Knowledge, Life and Reality: An Essay in Systematic Philosophy

By Trumbull Ladd George | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
METAPHYSICS, AS A THEORY OF REALITY

THE relation between a philosophical theory of knowledge and systematic metaphysics as a theory of reality is so intimate that they may almost be regarded as two aspects of essentially the same problem. The grounds for this intimate relation are laid in the very nature of knowledge itself. The consequence of the relation shows itself in almost all discussions of either of these two problems, or two aspects of one problem. For one's attitude toward the problem of knowledge is sure to be influenced by one's ontological theories; and, on the other hand, either the dogmatic, the sceptical, the critical, or the wholly agnostic, attitude pervades and influences the discussions of most writers on metaphysics. Kant, indeed, set out upon his prolonged journey through the several fields of human reason, in the critical way, and with the purpose of making a clear-cut distinction between this journey and an excursion in ontological speculation. Ontology, he proposed to treat in summary fashion, after he had tested the cognitive powers by the critical process. But his criticism ended in a complete agnosticism, so far as any valid ontology, or theory of reality was concerned; at the same time this entire process of criticism was itself permeated and influenced by uncriticized metaphysical assumptions and presuppositions. Thus the Kantian agnosticism excludes the possibility of metaphysics as even an approximately valid theory of reality; it reduces metaphysics to a dry and uninteresting tabulation of illusory categories and compulsory antinomies.

In the interests of clearness, then, it would seem desirable

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