
'datum,' '_Vorfindung_' -- terms which, in philosophy 
at any rate, tend more and more to replace 
the single-barrelled terms of 'thought' 
and 'thing' -- that dualism, I say, is still preserved 
in this account, but reinterpreted, so 
that, instead of being mysterious and elusive, 
it becomes verifiable and concrete. It is an affair 
of relations, it falls outside, not inside, the 
single experience considered, and can always 
be particularized and defined. 
The entering wedge for this more concrete 
way of understanding the dualism was fashioned 
by Locke when he made the word 'idea' 
stand indifferently for thing and thought, and 
by Berkeley when he said that what common 
sense means by realities is exactly what the 
philosopher means by ideas. Neither Locke 
nor Berkeley thought his truth out into perfect 
clearness, but it seems to me that the conception 
I am defending does little more than consistently 
carry out the 'pragmatic' method 
which they were the first to use. 
If the reader will take his own experiences, 
he will see what I mean. Let him begin with a 
perceptual experience, the 'presentation,' so 
called, of a physical object, his actual field of 
vision, the room he sits in, with the book he is 
reading as its centre; and let him for the present 
treat this complex object in the common- 
sense way as being 'really' what it seems to be, 
namely, a collection of physical things cut out 
from an environing world of other physical 
things with which these physical things have 
actual or potential relations. Now at the same 
time it is just _those_self-same_things_ which his 
mind, as we say, perceives; and the whole philosophy 
of perception from Democritus's time 
downwards has just been one long wrangle over 
the paradox that what is evidently one reality 
should be in two places at once, both in outer 
space and in a person's mind. 'Representative' 
theories of perception avoid the logical 
paradox, but on the other hand the violate the 
reader's sense of life, which knows no intervening 
mental image but seems to see the room 
and the book immediately just as they physically 
The puzzle of how the one identical room can 
be in two places is at bottom just the puzzle of 
how one identical point can be on two lines. It 
can, if it be situated at their intersection; and 
similarly, if the 'pure experience' of the room 
were a place of intersection of two processes, 
which connected it with different groups of associates 
respectively, it could be counted twice 
over, as belonging to either group, and spoken 
of loosely as existing in two places, although it 
would remain all the time a numerically single 
Well, the experience is a member of diverse 
processes that can be followed away from it 
along entirely different lines. The one self- 
identical thing has so many relations to the 
rest of experience that you can take it in disparate 
systems of association, and treat it as 
belonging with opposite contexts. In one of 
these contexts it is your 'field of consciousness'; 
in another it is 'the room in which you 
sit,' and it enters both contexts in its wholeness, 
giving no pretext for being said to attach 
itself to consciousness by one of its parts or 
aspects, and to out reality by another. What 
are the two processes, now, into which the 
room-experience simultaneously enters in this 
One of them is the reader's personal biography, 
the other is the history of the house of 
which the room is part. The presentation, the 
experience, the _that_ in short (for until we have 
decided _what_ it is it must be a mere _that_) is the 
last term in a train of sensations, emotions, 
decisions, movements, classifications, expectations, 
etc., ending in the present, and the first 
term in a series of 'inner' operations 
extending into the future, on the reader's 
part. On the other hand, the very same _that_ 
is the _terminus_ad_quem_ of a lot of previous 
physical operations, carpentering, papering, 
furnishing, warming, etc., and the _terminus_a_ 
_quo_ of a lot of future ones, in which it will be 
concerned when undergoing the destiny of a 
physical room. The physical and the mental 
operations form curiously incompatible groups. 
As a room, the experience has occupied that 
spot and had that environment for thirty 
years. As your field of consciousness it may 
never have existed until now. As a room, attention 
will go on to discover endless new details 
in it. As your mental state merely, few 
new ones will emerge under attention's eye. 
AS a room, it will taken an earthquake, or a 
gang of men, and in any case a certain amount 
of time, to destroy it. As your subjective 
state, the closing of your eyes, or any instantaneous 
play of your fancy will suffice. IN the 
real world, fire will consume it. IN your mind, 
you can let fire play over it without effect. As 
an outer object, you must pay so much a 
month to inhabit it. As an inner content, you 
may occupy it for any length of time rent-free. 
If, in short, you follow it in the mental direction, 
taking it along with events of personal 
biography solely, all sorts of things are true 
of it which are false, and false of it which are 
true if you treat it as a real thing experienced, 
follow it in the physical direction, and relate it 
to associates in the outer world. 
So far, all seems plain sailing, but my thesis 
will probably grow less plausible to the reader 
when I pass form percepts to concepts, or from 
the case of things presented to that of things 
remote. I believe, nevertheless, that here also 
the same law holds good. If we take conceptual 
manifolds, or memories, or fancies, they 
also are in their first intention mere bits 
of pure experience, and, as such, are single _thats_ 
which act in one context as objects, and in another 
context figure as mental states. By taking 
them in their first intention, I mean ignoring 
their relation to possible perceptual experiences 
with which they may be connected, 
which they may lead to and terminate in, and 
which then they may be supposed to 'represent.' 
Taking them in this way first, we confine 
the problem to a world merely 'thought- 
of' and not directly felt or seen. This world, 
just like the world of percepts, comes to us at 
first as a chaos of experiences, but lines of order 
soon get traced. We find that any bit of it 
which we may cut out as an example is connected 
with distinct groups of associates, just 
as our perceptual experiences are, that these 
associates link themselves with it by different 
relations,(2) and that one forms the inner history 
of a person, while the other acts as an impersonal 
'objective' world, either spatial and temporal, 
or else merely logical or mathematical, 
or otherwise 'ideal.' 
The first obstacle on the part of the reader to 
seeing that these non-perceptual experiences 
2 Here as elsewhere the relations are of course _experienced_ 
relations, members of the same originally chaotic manifold of non- 
perceptual experience of which the related terms themselves are 
have objectivity as well as subjectivity will 
probably be due to the intrusion into his mind 
of _percepts_, that third group of associates with 
which the non-perceptual experiences have relations, 
and which, as a whole, they 'represent,' 
standing to them as thoughts to things. This 
important function of non-perceptual experiences 
complicates the question and confuses 
it; for, so used are we to treat percepts as 
the sole genuine realities that, unless we keep 
them out of the discussion, we tend altogether 
to overlook the objectivity that lies in non- 
perceptual experiences by themselves. We 
treat them, 'knowing' percepts as they do, as 
through and through subjective, and say that 
they are wholly constituted of the stuff called 
consciousness, using this term now for a kind 
of entity, after the fashion which I am seeking 
to refute.(1) 
Abstracting, then, from percepts altogether, 
what I maintain is, that any single non-perceptual 
1 Of the representative functions of non-perceptual experience as a 
whole, I will say a word in a subsequent article; it leads too far into 
the general theory of knowledge for much to be said about it in a short 
paper like this. 
experience tends to get counted twice 
over, just as a perceptual experience does, figuring 
in one context as an object or field of objects, 
in another as a state of mind: and all this 
without the least internal self-diremption on its 
own part into consciousness and content. It is 
all consciousness in one taking; and, in the 
other, all content. 
I find this objectivity of non-perceptual experiences, 
this complete parallelism in point of 
reality between the presently felt and the remotely 
thought, so well set forth in a page of 
Munsterberg's _Grundzuge_, that I will quote it 
as it stands. 
"I may only think of my objects," says Professor 
Munsterberg; "yet, in my living thought 
they stand before me exactly as perceived objects 
would do, no matter how different the two 
ways of apprehending them may be in their 
genesis. The book here lying on the table before 
me, and the book in the next room of which I 
think and which I mean to get, are both in the 
same sense given realities for me, realities 
which I acknowledge and of which I take account. 
If you agree that the perceptual object 
is not an idea within me, but that percept and 
thing, as indistinguishably one, are really experienced 
_there_, _outside_, you ought not to believe 
that the merely thought-of object is hid away 
inside of the thinking subject. The object of 
which I think, and of whose existence I take 
cognizance without letting it now work upon 
my senses, occupies its definite place in the 
outer world as much as does the object which I 
directly see." 
"What is true of the here and the there, is 
also true of the now and the then. I know of 
the thing which is present and perceived, but I 
know also of the thing which yesterday was 
but is no more, and which I only remember. 
Both can determine my present conduct, both 
are parts of the reality of which I keep account. 
It is true that of much of the past I am uncertain, 
just as I am uncertain of much of what 
is present if it be but dimly perceived. But the 
interval of time does not in principle alter my 
relation to the object, does not transform it 
from an object known into a mental state.... 
The things in the room here which I survey, 
and those in my distant home of which I think, 
the things of this minute and those of my long- 
vanished boyhood, influence and decide me 
alike, with a reality which my experience of 
them directly feels. They both make up my 
real world, they make it directly, they do not 
have first to be introduced to me and mediated 
by ideas which now and here arise 
within me.... This not-me character 
of my recollections and expectations does not 
imply that the external objects of which I am 
aware in those experiences should necessarily 
be there also for others. The objects of dreamers 
and hallucinated persons are wholly without 
general validity. But even were they centaurs 
and golden mountains, they still would 
be 'off there,' in fairy land, and not 'inside' of 
This certainly is the immediate, primary, 
naif, or practical way of taking our thought-of 
world. Were there no perceptual world to 
serve as its 'reductive,' in Taine's sense, by 
1 Munsterberg: _Grundzuge_der_Psychologie_, vol. I, p. 48. 
being 'stronger' and more genuinely 'outer' 
(so that the whole merely thought-of world 
seems weak and inner in comparison), our 
world of thought would be the only world, and 
would enjoy complete reality in our belief. 
This actually happens in our dreams, and in 
our day-dreams so long as percepts do not 
interrupt them. 
And yet, just as the seen room (to go back to 
our late example) is _also_ a field of consciousness, 
so the conceived or recollected room is 
_also_ a state of mind; and the doubling-up of the 
experience has in both cases similar grounds. 
The room thought-of, namely, has many 
thought-of couplings with many thought-of 
things. Some of these couplings are inconstant, 
others are stable. In the reader's personal history 
the room occupies a single date -- he saw 
it only once perhaps, a year ago. Of the house's 
history, on the other hand, it forms a permanent 
ingredient. Some couplings have the curious 
stubbornness, to borrow Royce's term, of 
fact; others show the fluidity of fancy -- we let 
them come and go as we please. Grouped with 
the rest of its house, with the name of its town, 
of its owner, builder, value, decorative plan, 
the room maintains a definite foothold, to 
which, if we try to loosen it, it tends to return 
and to reassert itself with force.(1) With these 
associates, in a word, it coheres, while to other 
houses, other towns, other owners, etc., it shows 
no tendency to cohere at all. The two collections, 
first of its cohesive, and, second, of its 
loose associates, inevitably come to be contrasted. 
We call the first collection the system 
of external realities, in the midst of which the 
room, as 'real,' exists; the other we call the 
stream of internal thinking, in which, as a 
'mental image,' it for a moment floats.(2) The 
room thus again gets counted twice over. It 
plays two different roles, being _Gedanke_ and 
_Gedachtes_, the thought-of-an-object, and the 
object-thought-of, both in one; and all this 
without paradox or mystery, just as the same 
1 Cf. A.L. Hodder: _The_Adversaries_of_the_Sceptic_, pp.94-99. 
2 For simplicity's sake I confine my exposition to 'external' 
reality. But there is also the system of ideal reality in which the 
room plays its part. Relations of comparison, of classification, 
serial order, value, also are stubborn, assign a definite place to the 
room, unlike the incoherence of its places in the mere rhapsody of our 
successive thoughts. 
material thing may be both low and high, or 
small and great, or bad and good, because of its 
relations to opposite parts of an environing 
As 'subjective' we say that the experience 
represents; as 'objective' it is represented. 
What represents and what is represented is here 
numerically the same; but we must remember 
that no dualism of being represented and representing 
resides in the experience _per_se_. In 
its pure state, or when isolated, there is no self- 
splitting of it into consciousness and what the 
consciousness is 'of.' Its subjectivity and objectivity 
are functional attributes solely, , realized 
only when the experience is 'take,' i.e., 
talked-of, twice, considered along with its two 
differing contexts respectively, by a new retrospective 
experience, of which that whole past 
complication now forms the fresh content. 
The instant field of the present is at all times 
what I call the 'pure' experience. It is only 
virtually or potentially either object or subject 
as yet. For the time being, it is plain, unqualified 
actuality, or existence, a simple _that_. In this 
_naif_ immediacy it is of course _valid_; it is _there_, 
we _act_ upon it; and the doubling of it in retrospection 
into a state of mind and a reality intended 
thereby, is just one of the acts. The 
'state of mind,' first treated explicitly as such 
in retrospection, will stand corrected or confirmed, 
and the retrospective experience in its 
turn will get a similar treatment; but the immediate 
experience in its passing is always 
'truth,'(1) practical truth, _something_to_act_on_, at 
its own movement. If the world were then and 
there to go out like a candle, it would remain 
truth absolute and objective, for it would be 
'the last word,' would have no critic, and no 
one would ever oppose the thought in it to the 
reality intended.(2) 
I think I may now claim to have made my 
1 Note the ambiguity of this term, which is taken sometimes 
objectively and sometimes subjectively. 
2 In the _Psychological_Review_ for July [1904], Dr. R.B.Perry has 
published a view of Consciousness which comes nearer to mine than any 
other with which I am acquainted. At present, Dr. Perry thinks, every 
field of experience is so much 'fact.' It becomes 'opinion' or 
'thought' only in retrospection, when a fresh experience, thinking the 
same object, alters and corrects it. But the corrective experience 
becomes itself in turn corrected, and thus the experience as a whole is 
a process in which what is objective originally forever turns 
subjective, turns into our apprehension of the object. I strongly 
recommend Dr. Perry's admirable article to my readers. 
thesis clear. Consciousness connotes a kind of 
external relation, and does not denote a special 
stuff or way of being. _The_peculiarity_of_our_experiences,_ 
Were I now to go on to treat of the knowing 
of perceptual by conceptual experiences, it 
would again prove to be an affair of external 
relations. One experience would be the knower, 
the other the reality known; and I could 
perfectly well define, without the notion of 
'consciousness,' what the knowing actually 
and practically amounts to -- leading-towards, 
namely, and terminating-in percepts, through 
a series of transitional experiences which the 
world supplies. But I will not treat of this, 
space being insufficient.(1) I will rather consider 
1 I have given a partial account of the matter in _Mind_, vol. X, p. 
27, 1885, and in the _Psychological_Review_, vol. II, p. 105, 1895. See 
also C.A. Strong's article in the 
_Journal_of_Philosophy,_Psychology_and_Scientific_Methods_, vol I, p. 
253, May 12, 1904. I hope myself very soon to recur to the matter. 
a few objections that are sure to be urged 
against the entire theory as it stands. 
First of all, this will be asked: "If experience 
has not 'conscious' existence, if it be not 
partly made of 'consciousness,' of what then 
is it made? Matter we know, and thought we 
know, and conscious content we know, but 
neutral and simple 'pure experience' is something 
we know not at all. Say _what_ it consists 
of -- for it must consist of something -- or be 
willing to give it up!" 
To this challenge the reply is easy. Although 
for fluency's sake I myself spoke early in this 
article of a stuff of pure experience, I have now 
to say that there is no _general_ stuff of which experience 
at large is made. There are as many 
stuffs as there are 'natures' in the things experienced. 
If you ask what any one bit of pure 
experience is made of, the answer is always the 
same: "It is made of _that_, of just what appears, 
of space, of intensity, of flatness, brownness, 
heaviness, or what not." Shadworth Hodgson's 
analysis here leaves nothing to be desired.(1) 
Experience is only a collective name 
for all these sensible natures, and save for time 
and space (and, if you like, for 'being') there 
appears no universal element of which all 
things are made. 
The next objection is more formidable, in 
fact it sounds quite crushing when one hears 
it first. 
"If it be the self-same piece of pure experience, 
taken twice over, that serves now as thought and now as thing" -- so the 
objection runs -- "how comes it that its attributes 
should differ so fundamentally in the two takings. 
As thing, the experience is extended; as 
thought, it occupies no space or place. As 
thing, it is red, hard, heavy; but who ever heard 
of a red, hard or heavy thought? Yet even 
now you said that an experience is made of 
just what appears, and what appears is just 
such adjectives. How can the one experience 
in its thing-function be made of them, consist 
of them, carry them as its own attributes, while 
in its thought-function it disowns them and 
attributes them elsewhere. There is a self-contradiction 
here from which the radical dualism 
of thought and thing is the only truth that can 
save us. Only if the thought is one kind of 
being can the adjectives exist in it 'intentionally' 
(to use the scholastic term); only if the 
thing is another kind, can they exist in it constituitively 
and energetically. No simple subject 
can take the same adjectives and at one 
time be qualified by it, and at another time be 
merely 'of' it, as of something only meant or 
The solution insisted on by this objector, like 
many other common-sense solutions, grows 
the less satisfactory the more one turns it in 
one's mind. To begin with, _are_ thought and 
thing as heterogeneous as is commonly said? 
No one denies that they have some categories 
in common. Their relations to time are identical. 
Both, moreover, may have parts (for 
psychologists n general treat thoughts as having 
them); and both may be complex or simple. 
Both are of kinds, can be compared, added and 
subtracted and arranged in serial orders. All 
sorts of adjectives qualify our thoughts which 
appear incompatible with consciousness, being 
as such a bare diaphaneity. For instance, they 
are natural and easy, or laborious. They are 
beautiful, happy, intense, interesting, wise, 
idiotic, focal, marginal, insipid, confused, 
vague, precise, rational, causal, general, particular, 
and many things besides. Moreover, 
the chapters on 'Perception' in the psychology- 
books are full of facts that make for the 
essential homogeneity of thought with thing. 
How, if 'subject' and 'object' were separated 
'by the whole diameter of being,' and had no 
attributes and common, could it be so hard to 
tell, in a presented and recognized material 
object, what part comes in thought the sense- 
organs and what part comes 'out of one's own 
head'? Sensations and apperceptive ideas fuse 
here so intimately that you can no more tell 
where one begins and the other ends, than you 
can tell, in those cunning circular panoramas 
that have lately been exhibited, where the real 
foreground and the painted canvas join together.(1) 
Descartes for the first time defined thought 
as the absolutely unextended, and later philosophers 
have accepted the description as correct. 
But what possible meaning has it to say 
that, when we think of a foot-rule or a square 
yard, extension is not attributable to our 
thought? Of every extended object the _adequate_ 
mental picture must have all the extension 
of the object itself. The difference between 
objective and subjective extension is 
one of relation to a context solely. In the mind 
the various extents maintain no necessarily 
stubborn order relatively to each other, while 
1 Spencer's proof of his 'Transfigured Realism' (his doctrine that 
there is an absolutely non-mental reality) comes to mind as a splendid 
instance of the impossibility of establishing radical heterogeneity 
between thought and thing. All his painfully accumulated points of 
difference run gradually into their opposites, and are full of 
in the physical world they bound each other 
stably, and, added together, make the great 
enveloping Unit which we believe in and call 
real Space. As 'outer,' they carry themselves 
adversely, so to speak, to one another, exclude 
one another and maintain their distances; 
while, as 'inner,' their order is loose, and they 
form a _durcheinander_ in which unity is lost.(1) 
But to argue from this that inner experience is 
absolutely inextensive seems to me little short 
of absurd. The two worlds differ, not by the 
presence or absence of extension, but by the 
relations of the extensions which in both 
worlds exist. 
Does not this case of extension now put us 
on the track of truth in the case of other qualities? 
It does; and I am surprised that the facts 
should not have been noticed long ago. Why, 
for example, do we call a fire hot, and water 
wet, and yet refuse to say that our mental 
state, when it is 'of' these objects, is either wet 
or hot? 'Intentionally,' at any rate, and when 
the mental state is a vivid image, hotness and 
wetness are in it just as much as they are in the 
physical experience. The reason is this, that, 
as the general chaos of all our experiences gets 
sifted, we find that there are some fires that 
will always burn sticks and always warm our 
bodies, and that there are some waters that 
will always put out fires; while there are other 
fires and waters that will not act at all. The 
general group of experiences that _act_, that do 
not only possess their natures intrinsically, but 
wear them adjectively and energetically, turning 
them against one another, comes inevitably 
to be contrasted with the group whose members, 
having identically the same natures, fail 
to manifest them in the 'energetic' way.(1) I 
make for myself now an experience of blazing 
fire; I place it near my body; but it does not 
warm me in the least. I lay a stick upon it, and 
the stick either burns or remains green, as I 
please. I call up water, and pour it on the fire, 
and absolutely no difference ensues. I account 
for all such facts by calling this whole train 
of experiences unreal, a mental train. Mental 
fire is what won't burn real sticks; mental water 
is what won't necessarily (though of course 
it may) put out even a mental fire. Mental 
knives may be sharp, but they won't cut real 
wood. Mental triangles are pointed, but their 
points won't wound. With 'real' objects, on 
the contrary, consequences always accrue; and 
thus the real experiences get sifted from the 
mental ones, the things from out thoughts of 
them, fanciful or true, and precipitated together 
as the stable part of the whole experience- 
chaos, under the name of the physical 
world. Of this our perceptual experiences are 
the nucleus, they being the originally _strong_ 
experiences. We add a lot of conceptual experiences 
to them, making these strong also in 
imagination, and building out the remoter 
parts of the physical world by their means; 
and around this core of reality the world 
of laxly connected fancies and mere rhapsodical 
objects floats like a bank of clouds. 
In the clouds, all sorts of rules are violated 
which in the core are kept. Extensions there 
can be indefinitely located; motion there obeys 
no Newton's laws. 
There is a peculiar class of experience to 
which, whether we take them as subjective or 
as objective, we _assign their several natures as 
attributes, because in both contexts they affect 
their associates actively, though in neither 
quite as 'strongly' or as sharply as things affect 
one another by their physical energies. I 
refer here to _appreciations_, which form an ambiguous 
sphere of being, belonging with emotion 
on the one hand, and having objective 'value' 
on the other, yet seeming not quite inner nor 
quite outer, as if a diremption had begun but 
had not made itself complete. 
Experiences of painful objects, for example, 
are usually also painful experiences; perceptions 
of loveliness, of ugliness, tend to pass 
muster as lovely or as ugly perceptions; intuitions 
of the morally lofty are lofty intuitions. 
Sometimes the adjective wanders as if uncertain 
where to fix itself. Shall we speak of 
seductive visions or of visions of seductive 
things? Of healthy thoughts or of thoughts 
of healthy objects? Of good impulses, or of 
impulses towards the good? Of feelings of 
anger, or of angry feelings? Both in the mind 
and in the thing, these natures modify their 
context, exclude certain associates and determine 
others, have their mates and incompatibles. 
Yet not as stubbornly as in the case of 
physical qualities, for beauty and ugliness, 
love and hatred, pleasant and painful can, in 
certain complex experiences, coexist. 
