The Ways of Knowing: Or, the Methods of Philosophy

By Wm. Pepperell Montague | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
A REINTERPRETATION AND RECONCILIATION OF THE THREE METHODS OF EPISTEMOLOGY

IT will be remembered that we began our treatment of the epistemological problem by distinguishing three types of theory-Objectivism, Dualism, and Subjectivism. These theories have been successively examined in the three preceding chapters; our exposition has, however, been somewhat complicated by the fact that when we came to the third theory we found that from the standpoint of its dialectical and historical development the first two theories could be exhibited as stages or degrees of Subjectivism itself. Thus the standpoint of Extreme Objectivism (according to which all objects of experience are viewed as existing independently of our consciousness of them) reappeared as the starting-point or "Zero Stage of Subjectivism"; while the less primitive Common-sense form of Objectivism (which accorded independent existence to all objects except those of illusion and error) reappeared in what we labelled the "First Stage of Subjectivism." In the same way the two forms of Epistemological Dualism (the first of which accorded independence to all the qualities of immediate experience, and the second to the primary or quantitative qualities only, when considered as the inferred causes of the immediately experienced objects) reappeared under the heads of the Second and Third Stages of Subjectivism. The four remaining degrees of Subjectivism exhibited the progress of the subjectivistic principle from the stage at which the world of merely material objects had been reduced to dependence upon conscious selves to the final or climactic stage of solipsism, according to which the entire universe is only the experience of a single self. From the

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