Our knowledge consists of combinations made by continuous transition, we know no absolute and rational unity. In addition to combinations there are as a matter of fact disparate phenomena: new facts arise in the world and there is an absolute beginning. The unity of nature is a matter which is only coming to pass gradually, i.e. in proportion as we verify our ideas.
It is an open question whether such a radical pluralism as James adopts is possible. According to James the combination is quite as much a matter of fact as the manifold variety of phenomena, and the unity of the universe is construed as in process of realization. In addition to this James assumes the possibility of substitutions; but these presuppose the existence of something more than mere differences. (The author of this text-book has developed this critical suggestion more fully in an article which appeared in the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods (1915) under the title A Philosophical Confession.)
We shall have occasion to refer to James' philosophy of religion in the following section.
B. The Problem of Values.
It is one of the signs of the times that the problem of values occupies such a prominent place in philosophical discussion at present, and that, as compared with other problems, it is coming forward with greater independence than formerly. There is a growing conviction that the final word on the value of existence cannot be established purely theoretically. Here however there will always remain at least a philosophical problem; the investigation of the psychological basis and the inherent consistency of efforts at evaluation.