If one were to make an evolutionary construction 
of how a lot of originally chaotic pure 
experience became gradually differentiated 
into an orderly inner and outer world, the 
whole theory would turn upon one's success in 
explaining how or why the quality of an experience, 
once active, could become less so, and, 
from being an energetic attribute in some 
cases, elsewhere lapse into the status of an 
inert or merely internal 'nature.' This would 
be the 'evolution' of the psychical from the 
bosom of the physical, in which the esthetic, 
moral and otherwise emotional experiences 
would represent a halfway stage. 
But a last cry of _non_possumus_ will probably 
go up from many readers. "All very pretty as 
a piece of ingenuity," they will say, "but our 
consciousness itself intuitively contradicts you. 
We, for our part, _know_ that we are conscious. 
We _feel_ our thought, flowing as a life within us, 
in absolute contrast with the objects which it 
so unremittingly escorts. We can not be faithless 
to this immediate intuition. The dualism 
is a fundamental _datum_: Let no man join what 
God has put asunder." 
My reply to this is my last word, and I 
greatly grieve that to many it will sound materialistic. 
I can not help that, however, for 
I, too, have my intuitions and I must obey 
them. Let the case be what it may in others, I 
am as confident as I am of anything that, in 
myself, the stream of thinking (which I recognize 
emphatically as a phenomenon) is only a 
careless name for what, when scrutinized, reveals 
itself to consist chiefly of the stream of 
my breathing. The 'I think' which Kant said 
must be able to accompany all my objects, is 
the 'I breath' which actually does accompany 
them. There are other internal facts 
besides breathing (intracephalic muscular adjustments, 
etc., of which I have said a word in 
my larger Psychology), and these increase the 
assets of 'consciousness,' so far as the latter is 
subject to immediate perception; but breath, 
which was ever the original of 'spirit,' breath 
moving outwards, between the glottis and the 
nostrils, is, I am persuaded, the essence out of 
which philosophers have constructed the entity 
known to them as consciousness. _That_ 
I wish I might believe myself to have made 
that plausible in this article. IN another article 
I shall try to make the general notion of a 
world composed of pure experiences still more 
IT is difficult not to notice a curious unrest in 
the philosophic atmosphere of the time, always 
loosening of old landmarks, a softening of oppositions, 
a mutual borrowing from one another reflecting 
on the part of systems anciently closed, 
and an interest in new suggestions, however 
vague, as if the one thing sure were the inadequacy 
of the extant school-solutions. The dissatisfaction 
with these seems due for the most 
part to a feeling that they are too abstract and 
academic. Life is confused and superabundant, 
and what the younger generation appears to 
crave is more of the temperament of life in its 
philosophy, even thought it were at some cost 
of logical rigor and of formal purity. Transcendental 
idealism is inclining to let the world 
wag incomprehensibly, in spite of its Absolute 
Subject and his unity of purpose. Berkeleyan 
idealism is abandoning the principle of parsimony 
and dabbling in panpsychic speculations. 
Empiricism flirts with teleology; and, 
strangest of all, natural realism, so long decently 
buried, raises its head above the turf, 
and finds glad hands outstretched from the 
most unlikely quarters to help it to its feet 
again. We are all biased by our personal feelings, 
I know, and I am personally discontented 
with extant solutions; so I seem to read the 
signs of a great unsettlement, as if the upheaval 
of more real conceptions and more fruitful 
methods were imminent, as if a true landscape 
might result, less clipped, straight-edged 
and artificial. 
If philosophy be really on the eve of any considerable 
rearrangement, the time should be 
propitious for any one who has suggestions of 
his own to bring forward. For many years past 
my mind has bee growing into a certain type 
of _Weltanschauung_. Rightly or wrongly, I have 
got to the point where I can hardly see things 
in any other pattern. I propose, therefore, to 
describe the pattern as clearly as I can consistently 
with great brevity, and to throw my 
description into the bubbling vat of publicity 
where, jostled by rivals and torn by critics, it 
will eventually either disappear from notice, 
or else, if better luck befall it, quietly subside 
to the profundities, and serve as a possible 
ferment of new growths or a nucleus of new 
I give the name of 'radical empiricism' to 
my _Weltanschauung_. Empiricism is known as 
the opposite of rationalism. Rationalism tends 
to emphasize universals and to make wholes 
prior to parts in the order of logic as well as in 
that of being. Empiricism, on the contrary, 
lays the explanatory stress upon the part, the 
element, the individual, and treats the whole 
as a collection and the universal as an abstraction. 
My description of things, accordingly, 
starts with the parts and makes of the whole 
a being of the second order. It is essentially 
a mosaic philosophy, a philosophy of plural 
facts, like that of Hume and his descendants, 
who refer these facts neither to Substances in 
which they inhere nor to an Absolute Mind 
that creates them as its objects. But it differs 
from the Humian type of empiricism in one 
particular which makes me add the epithet 
To be radical, an empiricism must neither 
admit into its constructions any element that 
is not directly experienced, nor exclude from 
them any element that is directly experienced. 
For such a philosophy, _the_relations_that_connect_ 
_system. Elements may indeed be redistributed, 
the original placing of things getting corrected, 
but a real place must be found for every kind 
of thing experienced, whether term or relation, 
in the final philosophic arrangement. 
Now, ordinary empiricism, in spite of the 
fact that conjunctive and disjunctive relations 
present themselves as being fully co-ordinate 
parts of experience, has always shown a tendency 
to do away with the connections of 
things, and to insist most on the disjunctions. 
Berkeley's nominalism, Hume's statement that 
whatever things we distinguish are as 'loose 
and separate' as if they had 'no manner of connection.' 
James Mill's denial that similars have 
anything 'really' in common, the resolution 
of the causal tie into habitual sequence, John 
Mill's account of both physical things and 
selves as composed of discontinuous possibilities, 
and the general pulverization of all Experience 
by association and the mind-dust 
theory, are examples of what I mean. 
The natural result of such a world-picture 
has been the efforts of rationalism to correct 
its incoherencies by the addition of trans- 
experiential agents of unification, substances, 
intellectual categories and powers, or Selves; 
whereas, if empiricism had only been radical 
and taken everything that comes without disfavor, 
conjunction as well as separation, each 
at its face value, the results would have called 
for no such artificial correction. _Radical_empiricism,_ 
as I understand it, _does_full_justice_to_ 
_conjunctive_relations_, without, however, treating 
them as rationalism always tends to treat 
them, as being true in some supernal way, as if 
the unity of things and their variety belonged 
to different orders of truth and vitality altogether. 
Relations are of different degrees of intimacy. 
Merely to be 'with' one another in a 
universe of discourse is the most external relation 
that terms can have, and seems to involve 
nothing whatever as to farther consequences. 
Simultaneity and time-interval come next, and 
then space-adjacency and distance. After 
them, similarity and difference, carrying the 
possibility of many inferences. Then relations 
of activity, tying terms into series involving 
change, tendency, resistance, and the causal 
order generally. Finally, the relation experienced 
between terms that form states of mind, 
and are immediately conscious of continuing 
each other. The organization of the Self as a 
system of memories, purposes, strivings, fulfilments 
or disappointments, is incidental to 
this most intimate of all relations, the terms 
of which seem in many cases actually to compenetrate 
and suffuse each other's being. 
Philosophy has always turned on grammatical 
particles. With, near, next, like, from, 
towards, against, because, for, through, my -- 
these words designate types of conjunctive 
relation arranged in a roughly ascending order 
of intimacy and inclusiveness. _A_priori, we can 
imagine a universe of withness but no nextness; 
or one of nextness but no likeness, or of likeness 
with no activity, or of activity with no purpose, 
or of purpose with no ego. These would 
be universes, each with its own grade of unity. 
The universe of human experience is, by one or 
another of its parts, of each and all these grades. 
Whether or not it possibly enjoys some still 
more absolute grade of union does not appear 
upon the surface. 
Taken as it does appear, our universe is to a 
large extent chaotic. No one single type of connection 
runs through all the experiences that 
compose it. If we take space-relations, they 
fail to connect minds into any regular system. 
Causes and purposes obtain only among special 
series of facts. The self-relation seems 
extremely limited and does not link two different 
selves together. _Prima_facie, if you should 
liken the universe of absolute idealism to an 
aquarium, a crystal globe in which goldfish 
are swimming, you would have to compare the 
empiricist universe to something more like one 
of those dried human heads with which the 
Dyaks of Borneo deck their lodges. The skull 
forms a solid nucleus; but innumerable feathers, 
leaves, strings, beads, and loose appendices 
of every description float and dangle 
from it, and, save that they terminate in it, seem 
to have nothing to do with one another. Even 
so my experiences and yours float and dangle, 
terminating, it is true, in a nucleus of common 
perception, but for the most part out of sight 
and irrelevant and unimaginable to one another. 
This imperfect intimacy, this bare relation 
of _withness) between some parts of the 
sum total of experience and other parts, is the 
fact that ordinary empiricism over-emphasizes 
against rationalism, the latter always tending 
to ignore it unduly. Radical empiricism, on 
the contrary, is fair to both the unity and the 
disconnection. It finds no reason for treating 
either as illusory. It allots to each its definite 
sphere of description, and agrees that there 
appear to be actual forces at work which tend, 
as time goes on, to make the unity greater. 
The conjunctive relation that has given 
most trouble to philosophy is _the_co-conscious_ 
_transition_, so to call it, by which one experience 
passes into another when both belong to the 
same self. My experiences and your experiences are 
'with' each other in various external ways, but 
mine pass into mine, and yours pass into yours 
in a way in which yours and mine never pass 
into one another. Within each of our personal 
histories, subject, object, interest and purpose 
_are_continuous_or_may_be_continuous_.(1) Personal 
histories are processes of change in time, and 
_experienced._ 'Change' in this case means continuous 
as opposed to discontinuous transition. 
But continuous transition is one sort of a 
conjunctive relation; and to be a radical empiricist 
means to hold fast to this conjunctive 
relation of all others, for this is the strategic 
point, the position through which, if a hole be 
made, all the corruptions of dialectics and all 
the metaphysical fictions pour into our philosophy. 
The holding fast to this relation means 
taking it at its face value, neither less nor more; 
and to take it at its face value means first of all 
to take it just as we feel it, and not to confuse 
ourselves with abstract talk _about_ it, involving 
words that drive us to invent secondary 
conceptions in order to neutralize their 
1 The psychology books have of late described the facts here with 
approximate adequacy. I may refer to the chapters on 'The Stream of 
Thought' and on the Self in my own _Principles_of_Psychology_, as well 
as to S.H.Hodgson's _Metaphysics_of_Experience_, vol I., ch. VII and 
suggestions and to make our actual experience 
again seem rationally possible. 
what I do feel simply when a later moment 
of my experience succeeds an earlier one is that 
though they are two moments, the transition 
from the one to the other is _continuous_. Continuity 
here is a definite sort of experience; just 
as definite as is the _discontinuity-experience_ 
which I find it impossible to avoid when I seek 
to make the transition from an experience of 
my own to one of yours. In this latter case I 
have to get on and off again, to pass from a 
thing lived to another thing only conceived, 
and the break is positively experienced and 
noted. Though the functions exerted by my 
experience and by yours may be the same (.e.g., 
the same objects known and the same purposes 
followed), yet the sameness has in this case to 
be ascertained expressly (and often with difficulty 
and uncertainly) after the break has been 
felt; whereas in passing from one of my own 
moments to another the sameness of object and 
interest is unbroken, and both the earlier and 
the later experience are of things directly lived. 
There is no other _nature_, no other whatness 
than this absence of break and this sense of 
continuity in that most intimate of all conjunctive 
relations, the passing of one experience 
into another when the belong to the same self. 
And this whatness is real empirical 'content,' 
just as the whatness of separation and discontinuity 
is real content in the contrasted case. 
Practically to experience one's personal continuum 
in this living way is to know the originals 
of the ideas of continuity and sameness, to 
know what the words stand for concretely, to 
own all that they can ever mean. But all experiences 
have their conditions; and over-subtle 
intellects, thinking about the facts here, and 
asking how they are possible, have ended by 
substituting a lot of static objects of conception 
for the direct perceptual experiences. 
"Sameness," they have said, "must be a stark 
numerical identity; it can't run on from next to 
next. Continuity can't mean mere absence of 
gap; for if you say two things are in immediate 
contact, _at_ the contact how can they be two? 
If, on the other hand, you put a relation of 
transition between them, that itself is a third 
thing, and needs to be related or hitched to its 
terms. An infinite series is involved," and so 
on. The result is that from difficulty to difficulty, 
the plain conjunctive experience has 
been discredited by both schools, the empiricists 
leaving things permanently disjoined, and 
the rationalist remedying the looseness by their 
Absolutes or Substances, or whatever other fictitious 
agencies of union may have employed. 
From all which artificiality we can 
be saved by a couple of simple-reflections: first, 
that conjunctions and separations are, at all 
events, co-ordinate phenomena which, if we 
take experiences at their face value, must be 
accounted equally real; and second, that if we 
insist on treating things as really separate 
when they are given as continuously joined, 
invoking, when union is required, transcendental 
principles to overcome the separateness 
we have assumed, then we ought to stand 
ready to perform the converse act. We ought 
to invoke higher principles of _dis_union, also, to 
make our merely experienced _dis_junctions more 
truly real. Failing thus, we ought to let the 
originally given continuities stand on their own 
bottom. We have no right to be lopsided or to 
blow capriciously hot and cold. 
The first great pitfall from which such a radical 
standing by experience will save us is an 
artificial conception of the _relations_between_ 
_knower_and_known_. Throughout the history of 
philosophy the subject and its object have been 
treated as absolutely discontinuous entities; 
and thereupon the presence of the latter to the 
former, or the 'apprehension' by the former of 
the latter, has assumed a paradoxical character 
which all sorts of theories had to be invented 
to overcome. Representative theories 
put a mental 'representation,' 'image,' or 
'content' into the gap, as a sort of intermediary. 
Common-sense theories left the gap 
untouched, declaring our mind able to clear 
it by a self-transcending leap. Transcendentalist 
theories left it impossible to traverse by 
finite knowers, and brought an Absolute in to 
perform the saltatory act. All the while, in 
the very bosom of the finite experience, every 
conjunction required to make the relation intelligible 
is given in full. Either the knower 
and the known are: 
(1) The self-same piece of experience taken 
twice over in different contexts; or they are 
(2) two pieces of _actual_ experience belonging 
to the same subject, with definite tracts of 
conjunctive transitional experience between 
them; or 
(3) the known is a _possible_ experience either 
of that subject or another, to which the said 
conjunctive transitions _would_lead, if sufficiently 
To discuss all the ways in which one experience 
may function as the knower of another, 
would be incompatible with the limits 
of this essay.91) I have just treated of type 1, the 
1 For brevity's sake I altogether omit mention of the type 
constituted by knowledge of the truth of general propositions. This 
type has been thoroughly and, so far as I can see, satisfactorily, 
elucidated in Dewey's _Studies_in_Logical_Theory_. Such propositions 
are reducible to the S-is-P form; and the 'terminus' that verifies and 
fulfils is the SP in combination. Of course percepts may be involved in 
the mediating experiences, or in the 'satisfactoriness' of the P in its 
new position. 
kind of knowledge called perception. This is 
the type of case in which the mind enjoys direct 
'acquaintance' with a present object. In 
the other types the mind has 'knowledge- 
about' an object not immediately there. Of 
type 2, the simplest sort of conceptual knowledge, 
I have given some account in two 
articles.(1) Type 3 can always formally 
and hypothetically be reduced to type 2, so 
that a brief description of that type will put 
the present reader sufficiently at my point 
of view, and make him see what the actual 
meanings of the mysterious cognitive relation 
may be. 
Suppose me to be sitting here in my library 
1 These articles and their doctrine, unnoticed apparently by any one 
else, have lately gained favorable comment from Professor Strong. Dr. 
Dickinson S. Miller has independently thought out the same results, 
which Strong accordingly dubs the James-Miller theory of cognition. 
at Cambridge, at ten minutes' walk from 
'Memorial Hall,' and to be thinking truly of 
the latter object. My mind may have before 
it only the name, or it may have a clear image, 
or it may have a very dim image of the hall, but 
such intrinsic differences in the image make no 
difference in its cognitive function. Certain 
_extrinsic_ phenomena, special experiences of 
conjunction, are what impart to the image, be 
it what it may, its knowing office. 
For instance, if you ask me what hall I mean 
by my image, and I call tell you nothing; or if I 
fail to point or lead you towards the Harvard 
Delta; or if, being led by you, I am uncertain 
whether the Hall I see be what I had in mind 
or not; you would rightly deny that I had 
'meant' that particular hall at all, even though 
my mental image might to some degree have 
resembled it. The resemblance would count in 
that case as coincidental merely, for all sorts 
of things of a kind resemble one another in this 
world without being held for that reason to 
take cognizance of one another. 
On the other hand, if I can lead you to the 
hall, and tell you of its history and present 
uses; if in its presence I feel my idea, however 
imperfect it may have been, to have led hither 
and to be now _terminated_; if the associates of 
the image and of the felt hall run parallel, so 
that each term of the one context corresponds 
serially, as I walk, with an answering term of 
the others; why then my soul was prophetic, 
and my idea must be, and by common consent 
would be, called cognizant of reality. That percept 
was what I _meant_, for into it my idea has 
passed by conjunctive experiences of sameness 
and fulfilled intention. Nowhere is there jar, 
but every later moment continues and corroborates 
an earlier one. 
In this continuing and corroborating, taken 
in no transcendental sense, but denoting definitely 
felt transitions, _lies_all_that_the_knowing_ 
_signify_. Wherever such transitions are felt, the 
first experience _knows_ that last one. Where they 
do not, or where even as possibles they can not, 
intervene, there can be no pretence of knowing. 
In this latter case the extremes will be connected, 
if connected at all, by inferior relations 
-- bare likeness or succession, or by 'withness' 
alone. Knowledge of sensible realities thus 
comes to life inside the tissue of experience. It 
is _made_; and made by relations that unroll 
themselves in time. Whenever certain intermediaries 
are given, such that, as they develop 
towards their terminus, there is experience 
from point to point of one direction followed, 
and finally of one process fulfilled, the result 
is that _their_starting-point_thereby_becomes_a_ 
_known_. That is all that knowing (in the simple 
case considered) can be known-as, that is 
the whole of its nature, put into experiential 
terms. Whenever such is the sequence of our 
experiences we may freely say that we had the 
terminal object 'in mind' from the outset, even 
although _at_ the outset nothing was there in us 
but a flat piece of substantive experience like 
any other, with no self-transcendency about it, 
and ny mystery save the mystery of coming 
into existence and of being gradually followed 
by other pieces of substantive experience, with 
conjunctively transitional experiences between. 
That is what we _mean_ here by the object's 
being 'in mind.' Of any deeper more real way 
of being in mind we have no positive conception, 
and we have no right to discredit our 
actual experience by talking of such a way 
at all. 
I know that many a reader will rebel at this. 
"Mere intermediaries," he will say, "even 
though they be feelings of continuously growing 
fulfilment, only _separate_ the knower from 
the known, whereas what we have in knowledge 
is a kind of immediate touch of the one by the 
other, an 'apprehension' in the etymological 
sense of the word, a leaping of the chasm as by 
lightning, an act by which two terms are smitten 
into one, over the head of their distinctness. 
All these dead intermediaries of yours 
are out of each other, and outside of their 
termini still." 
But do not such dialectic difficulties remind 
us of the dog dropping his bone and snapping 
at its image in the water? If we knew any more 
real kind of union _aliunde_, we might be entitled 
to brand all our empirical unions as a sham. 
But unions by continuous transition are the 
only ones we know of, whether in this matter 
of a knowledge-about that terminates in an 
acquaintance, whether in personal identity, in 
logical predication through the copula 'is,' or 
elsewhere. If anywhere there were more absolute 
unions realized, they could only reveal 
themselves to us by just such conjunctive 
results. These are what the unions are _worth_, 
these are all that _we_can_ever_practically_mean_ 
by union, by continuity. Is it not time to 
repeat what Lotze said of substances, that to 
_act_like_ one is to _be_ one? Should we not say 
here that to be experienced as continuous is to 
be really continuous, in a world where experience 
and reality come to the same thing? In 
a picture gallery a painted hook will serve to 
hang a painted chain by, a painted cable will 
hold a painted ship. In a world where both the 
terms and their distinctions are affairs of experience, 
conjunctions that are experienced 
must be at least as real as anything else. They 
will be 'absolutely' real conjunctions, if we have 
no transphenomenal Absolute ready, to derealize 
the whole experienced world by, at a stroke. 
If, on the other hand, we had such an Absolute, 
not one of our opponents' theories of knowledge 
could remain standing any better than 
ours could; for the distinctions as well as the 
conjunctions of experience would impartially 
fall its prey. The whole question of how 'one' 
thing can know 'another' would cease to be a 
real one at all in a world where otherness itself 
was an illusion.(1) 
So much for the essentials of the cognitive 
relation, where the knowledge is conceptual in 
type, or forms knowledge 'about' an object. It 
consists in intermediary experiences (possible, 
if not actual) of continuously developing progress, 
and, finally, of fulfilment, when the sensible 
percept, which is the object, is reached. 
The percept here not only _verifies_ the concept, 
proves its function of knowing that percept to 
1 Mr. Bradley, not professing to know his absolute _aliunde_, 
nevertheless derealizes Experience by alleging it to be everywhere 
infected with self-contradiction. His arguments seem almost purely 
verbal, but this is no place for arguing that point out. 
be true, but the percept's existence as the 
terminus of the chain of intermediaries _creates_ 
the function. Whatever terminates that chain 
was, because it now proves itself to be, what 
the concept 'had in mind.' 
The towering importance for human life of 
this kind of knowing lies in the fact that an 
experience that knows another can figure as 
its _representative_, not in any quasi-miraculous 
'epistemological' sense, but in the definite 
practical sense of being its _substitute_ in various 
operations, sometimes physical and sometimes 
mental, which lead us to its associates and results. 
By experimenting on our ideas of reality, 
we may save ourselves the trouble of experimenting 
on the real experiences which they 
severally mean. The ideas form related systems, 
corresponding point for point to the systems 
which the realities form; and by letting an 
ideal term call up its associates systematically, 
we may be led to a terminus which the corresponding 
real term would have led to in case 
we had operated on the real world. And this 
brings us to the general question of substitution. 
In Taine's brilliant book on 'Intelligence,' 
substitution was for the first time named as 
a cardinal logical function, though of course 
the facts had always been familiar enough. 
What, exactly, in a system of experiences, does 
the 'substitution' of one of them for another 
According to my view, experience as a whole 
is a process in time, whereby innumerable 
particular terms lapse and are superseded by 
others that follow upon them by transitions 
which, whether disjunctive or conjunctive in 
content, are themselves experiences, and must 
in general be accounted at least as real as 
the terms which they relate. What the nature 
of the event called 'superseding' signifies, depends 
altogether on the kind of transition 
that obtains. Some experiences simply abolish 
their predecessors without continuing them 
in any way. Others are felt to increase or to 
enlarge their meaning, to carry out their purpose, 
or to bring us nearer to their goal. They 
'represent' them, and may fulfil their function 
better than they fulfilled it themselves. But to 
'fulfil a function' in a world of pure experience 
can be conceived and defined in only one possible 
way. IN such a world transitions and 
arrivals (or terminations) are the only events 
that happen, though they happen by so many 
sorts of path. The only experience that one experience 
can perform is to lead into another 
experience; and the only fulfilment we can 
speak of is the reaching of a certain experienced 
end. When one experience leads to (or 
can lead to) the same end as another, they 
agree in function. But the whole system of 
experiences as they are immediately given 
presents itself as a quasi-chaos through which 
one can pass out of an initial term in many 
directions and yet end in the same terminus, 
moving from next to next by a great many 
possible paths. 
