II
AGENT IN GENERAL

IDEALISM, in the Baldwin dictionary, is described thus: "In metaphysics, any theory which maintains the universe to be throughout the work of reason and mind." And elsewhere: "Any theory which seeks the explanation, or ultimate raison d'être, of the cosmic evolution in the realization of reason, self-consciousness, or spirit, may fairly claim to be included under this designation. For the end in such a system is not only the result, but -- is also the true world-building power." In the Encyclopedia Britannica, an epistemological factor is considered uppermost, as idealism is said to hold that "Apart from the activity of the self or subject in sensory reaction, memory and association, imagination, judgment and inference, there can be no world of objects."

The traits here mentioned are enough to indicate that the unadulteratedly idealistic philosophy starts and ends in the featuring of properties belonging to the term, agent. Idealistic philosophies think in terms of the "ego," the "self," the "super-ego," "consciousness," "will," the generalized I," the "subjective," "mind," "spirit," the "oversoul," and any such "super-persons" as church, race, nation, etc. Historical periods, cultural movements, and the like, when treated as "personalities," are usually indications of idealism.

The variants in esthetic theory stress such terms as "sensibility," "expression," "self-expression," "consciousness" and the "unconscious." The Crocean philosophy has been prominent as a bridge between metaphysical and esthetic idealism. In his preface to The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James gives us a characteristically idealistic statement when referring to "the artist's prime sensibility" as the "soil out of which his subject springs" and which "grows" the work of art. Here a book is treated as an act grounded in the author's mind as its motivating scene. The same idealistic pattern is carried into his methods as a novelist, when he selects some "sensibility" who will serve as the appreciative

-171-

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A Grammar of Motives
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction: the Five Key Terms of Dramatism xv
  • Part One - Ways of Placement 1
  • I - Container and Thing Contained 3
  • II - Antinomies of Definition 21
  • III - Scope and Reduction 59
  • Part Two - The Philosophic Schools 125
  • I Scene 127
  • II - Agent in General 171
  • III - Act 227
  • IV - Agency and Purpose 275
  • Part Three - On Dialectic 321
  • I - He Dialectic of Constitutions 323
  • II - Dialectic in General 402
  • Appendix 445
  • Index 519
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