The Self and Nature

The Self and Nature

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The Self and Nature

The Self and Nature

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Excerpt

The task of metaphysics, as I conceive it, is twofold. Accepting experience as a fragment of reality which is unimpeachably given to us, metaphysics undertakes first, to analyze and describe its omnipresent aspects and fundamental structure: its relation to the self, to the body, to nature, to knowledge; its changefulness; its spatiality; the spontaneity and causal determination of its elements; its relatedness. This is the more certain part of the study, where truth will reward any one who examines attentively and without prejudice, and who constructs with skill and fidelity the concepts which he uses to describe what he finds. But metaphysics has a second, a synthetic task: to project a total vision of the world. By following along the lines of the outward going relations of given experience, the philosopher seeks to discover the whole of which it is a part. As necessary materials for this purpose, he has to use the larger facts and broader generalizations of science, interpreting them, however, in the light of his analysis of experience. Hence, despite this dependence, metaphysics differs fundamentally from science in being radically empirical and critical, and in passing from the part to the whole. This is the less certain portion of the study, because it requires a freer use of hypothesis; yet the extension of experience which it demands is no different in kind or certainty, I believe, from . . .

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