Either one of these paths might be a functional 
substitute for another, and to follow one 
rather than another might on occasion be 
an advantageous thing to do. As a matter of 
fact, and in a general way, the paths that 
run through conceptual experiences, that is, 
through 'thoughts' or 'ideas' that 'know' the 
things in which they terminate, are highly advantageous 
paths to follow. Not only do they 
yield inconceivably rapid transitions; but, owing 
to the 'universal' character(1) which they 
frequently possess, and to their capacity for 
association with one another in great systems, 
they outstrip the tardy consecutions of the 
things themselves, and sweep us on towards 
our ultimate termini in a far more labor-saving 
way than the following of trains of sensible 
perception ever could. Wonderful are the new 
cuts and the short-circuits which the thought- 
paths make. Most thought-paths, it is true, 
are substitutes for nothing actual; they end 
outside the real world altogether, in wayward 
fancies, utopias, fictions or mistakes. But 
where they do re-enter reality and terminate 
therein, we substitute them always; and with 
1 Of which all that need be said in this essay is that it also can be 
conceived as functional, and defined in terms of transitions, or of the 
possibility of such. 
these substitutes we pass the greater number 
of our hours. 
This is why I called our experiences, taken 
together, a quasi-chaos. There is vastly 
more discontinuity in the sum total of experiences 
than we commonly suppose. The objective 
nucleus of every man's experience, his own 
body, is, it is true, a continuous percept; and 
equally continuous as a percept (thought we 
may be inattentive to it) is the material environment 
of that body, changing by gradual 
transition when the body moves. But the 
distant parts of the physical world are at all 
times absent from us, and form conceptual 
objects merely, into the perceptual reality of 
which our life inserts itself at points discrete 
and relatively rare. Round their several objective 
nuclei, partly shared and common and 
partly discrete, of the real physical world, innumerable 
thinkers, pursuing their several lines 
of physically true cogitation, trace paths that 
intersect one another only at discontinuous 
perceptual points, and the rest of the time are 
quite incongruent; and around all the nuclei 
of shared 'reality,' as around the Dyak's head 
of my late metaphor, floats the vast cloud of 
experiences that are wholly subjective, that 
are non-substitutional, that find not even an 
eventual ending for themselves in the perceptual 
world -- there mere day-dreams and 
joys and sufferings and wishes of the individual 
minds. These exist _with_ one another, indeed, 
and with the objective nuclei, but out 
of them it is probable that to all eternity no 
interrelated system of any kind will every be 
This notion of the purely substitutional or 
conceptual physical world brings us to the most 
critical of all steps in the development of 
a philosophy of pure experience. The paradox 
of self-transcendency in knowledge comes back 
upon us here, but I think that our notions of 
pure experience and of substitution, and our 
radically empirical view of conjunctive transitions, 
are _Denkmittel_ that will carry us safely 
through the pass. 
Whosoever feels his experience to be something 
substitutional even while he has it, may 
be said to have an experience that reaches 
beyond itself. From inside of its own entity it 
says 'more,' and postulates reality existing elsewhere. 
For the transcendentalist, who holds 
knowing to consist in a _salto_mortale_ across an 
'epistemological chasm,' such an idea presents 
no difficulty; but it seems at first sight as if it 
might be inconsistent with an empiricism like 
our own. Have we not explained that conceptual 
knowledge is made such wholly by the 
existence of things that fall outside of the 
knowing experience itself -- by intermediary 
experience and by a terminus that fulfils? 
Can the knowledge be there before these elements 
that constitute its being have come? 
And, if knowledge be not there, how can objective 
reference occur? 
The key to this difficulty lies in the distinction 
between knowing as verified and completed, 
and the same knowing as in transit 
and on its way. To recur to the Memorial 
Hall example lately used, it is only when our 
idea of the Hall has actually terminated in the 
percept that we know 'for certain' that from 
the beginning it was truly cognitive of _that_. 
Until established by the end of the process, its 
quality of knowing that, or indeed of knowing 
anything, could still be doubted; and yet the 
knowing really was there, as the result now 
shows. We were _virtual_ knowers of the Hall 
long before we were certified to have been its 
actual knowers, by the percept's retroactive 
validating power. Just so we are 'mortal' all 
the time, by reason of the virtuality of the 
inevitable event which will make us so when 
it shall have come. 
Now the immensely greater part of all our 
knowing never gets beyond this virtual stage. 
It never is completed or nailed down. I speak 
not merely of our ideas of imperceptibles like 
ether-waves or dissociated 'ions,' or of 'ejects' 
like the contents of our neighbors' minds; I 
speak also of ideas which we might verify if we 
would take the trouble, but which we hold for 
true although unterminated perceptually, because 
nothing says 'no' to us, and there is no 
contradicting truth in sight. _To_continue_thinking_ 
_the_completed_sense_. As each experience runs by 
cognitive transition into the next one, and we 
nowhere feel a collision with what we elsewhere 
count as truth or fact, we commit ourselves to 
the current as if the port were sure. We live, 
as it were, upon the front edge of an advancing 
wave-crest, and our sense of a determinate 
direction in falling forward is all we cover of 
the future of our path. It is as if a differential 
quotient should be conscious and treat itself as 
an adequate substitute for a traced-out curve. 
Our experience, _inter_alia_, is of variations of 
rate and of direction, and lives in these transitions 
more than in the journey's end. The experiences 
of tendency are sufficient to act upon 
-- what more could we have _done_ at those 
moments even if the later verification comes 
This is what, as a radical empiricist, I say to 
the charge that the objective reference which 
is so flagrant a character of our experience involves 
a chasm and a mortal leap. A positively 
conjunctive transition involves neither chasm 
nor leap. Being the very original of what we 
mean by continuity, it makes a continuum 
wherever it appears. I know full well that such 
brief words as these will leave the hardened 
transcendentalist unshaken. Conjunctive experiences 
_separate_ their terms, he will still say: they 
are third things interposed, that have themselves 
to be conjoined by new links, and to invoke 
them makes our trouble infinitely worse. 
To 'feel' our motion forward is impossible. 
Motion implies terminus; and how can terminus 
be felt before we have arrived? The barest 
start and sally forwards, the barest tendency 
to leave the instant, involves the chasm and 
the leap. Conjunctive transitions are the most 
superficial of appearances, illusions of our sensibility 
which philosophical reflection pulverizes 
at a touch. Conception is our only trustworthy 
instrument, conception and the Absolute 
working hand in hand. Conception disintegrates 
experience utterly, but its disjunctions 
are easily overcome again when the Absolute 
takes up the task. 
Such transcendentalists I must leave, provisionally 
at least, in full possession of their 
creed. I have no space for polemics in this 
article, so I shall simply formulate the empiricist 
doctrine as my hypothesis, leaving it to 
work or not work as it may. 
Objective reference, I say then, is an incident 
of the fact that so much of our experience 
comes as an insufficient and consists of 
process and transition. Our fields of experience 
have no more definite boundaries than have 
our fields of view. Both are fringed forever by 
a _more_ that continuously develops, and that 
continuously supersedes them as life proceeds. 
The relations, generally speaking, are as real 
here as the terms are, and the only complaint 
of the transcendentalist's with which I could 
at all sympathize would be his charge that, by 
first making knowledge consist in external 
relations as I have done, and by then confessing 
that nine-tenths of the time these are 
not actually but only virtually there, I have 
knocked the solid bottom out of the whole 
business, and palmed off a substitute of knowledge 
for the genuine thing. Only the admission, 
such a critic might say, that our ideas are 
self-transcendent and 'true' already, in advance 
of the experiences that are to terminate 
them, can bring solidity back to knowledge 
in a world like this, in which transitions and 
terminations are only by exception fulfilled. 
This seems to me an excellent place for 
applying the pragmatic method. When a 
dispute arises, that method consists in auguring 
what practical consequences would be 
different if one side rather than the other were 
true. If no difference can be thought of, the 
dispute is a quarrel over words. What then 
would the self-transcendency affirmed to exist 
in advance of all experiential mediation or 
terminations, be _known-as?_ What would it 
practically result in for _us_, were it true? 
It could only result in our orientation, in the 
turning of our expectations and practical tendencies 
into the right path; and the right path 
here, so long as we and the object are not yet 
face to face (or can never get face to face, as in 
the case of ejects), would be the path that led 
us into the object's nearest neighborhood. 
Where direct acquaintance is lacking, 'knowledge 
about' is the next best thing, and an 
acquaintance with what actually lies about the 
object, and is most closely related to it, puts 
such knowledge within our gasp. Ether-waves 
and your anger, for example, are things in 
which my thoughts will never _perceptually_ terminate, 
but my concepts of them lead me to 
their very brink, to the chromatic fringes and 
to the hurtful words and deeds which are their 
really next effects. 
Even if our ideas did in themselves carry the 
postulated self-transcendency, it would still 
remain true that their putting us into possession 
of such effects _would_be_the_sole_cash-_ 
_value_of_the_self-transcendency_for_us_. And this 
cash-value, it is needless to say, is _verbatim_et_ 
_literatim_ what our empiricist account pays in. 
On pragmatist principles, therefore, a dispute 
over self-transcendency is a pure logomachy. 
Call our concepts of ejective things self- 
transcendent or the reverse, it makes no difference, 
so long as we don't differ about the 
nature of that exalted virtue's fruits -- fruits 
for us, of course, humanistic fruits. If an 
Absolute were proved to exist for other reasons, 
it might well appear that _his_ knowledge is 
terminated in innumerable cases where ours is 
still incomplete. That, however, would be a 
fact indifferent to our knowledge. The latter 
would grow neither worse nor better, whether 
we acknowledged such an Absolute or left him 
So the notion of a knowledge still _in_transitu_ 
and on its way joins hands here with that 
notion of a 'pure experience' which I tried to 
explain in my [essay] entitled 'Does Consciousness 
Exist?' The instant field of the 
present is always experienced in its 'pure' state. 
plain unqualified actuality, a simple _that_, as yet 
undifferentiated into thing and thought, and 
only virtually classifiable as objective fact or as 
some one's opinion about fact. This is as true 
when the field is conceptual as when it is perceptual. 
'Memorial Hall' is 'there' in my idea 
as much as when I stand before it. I proceed to 
act on its account in either case. Only in the 
later experience that supersedes the present 
one is this _naif_ immediacy retrospectively split 
into two parts, a 'consciousness' and its 'content,' 
and the content corrected or confirmed. 
While still pure, or present, any experience -- 
mine, for example, of what I write about in 
these very lines -- passes for 'truth.' The 
morrow may reduce it to 'opinion.' The transcendentalist 
in all his particular knowledges is 
as liable to this reduction as I am: his Absolute 
does not save him. Why, then, need he quarrel 
with an account of knowing that merely leaves 
it liable to this inevitable condition? Why insist 
that knowing is a static relation out of 
time when it practically seems so much a function 
of our active life? For a thing to be valid, 
says Lotze, is the same as to make itself 
valid. When the whole universe seems only 
to be making itself valid and to be still incomplete 
(else why its ceaseless changing?) why, of 
all things, should knowing be exempt? Why 
should it not be making itself valid like everything 
else? That some parts of it may be already 
valid or verified beyond dispute, the 
empirical philosopher, of course, like any one 
else, may always hope. 
With transition and prospect thus enthroned 
in pure experience, it is impossible to subscribe 
to the idealism of the English school. 
Radical empiricism has, in fact, more affinities 
with natural realism than with the views 
of Berkeley or of Mill, and this can be easily 
For the Berkeleyan school, ideas (the verbal 
equivalent of what I term experiences) are discontinuous. 
The content of each is wholly immanent, 
and there are no transitions with 
which they are consubstantial and through 
which their beings may unite. Your Memorial 
Hall and mine, even when both are percepts, 
are wholly out of connection with each other. 
Our lives are a congeries of solipsisms, out of 
which in strict logic only a God could compose 
a universe even of discourse. No dynamic 
currents run between my objects and your 
objects. Never can our minds meet in the 
The incredibility of such a philosophy is 
flagrant. It is 'cold, strained, and unnatural' 
in a supreme degree; and it may be doubted 
whether even Berkeley himself, who took it 
so religiously, really believed, when walking 
through the streets of London, that his spirit 
and the spirits of his fellow wayfarers had 
absolutely different towns in view. 
To me the decisive reason in favor of our 
minds meeting in _some_ common objects at least 
is that, unless I make that supposition, I have 
no motive for assuming that your mind exists 
at all. Why do I postulate your mind? Because 
I see your body acting in a certain way. 
Its gestures, facial movements, words and conduct 
generally, are 'expressive,' so I deem it 
actuated as my own is, by an inner life like 
mine. This argument from analogy is my _reason_, 
whether an instinctive belief runs before it 
or not. But what is 'your body' here but a 
percept in _my_ field? It is only as animating 
_that_ object, _my_ object, that I have any occasion 
to think of you at all. If the body that you 
actuate be not the very body that I see there, 
but some duplicate body of your own with 
which that has nothing to do, we belong to 
different universes, you and I, and for me to 
speak of you is folly. Myriads of such universes 
even now may coexist, irrelevant to one 
another; my concern is solely with the universe 
with which my own life is connected. 
In that perceptual part of _my_ universe which 
I call _your_ body, your mind and my mind meet 
and may be called conterminous. Your mind 
actuates that body and mine sees it; my 
thoughts pass into it as into their harmonious 
cognitive fulfilment; your emotions and volitions 
pass into it as causes into their effects. 
But that percept hangs together with all our 
other physical percepts. They are of one stuff 
with it; and if it be our common possession, 
they must be so likewise. For instance, your 
hand lays hold of one end of a rope and my 
hand lays hold of the other end. We pull 
against each other. Can our two hands be 
mutual objects in this experience, and the rope 
not be mutual also? What is true of the rope is 
true of any other percept. Your objects are 
over and over again the same as mine. If I 
ask you _where_ some object of yours is, our old 
Memorial Hall, for example, you point to _my_ 
Memorial Hall with _your_ hand which _I_see_. If 
you alter an object in your world, put out a 
candle, for example, when I am present, _my_ 
candle _ipso_facto_ goes out. It is only as altering 
my objects that I guess you to exist. If your 
objects do not coalesce with my objects, if they 
be not identically where mine are, they must 
be proved to be positively somewhere else. 
But no other location can be assigned for them, 
so their place must be what it seems to be, the 
Practically, then, our minds meet in a world 
of objects which they share in common, which 
1 The notions that our objects are inside of our respective heads is 
not seriously defensible, so I pass it by. 
would still be there, if one or several of the 
minds were destroyed. I can see no formal 
objection to this supposition's being literally 
true. On the principles which I am defending, 
a 'mind' or 'personal consciousness' is the 
name for a series of experiences run together by 
certain definite transitions, and an objective 
reality is a series of similar experiences knit by 
different transitions. If one and the same experience 
can figure twice, once in a mental and 
once in a physical context (as I have tried, in 
my article on 'Consciousness,' to show that it 
can), one does not see why it might not figure 
thrice, or four times, or any number of times, 
by running into as many different mental contexts, 
just as the same point, lying at their 
intersection, can be continued into many different 
lines. Abolishing any number of contexts 
would not destroy the experience itself 
or its other contexts, any more than abolishing 
some of the point's linear continuations 
would destroy the others, or destroy the point 
I well know the subtle dialectic which insists 
that a term taken in another relation must 
needs be an intrinsically different term. The 
crux is always the old Greek one, that the same 
man can't be tall in relation to one neighbor, 
and short in relation to another, for that would 
make him tall and short at once. In this essay 
I can not stop to refute this dialectic, so I pass 
on, leaving my flank for the time exposed. 
But if my reader will only allow that the same 
'_now_' both ends his past and begins his future; 
or that, when he buys an acre of land from his 
neighbor, it is the same acre that successively 
figures in the two estates; or that when I pay 
him a dollar, the same dollar goes into his 
pocket that came out of mine; he will also in 
consistency have to allow that the same object 
may conceivably play a part in, as being related 
to the rest of, any number of otherwise 
entirely different minds. This is enough for 
my present point: the common-sense notion of 
minds sharing the same object offers no special 
logical or epistemological difficulties of its 
own; it stands or falls with the general possibility 
of things being in conjunctive relation with 
other things at all. 
In principle, then, let natural realism pass 
for possible. Your mind and mine _may_ terminate 
in the same percept, not merely against it, 
as if it were a third external thing, but by inserting 
themselves into it and coalescing with 
it, for such is the sort of conjunctive union that 
appears to be experienced when a perceptual 
terminus 'fulfils.' Even so, two hawsers may 
embrace the same pile, and yet neither one of 
them touch any other part except that pile, of 
what the other hawser is attached to. 
It is therefore not a formal question, but 
a question of empirical fact solely, whether 
when you and I are said to know the 'same' 
Memorial Hall, our minds do terminate at or in 
a numerically identical percept. Obviously, as 
a plain matter of fact, they do _not_. Apart from 
color-blindness and such possibilities, we see 
the Hall in different perspectives. You may be 
on one side of it and I on another. The percept 
of each of us, as he sees the surface of the Hall, 
is moreover only his provisional terminus. The 
next thing beyond my percept is not your 
mind, but more percepts of my own into which 
my first percept develops, the interior of the 
Hall, for instance, or the inner structure of its 
bricks and mortar. If our minds were in a 
literal sense _con_terminous, neither could get 
beyond the percept which they had in common, 
it would be an ultimate barrier between 
them -- unless indeed they flowed over it and 
became 'co-conscious' over a still larger part 
of their content, which (thought-transference 
apart) is not supposed to be the case. In point 
of fact the ultimate common barrier can always 
be pushed, by both minds, farther than any 
actual percept of either, until at last it resolves 
itself into the mere notion of imperceptibles 
like atoms or either, so that, where we do terminate 
in percepts, our knowledge is only speciously 
completed, being, in theoretic strictness, 
only a virtual knowledge of those remoter 
objects which conception carries out. 
Is natural realism, permissible in logic, refuted 
then by empirical fact? Do our minds 
have no object in common after all? 
Yet, they certainly have _Space_ in common. 
On pragmatic principles we are obliged to predicate 
sameness wherever we can predicate no 
assignable point of difference. If two named 
things have every quality and function indiscernible, 
and are at the same time in the same 
place, they must be written down as numerically 
one thing under two different names. But 
there is no test discoverable, so far as I know, 
by which it can be shown that the place occupied 
by your percept of Memorial Hall differs 
from the place occupied by mine. The percepts 
themselves may be shown to differ; but 
if each of us be asked to point out where his 
percept is, we point to an identical spot. All 
the relations, whether geometrical or causal, of 
the Hall originate or terminate in that spot 
wherein our hands meet, and where each of us 
begins to work if he wishes to make the Hall 
change before the other's eyes. Just so it is 
with our bodies. That body of yours which 
you actuate and feel from within must be in 
the same spot as the body of yours which I see 
or touch from without. 'There' for me means 
where I place my finger. If you do not feel my 
finger's contact to be 'there' in _my_ sense, when 
I place it on your body, where then do you feel 
it? Your inner actuations of your body meet 
my finger _there:_ it is _there_ that you resist its 
push, or shrink back, or sweep the finger aside 
with your hand. Whatever farther knowledge 
either of us may acquire of the real constitution 
of the body which we thus feel, you from 
within and I from without, it is in that same 
place that the newly conceived or perceived 
constituents have to be located, and it is 
_through_ that space that your and my mental 
intercourse with each other has always to be 
carried on, by the mediation of impressions 
which I convey thither, and of the reactions 
thence which those impressions may provoke 
from you. 
In general terms, then, whatever differing 
contents our minds may eventually fill a place 
with, the place itself is a numerically identical 
content of the two minds, a piece of common 
property in which, through which, and over 
which they join. The receptacle of certain of 
our experiences being thus common, the experiences 
themselves might some day become 
common also. If that day ever did come, our 
thoughts would terminate in a complete empirical 
identity, there would be an end, so far as 
_those_ experiences went, to our discussions about 
truth. No points of difference appearing, they 
would have to count as the same. 
With this we have the outlines of a philosophy 
of pure experience before us. At the outset 
of my essay, I called it a mosaic philosophy. 
In actual mosaics the pieces are held together 
by their bedding, for which bedding of the Substances, 
transcendental Egos, or Absolutes of 
other philosophies may be taken to stand. In 
radical empiricism there is no bedding; it is as 
if the pieces clung together by their edges, the 
transitions experienced between them forming 
their cement. Of course such a metaphor is 
misleading, for in actual experience the more 
substantive and the more transitive parts run 
into each other continuously, there is in general 
no separateness needing to be overcome by an 
external cement; and whatever separateness 
is actually experienced is not overcome, it 
stays and counts as separateness to the end. 
But the metaphor serves to symbolize the fact 
that Experience itself, taken at large, can grow 
by its edges. That one moment of it proliferates 
into the next by transitions which, 
whether conjunctive or disjunctive, continue 
the experiential tissue, can no, I contend, be 
denied. Life is in the transitions as much as in 
the terms connected; often, indeed, it seems to 
be there more emphatically, as if our spurts 
and sallies forward were the real firing-line of 
the battle, were like the thin line of flame advancing 
across the dry autumnal field which 
the farmer proceeds to burn. In this line we 
live prospectively as well as retrospectively. 
It is 'of' the past, inasmuch as it comes expressly 
as the past's continuation; it is 'of' the 
future in so far as the future, when it comes, 
will have continued _it_. 
These relations of continuous transition experienced 
are what make our experiences cognitive. 
In the simplest and completest cases 
the experiences are cognitive of one another. 
When one of them terminates a previous series 
of them with a sense of fulfilment, it, we say, 
is what those other experiences 'had in view.' 
The knowledge, in such a case, is verified; the 
truth is 'salted down.' Mainly, however, we 
live on speculative investments, or on our prospects 
only. But living on things _in_posse_ is 
as good as living in the actual, so long as our 
credit remains good. It is evident that for the 
most part it is good, and that the universe 
seldom protests our drafts. 
