Development and Purpose: An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Evolution

By L. T. Hobhouse | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE EMPIRICAL ORDER

IN the development summarised in the last chapter the two final stages were treated as the work not of one mind but of many. From the dawn of language onwards the action of mind on mind is the leading factor in development, and henceforward every phase of thought may be regarded as a social product and as a cause of further social effects. Our next task is to describe these latter stages in some further detail, to examine the steps by which in human society the thought-order is evolved, criticised and reconstructed. As before we shall find that every phase has its distinct method and its peculiar scope. It brings us into contact with a new stratum of reality in virtue of a new method of correlating experience, and it enlarges and clarifies human purposes in the same ratio. Our object then will be to distinguish the main phases of development experienced by the social mind in point of the characteristic methods used, and the scope of thought and purpose achieved. We shall find that particularly in the later stages a third question arises, that of the ultimate validity of the processes emplayed and the results attained. This question carries us outside our immediate task of recording the simple facts of the development of thought, but we shall find it so closely interwoven with the questions of scope and method that it will be impossible to eliminate it from the discussion. We shall, moreover, as explained in Chapter I., have to form a definite conclusion upon questions of validity in order to a just interpretation of the meaning and trend of development as a whole.

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