Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/199

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


in this order and number. The form and quality of them we can retain, domesticate, and weave into the texture of reflection, but their existence and individuality remain a datum of sense needing to be verified anew at every moment and actually receiving continual verification or disproof while we live in this world.

“This world” we call it, not without justifiable pathos, for many other worlds are conceivable and if discovered might prove more rational and intelligible and more akin to the soul than this strange universe which man has hitherto always looked upon with increasing astonishment. The materials of experience are no sooner in hand than they are transformed by intelligence, reduced to those permanent presences, those natures and relations, which alone can live in discourse. Those materials, rearranged into the abstract summaries we call history or science, or pieced out into the reconstructions and extensions we call poetry or religion, furnish us with ideas of as many dream-worlds as we please, all nearer to reason’s ideal than is the actual chaos of perceptual experience, and some nearer to the heart’s desire. When an empirical philosophy, therefore, calls us back from the irresponsible flights of imagination to the shock of sense and tries to remind us that in this alone we touch existence and come upon fact, we feel dispossessed of our nature and cramped in our life. The actuality possessed by external ex-