In this sense we at every moment can continue 
to believe in an existing _beyond_. It is 
only in special cases that our confident rush 
forward gets rebuked. The beyond must, of 
course, always in our philosophy be itself of an 
experiential nature. If not a future experience 
of our own or a present one of our neighbor, it 
must be a thing in itself in Dr. Prince's and 
Professor Strong's sense of the term -- that is, 
it must be an experience _for_ itself whose relation 
to other things we translate into the action 
of molecules, ether-waves, or whatever else the 
physical symbols may be.(1) This opens the 
chapter of the relations of radical empiricism 
to panspychism, into which I cannot enter 
The beyond can in any case exist simultaneously 
-- for it can be experienced _to_have_existed_ 
simultaneously -- with the experience 
that practically postulates it by looking in its 
direction, or by turning or changing in the 
direction of which it is the goal. Pending that 
actuality of union, in the virtuality of which 
the 'truth,' even now, of the postulation consists, 
the beyond and its knower are entities 
split off from each other. The world is in so far 
forth a pluralism of which the unity is not fully 
experienced as yet. But, as fast as verifications 
come, trains of experience, once separate, run 
into one another; and that is why I said, earlier 
1 Our minds and these ejective realities would still have space (or 
pseudo-space, as I believe Professor Strong calls the medium of 
interaction between 'things-in-themselves') in common. These would 
exist _where_, and begin to act _where_, we locate the molecules, etc., 
and _where_ we perceive the sensible phenomena explained thereby. 
in my article, that the unity of the world is on 
the whole undergoing increase. The universe 
continually grows in quantity by new experiences 
that graft themselves upon the older 
mass; but these very new experiences often 
help the mass to a more consolidated form. 
These are the main features of a philosophy 
of pure experience. It has innumerable other 
aspects and arouses innumerable questions, 
but the points I have touched on seem enough 
to make an entering wedge. In my own mind 
such a philosophy harmonizes best with a radical 
pluralism, with novelty and indeterminism, 
moralism and theism, and with the 'humanism' 
lately sprung upon us by the Oxford and 
the Chicago schools.(1) I can not, however, be 
sure that all these doctrines are its necessary 
and indispensable allies. It presents so many 
points of difference, both from the common 
sense and from the idealism that have made 
our philosophic language, that it is almost 
1 I have said something of this latter alliance in an article entitled 
'Humanism and Truth,' in Mind, October, 1904. [Reprinted in 
_The_Meaning_of_Truth_, pp. 51-101. Cf. also "humanism and Truth Once 
More," below, pp. 244-265.] 
difficult to state it as it is to think it out 
clearly, and if it is ever to grow into a respectable 
system, it will have to be built up by the 
contributions of many co-operating minds. It 
seems to me, as I said at the outset of this essay, 
that many minds are, in point of fact, now 
turning in a direction that points towards radical 
empiricism. If they are carried farther by 
my words, and if then they add their stronger 
voices to my feebler one, the publication of 
this essay will have been worth while. 
EXPERIENCE in its immediacy seems perfectly 
fluent. The active sense of living which 
we all enjoy, before reflection shatters our instinctive 
world for us, is self-luminous and suggests 
no paradoxes. Its difficulties are disappointments 
and uncertainties. They are not 
intellectual contradictions. 
When the reflective intellect gets at work, 
however, it discovers incomprehensibilities in 
the flowing process. Distinguishing its elements 
and parts, it gives them separate names, 
and what it thus disjoins it can not easily put 
together. Pyrrhonism accepts the irrationality 
and revels in its dialectic elaboration. 
Other philosophies try, some by ignoring, 
some by resisting, and some by turning the 
dialectic procedure against itself, negating its 
first negations, to restore the fluent sense of 
1 [Reprinted from _The_Journal_of_Philosophy,_Psychology_and_ 
_Scientific_Methods_, vol II, No. 2, January 19, 1905. Reprinted also 
as Appendix A in _A_Pluralistic_Universe, pp. 347-369. The authors 
corrections have been adopted in the present text. ED.] 
life again, and let redemption take the place of 
innocence. The perfection with which any 
philosophy may do this is the measure of its 
human success and of its importance in philosophic 
history. In [the last essay], 'A World 
of Pure Experience,' I tried my own hand 
sketchily at the problem, resisting certain 
first steps of dialectics by insisting in a general 
way that the immediately experienced conjunctive 
relations are as real as anything else. 
If my sketch is not to appear to _naif_, I must 
come closer to details, and in the present essay 
I propose to do so. 
'Pure experience' is the name which I gave 
to the immediate flux of life which furnishes 
the material to our later reflection with its 
conceptual categories. Only new-born babes, 
or men in semi-coma from sleep, drugs, illnesses, 
or blows, may be assumed to have an 
experience pure in the literal sense of a _that_ 
which is not yet any definite _what_, tho' ready 
to be all sorts of whats; full both of oneness 
and of manyness, but in respects that don't 
appear; changing throughout, yet so confusedly 
that its phases interpenetrate and no 
points, either of distinction or of identity, 
can be caught. Pure experience in this state 
is but another name for feeling or sensation. 
But the flux of it no sooner comes than it 
tends to fill itself with emphases, and these 
salient parts become identified and fixed and 
abstracted; so that experience now flows as if 
shot through with adjectives and nouns and 
prepositions and conjunctions. Its purity is 
only a relative term, meaning to proportional 
amount of unverbalized sensation which 
it still embodies. 
Far back as we go, the flux, both as a whole 
and in its parts, is that of things conjunct and 
separated. The great continua of time, space, 
and the self envelope everything, betwixt 
them, and flow together without interfering. 
The things that they envelop come as separate 
in some ways and as continuous in others. 
Some sensations coalesce with some ideas, and 
others are irreconcilable. Qualities compenetrate 
one space, or exclude each other from it. 
They cling together persistently in groups that 
move as units, or else they separate. Their 
changes are abrupt or discontinuous; and their 
kinds resemble or differ; and, as they do so, 
they fall into either even or irregular series. 
In all this the continuities and the discontinuities 
are absolutely co-ordinate matters of 
immediate feeling. The conjunctions are as 
primordial elements of 'fact' as are the distinctions 
and disjunctions. In the same act by 
which I feel that this passing minute is a new 
pulse of my life, I feel that the old life continues 
into it, and the feeling of continuance in 
no wise jars upon the simultaneous feeling of a 
novelty. They, too, compenetrate harmoniously. 
Prepositions, copulas, and conjunctions, 
'is,' is n't,' 'then,' 'before,' 'in,' 'on,' 'beside,' 
'between,' 'next,' 'like,' 'unlike,' 'as,' 'but,' 
flower out of the stream of pure experience, the 
stream of concretes or the sensational stream, 
as naturally as nouns and adjectives do, and 
they melt into it again as fluidly when we 
apply them to a new portion of the stream 
If now we ask why we must thus translate 
experience from a more concrete or pure into a 
more intellectualized form, filling it with ever 
more abounding conceptual distinctions, rationalism 
and naturalism give different replies. 
The rationalistic answer is that the theoretic 
life is absolute and its interests imperative; 
that to understand is simply the duty of man; 
and that who questions this need must not be argued 
with, for by the fact of arguing he gives away 
his case. 
The naturalist answer is that the environment 
kills as well as sustains us, and that the 
tendency of raw experience to extinguish the 
experient himself is lessened just in the degree 
in which the elements in it that have a practical 
bearing upon life are analyzed out of the 
continuum and verbally fixed and coupled together, 
so that we may know what is in the 
wind for us and get ready to react in time. 
Had pure experience, the naturalist says, been 
always perfectly healthy, there would never 
have arisen the necessity of isolating or verbalizing 
any of its terms. We should just have 
experienced inarticulately and unintellectually 
enjoyed. This leaning on 'reaction' in the 
naturalist account implies that, whenever we 
intellectualize a relatively pure experience, we 
ought to do so for the sake of redescending 
to the purer or more concrete level again; 
and that if an intellect stays aloft among its 
abstract terms and generalized relations, and 
does not reinsert itself with its conclusions into 
some particular point of the immediate stream 
of life, it fails to finish out its function and 
leaves its normal race unrun. 
Most rationalists nowadays will agree that 
naturalism gives a true enough account of the 
way in which our intellect arose at first, but 
they will deny these latter implications. The 
case, they will say, resembles that of sexual 
love. Originating in the animal need of getting 
another generation born, this passion has developed 
secondarily such imperious spiritual 
needs that, if you ask why another generation 
ought to be born at all, the answer is: 'Chiefly 
that love may go on.' Just so with our intellect: 
it originated as a practical means of serving 
life; but it has developed incidentally the 
function of understanding absolute truth; and 
life itself now seems to be given chiefly as a 
means by which that function may be prosecuted. 
But truth and the understanding of it 
lie among the abstracts and universals, so the 
intellect now carries on its higher business 
wholly in this region, without any need of 
redescending into pure experience again. 
If the contrasted tendencies which I thus 
designate as naturalistic and rationalistic are 
not recognized by the reader, perhaps an example 
will make them more concrete. Mr. 
Bradley, for instance, is an ultra-rationalist. 
He admits that our intellect is primarily practical, 
but says that, for philosophers,the practical 
need is simply Truth. Truth, moreover, 
must be assumed 'consistent.' Immediate experience 
has to be broken into subjects and 
qualities, terms and relations, to be understood 
as truth at all. Yet when so broken it is less 
consistent than ever. Taken raw, it is all undistinguished. 
Intellectualized, it is all distinction 
without oneness. 'Such an arrangement 
may _work_, but the theoretic problem is 
not solved.' The question is '_how_ the diversity 
can exist in harmony with the oneness.' To go 
back to pure experience is unavailing. 'Mere 
feeling gives no answer to our riddle.' Even if 
your intuition is a fact, it is not an _understanding_. 
'It is a mere experience, and furnishes 
no consistent view.' The experience offered as 
facts or truths 'I find that my intellect rejects 
because they contradict themselves. They 
offer a complex of diversities conjoined in a 
way which it feels is not its way and which it 
can not repeat as its own. . . . For to be satisfied, 
my intellect must understand, and it can 
not understand by taking a congeries in the 
lump'(1) So Mr. Bradley, in the sole interests 
of 'understanding' (as he conceives that function), 
turns his back on finite experience forever. 
Truth must lie in the opposite direction, 
the direction of the Absolute; and this kind of 
1 [F.H. Bradley: _Appearance_and_Reality_, second edition, pp. 
152-153, 23, 118, 104, 108-109, 570.] 
rationalism and naturalism, or (as I will now 
call it) pragmatism, walk thenceforward upon 
opposite paths. For the one, those intellectual 
products are most truth which, turning their 
face towards the Absolute, come nearest to 
symbolizing its ways of uniting the many and 
the one. For the other, those are most true 
which most successfully dip back into the 
finite stream of feeling and grow most easily 
confluent with some particular wave or wavelet. 
Such confluence not only proves the intellectual 
operation to have been true (as an 
addition may 'prove' that a subtraction is 
already rightly performed), but it constitutes, 
according to pragmatism, all that we mean by 
calling it true. Only in so far as they lead us, 
successfully or unsuccessfully, back into sensible 
experience again, are our abstracts and 
universals true or false at all.(1) 
In Section VI of [the last essay], I adopted 
1 Compare Professor MacLennan's admirable _Auseinandersetzung_ 
with Mr. Bradley, in _The_Journal_of_Philosophy,_Psychology_and_ 
_Scientific_Methods_, vol. I, [1904], pp. 403 ff., especially pp. 
in a general way the common-sense belief that 
one and the same world is cognized by our 
different minds; but I left undiscussed the 
dialectical arguments which maintain that 
this is logically absurd. The usual reason 
given for its being absurd is that it assumes 
one object (to wit, the world) to stand in two 
relations at once; to my mind, namely, and 
again to yours; whereas a term taken in a 
second relation can not logically be the same 
term which it was at first. 
I have heard this reason urged so often in 
discussing with absolutists, and it would destroy 
my radical empiricism so utterly, if it 
were valid, that I am bound to give it an attentive 
ear, and seriously to search its strength. 
For instance, let the matter in dispute be 
term M, asserted to be on the one hand related 
to L, and on the other to N; and let the two 
cases of relation be symbolized by L-M and 
M-N respectively. When, now, I assume 
that the experience may immediately come 
and be given in the shape L-M-N, with 
no trace of doubling or internal fission in the 
M, I am told that this is all a popular delusion; 
that L-M-N logically means two different 
experiences, L-M and M-N, namely; 
and that although the Absolute may, and indeed 
must, from its superior point of view, 
read its own kind of unity into M's two editions, 
yet as elements in finite experience the 
two M's lie irretrievably asunder, and the 
world between them is broken and unbridged. 
In arguing this dialectic thesis, one must 
avoid slipping from the logical into the physical 
point of view. It would be easy, in taking 
a concrete example to fix one's ideas by, to 
choose one in which the letter M should stand 
for a collective noun of some sort, which noun, 
being related to L by one of its parts and to 
N by another, would inwardly be two things 
when it stood outwardly in both relations. 
Thus, one might say: 'David Hume, who 
weighed so many stone by his body, influences 
posterity by his doctrine.' The body and the 
doctrine are two things, between which our 
finite minds can discover no real sameness, 
though the same never covers both of them. 
And then, one might continue: 'Only an Absolute 
is capable of uniting such a non-identity.' 
We must, I say, avoid this sort of example, for 
the dialectic insight, if true at all, must apply 
to terms and relations universally. It must be 
true of abstract units as well as of nouns collective; 
and if we prove it by concrete examples 
we must take the simplest, so as to avoid 
irrelevant material suggestions. 
Taken thus in all its generality, the absolutist 
contention seems to use as its major 
premise Hume's notion 'that all our distinct 
perceptions are distinct existences, and that 
the mind never perceives any real connexion 
among distinct existences.'(1) Undoubtedly, 
since we use two phrases in talking first about 
'M's relation to L' and then about 'M's relation 
to N,' we must be having, or must have 
had, two distinct perceptions; -- and the rest 
would then seem to follow duly. But the starting- 
point of the reasoning here seems to be the 
fact of the two _phrases_; and this suggests that 
1 [Hume: _Treatise_of_Human_Nature_, Appendix, Selby-Bigge's 
edition, p. 636.] 
the argument may be merely verbal. Can it be 
that the whole dialectic consists in attributing 
to the experience talked-about a constitution 
similar to that of the language in which we describe 
it? Must we assert the objective doubleness 
of the M merely because we have to name 
it twice over when we name its two relations? 
Candidly, I can think of no other reason 
than this for the dialectic conclusion;(1) for, if 
we think, not of our words, but of any simple 
concrete matter which they may be held to 
signify, the experience itself belies the paradox 
asserted. We use indeed two separate concepts 
in analyzing our object, but we know them all 
the while to be but substitutional, and that the 
M in L-M and the M in M-N _mean_ (i.e., 
are capable of leading to and terminating in) 
one self-same piece, M, of sensible experience. 
This persistent identity of certain units (or 
emphases, or points, or objects, or members -- 
call them what you will) of the experience- 
continuum, is just one of those conjunctive 
1 Technically, it seems classable as a 'fallacy of composition.' A 
duality, predicable of the two wholes, L-M and M-N, is 
forthwith predicated of one of their parts, M. 
features of it, on which I am obliged to insist 
so emphatically.(1) For samenesses are parts of 
experience's indefeasible structure. When I 
hear a bell-stroke and, as life flows on, its after 
image dies away, I still hark back to it as 'that 
same bell-stroke.' When I see a thing M, with 
L to the left of it and N to the right of it, I see 
it _as_ one M; and if you tell me I have had 
to 'take' it twice, I reply that if I 'took' it a 
thousand times I should still _see_it as a unity.(2) 
Its unity is aboriginal, just as the multiplicity 
of my successive takings is aboriginal. It 
comes unbroken as _that_ M, as a singular which 
I encounter; they come broken, as _those_ takings, 
as my plurality of operations. The unity 
and the separateness are strictly co-ordinate. I 
do not easily fathom why my opponents should 
find the separateness so much more easily understandable 
that they must needs infect the 
whole of finite experience with it, and relegate 
1 See above, pp. 42 ff. 
2 I may perhaps refer here to my _Principles_of_Psychology, vol. I, 
pp. 459 ff. It really seems 'weird' to have to argue (as I am forced 
now to do) for the notion that it is one sheet of paper (with its two 
surfaces and all that lies between) which is both under my pen and on 
the table while I write -- the 'claim' that it is two sheets seems so 
brazen. Yet I sometimes suspect the absolutists of sincerity! 
the unity (now taken as a bare postulate and 
no longer as a thing positively perceivable) to 
the region of the Absolute's mysteries. I do 
not easily fathom this, I say, for the said opponents 
are above mere verbal quibbling; yet all 
that I can catch in their talk is the substitution 
of what is true of certain words for what is 
true of what they signify. They stay with the 
words, -- not returning to the stream of life 
whence all the meaning of them came, and 
which is always ready to reabsorb them. 
For aught this argument proves, then, we 
may continue to believe that one thing can be 
known by many knowers. But the denial of 
one thing in many relations is but one application 
of a still profounder dialectic difficulty. 
Man can't be good, said the sophist, for man is 
_man_ and _good_ is good; and Hegel(1) and Herbart 
in their day, more recently A. Spir,(2) and most 
1 [For the author's criticism of Hegel's view of relations, cf. 
_Will_to_Believe_, pp. 278-279, ED.] 
2 [Cf. A. Spir: _Denken_und_Wirklichkeit_, part I, bk. III, ch. IV 
(containing also account of Herbart). ED.] 
recently and elaborately of all, Mr. Bradley, 
informs us that a term can logically only be 
a punctiform unit, and that not one of the 
conjunctive relations between things, which 
experience seems to yield, is rationally possible. 
Of course, if true, this cuts off radical empiricism 
without even a shilling. Radical empiricism 
takes conjunctive relations at their face 
value, holding them to be as real as the terms 
united by them.(1) The world it represents as a 
collection, some parts of which are conjunctively 
and others disjunctively related. Two 
parts, themselves disjoined, may nevertheless 
hang together by intermediaries with which 
they are severally connected, and the whole 
world eventually may hang together similarly, 
inasmuch as _some_ path of conjunctive transition 
by which to pass from one of its parts 
to another may always be discernible. Such 
determinately various hanging-together may 
be called _concatenated_ union, to distinguish it 
from the 'through-and-through' type of union, 
1 [See above, pp. 42, 49.] 
'each in all and all in each' (union of _total_ 
_conflux_, as one might call it), which monistic 
systems hold to obtain when things are taken 
in their absolute reality. In a concatenated 
world a partial conflux often is experienced. 
Our concepts and our sensations are confluent; 
successive states of the same ego, and feelings 
of the same body are confluent. Where the 
experience is not of conflux, it may be of 
conterminousness (things with but one thing 
between); or of contiguousness (nothing between); 
or of likeness; or of nearness; or of 
simultaneousness; or of in-ness; or of on-ness; 
or of for-ness; or of simple with-ness; or even of 
mere and-ness, which last relation would make 
of however disjointed a world otherwise, at any 
rate for that occasion a universe 'of discourse.' 
Now Mr. Bradley tells us that none of these 
relations, as we actually experience them, can 
possibly be real.(1) My next duty, accordingly, 
1 Here again the reader must beware of slipping from logical into 
phenomenal considerations. It may well be that we _attribute_ a certain 
relation falsely, because the circumstances of the case, being complex, 
have deceived us. At a railway station we may take our own train, 
and not the one that fills our window, to be moving. We here put 
motion in the wrong place in the world, but in its original place the 
motion is a part of reality. What Mr. Bradley means is nothing like 
this, but rather that such things as motion are nowhere real, and 
that, even in their aboriginal and empirically incorrigible seats, 
relations are impossible of comprehension. 
must be to rescue radical empiricism from Mr. 
Bradley. Fortunately, as it seems to me, his 
general contention, that the very notion of relation 
is unthinkable clearly, has been successfully 
met by many critics.(1) 
It is a burden to the flesh, and an injustice 
both to readers and to the previous writers, to 
repeat good arguments already printed. So, in 
noticing Mr. Bradley, I will confine myself to 
the interests of radical empiricism solely. 
The first duty of radical empiricism, taking 
given conjunctions at their face-value, is to 
class some of them as more intimate and some 
as more external. When two terms are _similar_, 
their very natures enter into the relation. 
1 Particularly so by Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, in his _Man_and_ 
_the_Cosmos_; by L.T. Hobhouse, in chapter XII ("The Validity of 
Judgement") of his _Theory_of_Knowledge_; and by F.C.S. Schiller, in his 
_Humanism_, essay XI. Other fatal reviews (in my opinion) are Hodder's, 
in the _Psychological_Review_, vol. I [1894], p. 307; Stout's in the 
_Proceedings_of_the_Aristotelian_Society, 1901-2, p.1; and MacLennan's 
in [_The_Journal_of_Philosophy,_Psychology_and_Scientific_Methods_, 
vol. I, 1904, p. 403]. 
Being _what_ they are, no matter where or when, 
the likeness never can be denied, if asserted. 
It continues predictable as long as the terms 
continue. Other relations, the _where_ and the 
_when_, for example, seems adventitious. The 
sheet of paper may be 'off' or 'on' the table, 
for example; and in either case the relation 
involves only the outside of its terms. Having 
an outside, both of them, they contribute by it 
to the relation. It is external: the term's inner 
nature is irrelevant to it. Any book, any table, 
may fall into the relation, which is created _pro_ 
_hac_vice_, not by their existence, but by their 
causal situation. It is just because so many of 
the conjunctions of experience seem so external 
that a philosophy of pure experience must tend 
to pluralism in its ontology. So far as things 
have space-relations, for example, we are free 
to imagine them with different origins even. If 
they could get to _be_, and get into space at all, 
then they may have done so separately. Once 
there, however, they are _additives_ to one another, 
and, with no prejudice to their natures, 
all sorts of space-relations may supervene between 
them. The question of how things could 
come to be anyhow, is wholly different from 
the question what their relations, once the 
being accomplished, may consist in. 
Mr. Bradley now affirms that such external 
relations as the space-relations which we here 
talk of must hold of entirely different subjects 
from those of which the absence of such relations 
might a moment previously have been 
plausibly asserted. Not only is the _situation_ 
different when the book is on the table, but 
the _book_itself_ is different as a book, from what 
it was when it was off the table.(1) He admits 
that "such external relations seem possible 
and even existing. . . . That you do not alter 
what you compare or rearrange in space seems 
to common sense quite obvious, and that on 
1 Once more, don't slip from logical into physical situations. Of 
course, if the table be wet, it will moisten the book, or if it be 
slight enough and the book be heavy enough, the book will break it down. 
But such collateral phenomena are not the point at issue. The point is 
whether the successive relations 'on' and 'not-on' can rationally (not 
physically) hold of the same constant terms, abstractly taken. 
Professor A.E. Taylor drops from logical into material considerations 
when he instances color-contrast as a proof that A, 'as contra- 
distinguished from B, is not the same thing as mere A not in any way 
affected' (_Elements_of_Metaphysics_, p. 145). Note the substitution, 
for 'related' of the word 'affected,' which begs the whole question. 
the other side there are as obvious difficulties 
does not occur to common sense at all. And I 
will begin by pointing out these difficulties. . . . 
There is a relation in the result, and this relation, 
we hear, is to make no difference in its 
terms. But, if so, to what does it make a difference? 
