Knowledge, Life and Reality: An Essay in Systematic Philosophy

By Trumbull Ladd George | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE

THE general theory concerning the nature of that system of real beings which is known as The World, as this theory was proposed at the close of the last chapter, obviously stands in need of further elaboration, criticism, and defense. This need is chiefly due to the following three causes: First, the distinction which it is necessary to make between mere things and true selves; second, the apparent difference between the meanings of the various theories which the particular sciences propose, and a metaphysical theory with its attempt to elicit the true significance of them all; and third, the vague but influential and wide-spreading objection to any view of the nature of Reality which is liable to be taunted with the charge of anthropomorphism, and so deemed puerile and worthy of prompt rejection.

This last objection to the metaphysics of idealism may be most promptly and effectually disposed of. For one may ask, with an intention somewhat more than facetious: What kind of a theory that is other than anthropomorphic do you expect from a mind which belongs to the species called anthropos? Indeed, what sort of knowledge can a human being claim, that is not human knowledge? The swiftest greyhound cannot outrun his own shadow. The worst fool does not try to ascend higher on any tree by cutting off from that same tree the limb to which he is clinging. The navigator does not more surely reach his desired haven by throwing overboard charts, barometer, and compass, instead of consulting the first, observing the second, and making the needed corrections in the pointings of the third. But when the intrinsic absurdity of discrediting any theory on the ground of its

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