Mind as Behavior and Studies in Empirical Idealism

Mind as Behavior and Studies in Empirical Idealism

Mind as Behavior and Studies in Empirical Idealism

Mind as Behavior and Studies in Empirical Idealism

Excerpt

We may not feel as confident as once we did that the way to truth lies all open before us the moment we have brought our vague questionings to a form that "leaves the rest to experiment." After the readings are all down, the facts all in, we have come to realize how much remains for the truth-seeker to do in which more observing will help him no more. But however we may have seasoned with an experienced caution the cheerful positivism of our fathers, in one article of their faith time seems only to have confirmed us. That blessed haven of rest, The Crucial Test, may no longer lie before us, our journey's end and an abiding-place; but never were we so ready as we have lately come to be, to give ourselves up for lost where we can make out no empirical sign to halt or help us. We know,--we think we know that questions leading to no thinkable experiment lead nowhere; having set out with no real object, they acquire no direction.

Is it an exaggeration, perhaps, and an impiety to suggest that our fathers--the most hard-headed empiricists among them--sometimes overlooked this caution of the way-wise?

Among the clearest and most engaging of the empiricist writings of the eighties was an Essay its author called "On the nature of things-in-themselves." No one would accuse W. K. Clifford of being a willing renegade to the gospel of empiricism. And yet when after the lapse of four maturing decades we recall certain passages of this Essay, how can we exonerate Clifford from backsliding? Can we even urge that his lapse from empirical grace was altogether unconscious?

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