_lookers,_at_least?_] and what is the meaning and 
sense of qualifying the terms by it? [_Surely_the_ 
_position_.1] If, in short, it is external to the terms, 
how can it possibly be true _of_ them? [_Is_it_the_ 
_Bradley's_trouble?] . . . If the terms from their 
inner nature do not enter into the relation, 
then, so far as they are concerned, they seem 
related for no reason at all. . . . Things are spatially 
related, first in one way, and then become 
related in another way, and yet in no 
way themselves are altered; for the relations, 
it is said, are but external. But I reply that, if 
1 But "is there any sense," asks Mr. Bradley, peevishly, on p. 579, 
"and if so, what sense in truth that is only outside and 'about' 
things?" Surely such a question may be left unanswered. 
so, I can not _understand_ the leaving by the 
terms of one set of relations and their adoption 
of another fresh set. The process and its 
result to the terms, if they contribute nothing 
to it [_Surely_they_contribute_to_it_all_there_is_ 
_'of'_it!_] seem irrational throughout. [_If_'irrational'_ 
_how._] But, if they contribute anything, they 
_must surely be affected internally. [_Why_so,_ 
_etc.,_only_surfaces_are_in_question._] . . . If the 
terms contribute anything whatever, then the 
terms are affected [_inwardly_altered?_] by the 
arrangement. . . . That for working purposes 
we treat, and do well to treat, some relations 
as external merely I do not deny, and that of 
course is not the question at issue here. That 
question is . . . whether in the end and in 
principle a mere external relation -_i.e.,_a_relation_ 
_to_change_their_nature_simultaneously_] is possible 
and forced on us by the facts."(1) 
Mr. Bradley next reverts to the antinomies 
of space, which, according to him, prove it to 
be unreal, although it appears as so prolific a 
medium of external relations; and he then concludes 
that "Irrationality and externality can 
not be the last truth about things. Somewhere 
there must be a reason why this and that appear 
together. And this reason and reality 
must reside in the whole from which terms and 
relations are abstractions, a whole in which 
their internal connection must lie, and out of 
which from the background appear those fresh 
results which never could have come from 
the premises." And he adds that "Where the 
whole is different, the terms that qualify and 
contribute to it must so far be different. . . . 
They are altered so far only [_How_far?_ farther_ 
but still they are altered. . . . I must insist 
that in each case the terms are qualified by 
their whole [_Qualified_how?--Do_their_external_ 
enough?_], and that in the second case there is a 
whole which differs both logically and psychologically 
from the first whole; and I urge that 
in contributing to the change the terms so far 
are altered." 
Not merely the relations, then, but the terms 
are altered: _Und_zwar_ 'so far.' But just _how_ 
far is the whole problem; and 'through-and- 
through' would seem (in spite of Mr. Bradley's 
somewhat undecided utterances(1)) to be the 
1 I say 'undecided,' because, apart from the 'so far,' what sounds 
terribly half-hearted, there are passages in these very pages in which 
Mr. Bradley admits the pluralistic thesis. Read, for example, what he 
says, on p. 578, of a billiard ball keeping its 'character' unchanged, 
though, in its change of place, its 'existence' gets altered; or what he 
says, on p. 579, of the possibility that an abstract quality A, B, or C, 
in a thing, 'may throughout remain unchanged' although the thing be 
altered; or his admission that red-hairedness, both as analyzed out 
of a man and when given with the rest of him, there may be 'no 
change' p. 580). Why does he immediately add that for the pluralist 
to plead the non-mutation of such abstractions would be an _ignoratio_ 
_elenchi?_ It is impossible to admit it to be such. The entire 
_elenchus_ and inquest is just as to whether parts which you can 
abstract from their inner nature. If they can thus mould various wholes 
into new _gestalqualitaten_, then it follows that the same elements are 
logically able to exist in different wholes [whether physically able 
would depend on additional hypotheses]; that partial changes are 
thinkable, and through-and-through change not a dialectic necessity; 
that monism is only an hypothesis; and that an additively constituted 
universe is a rationally respectable hypothesis also. All theses of 
radical empiricism, in short, follow. 
full Bradleyan answer. The 'whole' which he 
here treats as primary and determinative of 
each part's manner of 'contributing,' simply 
_must_, when it alters, alter in its entirety. There 
_must_ be total conflux of its parts, each into 
and through each other. The 'must' appears 
here as a _Machtspruch_, as an _ipse_dixit_ of Mr. 
Bradley's absolutistically tempered 'understanding,' 
for he candidly confesses that how 
the parts _do_differ as they contribute to different 
wholes, is unknown to him.(1) 
Although I have every wish to comprehend 
the authority by which Mr. Bradley's understanding 
speaks, his words leave me wholly 
unconverted. 'External relations' stand with 
their withers all unwrung, and remain, for 
aught he proves to the contrary, not only 
practically workable, but also perfectly intelligible 
factors of reality. 
1 Op. cit., pp. 577-579. 
Mr. Bradley's understanding shows the 
most extraordinary power of perceiving separations 
and the most extraordinary impotence 
in comprehending conjunctions. One would 
naturally say 'neither or both,' but not so Mr. 
Bradley. When a common man analyzes certain 
_whats_ from out the stream of experience, he 
understands their distinctness _as_thus_isolated_. 
But this does not prevent him from equally 
well understanding their combination with 
each other _as_originally_experienced_in_the_concrete_, 
or their confluence with new sensible experiences 
in which they recur as 'the same.' 
Returning into the stream of sensible presentation, 
nouns and adjectives, and _thats_ and abstract 
_whats_, grow confluent again, and the 
word 'is' names all these experiences of conjunction. 
Mr. Bradley understands the isolation 
of the abstracts, but to understand the 
combination is to him impossible.(1) "To understand 
1 So far as I catch his state of mind, it is somewhat like this: 
'Book,' 'table,' 'on' -- how does the existence of these three abstract 
elements result in _this_ book being livingly on _this_table. Why is 
n't the table on the book? Or why does n't the 'on' connect itself with 
another book, or something that is not a table? Must n't something _in_ 
each of the three elements already determine the two others to _it_, so 
that they do not settle elsewhere or float vaguely? Must n't the 
_whole_fact_be_prefigured_in_each_part_, and exist _de_jure_ before it 
can exist _de_fact?_ But, if so, in what can the jural existence 
consist, if not in a spiritual miniature of the whole fact's 
constitution actuating every partial factor as its purpose? But is this 
anything but the old metaphysical fallacy of looking behind a fact 
_in_esse_ for the ground of the fact, and finding it in the shape of the 
very same fact _in_posse?_ Somewhere we must leave off with a 
_constitution_ behind which there is nothing. 
a complex AB," he says, "I must begin 
with A or B. And beginning, say with A, if I 
then merely find B, I have either lost A, or 
I have got beside A, [_the_word_'beside'_seems_ 
_and_therefore_unintelligible_] something else, and 
in neither case have I understood.(1) For my 
intellect can not simply unite a diversity, nor 
has it in itself any form or way of togetherness, 
and you gain nothing if, beside A and B, 
you offer me their conjunction in fact. For to 
my intellect that is no more than another external 
element. And 'facts,' once for all, are 
for my intellect not true unless they satisfy 
it. . . . The intellect has in its nature no 
principle of mere togetherness." (2) 
1 Apply this to the case of 'book-on-table'! W.J. 
2 Op. cit., pp. 570, 572. 
Of course Mr. Bradley has a right to define 
'intellect' as the power by which we perceive 
separations but not unions -- provided he 
give due notice to the reader. But why then 
claim that such a maimed and amputated 
power must reign supreme in philosophy, and 
accuse on its behoof the whole empirical 
world of irrationality? It is true that he elsewhere 
attributes to the intellect a _proprius_ 
_motus_ of transition, but says that when he 
looks for _these_ transitions in the detail of living 
experience, he 'is unable to verify such a 
Yet he never explains what the intellectual 
transitions would be like in case we had them. 
He only defines them negatively -- they are 
not spatial, temporal, predicative, or causal; 
or qualitatively or otherwise serial; or in any 
way relational as we naively trace relations, 
for relations _separate_ terms, and need themselves 
to be hooked on _ad_infinitum_. The nearest 
approach he makes to describing a truly 
intellectual transition is where he speaks of 
1 Op. cit., pp. 568, 569. 
A and B as being 'united, each from its own 
nature, in a whole which is the nature of both 
alike.'(1) But this (which, _pace_ Mr. Bradley, 
seems exquisitely analogous to 'taking' a congeries 
in a 'lump,' if not to 'swamping') suggests 
nothing but that _conflux_ which pure 
experience so abundantly offers, as when 
'space,' 'white' and 'sweet' are confluent in 
a 'lump of sugar,' or kinesthetic, dermal, and 
optical sensations confluent in 'my hand.'(2) 
All that I can verify in the transitions which 
Mr. Bradley's intellect desiderates as its _proprius_ 
_motus_ is a reminiscence of these and 
other sensible conjunctions (especially space- 
conjunctions), but a reminiscence so vague 
that its originals are not recognized. Bradley 
in short repeats the fable of the dog, the bone, 
and its image in the water. With a world of 
particulars, given in loveliest union, in conjunction 
definitely various, and variously definite, 
1 Op. cit., p. 570. 
2 How meaningless is the contention that in such wholes (or in 
'book-on-table,' 'watch-in-pocket,' etc) the relation is an additional 
entity _between_ the terms, needing itself to be related again to each! 
Both Bradley (op. cit., pp. 32-33) and Royce (_The_World_and_the_ 
_Individual_, vol. I, p. 128) lovingly repeat this piece of profundity. 
the 'how' of which you 'understand' as 
soon as you see the fact of them,(1) for there is 
no 'how' except the constitution of the fact 
as given; with all this given him, I say, in pure 
experience, he asks for some ineffable union in 
the abstract instead, which, if he gained it, 
would only be a duplicate of what he has already 
in his full possession. Surely he abuses 
the privilege which society grants to all us 
philosophers, of being puzzle-headed. 
Polemic writing like this is odious; but with 
absolutism in possession in so many quarters, 
omission to defend my radical empiricism 
against its best known champion would count 
as either superficiality or inability. I have to 
conclude that its dialectic has not invalidated 
in the least degree the usual conjunctions by 
which the world, as experienced, hangs so variously 
together. In particular it leaves an empirical 
theory of knowledge(2) intact, and lets 
us continue to believe with common sense that 
one object _may_ be known, if we have any 
ground for thinking that it _is_ known, to many 
In [the next essay] I shall return to this last 
supposition, which seems to me to offer other 
difficulties much harder for a philosophy of 
pure experience to deal with than any of 
absolutism's dialectic objections. 
IN [the essay] entitled 'Does Consciousness 
Exist?' I have tried to show that when we call 
an experience 'conscious,' that does not mean 
that it is suffused throughout with a peculiar 
modality of being ('psychic' being) as stained 
glass may be suffused with light, but rather 
that it stands in certain determinate relations 
to other portions of experience extraneous to 
itself. These form one peculiar 'context' for 
it; while, taken in another context of experiences, 
we class it as a fact in the physical 
world. This 'pen,' for example, is, in the first 
instance, a bald _that_, a datum, fact, phenomenon, 
content, or whatever other neutral or 
ambiguous name you may prefer to apply. I 
called it in that article a 'pure experience.' To 
get classed either as a physical pen or as some 
one's percept of a pen, it must assume a _function_, 
1 [Reprinted from _The_Journal_of_Philosophy,_Psychology_and_ 
_Scientific_Methods_, vol II, No. 7, March 30, 1905.] 
and that can only happen in a more complicated 
world. So far as in that world it is 
a stable feature, holds ink, marks paper and 
obeys the guidance of a hand, it is a physical 
pen. That is what we mean by being 'physical,' 
in a pen. So far as it is instable, on the 
contrary, coming and going with the movements 
of my eyes, altering with what I call my 
fancy, continuous with subsequent experiences 
of its 'having been' (in the past tense), it is the 
percept of a pen in my mind. Those peculiarities 
are what we mean by being 'conscious,' 
in a pen. 
In Section VI of another [essay](1) I tried to 
show that the same _that_, the same numerically 
identical pen of pure experience, can enter 
simultaneously into many conscious contexts, 
or, in other words, be an object for many different 
minds. I admitted that I had not space 
to treat of certain possible objections in that 
article; but in [the last essay] I took some of 
the objections up. At the end of that [essay] 
I said that a still more formidable-sounding 
1 "A World of Pure Experience," above, pp. 39-91. 
objections remained; so, to leave my pure- 
experience theory in as strong a state as possible, 
I propose to consider those objections now. 
The objections I previously tried to dispose 
of were purely logical or dialectical. no one 
identical term, whether physical or psychical, 
it had been said, could be the subject of two 
relations at once. This thesis I sought to prove 
unfounded. The objections that now confront 
us arise from the nature supposed to inhere in 
psychic facts specifically. Whatever may be 
the case with physical objects, a fact of consciousness, 
it is alleged (and indeed very plausibly), 
can not, without self-contradiction, be 
treated as a portion of two different minds, 
and for the following reasons. 
In the physical world we make with impunity 
the assumption that one and the same 
material object can figure in an indefinitely 
large number of different processes at once. 
When, for instance, a sheet of rubber is pulled 
at its four corners, a unit of rubber in the middle 
of the sheet is affected by all four of the 
pulls. It _transmits_ them each, as if it pulled in 
four different ways at once itself. So, an air- 
particle or an ether-particle 'compounds' the 
different directions of movement imprinted on 
it without obliterating their several individualities. 
It delivers them distinct, on the contrary, 
at as many several 'receivers' (ear, eye or what 
not) as may be 'tuned' to that effect. The apparent 
paradox of a distinctness like this surviving 
in the midst of compounding is a thing 
which, I fancy, the analyses made by physicists 
have by this time sufficiently cleared up. 
But if, on the strength of these analogies, one 
should ask: "Why, if two or more lines can run 
through one and the same geometrical point, 
or if two or more distinct processes of activity 
can run through one and the same physical 
thing so that it simultaneously plays a role 
in each and every process, might not two or 
more streams of personal consciousness include 
one and the same unit of experience so that it 
would simultaneously be a part of the experience 
of all the different minds?" one would be 
checked by thinking of a certain peculiarity by 
which phenomena of consciousness differ from 
physical things. 
While physical things, namely, are supposed 
to be permanent and to have their 'states,' a 
fact of consciousness exists but once and _is_ a 
state. Its _esse_ is _sentiri_; it is only so far as it is 
felt; and it is unambiguously and unequivocally 
exactly _what_ is felt The hypothesis under 
consideration would, however, oblige it to be 
felt equivocally, felt now as part of my mind 
and again at the same time _not_ as a part of my 
mind, but of yours (for my mind is _not) yours), 
and this would seem impossible without doubling 
it into two distinct things, or, in other 
words, without reverting to the ordinary dualistic 
philosophy of insulated minds each knowing 
its object representatively as a third thing, 
-- and that would be to give up the pure- 
experience scheme altogether. 
Can we see, then, any way in which a unit of 
pure experience might enter into and figure in 
two diverse streams of consciousness without 
turning itself into the two units which, on our 
hypothesis, it must not be? 
There is a way; and the first step towards it 
is to see more precisely how the unit enters into 
either one of the streams of consciousness 
alone. Just what, from being 'pure,' does its 
becoming 'conscious' _once_ mean? 
It means, first, that new experiences have 
supervened; and, second, that they have 
borne a certain assignable relation to the unit 
supposed. Continue, if you please, to speak of 
the pure unit as 'the pen.' So far as the pen's 
successors do but repeat the pen or, being 
different from it, are 'energetically'(1) related 
to it, and they will form a group of stably 
existing physical things. So far, however, as 
its successors differ from it in another well- 
determined way, the pen will figure in their 
context, not as a physical, but as a mental fact. 
It will become a passing 'percept,' _my_ percept 
of that pen. What now is that decisive well- 
determined way? 
In the chapter on 'The Self,' in my _Principles_ 
1 [For an explanation of this expression, see above, p. 32.] 
_of_Psychology_, I explained the continuous identity 
of each personal consciousness as a name 
for the practical fact that new experiences(1) 
come which look back on the old ones, find 
them 'warm,' and greet and appropriate them 
as 'mine.' These operations mean, when analyzed 
empirically, several tolerably definite 
things, viz.: 
1. That the new experience has past time for 
its 'content,' and in that time a pen that 'was'; 
2. That 'warmth' was also about the pen, 
in the sense of a group of feelings ('interest' 
aroused, 'attention' turned, 'eyes' employed, 
etc.) that were closely connected with it and 
that now recur and evermore recur with unbroken 
vividness, though from the pen of now, 
which may be only an image, all such vividness 
may have gone; 
3. That these feelings are the nucleus of 'me'; 
4. That whatever once was associated with 
them was, at least for that one moment, 
'mine' -- my implement if associated with 
1 I call them 'passing thoughts' in the book -- the passage in point 
goes from pages 330 to 342 of vol. I. 
hand-feelings, my 'percept' only, if only eye- 
feelings and attention-feelings were involved. 
The pen, realized in this retrospective way 
as my percept, thus figures as a fact of 'conscious' 
life. But it does so only so far as 'appropriation' 
has occurred; and appropriation 
is _part_of_the_content_of_a_later_experience_ wholly 
additional to the originally 'pure' pen. _That_ 
pen, virtually both objective and subjective, is 
at its own moment actually and intrinsically 
neither. It has to be looked back upon and 
_used_, in order to be classed in either distinctive 
way. But its use, so called, is in the hands of 
the other experience, while _it_ stands, throughout 
the operation, passive and unchanged. 
If this pass muster as an intelligible account 
of how an experience originally pure can enter 
into one consciousness, the next question is as 
to how it might conceivably enter into two. 
Obviously no new kind of condition would 
have to be supplied. All that we should have 
to postulate would be a second subsequent 
experience, collateral and contemporary with 
the first subsequent one, in which a similar act 
of appropriation should occur. The two acts 
would interfere neither with one another nor 
with the originally pure pen. It would sleep 
undisturbed in its own past, no matter how 
many such successors went through their several 
appropriative acts. Each would know it 
as 'my' percept, each would class it as a 'conscious' 
Nor need their so classing it interfere in the 
least with their classing it at the same time as 
a physical pen. Since the classing in both cases 
depends upon the taking of it in one group or 
another of associates, if the superseding experience 
were of wide enough 'span' it could think 
the pen in both groups simultaneously, and yet 
distinguish the two groups. It would then see 
the whole situation conformably to what, we 
call 'the representative theory of cognition,' 
and that is what we all spontaneously do. As a 
man philosophizing 'popularly,' I believe that 
what I see myself writing with is double -- I 
think it in its relations to physical nature, and 
also in its relations to my personal life; I see 
that it is in my mind, but that it also is a 
physical pen. 
The paradox of the same experience figuring 
in two consciousnesses seems thus no paradox 
at all. To be 'conscious' means not simply to 
be, but to be reported, known, to have awareness 
of one's being added to that being; and 
this is just what happens when the appropriative 
experience supervenes. The pen-experience 
in its original immediacy is not aware of 
itself, it simply _is_, and the second experience is 
required for what we call awareness of it to 
occur.(1) The difficulty of understanding what 
happens here is, therefore, not a logical difficulty: 
there is no contradiction involved. It is 
an ontological difficulty rather. Experiences 
come on an enormous scale, and if we take 
1 Shadworth Hodgson has laid great stress on the fact that the 
minimum of consciousness demands two subfeelings of which the 
second retrospects the first. (Cf. the section 'Analysis of Minima' in 
his _Philosophy_of_Reflection_, vol. I, p. 248; also the chapter 
entitled 'The Moment of Experience' in his _Metaphysic_of_Experience_, 
vol. I, p. 34.) 'We live forward, but we understand backward' is a 
phrase of Kierkegaard's which Hoffding quotes. [H. Hoffding: "A 
Philosophical Confession," 
_Journal_of_Philosophy,_Psychology_and_Scientific_Methods_, vol. II, 
1905, p. 86. 
them all together, they come in a chaos of 
incommensurable relations that we can not 
straighten out. We have to abstract different 
groups of them, and handle these separately 
if we are to talk of them at all. But how the 
experiences ever _get_themselves_made_, or _why_ 
their characters and relations are just such 
as appear, we can not begin to understand.. 
Granting, however, that, by hook or crook, 
they _can_ get themselves made, and can appear 
in the successions that I have so schematically 
described, then we have to confess that even 
although (as I began by quoting from the adversary) 
'a feeling only is as it is felt,' there is 
still nothing absurd in the notion of its being 
felt in two different ways at once, as yours, 
namely, and as mine. It is, indeed, 'mine' only 
as it is felt as mine, and 'yours' only as it is 
felt as yours. But it is felt as neither _by_itself_, 
but only when 'owned' by our two several remembering 
experiences, just as one undivided 
estate is owned by several heirs. 
One word, now, before I close, about the 
corollaries of the view set forth. Since the 
acquisition of conscious quality on the part of 
an experience depends upon a context coming 
to it, it follows that the sum total of all experiences, 
having no context, can not strictly be 
called conscious at all. It is a _that_, an Absolute, 
a 'pure' experience on an enormous 
scale, undifferentiated and undifferentiable 
into thought and thing. This the post-Kantian 
idealists have always practically acknowledged 
by calling their doctrine an _Identitats-_ 
_philosophie_. The question of the _Beseelung_ of 
the All of things ought not, then, even to be 
asked. No more ought the question of its _truth_ 
to be asked, for truth is a relation inside of the 
sum total, obtaining between thoughts and 
something else, and thoughts, as we have seen, 
can only be contextual things. In these respects 
the pure experiences of our philosophy 
are, in themselves considered, so many little 
absolutes, the philosophy of pure experience 
being only a more comminuted _Identitatsphilosphie_.(1) 
Meanwhile, a pure experience can be postulated 
with any amount whatever of span or 
field. If it exert the retrospective and appropriative 
function on any other piece of experience, 
the latter thereby enters into its own 
conscious stream. And in this operation time 
intervals make no essential difference. After 
sleeping, my retrospection is as perfect as it is 
between two successive waking moments of my 
time. Accordingly if, millions of years later, a 
similarly retrospective experience should anyhow 
come to birth, my present thought would 
form a genuine portion of its long-span conscious 
life. 'Form a portion,' I say, but not in 
the sense that the two things could be entitatively 
or substantively one -- they cannot, 
for they are numerically discrete facts -- but 
only in the sense that the _functions_ of my present 
thought, its knowledge, its purpose, its 
content and 'consciousness,' in short, being 
inherited, would be continued practically 
1 [Cf. below, pp. 197, 202.] 
unchanged. Speculations like Fechner's, of an 
Earth-soul, of wider spans of consciousness 
enveloping narrower ones throughout the cosmos, 
are, therefore, philosophically quite in 
order, provided they distinguish the functional 
from the entitative point of view, and do not 
treat the minor consciousness under discussion 
as a kind of standing material of which the 
wider ones _consist_.(1) 
1 [Cf. _A_Pluralistic_Universe_, Lect. IV, 'Concerning Fechner,' and 
Lect. V, 'The Compounding of Consciousness.'] 
COMMON sense and popular philosophy are as 
dualistic as it is possible to be. Thoughts, we 
all naturally think, are made of one kind of 
substance, and things of another. Consciousness, 
flowing inside us in the forms of conception 
or judgement, or concentrating itself in 
the shape of passion or emotion, can be directly 
felt as the spiritual activity which it is, and 
known in contrast with the space-filling, objective 
'content' which it envelops and accompanies. 
