Present Philosophical Tendencies: A Critical Survey of Naturalism, Idealism, Pragmatism, and Realism Together with a Synopsis of the Philosophy of William James

By Ralph Perry Barton | Go to book overview

PRESENT PHILOSOPHICAL TENDENCIES

CHAPTER I
PHILOSOPHICAL THEORY AND ESTABLISHED
BELIEF1

§ 1. IT is impossible to undertake a summary of philosophical tendencies without being sensible of the breach between the philosophy of the schools and the philosophy of the streets, between the latest speculations, hypotheses, and definitions of critical experts, and the general beliefs of mankind. This discrepancy is not peculiar to philosophy. There is a similar difference between pure science and popular science, between political theory and political faith or tradition. But in neither case is the difference so confusing or disturbing as in the case of philosophy. Confusion between pure and popular science is avoided by the development of an organized technique, which makes pure science largely unintelligible to the layman; and there is little danger of a premature application of scientific hypotheses, because of the material difficulties which must be overcome before any such hypothesis can be applied. The same holds, although much less certainly, of politics. Political action is based on the steady and widespread acceptance, within a community, of certain general beliefs that are not immediately affected by the fluctuations of theory. And here also the application of theory must, except under extraordinary condi

Discrepancy between Theory and Belief

____________________
1
Reprinted, with additions and alterations, from an article entitled "Theories and Beliefs", Harvard Theological Review, Vol. III, July, 1910.

-3-

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