Knowledge, Life and Reality: An Essay in Systematic Philosophy

By Trumbull Ladd George | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
PHILOSOPHY OF KNOWLEDGE:THE PSYCHOLOGICAL

PHILOSOPHY aims at a certain kind and degree of knowledge. Its success is, therefore, most intimately connected with a correct doctrine of knowledge. What is it to know, as respects the essential characteristics of the cognitive act, in distinction from conjecture, opinion, or as yet unverified theory or hypothesis? What are the guaranties of knowledge; what its limits, if it has limits; and what are its underlying principles and presuppositions? All these questions either lie in the path which we must traverse in order to form an adequate and safe conception of philosophy; or else they constitute prominent and essential parts of philosophy itself? The first in this series of questions, is, however, the rather psychological and only preliminary to the study of philosophical problems. The others belong to that department of philosophy which has already been referred to as epistemology or the theory of knowledge.

There has been much idle and rather fruitless debate as to which of the two--metaphysics or the criticism of man's knowing faculty-ought to come first in systematic philosophy. Kant and his disciples have argued that the critique of reason must precede metaphysics as a theory of reality; Hegel and his disciples have rejected all such claims of criticism to precedence. Thus with the former, criticism ending in scepticism is accustomed wholly to displace a systematic ontology; with the latter, logic as the doctrine of the self-evolution of reason, is assumed to be identical with metaphysics as the theory of reality. Siding with the one, we ask ourselves:How can I reason with confidence about the ultimate Reality, unless I

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