In opposition to this dualistic 
philosophy, I tried, in [the first essay] to show 
that thoughts and things are absolutely homogeneous 
as to their material, and that their 
opposition is only one of relation and of function. 
There is no thought-stuff different from 
thing-stuff, I said; but the same identical piece 
1 [Reprinted from _The_Journal_of_Philosophy,_Psychology_and_ 
_Scientific_Methods_, vol II,, No. 11, May 25, 1905.] 
of 'pure experience' (which was the name I 
gave to the _materia_prima_ of everything) can 
stand alternately for a 'fact of consciousness' 
or for a physical reality, according as it is taken 
in one context or in another. For the right 
understanding of what follows, I shall have to 
presuppose that the reader will have read that 
The commonest objection which the doctrine 
there laid down runs up against is drawn 
from the existence of our 'affections.' In our 
pleasures and pains, our loves and fears and 
angers, in the beauty, comicality, importance 
or preciousness of certain objects and situations, 
we have, I am told by many critics, a 
great realm of experience intuitively recognized 
as spiritual, made, and felt to be made, 
of consciousness exclusively, and different in 
nature from the space-filling kind of being 
which is enjoyed by physical objects. In 
Section VII, of [the first essay], I treated of 
this class of experiences inadequately, 
1 It will be still better if he shall have also read the [essay] 
entitled 'A World of Pure Experience,' which follows [the first] and 
develops its ideas still farther. 
because I had to be brief. I now return to 
the subject, because I believe that, so far from 
invalidating my general thesis, these phenomena, 
when properly analyzed, afford it powerful 
The central point of the pure-experience theory 
is that 'outer' and 'inner' are names for 
two groups into which we sort experiences 
according to the way in which they act upon 
their neighbors. Any one 'content,' such as 
_hard_, let us say, can be assigned to either 
group. In the outer group it is 'strong,' it acts 
'energetically' and aggressively. Here whatever 
is hard interferes with the space its neighbors 
occupy. It dents them; is impenetrable 
by them; and we call the hardness then a physical 
hardness. In the mind, on the contrary, 
the hard thing is nowhere in particular, it 
dents nothing, it suffuses through its mental 
neighbors, as it were, and interpenetrates 
them. Taken in this group we call both it and 
them 'ideas' or 'sensations'; and the basis of 
the two groups respectively is the different 
type of interrelation, the mutual impenetrability, 
on the one hand, and the lack of physical 
interference and interaction, on the other. 
That what in itself is one and the same 
entity should be able to function thus differently 
in different contexts is a natural consequence 
of the extremely complex reticulations 
in which our experiences come. To her offspring 
a tigress is tender, but cruel to every 
other living thing -- both cruel and tender, 
therefore, at once. A mass in movement resists 
every force that operates contrariwise to its 
own direction, but to forces that pursue the 
same direction, or come in at right angles, it is 
absolutely inert. It is thus both energetic and 
inert; and the same is true (if you vary the 
associates properly) of every other piece of 
experience. It is only towards certain specific 
groups of associates that the physical energies 
as we call them, of a content are put forth. In 
another group it may be quite inert. 
It is possible to imagine a universe of experiences 
in which the only alternative between 
neighbors would be either physical interaction 
or complete inertness. In such a world the 
mental or the physical _status) of any piece of 
experience would be unequivocal. When active, 
it would figure in the physical, and when 
inactive, in the mental group. 
But the universe we live in is more chaotic 
than this, and there is room in it for the hybrid 
or ambiguous group of our affectional experiences, 
of our emotions and appreciative perceptions. 
In the paragraphs that follow I shall 
try to show: 
(1) That the popular notion that these experiences 
are intuitively given as purely inner 
facts is hasty and erroneous; and 
(2) That their ambiguity illustrates beautifully 
my central thesis that subjectivity and 
objectivity are affairs not of what an experience 
is aboriginally made of, but of its classification. 
Classifications depend on our temporary 
purposes. For certain purposes it is 
convenient to take things in one set of relations, 
for other purposes in another set. In the 
two cases their contexts are apt to be different. 
In the case of our affectional experiences we 
have no permanent and steadfast purpose that 
obliges us to be consistent, so we find it easy to 
let them float ambiguously, sometimes classing 
them with our feelings, sometimes with 
more physical realities, according to caprice 
or to the convenience of the moment. Thus 
would these experiences, so far from being 
an obstacle to the pure experience philosophy, 
serve as an excellent corroboration of its 
First of all, then, it is a mistake to say, with 
the objectors whom I began by citing, that 
anger, love and fear are affections purely of the 
mind. That, to a great extent at any rate, they 
are simultaneously affections of the body is 
proved by the whole literature of the James- 
Lange theory of emotion.(1) All our pains, 
moreover, are local, and we are always free to 
speak of them in objective as well as in subjective 
terms. We can say that we are aware of 
a painful place, filling a certain bigness in our 
organism, or we can say that we are inwardly 
in a 'state' of pain. All our adjectives of 
1 [Cf. _The_Principles_of_Psychology_, vol. II, ch. XXV; and "The 
Physical Basis of Emotion," _The_Psychological_Review_, vol. I, 1894, 
p. 516.] 
worth are similarly ambiguous -- I instanced 
some of the ambiguities [in the first essay].(1) 
Is the preciousness of a diamond a quality of 
the gem? or is it a feeling in our mind? Practically 
we treat it as both or as either, according 
to the temporary direction of our thought. 
'Beauty,' says Professor Santayana, 'is pleasure 
objectified'; and in Sections 10 and 11 of 
his work, _The_Sense_of_Beauty_, he treats in a 
masterly way of this equivocal realm. The 
various pleasures we receive from an object 
may count as 'feelings' when we take them 
singly, but when they combine in a total richness, 
we call the result the 'beauty' of the 
object, and treat it as an outer attribute which 
our mind perceives. We discover beauty just as 
we discover the physical properties of things. 
Training is needed to make us expert in either 
line. Single sensations also may be ambiguous. 
Shall we say an 'agreeable degree of heat,' or 
an 'agreeable feeling' occasioned by the degree 
of heat? Either will do; and language would 
lose most of its esthetic and rhetorical value 
1 [See above, pp. 34, 35.] 
were we forbidden to project words primarily 
connoting our affections upon the objects by 
which the affections are aroused. The man 
is really hateful; the action really mean; the 
situation really tragic -- all in themselves and 
quite apart from our opinion. We even go so 
far as to talk of a weary road, a giddy height, a 
jocund morning or a sullen sky; and the term 
'indefinite' while usually applied only to our 
apprehensions, functions as a fundamental 
physical qualification of things in Spencer's 
'law of evolution,' and doubtless passes with 
most readers for all right. 
Psychologists, studying our perceptions of 
movement, have unearthed experiences in 
which movement is felt in general but not 
ascribed correctly to the body that really 
moves. Thus in optical vertigo, caused by 
unconscious movements of our eyes, both we 
and the external universe appear to be in a 
whirl. When clouds float by the moon, it is as 
if both clouds and moon and we ourselves 
shared in the motion. In the extraordinary 
case of amnesia of the Rev. Mr. Hanna, published 
by Sidis and Goodhart in their important 
work on _Multiple_Personality_, we read that 
when the patient first recovered consciousness 
and "noticed an attendant walk across the 
room, he identified the movement with that of 
his own. He did not yet discriminate between 
his own movements and those outside himself."(1) 
Such experiences point to a primitive 
stage of perception in which discriminations 
afterwards needful have not yet been made. 
A piece of experience of a determinate sort 
is there, but there at first as a 'pure' fact. 
Motion originally simply _is_; only later is it 
confined to this thing or to that. Something 
like this is true of every experience, however 
complex, at the moment of its actual presence. 
Let the reader arrest himself in the act of reading 
this article now. _Now_ this is a pure experience, 
a phenomenon, or datum, a mere _that_ or 
content of fact. _'Reading'_simply_is,_is_there_; 
and whether there for some one's consciousness, 
or there for physical nature, is a question 
not yet put. At the moment, it is there for 
1 Page 102. 
neither; later we shall probably judge it to 
have been there for both. 
With the affectional experiences which we 
are considering, the relatively 'pure' condition 
lasts. In practical life no urgent need has 
yet arisen for deciding whether to treat them 
as rigorously mental or as rigorously physical 
facts. So they remain equivocal; and, as the 
world goes, their equivocality is one of their 
great conveniences. 
The shifting place of 'secondary qualities' in 
the history of philosophy(1) is another excellent 
proof of the fact that 'inner' and 'outer' are 
not coefficients with which experiences come to 
us aboriginally stamped, but are rather results 
of a later classification performed by us for 
particular needs. The common-sense stage of 
thought is a perfectly definite practical halting- 
place, the place where we ourselves can 
proceed to act unhesitatingly. On this stage 
of thought things act on each other as well 
as on us by means of their secondary qualities. 
1 [Cf. Janet and Seailles: _History_of_the_Problems_of_Philosophy_, 
trans. by Monahan, part I, ch. III.] 
Sound, as such, goes through the air 
and can be intercepted. The heat of the fire 
passes over, as such, into the water which it 
sets a-boiling. It is the very light of the arc- 
lamp which displaces the darkness of the midnight 
street, etc. By engendering and translocating 
just these qualities, actively efficacious 
as they seem to be, we ourselves succeed in 
altering nature so as to suit us; and until more 
purely intellectual, as distinguished from practical, 
needs had arisen, no one ever thought 
of calling these qualities subjective. When, 
however, Galileo, Descartes, and others found 
it best for philosophic purposes to class sound, 
heat, and light along with pain and pleasure 
as purely mental phenomena, they could do so 
with impunity.(1) 
Even the primary qualities are undergoing 
the same fate. Hardness and softness are effects 
on us of atomic interactions, and the 
atoms themselves are neither hard nor soft, 
nor solid nor liquid. Size and shape are deemed 
1 [Cf. Descartes: _Meditation_ II; _Principles_of_Philosophy_, 
part I, XLVIII.] 
subjective by Kantians; time itself is subjective 
according to many philosophers;(1) and 
even the activity and causal efficacy which 
lingered in physics long after secondary qualities 
were banished are now treated as illusory 
projections outwards of phenomena of our 
own consciousness. There are no activities or 
effects in nature, for the most intellectual 
contemporary school of physical speculation. 
Nature exhibits only _changes_, which habitually 
coincide with one another so that their habits 
are describable in simple 'laws.'(2) 
There is no original spirituality or materiality 
of being, intuitively discerned, then; but 
only a translocation of experiences from one 
world to another; a grouping of them with 
one set or another of associates for definitely 
practical or intellectual ends. 
I will say nothing here of the persistent 
ambiguity of _relations_. They are undeniable 
parts of pure experience; yet, while common 
sense and what I call radical empiricism stand 
1 [Cf. A.E. Taylor: _Elements_of_Metaphysics_, bk. III, ch. IV.] 
2 [Cf. K. Pearson: _Grammar_of_Science_, ch. III.] 
for their being objective, both rationalism and 
the usual empiricism claim that they are exclusively 
the 'work of the mind' -- the finite 
mind or the absolute mind, as the case may be. 
Turn now to those affective phenomena 
which more directly concern us. 
We soon learn to separate the ways in which 
things appeal to our interests and emotions 
from the ways in which they act upon one 
another. It does not _work_ to assume that physical 
objects are going to act outwardly by 
their sympathetic or antipathetic qualities. 
The beauty of a thing or its value is no force 
that can be plotted in a polygon of compositions, 
nor does its 'use' or 'significance' affect in 
the minutest degree its vicissitudes or destiny 
at the hands of physical nature. Chemical 
'affinities' are a purely verbal metaphor; and, 
as I just said, even such things as forces, tensions, 
and activities can at a pinch be regarded 
as anthropomorphic projections. So far, then, 
as the physical world means the collection of 
contents that determine in each other certain 
regular changes, the whole collection of our 
appreciative attributes has to be treated as 
falling outside of it. If we mean by physical 
nature whatever lies beyond the surface of our 
bodies, these attributes are inert throughout 
the whole extent of physical nature. 
Why then do men leave them as ambiguous 
as they do, and not class them decisively as 
purely spiritual? 
The reason would seem to be that, although 
they are inert as regards the rest of physical 
nature, they are not inert as regards that part 
of physical nature which our own skin covers. 
It is those very appreciative attributes of 
things, their dangerousness, beauty, rarity, 
utility, etc., that primarily appeal to our 
attention. In our commerce with nature these 
attributes are what give _emphasis_ to objects; 
and for an object to be emphatic, whatever 
spiritual fact it may mean, means also that it 
produces immediate bodily effects upon us, 
alterations of tone and tension, of heart-beat 
and breathing, of vascular and visceral action. 
The 'interesting' aspects of thins are thus 
not wholly inert physically, though they be 
active only in these small corners of physical 
nature which our bodies occupy. That, 
however, is enough to save them from being 
classed as absolutely non-objective. 
The attempt, if any one should make it, to 
sort experience into two absolutely discrete 
groups, with nothing but inertness in one of 
them and nothing but activities in the other, 
would thus receive one check. It would receive 
another as soon as we examined the more 
distinctively mental group; for though in that 
group it be true that things do not act on one 
another by their physical properties do not 
dent each other or set fire to each other, they 
yet act on each other in the most energetic 
way by those very characters which are so 
inert extracorporeally. It is by the interest 
and importance that experiences have for us, 
by the emotions they excite, and the purposes 
they subserve, by their affective values, in 
short, that their consecution in our several 
conscious streams, as 'thoughts' of ours, is 
mainly ruled. Desire introduces them; interest 
holds them; fitness fixes their order and connection. 
I need only refer for this aspect of 
our mental life, to Wundt's article 'Ueber 
psychische Causalitat,' which begins Volume 
X. of his _Philosophische_Studien_.(1) 
It thus appears that the ambiguous or amphibious 
_status_ which we find our epithets of 
value occupying is the most natural thing in 
the world. It would, however, be an unnatural 
status if the popular opinion which I cited 
at the outset were correct. If 'physical' and 
'mental' meant two different kinds of intrinsic 
nature, immediately, intuitively, and 
infallibly discernible, and each fixed forever 
in whatever bit of experience it qualified, 
one does not see how there could ever have 
arisen any room for doubt or ambiguity. 
But if, on the contrary, these words are 
words of sorting, ambiguity is natural. For 
then, as soon as the relations of a thing are 
sufficiently various it can be sorted variously. 
1 It is enough for my present purpose if the appreciative characters 
but _seem_ to act thus. Believers in an activity _an_sich_, other than 
our mental experiences of activity, will find some farther reflections 
on the subject in my address on 'The Experience of Activity.' [The next 
essay. Cf. especially, p. 169. ED.] 
Take a mass of carrion, for example, and the 
'disgustingness' which for us is a part of the 
experience. The sun caresses it, and the 
zephyr wooes it as if it were a bed of roses. 
So the disgustingness fails to _operate_ within 
the realm of suns and breezes, -- it does not 
function as a physical quality. But the carrion 
'turns our stomach' by what seems a direct 
operation -- it _does_ function physically, therefore, 
in that limited part of physics. We can 
treat it as physical or as non-physical according 
as we take it in the narrower or in the wider 
context, and conversely, of course, we must 
treat it as non-mental or as mental. 
Our body itself is the palmary instance of 
the ambiguous. Sometimes I treat my body 
purely as a part of outer nature. Sometimes, 
again, I think of it as 'mine,' I sort it with 
the 'me,' and then certain local changes and 
determinations in it pass for spiritual happenings. 
Its breathing is my 'thinking,' its sensorial 
adjustments are my 'attention,' its 
kinesthetic alterations are my 'efforts,' its 
visceral perturbations are my 'emotions.' 
The obstinate controversies that have arisen 
over such statements as these (which sound so 
paradoxical, and which can yet be made so 
seriously) prove how hard it is to decide by 
bare introspection what it is in experiences 
that shall make them either spiritual or 
material. It surely can be nothing intrinsic in 
the individual experience. It is their way of 
behaving towards each other, their system of 
relations, their functions; and all these things 
vary with the context in which we find it 
opportune to consider them. 
I think I may conclude, then (and I hope 
that my readers are now ready to conclude 
with me), that the pretended spirituality of 
our emotions and of our attributes of value, 
so far from proving an objection to the philosophy 
of pure experience, does, when rightly 
discussed and accounted for, serve as one of 
its best corroborations. 
IN casting about me for a subject for your 
President this year to talk about it has seemed 
to me that our experiences of activity would 
form a good one; not only because the topic 
is so naturally interesting, and because it has 
lately led to a good deal of rather inconclusive 
discussion, but because I myself am growing 
more and more interested in a certain systematic 
way of handling questions, and want to get 
others interested also, and this question strikes 
me as one in which, although I am painfully 
aware of my inability to communicate new 
discoveries or to reach definitive conclusions, 
I yet can show, in a rather definite manner, 
how the method works. 
1 President's Address before the American Psychological Association, 
Philadelphia Meeting, December, 1904. [Reprinted from _The_ 
_Psychological_Review_, vol. XII, No. 1, Jan., 1905. Also reprinted 
with some omissions, as Appendix B, _A_Pluralistic_Universe, pp. 
370-394. Pp. 166-167 have also been reprinted in 
_Some_Problems_of_Philosophy_, p. 212. The present essay is referred to 
in _Ibid._, p. 219, note. The author's corrections have been adopted 
for the present text. ED.] 
The way of handling things I speak of, is, as 
you already will have suspected, that known 
sometimes as the pragmatic method, sometimes 
as humanism, sometimes as Deweyism, 
and in France, by some of the disciples of 
Bergson, as the Philosophie nouvelle. Professor 
Woodbridge's _Journal_of_Philosophy_(1) seems 
unintentionally to have become a sort of meeting 
place for those who follow these tendencies 
in America. There is only a dim identity 
among them; and the most that can be said at 
present is that some sort of gestation seems to 
be in the atmosphere, and that almost any day 
a man with a genius for finding the right word 
for things may hit upon some unifying and 
conciliating formula that will make so much 
vaguely similar aspiration crystallize into 
more definite form. 
I myself have given the name of 'radical 
empiricism' to that version of the tendency in 
question which I prefer; and I propose, if you 
will now let me, to illustrate what I mean by 
radical empiricism, by applying it to activity 
1 [_The_Journal_of_Philosophy,_Psychology_and_Scientific_Methods_.] 
as an example, hoping at the same time incidentally 
to leave the general problem of activity 
in a slightly -- I fear very slightly -- more 
manageable shape than before. 
Mr. Bradley calls the question of activity a 
scandal to philosophy, and if one turns to the 
current literature of the subject -- his own 
writings included -- one easily gathers what 
he means. The opponents cannot even understand 
one another. Mr. Bradley says to Mr. 
Ward: "I do not care what your oracle is, 
and your preposterous psychology may here be 
gospel if you please; . . . but if the revelation 
does contain a meaning, I will commit 
myself to this: either the oracle is so confused 
that its signification is not discoverable, or, 
upon the other hand, if it can be pinned down 
to any definite statement, then that statement 
will be false."(1) Mr. Ward in turn says 
of Mr. Bradley: "I cannot even imagine the 
state of mind to which his description applies. 
. . . [It] reads like an unintentional travesty 
1 _Appearance_and_Reality_, second edition. pp. 116-117. -- 
Obviously written _at_ Ward, though Ward's name is not mentioned 
of Herbartian psychology by one who has 
tried to improve upon it without being at the 
pains to master it."(1) Munsterberg excludes a 
view opposed to his own by saying that with 
any one who holds it a _Verstandigung_ with 
him is "_grundsatzlich_ausgeschlosen_"; and 
Royce, in a review of _Stoud_,(2) hauls him over 
the coals at great length for defending 'efficacy' 
in a way which I, for one, never gathered 
from reading him, and which I have 
heard Stout himself say was quite foreign to 
the intention of his text. 
In these discussion distinct questions are 
habitually jumbled and different points of 
view are talked of _durcheinander_. 
(1) There is a psychological question: "Have 
we perceptions of activity? and if so, what are 
they like, and when and where do we have 
(2) There is a metaphysical question: "Is 
there a _fact_ of activity? and if so, what idea 
must we frame of it? What is it like? and what 
1 [_Mind_, vol. XII, 1887, pp. 573-574.] 
2 _Mind_, N.S., vol. VI, [1897], p. 379. 
does it do, if it does anything?" And finally 
there is a logical question: 
(3) "Whence do we _know_ activity? By our 
own feelings of it solely? or by some other 
source of information?" Throughout page 
after page of the literature one knows not 
which of these questions is before one; and 
mere description of the surface-show of experience 
is proffered as if it implicitly answered 
every one of them. No one of the disputants, 
moreover, tries to show what pragmatic consequences 
his own view would carry, or what 
assignable particular differences in any one's 
experience it would make if his adversary's 
were triumphant. 
It seems to me that if radical empiricism be 
good for anything, it ought, with its pragmatic 
method and its principle of pure experience, 
to be able to avoid such tangles, or at least 
to simplify them somewhat. The pragmatic 
method starts from the postulate that there is 
no difference of truth that does n't make a 
difference of fact somewhere; and it seeks to 
determine the meaning of all differences of 
opinion by making the discussion hinge as soon 
as possible upon some practical or particular 
issue. The principle of pure experience is also 
a methodological postulate. Nothing shall be admitted 
as fact, it says, except what can be 
experienced at some definite time by some experient; 
and for every feature of fact ever so 
experienced, a definite place must be found 
somewhere in the final system of reality. In 
other words: Everything real must be experiencable 
somewhere, and every kind of thing 
experienced must be somewhere real. 
Armed with these rules of method let us see 
what face the problems of activity present to us. 
By the principle of pure experience, either 
the word 'activity' must have no meaning at 
all, or else the original type and model of what 
it means must lie in some concrete kind of 
experience that can be definitely pointed out. 
Whatever ulterior judgements we may eventually 
come to make regarding activity, _that_sort_ 
of thing will be what the judgements are about. 
The first step to take, then, is to ask where in 
the stream of experience we seem to find what 
we speak of as activity. What we are to think 
of the activity thus found will be a later 
Now it is obvious that we are tempted to 
affirm activity wherever we find anything 
_going_on_. Taken in the broadest sense, any 
apprehension of something _doing_, is an experience 
of activity. Were our world describable 
only by the words 'nothing happening,' 
'nothing changing,' 'nothing doing,' we should 
unquestionably call it an 'inactive' world. 
Bare activity then, as we may call it, means 
the bare fact of event or change. 'Change taking 
place' is a unique content of experience, 
one of those 'conjunctive' objects which radical 
empiricism seeks so earnestly to rehabilitate 
and preserve. The sense of activity is thus 
in the broadest and vaguest way synonymous 
with the sense of 'life.' We should feel our 
own subjective life at least, even in noticing 
and proclaiming an otherwise inactive world. 
Our own reaction on its monotony would be 
the one thing experienced there in the form of 
something coming to pass. 
This seems to be what certain writers have 
in mind when they insist that for an experient 
to be at all is to be active. It seems to justify, 
or at any rate to explain, Mr. Ward's expression 
that we _are_ only as we are active,(1) for 
we _are_ only as experients; and it rules out Mr. 
