Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/363

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A DEFENCE OF PRAGMATISM 359

found. The reason why we call things true is the reason why they are true, for ' to be true ' means only to perform this marriage function.

The trail of the human serpent is thus over everything. Truth independent; truth that we find merely; truth no longer malleable to human need; truth incorrigible, in a word; such truth exists indeed superabundantly — or is supposed to exist by rationalistic-minded think- ers. But that means only the dead heart of the living tree, it means only that truth also has its paleontology, and may grow stiff with years of veteran service and petrified in men's regard by sheer antiquity. How plastic even the oldest truths still really are has been vividly shown in our day by the transformation of logical and mathematical ideas, a transformation which seems even to be invading physics. The ancient formulas are reinterpreted as special expressions of much wider principles, principles that our ancestors never got a glimpse of in their present formulation.

Mr. Schiller gives to all this view of truth the name of ' Human- ism,' but, for this doctrine too, the name of pragmatism seems to be in the ascendant, not only in America but on the European continent, so I must treat it also in these lectures. 4

Such then would be the scope of pragmatism — a method and a genetic theory of what is meant by truth. And these two things must be our future topics.

What I have said of the theory of truth will, I am sure, have ap- peared obscure and unsatisfactory to most of you by reason of its brevity. You may not follow me wholly in this preliminary lecture; and if you do, you may not wholly agree with me. But you will, I know, already regard me at least as serious, and treat my effort with respectful consideration.

You will probably be surprised to learn, then, that Messrs. Schiller's and Dewey's theories have suffered a hailstorm of contempt and ridi- cule. All rationalism has risen against them. In influential quarters Mr. Schiller, in particular, has been treated like an impudent school- boy who deserved a spanking. I shouldn't mention this, but for the fact that it throws so much side-light upon that rationalistic temper to which I have opposed the temper of pragmatism. Pragmatism is un- comfortable away from facts. Eationalisni is comfortable only in the presence of abstractions. This pragmatist talk about truths in the plural, about their utility and satisfactoriness, about the success with which they ' work,' etc., suggests to the typical intellectualist mind a sort of coarse lame makeshift article of truth. Such truths are not real

��* Even while I correct the proof I receive Mr. Schiller's new volume, ' Studies in Humanism,' N. Y. The Macmillan Company, pp. 492. The title

��shows that Mr. Schiller still clings to his term.

�� �