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

CHAPTER XII
A REALISTIC THEORY OF MIND

I. INTRODUCTORY

§ 1. REALISM has thus far appeared in these pages mainly as a polemic. This polemic may conveniently be summarized in terms of the general errors of which it finds rival tendencies to be guilty.1

Realism as a Polemic

'Argument from the ego-centric predicament,' that is, from the circumstantial presence of the knower in all cases of things known, is peculiar to idealism. 'Definition by initial predication,' the assumption of the priority of a familiar or accidental relationship, is based on the more fundamental error of 'exclusive particularity,' or the supposition that an identical term can figure in only one relationship. These two errors together appear in all exclusive philosophies, such as dualism, and monisms of matter or mind. The error of 'pseudo-simplicity,' which amounts virtually to the abandonment of analysis, and the notion of 'indefinite potentiality,' which is the sequel to the last, are characteristic of 'substance' philosophies, and especially of all forms of 'activism,' whether naturalistic, idealistic, or pragmatistic. The 'speculative dogma,' the assumption of an all-general, all-sufficient first principle, is the primary motive in 'absolutism.' Finally, the error of 'verbal suggestion,' or 'equivocation,' is the means through which the real fruitlessness of the other errors may be concealed, and the philosophy

____________________
1
The full statement of these errors will be found above, especially pp. 64-68, 126-132, 169-171.

-271-

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