Bradley's contention that "there is no original 
experience of anything like activity."(2) What 
we ought to say about activities thus elementary, 
whose they are, what they effect, or 
whether indeed they effect anything at all -- 
these are later questions, to be answered only 
when the field of experience is enlarged. 
Bare activity would thus be predicable, 
though there were no definite direction, no 
actor, and no aim. Mere restless zigzag movement, 
or a wild _Ideenflucht_, or _Rhapsodie_der_ 
_Wharnehmungen_, as Kant would say,(2) would 
1 _Naturalism_and_Agnosticism_, vol. II, p.245. One thinks naturally 
of the peripatetic _actus_primus_ and _actus_secundus_ here. ["Actus 
autem est _duplex_: _primus_ et _secundus_. Actus quidem primus est 
forma, et integritas sei. Actus autem secundus est operatio." Thomas 
Aquinas: _Summa_Theologica_, edition of Leo XIII, (1894), vol. I, 
p. 391. Cf. also Blanc: _Dictionaire_de_Philosophie_, under 'acte.' 
2 [_Appearance_and_Reality_, second edition, p. 116.] 
3 [_Kritik_der_reinen_Vernunft,_Werke_, (1905), vol. IV, p. 110 
(trans. by Max Muller, second edition, p. 128).] 
constitute and active as distinguished from an 
inactive world. 
But in this actual world of ours, as it is 
given, a part at least of the activity comes 
with definite direction; it comes with desire 
and a sense of goal; it comes complicated with 
resistances which it overcomes or succumbs to, 
and with the efforts which the feeling of resistance 
so often provokes; and it is in complex 
experiences like these that the notions of 
distinct agents, and of passivity as opposed 
to activity arise. Here also the notion of 
causal efficacy comes to birth. Perhaps the 
most elaborate work ever done in descriptive 
psychology has been the analysis by various 
recent writers of the more complex activity- 
situations.(1) In their descriptions, exquisitely 
1 I refer to such descriptive work as Ladd's (_Psychology,_ 
_Descriptive_and_Explanatory_, part I, chap. V, part II, chap. XI, part 
III, chaps. XXV and XXVI); as Sully's (_The_Human_Mind_, part V); as 
Stout's (_Analytic_Psychology_, book I, chap. vi, and book II, chaps. I, 
II, and III); as Bradley's (in his long series of articles on Psychology 
in _Mind)_; as Titchener's (_Outline_of_Psychology_, part I, chap. vi); 
as Shand's (_Mind_, N.S., III, 449; IV, 450; VI, 289); as Ward's 
(_Mind_, XII, 67; 564); as Loveday's (_Mind_, N.S., X, 455); as 
Lipp's (Vom Fuhlen, Wollen Und Denken, 1902, chaps II, IV, VI); 
and as Bergson's (_Revue_Philosophique_, LIII, 1) -- to mention only 
a few writings which I immediately recall. 
subtle some of them,91) the activity appears as 
the _gestaltqualitat_ or the _fundirte_inhalt_ (or as 
whatever else you may please to call the conjunctive 
form) which the content falls into 
when we experience it in the ways which the 
describers set forth. Those factors in those 
relations are what we mean by activity-situations; 
and to the possible enumeration and 
accumulation of their circumstances and ingredients 
there would seem to be no natural 
bound. Every hour of human life could contribute 
to the picture gallery; and this is the 
only fault that one can find with such descriptive 
industry -- where is it going to stop? 
Ought we to listen forever to verbal pictures 
of what we have already in concrete form in 
our own breasts?(2) They never take us off the 
superficial plane. We knew the facts already -- 
less spread out and separated, to be sure -- but 
1 Their existence forms a curious commentary on Prof. Munsterberg's 
dogma that will-attitudes are not describable. He himself has 
contributed in a superior way to their description, both in his 
_Willenshandlung_, and in his _Grundzuge_ [_der_Psychologie_], part II, 
chap. IX, section 7. 
2 I ought myself to cry _peccavi_, having been a voluminous sinner in 
my own chapter on the will. [_Principles_of_Psychology_, vol. II, chap. 
we knew them still. We always felt our own 
activity, for example, as 'the expansion of an 
idea with which our Self is identified, against 
an obstacle';(1) and the following out of such a 
definition through a multitude of cases elaborates 
the obvious so as to be little more than an 
exercise in synonymic speech. 
All the descriptions have to trace familiar 
outlines, and to use familiar terms. The activity 
is, for example, attributed either to a 
physical or to a mental agent, and is either 
aimless or directed. If directed it shows tendency. 
The tendency may or may not be resisted. 
If not, we call the activity immanent, as 
when a body moves in empty space by its momentum, 
or our thoughts wander at their own 
sweet will. If resistance is met, _its_ agent complicates 
the situation. If now, in spite of resistance, 
the original tendency continues, effort 
makes its appearance, and along with effort, 
strain or squeeze. Will, in the narrower sense 
of the word, then comes upon the scene, whenever, 
1 [Cf. F.H. Bradley, _Appearance_and_Reality_, second edition, pp. 
along with the tendency, the strain and 
squeeze are sustained. But the resistance may 
be great enough to check the tendency, or even 
to reverse its path. In that case, we (if 'we' were 
the original agents or subjects of the tendency) 
are overpowered. The phenomenon turns into 
one of tension simply, or of necessity succumbed- 
to, according as the opposing power is 
only equal, or is superior to ourselves. 
Whosoever describes an experience in such 
terms as these describes an experience _of_ activity. 
If the word have any meaning, it must 
denote what there is found. _There_ is complete 
activity in its original and first intention. 
What is 'known-as' is what there appears. 
The experiencer of such a situation possesses all 
that the idea contains. He feels the tendency, 
the obstacle, the will, the strain, the triumph, or 
the passive giving up, just as he feels the time, 
the space, the swiftness or intensity, the movement, 
the weight and color, the pain and pleasure, 
the complexity, or whatever remaining 
characters the situation may involve. He goes 
through all that ever can be imagined where 
activity is supposed. If we suppose activities 
to go on outside of our experience, it is in forms 
like these that we must suppose them, or else 
give them some other name; for the word 
'activity' has no imaginable content whatever 
save these experiences of process, obstruction, 
striving, strain, or release, ultimate _qualia_ as 
they are of the life given us to be known. 
Were this the end of the matter, one might 
think that whenever we had successfully lived 
through an activity-situation we should have 
to be permitted, without provoking contradiction, 
to say that we had been really active, 
that we had met real resistance and had really 
prevailed. Lotze somewhere says that to be an 
entity all that is necessary is to _gelten_ as an 
entity, to operate, or be felt, experienced, recognized, 
or in any way realized, as such.(1) in 
our activity-experiences the activity assuredly 
fulfils Lotze's demand. It makes itself 
_gelten_. It is witnessed at its work. no matter 
what activities there may really be in this extraordinary 
universe of ours, it is impossible 
1 [Cf. above, p. 59, note.] 
for us to conceive of any one of them being 
either lived through or authentically known 
otherwise than in this dramatic shape of something 
sustaining a felt purpose against felt 
obstacles and overcoming or being overcome. 
What 'sustaining' means here is clear to anyone 
who has lived through the experience, but to 
no one else; just as 'loud,' 'red,' 'sweet,' mean 
something only to beings with ears, eyes, and 
tongues. The _percipi_ in these originals of experience 
is the _esse_; the curtain is the picture. 
If there is anything hiding in the background, 
it ought not to be called activity, but should 
get itself another name. 
This seems so obviously true that one might 
well experience astonishment at finding so 
many of the ablest writers on the subject 
flatly denying that the activity we live through 
in these situations is real. Merely to feel active 
is not to be active, in their sight. The agents 
that appear in the experience are not real 
agents, the resistances do not really resist, the 
effects that appear are not really affects at all.(1) 
1 _Verborum_gratia_: "The feeling of activity is not able, _qua_ 
feeling, to tell us anything about activity" (Loveday: _Mind_, N.S., 
vol, X, [1901], p. 463; "A sensation or feeling or sense of activity ... 
is not, looked at in another way, an experience _of_ activity at all. 
It is a mere sensation shut up within which you could by no reflection 
get the idea of activity. . . . Whether this experience is or is not 
later on a character essential to our perception and our idea of 
activity, it, as it comes first, is only so for extraneous reasons and 
only so for an outside observer" (Bradley, _Appearance_and_Reality_, 
second edition, p.605); "In dem Tatigkeitsgefuhle liegt an sich nicht 
der geringste Beweis fur das Vorhandesein einer psychischen Tatigkeit" 
(Munsterberg: _Grundzuge_der_Psychologie_). I could multiply similar 
quotations and would have introduced some of them into my text to make 
it more concrete, save that the mingling of different points of view in 
most of these author's discussions (not in Munsterberg's) make it 
impossible to disentangle exactly what they mean. I am sure in any 
case, to be accused of misrepresenting them totally, even in this note, 
by omission of the context, so the less I name names and the more I 
stick to abstract characterization of a merely possible style of 
opinion, the safer it will be. And apropos of misunderstandings, I may 
add to this note a complaint on my own account. Professor Stoud, in the 
excellent chapter on 'Mental Activity,' in vol. I of his 
_Analytic_Psychology_, takes me to task for identifying spiritual 
activity with certain muscular feelings and gives quotations to bear him 
out. They are from certain paragraphs on 'the Self' in which my attempt 
was to show what the central nucleus of the activities that we call 
'ours' is. [_Principles_of_Psychology_, vol. I, pp. 299-305.] I found 
it in certain intracephalic movements which we habitually oppose, as 
'subjective,' to the activities of the transcorporeal world. I sought 
to show that there is no direct evidence that we feel the activity of an 
inner spiritual agent as such (I should now say the activity of 
'consciousness' as such, see [the first essay], 'Does Consciousness 
Exist?'). There are, in fact, three distinguishable 'activities' in the 
field of discussion: the elementary activity involved in the mere 
_that_ of experience, in the fact that _something_ is going on, and the 
farther specification of this _something_ into two _whats_, an activity 
felt as 'ours,' and an activity ascribed to objects. Stout, as I 
apprehend him, identifies 'our' activity with that of the total 
experience-process, and when I circumscribe it as a part thereof, 
accuses me of treating it as a sort of external appendage to itself 
(Stout: op.cit., vol. I, pp. 162-163), as if I 'separated the activity 
from the process which is active.' But all the processes in question 
are active, and their activity is inseparable from their being. My book 
raised only the question of _which_ activity deserved the name of 
'ours.' So far as we are 'persons,' and contrasted and opposed to an 
'environment,' movements in our body figure as our activities; and I am 
unable to find any other activities that are ours in this strictly 
personal sense. There is a wider sense in which the whole 'choir of 
heaven and furniture of the earth,' and their activities, are ours, for 
they are our 'objects.' But 'we' are here only another name for the 
total process of experience, another name for all that is, in fact; and 
I was dealing with the personal and individualized self exclusively in 
the passages with which Professor Stout finds fault. 
The individualized self, which I believe to be the only thing 
properly called self, is a part of the content of the world experienced. 
The world experienced (otherwise called the 'field of consciousness') 
comes at all times with our body at its centre, centre of vision, centre 
of action, centre of interest. Where the body is is 'here': when the 
body acts is 'now'; what the body touches is 'this'; all other things 
are 'there' and 'then' and 'that.' These words of emphasized position 
imply a systematization of things with reference to a focus of action 
and interest which lies in the body; and the systematization is now so 
instinctive (was it ever not so?) that no developed or active experience 
exists for us at all except in that ordered form. So far as 'thoughts' 
and 'feelings' can be active, there activity terminates in the activity 
of the body, and only through first arousing its activities can they 
begin to change those of the rest of the world. [Cf. also 
_A_Pluralistic_Universe_, p. 344, note 8. ED.] The body is the storm 
centre, the origin of co-ordinates, the constant place of stress in all 
that experience-train. Everything circles round it, and is felt from 
its point of view. The word 'I,' then, is primarily a noun of position, 
just like 'this' and 'here.' Activities attached to 'this' position 
have prerogative emphasis, and, if activities have feelings, must be 
felt in a particular way. The word 'my designates the kind of emphasis. 
I see no inconsistency whatever in defending, on the one hand, 'my' 
activities as unique and opposed to those of outer nature, and, on the 
other hand, in affirming, after introspection, that they consist in 
movements in the head. The 'my' of them is the emphasis, the feeling of 
perspective-interest in which they are dyed. 
It is evident from this that mere descriptive 
analysis of any one of our activity-experiences 
is not the whole story, that there is something 
still to tell _about_ them that has led such able 
writers to conceive of a _Simon-pure_ activity, 
an activity _an_sich_, that does, and does n't 
merely appear to us to do, and compared with 
whose real doing all this phenomenal activity 
is but a specious sham. 
The metaphysical question opens here; and 
I think that the state of mind of one possessed 
by it is often something like this: "It is all very 
well," we may imagine him saying, "to talk 
about certain experience-series taking on the 
form of feelings of activity, just as they might 
take on musical or geometric forms. Suppose 
that they do so; suppose we feel a will to stand 
a strain. Does our feeling do more than _record_ 
the fact that the strain is sustained? The _real_ 
activity, meanwhile, is the _doing_ of the fact; 
and what is the doing made of before the record 
is made. What in the will _enables_ it to act thus? 
And these trains of experience themselves, in 
which activities appear, what makes them _go_ 
at all? Does the activity in one bit of experience 
bring the next bit into being? As an empiricist 
you cannot say so, for you have just 
declared activity to be only a kind of synthetic 
object, or conjunctive relation experienced between 
bits of experience already made. But 
what made them at all? What propels experience 
_uberhaupt_ into being? _There_ is the activity 
that _operates_; the activity _felt_ is only 
its superficial sign." 
To the metaphysical question, popped upon 
us in this way, I must pay serious attention 
ere I end my remarks; but, before doing so, let 
me show that without leaving the immediate 
reticulations of experience, or asking what 
makes activity itself act, we still find the distinction 
between less real and more real activities 
forced upon us, and are driven to much 
soul-searching on the purely phenomenal plane. 
We must not forget, namely, in talking of 
the ultimate character of our activity-experiences, 
that each of them is but a portion of a 
wider world, one link in the vast chain of processes 
of experience out of which history is 
made. Each partial process, to him who lives 
through it, defines itself by its origin and its 
goal; but to an observer with a wider mind- 
span who should live outside of it, that goal 
would appear but as a provisional halting- 
place, and the subjectively felt activity would 
be seen to continue into objective activities 
that led far beyond. We thus acquire a habit, 
in discussing activity-experiences, of defining 
them by their relation to something more. If 
an experience be one of narrow span, it will be 
mistaken as to what activity it is and whose. 
You think that _you_ are acting while you are 
only obeying someone's push. You think you 
are doing _this_, but you are doing something of 
which you do not dream. For instance, you 
think you are but drinking this glass; but you 
are really creating the liver-cirrhosis that will 
end your days. You think you are just driving 
this bargain, but, as Stevenson says somewhere, 
you are laying down a link in the policy 
of mankind. 
Generally speaking, the onlooker, with his 
wider field of vision, regards the _ultimate_outcome_ 
of an activity as what it is more really 
doing; and _the_most_previous_agent_ ascertainable, 
being the first source of action, he regards 
as the most real agent in the field. The others 
but transmit the agent's impulse; on him 
we put responsibility; we name him when one 
asks us 'Who's to blame?' 
But the most previous agents ascertainable, 
instead of being a longer span, are often of 
much shorter span than the activity in view. 
Brain-cells are our best example. My brain- 
cells are believed to excite each other from 
next to next (by contiguous transmission of 
katabolic alteration, let us say) and to have 
been doing so long before this present stretch 
of lecturing-activity on my part began. If any 
one cell-group stops its activity, the lecturing 
will cease or show disorder of form. _Cessante_ 
_causa,_cessat_et_effectus_ -- does not this look as 
if the short-span brain activiteis were the more 
real activities, and the lecturing activities 
on my part only their effects? Moreover, as 
Hume so clearly pointed out,(1) in my mental 
activity-situation the words physically to be 
1 [_Enquiry_Concerning_Human_Understanding_, sect VII, part I, 
Selby-Bigge's edition, pp. 65 ff.] 
uttered are represented as the activity's immediate 
goal. These words, however, cannot 
be uttered without intermediate physical processes 
in the bulb and vagi nerves, which processes 
nevertheless fail to figure in the mental 
activity-series at all. That series, therefore, 
since it leaves out vitally real steps of action, 
cannot represent the real activities. It is something 
purely subjective; the _facts_ of activity 
are elsewhere. They are something far more 
interstitial, so to speak, than what my feelings 
The _real_ facts of activity that have in point 
of fact been systematically pleaded for by 
philosophers have, so far as my information 
goes, been of three principal types. 
The first type takes a consciousness of wider 
time-span than ours to be the vehicle of the 
more real activity. Its will is the agent, and its 
purpose is the action done. 
The second type assumes that 'ideas' struggling 
with one another are the agents, and 
that the prevalence of one set of them is the 
The third type believes that never-cells are 
the agents, and that resultant motor discharges 
are the acts achieved. 
Now if we must de-realize our immediately 
felt activity-situations for the benefit of either 
of these types of substitute, we ought to know 
what the substitution practically involves. 
instead of saying naively that 'I' am active 
now in delivering this address, I say that _a_ 
_wider_thinker_is_active_, or that _certain_ideas_are_ 
_active_, or that _certain_nerve-cells_are_active_, in 
producing the result? 
This would be the pragmatic meaning of the 
three hypotheses. Let us take them in succession 
in seeking a reply. 
If we assume a wider thinker, it is evident 
that his purposes envelope mine. I am really 
lecturing _for_ him; and although I cannot surely 
know to what end, yet if I take him religiously, 
I can trust it to be a good end, and willingly 
connive. I can be happy in thinking that my 
activity transmits his impulse, and that his 
ends prolong my own. Son long as I take him 
religiously, in short, he does not de-realize my 
activities. He tends rather to corroborate the 
reality of them, so long as I believe both them 
and him to be good. 
When now we turn to ideas, the case is different, 
inasmuch as ideas are supposed by the 
association psychology to influence each other 
only from next to next. The 'span' of an idea 
or pair of ideas, is assumed to be much smaller 
instead of being larger than that of my total 
conscious field. The same results may get 
worked out in both cases, for this address is 
being given anyhow. But the ideas supposed 
to 'really' work it out had no prevision of the 
whole of it; and if I was lecturing for an absolute 
thinker in the former case, so, by similar 
reasoning, are my ideas now lecturing for me, 
that is, accomplishing unwittingly a result 
which I approve and adopt. But, when this 
passing lecture is over, there is nothing in the 
bare notion that ideas have been its agents 
that would seem to guarantee that my present 
purposes in lecturing will be prolonged. _I_ may 
have ulterior developments in view; but there 
is no certainty that my ideas as such will wish 
to, or be able to, work them out. 
The like is true if nerve-cells be the agents. 
The activity of a nerve-cell must be conceived 
of as a tendency of exceedingly short reach, an 
'impulse' barely spanning the way to the next 
cell -- for surely that amount of actual 'process' 
must be 'experienced' by the cells if what 
happens between them is to deserve the name 
of activity at all. But here again the gross 
resultant, as _I_ perceive it, is indifferent to the 
agents, and neither wished or willed or foreseen. 
Their being agents now congruous with 
my will gives me no guarantee that like results 
will recur again from their activity. In point 
of fact, all sorts of other results do occur. My 
mistakes, impotencies, perversions, mental obstructions, 
and frustrations generally, are also 
results of the activity of cells. Although these 
are letting me lecture now, on other occasions 
they make me do things that I would willingly 
not do. 
The question _Whose_is_the_real_activity?_ is 
thus tantamount to the question _What_will_be_ 
_the_actual_results?_ Its interest is dramatic; how 
will things work out? If the agents are of 
one sort, one way; if of another sort, they may 
work out differently. The pragmatic 
meaning of the various alternatives, in short, 
is great. It makes no merely verbal difference 
which opinion we take up. 
You see it is the old dispute come back! 
Materialism and teleology; elementary short- 
span actions summing themselves 'blindly,' or 
far foreseen ideals coming with effort into act. 
Naively we believe, and humanly and dramatically 
we like to believe, that activities 
both of wider and of narrower span are at 
work in life together, that both are real, and 
that the long-span tendencies yoke the others 
in their service, encouraging them in the right 
direction, and damping them when they tend 
in other ways. But how to represent clearly 
the _modus_operandi_ of such steering of small 
tendencies by large ones is a problem which 
metaphysical thinkers will have to ruminate 
upon for many years to come. Even if such 
control should eventually grow clearly picturable, 
the question how far it is successfully 
exerted in this actual world can be answered 
only by investigating the details of fact. No 
philosophic knowledge of the general nature 
and constitution of tendencies, or of the relation 
of larger to smaller ones, can help us to 
predict which of all the various competing 
tendencies that interest us in this universe are 
likeliest to prevail. We know as an empirical 
fact that far-seeing tendencies often carry out 
their purpose, but we know also that they are 
often defeated by the failure of some contemptibly 
small process on which success depends. 
A little thrombus in a statesman's 
meningeal artery will throw an empire out of 
gear. I can therefore not even hint at any solution 
of the pragmatic issue. I have only wished 
to show you that that issue is what gives the 
real interest to all inquiries into what kinds of 
activity may be real. Are the forces that really 
act in the world more foreseeing or more blind? 
As between 'our' activities as 'we' experience 
them, and those of our ideas, or of our brain- 
cells, the issue is well-defined. 
I said a while back(1) that I should return to 
the 'metaphysical' question before ending; so, 
with a few words about that, I will now close 
my remarks. 
In whatever form we hear this question propounded, 
I think that it always arises from two 
things, a belief that _causality_ must be exerted 
in activity, and a wonder as to how causality is 
made. If we take an activity-situation at its 
face-value, it seems as if we caught _in_flagrante_ 
_delicto_ the very power that makes facts come 
and be. I now am eagerly striving, for example, 
to get this truth which I seem half to 
perceive, into words which shall make it show 
more clearly. If the words come, it will seem as 
if the striving itself had drawn or pulled them 
into actuality out from the state of merely 
possible being in which they were. How is this 
feat performed? How does the pulling _pull?_ 
How do I get my hold on words not yet existent, 
and when they come by what means have 
I _made_ them come? Really it is the problem of 
creation; for in the end the question is: How do 
1 Page 172. 
I make them _be?_ Real activities are those 
that really make things be, without which 
the things are not, and with which they are 
there. Activity, so far as we merely feel it, on 
the other hand, is only an impression of ours, 
it may be maintained; and an impression is, 
for all this way of thinking, only a shadow of 
another fact. 
Arrived at this point, I can do little more 
than indicate the principles on which, as it 
seems to me, a radically empirical philosophy 
is obliged to rely in handling such a dispute. 
