Collected Essays and Reviews

By William James | Go to book overview

XXXV

THE MAD ABSOLUTE1
[1906]

MR. GORE, in this Journal for October 11, tries very neatly to turn Mr. Schiller's joke on the absolute against the joker, and I suppose that those whom the latter gentleman's jokes vex are correspondingly content.

But are the tables turned?

It is we in our dissociated, finite shapes who are made, says Mr. Gore, and not the absolute. The absolute in its integrated shape is the very beau ideal of sanity, and in our own successful quest of it, he adds, lies our only hope of cure. Get confluent with one another, restore the original unbrokenness of our infinitely inclusive real self, and the universe will wake up well.

But in the name of all that's absolute how did it ever get so sick? That we finite subjects are sick we know well enough, and no philosophy beyond the plainest lessons of our finite experience is needed to teach us that more union among ourselves would be remedial. But if all these distracted persons of

____________________
1
[Reprinted from Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 1906, 3, 656-657. It was written in reply to W. C. Gore "The Mad Absolute of a Pluralist," ibid.,575-577; and in support of F. C. S. Schiller "Idealism and the Dissociation of Personality," ibid.,477-482. ED.]

-467-

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