Page:Our knowledge of the external world.djvu/20

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it represents the attempt to adapt to present needs the methods and results of the great constructive philosophers from Plato downwards. The second type, which may be called evolutionism, derived its predominance from Darwin, and must be reckoned as having had Herbert Spencer for its first philosophical representative; but in recent times it has become, chiefly through William James and M. Bergson, far bolder and far more searching in its innovations than it was in the hands of Herbert Spencer. The third type, which may be called “logical atomism” for want of a better name, has gradually crept into philosophy through the critical scrutiny of mathematics. This type of philosophy, which is the one that I wish to advocate, has not as yet many whole-hearted adherents, but the “new realism” which owes its inception to Harvard is very largely impregnated with its spirit. It represents, I believe, the same kind of advance as was introduced into physics by Galileo: the substitution of piecemeal, detailed, and verifiable results for large untested generalities recommended only by a certain appeal to imagination. But before we can understand the changes advocated by this new philosophy, we must briefly examine and criticise the other two types with which it has to contend.

A. The Classical Tradition


Twenty years ago, the classical tradition, having vanquished the opposing tradition of the English empiricists, held almost unquestioned sway in all Anglo-Saxon universities. At the present day, though it is losing ground, many of the most prominent teachers still adhere to it. In academic France, in spite of M. Bergson, it is far stronger than all its opponents combined; and in Germany it has many vigorous advocates. Nevertheless,