If there _be_ real creative activiteis in being, 
radical empiricism must say, somewhere they 
must be immediately lived. Somewhere the 
_that_ of efficacious causing and the _what_ of it 
must be experienced in one, just as the what 
and the that of 'cold' are experienced in one 
whenever a man has the sensation of cold here 
and now. It boots not to say that our sensations 
are fallible. They are indeed; but to see 
the thermometer contradict us when we say 'it 
is cold' does not abolish cold as a specific nature 
from the universe. Cold is the arctic 
circle if not here. Even so, to feel that our 
train is moving when the train beside our window 
moves, to see the moon through a telescope 
come twice as near, or to see two pictures 
as one solid when we look through a 
stereoscope at them, leaves motion, nearness, 
and solidity still in being -- if not here, 
yet each in its proper seat elsewhere. And 
wherever the seat of real causality _is_, as ultimately 
known 'for true' (in nerve-processes, 
if you will, that cause our feelings of activity 
as well as the movements which these 
seem to prompt), a philosophy of pure experience 
can consider the real causation as no other 
_nature_ of thing than that which even our 
most erroneous experiences appears to be at 
work. Exactly what appears there is what we 
_mean_ by working, though we may later come 
to learn that working was not exactly _there_. 
Sustaining, persevering, striving, paying with 
effort as we go, hanging on, and finally achieving 
our intention -- this _is_ action, this _is_ effectuation 
in the only shape in which, by a pure 
experience-philosophy, the whereabouts of it 
anywhere can be discussed. Here is creation 
in its first intention, here is causality at work.(1) 
To treat this offhand as the bare illusory surface 
of a world whose real causality is an unimaginable 
ontological principle hidden in the 
cubic deeps, is, for the more empirical way of 
thinking, only animism in another shape. You 
explain your given fact by your 'principle,' but 
the principle itself, when you look clearly at it, 
turns out to be nothing but a previous little 
spiritual copy of the fact. Away from that one 
and only kind of fact your mind, considering 
causality, can never get.(2) 
1 Let me not be told that this contradicts [the first essay], 'Does 
Consciousness Exist?' (see especially page 32), in which it was said 
that while 'thoughts' and 'things' have the same natures, the natures 
work 'energetically' on each other in the things (fire burns, water 
wets, etc.) but not in the thoughts. Mental activity-trains are 
composed of thoughts, yet their members do work on each other, they 
check, sustain, and introduce. They do so when the activity is merely 
associational as well as when effort is there. But, and this is my 
reply, they do so by other parts of their nature than those that 
energize physically. One thought in every developed activity-series is 
a desire or thought of purpose, and all the other thoughts acquire a 
feeling tone from their relation of harmony or oppugnancy to this. The 
interplay of these secondary tones (among which 'interest,' 
'difficulty,' and 'effort' figure) runs the drama in the mental series. 
In what we term the physical drama these qualities play absolutely no 
part. The subject needs careful working out; but I can see no 
2 I have found myself more than once accused in print of being the 
assertor of a metaphysical principle of activity. Since literary 
misunderstandings retard the settlement of problems, I should like to 
say that such an interpretation of the pages I have published on Effort 
and on Will is absolutely foreign to what I mean to express. 
[_Principles_of_Psychology_, vol II, ch. XXVI.] I ow all my doctrines 
on this subject to Renouvier; and Renouvier, as I understand him, is (or 
at any rate then was) an out and out phenomenalist, a denier of 'forces' 
in the most strenuous sense. [Cf. Ch. Renouvier: 
(1885), vol. II, pp. 390-392; _Essais_de_Critique_Generale_ (1859), vol. 
II, sections ix, xiii. For an acknowledgement of the author's general 
indebtedness to Renouvier, cf. _Some_Problems_of_Philosophy_, p. 165, 
note. ED.] Single clauses in my writing, or sentences read out of 
their connection, may possibly have been compatible with a 
transphenomenal principle of energy; but I defy anyone to show a single 
sentence which, taken with its context, should be naturally held to 
advocate that view. The misinterpretation probably arose at first from 
my defending (after Renouvier) the indeterminism of our efforts. 'Free 
will' was supposed by my critics to involve a supernatural agent. As a 
matter of plain history the only 'free will' I have ever thought of 
defending is the character of novelty in fresh activity-situations. If 
an activity-process is the form of a whole 'field of consciousness,' and 
if each field of consciousness is not only in its totality unique (as is 
now commonly admitted) but has its elements unique (since in that 
situation they are all dyed in the total) then novelty is perpetually 
entering the world and what happens there is not pure _repetition_, as 
the dogma of the literal uniformity of nature requires. 
Activity-situations come, in short, each with an original touch. A 
'principle' of free will if there were one, would doubtless manifest 
itself in such phenomena, but I never say, nor do I now see, what the 
principle could do except rehearse the phenomenon beforehand, or why it 
ever should be invoked. 
for philosophy is to leave off grubbing underground 
for what effects effectuation, or what 
makes action act, and to try to solve the concrete 
questions of where effectuation in this 
world is located, of which things are the true 
causal agents there, and of what the more 
remote effects consist. 
From this point of view the greater sublimity 
traditionally attributed to the metaphysical 
inquiry, the grubbing inquiry, entirely disappears. 
If we could know what causation 
really and transcendentally is in itself, the only 
_use_ of the knowledge would be to help us to 
recognize an actual cause when we had one, 
and so to track the future course of operations 
more intelligently out. The mere abstract 
inquiry into causation's hidden nature 
is not more sublime than any other inquiry 
equally abstract. Causation inhabits no more 
sublime level than anything else. It lives, 
apparently, in the dirt of the world as well 
as in the absolute, or in man's unconquerable 
mind. The worth and interest of the world 
consists not in its elements, be these elements 
things, or be they the conjunctions of things; 
it exists rather in the dramatic outcome in 
the whole process, and in the meaning of the 
succession stages which the elements work out. 
My colleague and master, Josiah Royce, in 
a page of his review of Stout's _Analytic_Psychology(1) 
has some fine words on this point 
with which I cordially agree. I cannot agree 
with his separating the notion of efficacy from 
that of activity altogether (this I understand 
to be one contention of his) for activities are 
efficacious whenever they are real activities at 
all. But the inner nature both of efficacy and 
of activity are superficial problems, I understand 
Royce to say; and the only point for us 
in solving them would be their possible use in 
helping us to solve the far deeper problem of 
the course and meaning of the world of life. 
Life, says our colleague, is full of significance, 
of meaning, of success and of defeat, of hoping 
and of striving, of longing, of desire, and of 
inner value. It is a total presence that embodies 
worth. To live our own lives better in 
1 _Mind_, N.S., vol. VI, 1897; cf. pp. 392-393. 
this presence is the true reason why we wish to 
know the elements of things; so even we psychologists 
must end on this pragmatic note. 
The urgent problems of activity are thus 
more concrete. They are all problems of the 
true relation of longer-span to shorter-span 
activities. When, for example, a number of 
'ideas' (to use the name traditional in psychology) 
grow confluent in a larger field of 
consciousness, do the smaller activities still 
co-exist with the wider activities then experienced 
by the conscious subject? And, if so, 
do the wide activities accompany the narrow 
ones inertly, or do they exert control? Or do 
they perhaps utterly supplant and replace 
them and short-circuit their effects? Again, 
when a mental activity-process and a brain- 
cell series of activities both terminate in the 
same muscular movement, does the mental 
process steer the neural processes or not? Or, 
on the other hand, does it independently short- 
circuit their effects? Such are the questions 
that we must begin with. But so far am I from 
suggesting any definitive answer to such questions, 
that I hardly yet can put them clearly. 
They lead, however, into that region of pan- 
psychic and ontologic speculation of which 
Professors Bergson and Strong have lately enlarged 
the literature in so able and interesting 
a way.(1) The result of these authors seem 
in many respects dissimilar, and I understand 
them as yet but imperfectly; but I cannot help 
suspecting that the direction of their work is 
very promising, and that they have the hunter's 
instinct for the fruitful trails. 
1 [Cf. _A_Pluralistic_Universe_, Lect. VI (on Bergson); H. Bergson: 
_Creative_Evolution_, trans. by A. Mitchell; C.A. Strong: 
_Why_the_Mind_Has_a_Body_, ch. XII. ED.] 
HUMANISM is a ferment that has 'come to 
stay.'(2) It is not a single hypothesis of theorem, 
and it dwells on no new facts. It is 
rather a slow shifting in the philosophic perspective, 
making things appear as from a new 
centre of interest or point of sight. Some 
writers are strongly conscious of the shifting, 
others half unconscious, even though their own 
vision may have undergone much change. The 
result is no small confusion in debate, the half-conscious 
humanists often taking part against 
the radical ones, as if they wished to count 
upon the other side.(3) 
1 [Reprinted from 
_The_Journal_of_Philosophy,_Psychology_and_Scientific_Methods_, vol. II, 
No. 5, March 2, 1905. Also reprinted, with slight changes in 
_The_Meaning_of_Truth_, pp. 121-135. The author's corrections have been 
adopted for the present text. ED.] 
2 [Written _apropos_ of the appearance of three articles in _Mind_, 
N.S., vol. XIV, No. 53, January, 1905: "'Absolute' and 'Relative' 
Truth," H.H.Joachim; "Professor James on 'Humanism and Truth,'" 
H.W.B.Joseph; "Applied Axioms," A. Sidgwick. Of these articles the 
second and third "continue the humanistic (or pragmatistic) 
controversy," the first "deeply connects with it." ED.] 
3 Professor Baldwin, for example. His address 'On Selective 
Thinking' (_Psychological_Review_, [vol. V], 1898, reprinted in his 
volume, _Development_and_Evolution) seems to me an unusually 
well-written pragmatic manifesto. Nevertheless in 'The Limits of 
Pragmatism' (ibid., [vol. XI], 1904), he (much less clearly) joins in 
the attack. 
If humanism really be the name for such 
a shifting of perspective, it is obvious that 
the whole scene of the philosophic stage will 
change in some degree if humanism prevails. 
The emphasis of things, their foreground and 
background distribution, their sizes and values, 
will not keep just the same.(1) If such 
pervasive consequences be involved in humanism, 
it is clear that no pains which philosophers 
may take, first in defining it, and then in 
furthering, checking, or steering its progress, 
will be thrown away. 
It suffers badly at present from incomplete 
definition. Its most systematic advocates, 
Schiller and Dewey, have published fragmentary 
1 The ethical changes, it seems to me, are beautifully made evident 
in Professor Dewey's series of articles, which will never get the 
attention they deserve till they are printed in a book. I mean: 'The 
Significance of Emotions,' _Psychological_Review_, vol. II, [1895], p. 
13; 'The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology,' ibid., vol. III [1896], p. 
357; 'Psychology and Social Practice,' ibid., vol. VII, [1900], p. 105; 
'Interpretation of Savage Mind,' ibid., vol. IX, [1902], p.217; 'Green's 
Theory of the Moral Motive,' _Philosophical_Review_, vol. I, [1892], p. 
593; 'Self-realization as the Moral Ideal,' ibid., vol. II, [1893], p. 
652; 'The Psychology of Effort,' ibid., vol. VI, [1897], p.43; 'The 
Evolutionary Method as Applied to Morality,' ibid., vol XI, [1902], pp. 
107, 353; 'Evolution and Ethics,' _Monist_, vol. VIII, [1898], p.321; to 
mention only a few. 
programs only; and its bearing on many 
vital philosophic problems has not been traced 
except by adversaries who, scenting heresies in 
advance, have showered blows on doctrines -- 
subjectivism and scepticism, for example -- 
that no good humanist finds it necessary to 
entertain. By their still greater reticences, the 
anti-humanists have, in turn, perplexed the 
humanists. Much of the controversy has involved 
the word 'truth.' It is always good in 
debate to know your adversary's point of view 
authentically. But the critics of humanism 
never define exactly what the word 'truth' 
signifies when they use it themselves. The 
humanists have to guess at their view; and 
the result has doubtless been much at beating of 
the air. Add to all this, great individual differences 
in both camps, and it becomes clear that 
nothing is so urgently needed, at the stage 
which things have reached at present, as a 
sharper definition by each side of its central 
point of view. 
Whoever will contribute any touch of 
sharpness will help us to make sure of what's 
what and who is who. Anyone can contribute 
such a definition, and, without it, no one 
knows exactly where he stands. If I offer my 
own provisional definition of humanism(1) now 
and here, others may improve it, some adversary 
may be led to define his own creed more sharply 
by the contrast, and a certain quickening 
of the crystallization of general opinion 
may result. 
The essential service of humanism, as I conceive 
the situation, is to have seen that _though_ 
Since this formula also expresses the main 
contention of transcendental idealism, it needs 
abundant explication to make it unambiguous. 
1 [The author employs the term 'humanism' either as a synonym 
for 'radical empiricism' (cf. e.g, above, p. 156); or as that general 
philosophy of life of which 'radical empiricism' is the theoretical 
ground (cf. below, p. 194). For other discussions of 'humanism,' cf. 
below, essay XI, and _The_Meaning_of)Truth_, essay III. ED.] 
It seems, at first sight, to confine itself to 
denying theism and pantheism. But, in fact, 
it need not deny either; everything would 
depend on the exegesis; and if the formula 
ever became canonical, it would certainly 
develop both right-wing and left-wing interpreters. 
I myself read humanism theistically 
and pluralistically. If there be a God, he is 
no absolute all-experiencer, but simply the 
experiencer of widest actual conscious span. 
Read thus, humanism is for me a religion 
susceptible of reasoned defence, though I am 
well aware how many minds there are to whom 
it can appeal religiously only when it has 
been monistically translated. Ethically the 
pluralistic form of it takes for me a stronger 
hold on reality than any other philosophy I 
know of -- it being essentially a _social_ philosophy, 
a philosophy of _'co,'_ in which conjunctions 
do the work. But my primary reason 
for advocating it is its matchless intellectual 
economy. It gets rid, not only of the standing 
'problems' that monism engenders ('problem 
of evil,' 'problem of freedom,' and the 
like), but of other metaphysical mysteries and 
paradoxes as well. 
It gets rid, for example, of the whole agnostic 
controversy, by refusing to entertain the hypothesis 
of trans-empirical reality at all. It gets rid 
of any need for an absolute of the Bradleyan 
type (avowedly sterile for intellectual 
purposes) by insisting that the conjunctive 
relations found within experience are faultlessly 
real. It gets rid of the need of an absolute 
of the Roycean type (similarly sterile) by 
its pragmatic treatment of the problem of 
knowledge [a treatment of which I have already 
given a version in two very inadequate 
articles].(1) As the views of knowledge, reality 
and truth imputed to humanism have been 
those so far most fiercely attacked, it is in 
regard to these ideas that a sharpening of 
focus seems most urgently required. I proceed 
therefore to bring the view which _I_ impute 
to humanism in these respects into focus as 
briefly as I can. 
1 [Omitted from reprint in _Meaning_of_Truth_. The articles referred 
to are 'Does Consciousness Exist?' and 'A World of Pure Experience,' 
reprinted above.] 
If the central humanistic thesis, printed 
above in italics, be accepted, it will follow 
that, if there be any such thing at all as knowing, 
the knower and the object known must 
both be portions of experience. One part of 
experience must, therefore, either 
(1) Know another part of experience -- in 
other words, parts must, as Professor Woodbridge 
says,(1) represent _one_another_ instead of 
representing realities outside of 'consciousness' 
-- this case is that of conceptual knowledge; or else 
(2) They must simply exist as so many ultimate 
_thats_ or facts of being, in the first instance; 
an then, as a secondary complication, 
and without doubling up its entitative singleness, 
any one and the same _that_ must figure 
alternately as a thing known and as a knowledge 
of the thing, by reason of two divergent 
kinds of context into which, in the general 
course of experience, it gets woven.(2) 
1 In _Science_, November 4, 1904, p. 599. 
2 This statement is probably excessively obscure to any who 
has not read my two articles, 'Does Consciousness Exist?' and 'A World 
of Pure Experience.' 
This second case is that of sense-perception. 
There is a stage of thought that goes beyond 
common sense, and of it I shall say more presently; 
but the common-sense stage is a perfectly 
definite halting-place of thought, primarily 
for the purposes of action; and, so long 
as we remain on the common-sense stage of 
thought, object and subject _fuse_ in the fact of 
'presentation' or sense-perception -- the pen 
and hand which I now _see_ writing, for example, 
_are_ the physical realities which those words 
designate. In this case there is no self-transcendency 
implied in the knowing. Humanism, 
here, is only a more comminuted _Identitasphilosophie_.(1) 
In case (1), on the contrary, the representative 
experience does transcend itself in knowing 
the other experience that is its object. No 
one can talk of the knowledge of the one by the 
other without seeing them as numerically distinct 
entities, of which the one lies beyond the 
other and away from it, along some direction 
1 [Cf. above, p. 134; and below, p.202.] 
and with some interval, that can be definitely 
named. But, if the talker be a humanist, he 
must also see this distance-interval concretely 
and pragmatically, and confess it to consist 
of other intervening experiences -- of possible 
ones, at all events, if not of actual. To call my 
present idea of my dog, for example, cognitive 
of the real dog means that, as the actual tissue 
of experience is constituted, the idea is capable 
of leading into a chain of other experiences 
on my part that go from next to next and 
terminate at last in vivid sense-perceptions 
of a jumping, barking, hairy body. Those _are_ 
the real dog, the dog's full presence, for my 
common sense. If the supposed talker is a 
profound philosopher, although they may not 
_be_ the real dog for him, they _mean_ the real dog, 
are practical substitutes for the real dog, as 
the representation was a practical substitute 
for them, that real dog being a lot of atoms, 
say, or of mind-stuff, that lie _where_ the sense- 
perceptions lie in his experience as well as in 
my own. 
The philosopher here stands for the stage of 
thought that goes beyond the stage of common 
sense; and the difference is simply that he 
'interpolates' and 'extrapolates,' where common 
sense does not. For common sense, two 
men see the same identical real dog. Philosophy, 
noting actual differences in their perceptions, 
points out the duality of these latter, 
and interpolates something between them as 
a more real terminus -- first, organs, viscera, 
etc.; next, cells; then, ultimate atoms; lastly, 
mind-stuff perhaps. The original sense-termini 
of the two men, instead of coalescing with 
each other and with the real dog-object, as at 
first supposed, are thus help by philosophers to 
be separated by invisible realities with which 
at most, they are conterminous. 
Abolish, now, one of the percipients, and 
the interpolation changes into 'extrapolation.' 
The sense-terminus of the remaining percipient 
is regarded by the philosopher as not quite 
reaching reality. He has only carried the procession 
of experiences, the philosopher thinks, 
to a definite, because practical, halting-place 
somewhere on the way towards an absolute 
truth that lies beyond. 
The humanist sees all the time, however, 
that there is no absolute transcendency even 
about the more absolute realities thus conjectured 
or believed in. The viscera and cells 
are only possible percepts following upon that 
of the outer body. The atoms again, though 
we may never attain to human means of perceiving 
them, are still defined perceptually. 
The mind-stuff itself is conceived as a kind 
of experience; and it is possible to frame the 
hypothesis (such hypotheses can by no logic 
be excluded from philosophy) of two knowers 
of a piece of mind-stuff and the mind-stuff 
itself becoming 'confluent' at the moment at 
which our imperfect knowing might pass into 
knowing of a completed type. Even so do you 
and I habitually represent our two perceptions 
and the real dog as confluent, though only provisionally, 
and for the common-sense stage 
of thought. If my pen be inwardly made of 
mind-stuff, there is no confluence _now_ between 
that mind-stuff and my visual perception of 
the pen. But conceivably there might come to 
be such confluence; for, in the case of my hand, 
the visual sensations and the inward feelings 
of the hand, its mind-stuff, so to speak, are even 
now as confluent as any two things can be. 
There is, thus, no breach in humanistic 
epistemology. Whether knowledge be taken 
as ideally perfected, or only as true enough to 
pass muster for practice, it is hung on one continuous 
scheme. Reality, howsoever remote, is 
always defined as a terminus within the general 
possibilities of experience; and what knows it is 
defined as an experience _that_'represents'_it,_in_ 
because it leads to the same associates, _or_ 
_in_the_sense_of_'point_to_it'_ through a chain 
of other experiences that either intervene or 
may intervene. 
Absolute reality here bears the same relation 
to sensation as sensation bears to conception 
or imagination. Both are provisional or final 
termini, sensation being only the terminus 
at which the practical man habitually stops, 
while the philosopher projects a 'beyond' in 
the shape of more absolute reality. These 
termini, for the practical and the philosophical 
stages of thought respectively, are self- 
supporting. They are not 'true' of anything 
lese, they simply _are_, are _real_. They 'lean 
on nothing,' as my italicized formula said. 
Rather does the whole fabric of experience 
lean on them, just as the whole fabric of the 
solar system, including many relative positions, 
leans, for its absolute position in space, 
on any one of its constituent stars. Here, 
again, one gets a new _Identitatsphilosophie_ in 
pluralistic form.(1) 
If I have succeeded in making this at all 
clear (though I fear that brevity and abstractness 
between them may have made me fail), 
the reader will see that the 'truth' of our mental 
operations must always ben an intra-experiential 
affair. A conception is reckoned true by 
common sense when it can be made to lead to a 
1 [Cf. above, pp. 134, 197.] 
sensation. The sensation, which for common 
sense is not so much 'true' as 'real,' is held to 
be _provisionally_ true by the philosopher just 
in so far as it _covers_ (abuts at, or occupies the 
place of) a still more absolutely real experience, 
in the possibility of which to come remoter 
experient the philosopher finds reason 
to believe. 
Meanwhile what actually _does_ count for true 
to any individual trower, whether he be philosopher 
or common man, is always a result of his 
_apperceptions_. If a novel experience, conceptual 
or sensible, contradict too emphatically our 
pre-existent system of beliefs, in ninety-nine 
cases out of a hundred it is treated as false. 
Only when the older and the newer experiences 
are congruous enough to mutually apperceive 
and modify each other, does what we treat as 
an advance in truth result. [Having written of 
this point in an article in reply to Mr. Joseph's 
criticism of my humanism, I will say no more 
about truth here, but refer the reader to that 
review.(1)] In no case, however, need truth 
1 [Omitted from reprint in _Meaning_of_Truth_. The review referred 
to is reprinted below, pp. 244-265, under the title "Humanism and Truth 
Once More." ED.] 
consist in a relation between our experiences 
and something archetypal or trans-experiential. 
Should we ever reach absolutely terminal 
experiences, experiences in which we all agreed, 
which were superseded by no revised continuations, 
these would not be _true_, they would be 
_real_, they would simply _be_, and be indeed the 
angles, corners, and linchpins of all reality, on 
which the truth of everything else would be 
stayed. Only such _other_ thins as led to these 
by satisfactory conjunctions would be 'true.' 
Satisfactory connection of some sort with such 
termini is all that the word 'truth' means. 
On the common-sense stage of thought sense- 
presentations serve as such termini. our ideas 
and concepts and scientific theories pass for 
true only so far as they harmoniously lead back 
to the world of sense. 
I hope that many humanists will endorse 
this attempt of mine to trace the more essential 
features of that way of viewing things. I 
feel almost certain that Messrs. Dewey and 
Schiller will do so. If the attackers will also 
take some slight account of it, it may be that 
discussion will be a little less wide of the mark 
than it has hitherto been. 

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