Page:The optimism of Butler's 'Analogy'.djvu/44
The Romanes Lecture 1908
philosophy experience challenges its own validity. Experience is the subject-matter of investigation. Experience is the method of inquiry. The process by which we find out what experience means is itself a form of experience. To the philosopher his philosophy is an experience, i. e. his experience of what experience turns out to be. And this final experience of the philosopher, which is his philosophy, returns for verification to the experience of the ordinary man from out of which it arose' (Richmond, Essay on Personality, ch. i. p.4. Arnold).
In that forcible passage we feel the intensity which the modern development of Thought has thrown into our direct, personal experience. There, or nowhere, we are in face of all that can be known. So we all recognize. And we shall do so with ever-growing directness. Metaphysic itself, when it comes again to its own, will do so by verifying, with a closer intimacy than ever, its inevitable inherence within the very heart's core of our common average experience.
And it is within this human experience of ours that Butler does all his work. It is our daily Experience that he fastens on, clings to, accepts. For him, it holds the entire secret. He has no desire to go behind it, or beyond it. It is sufficient. It justifies itself. It supplies the standard to which reality must conform. It contains and reveals the main method by which truth discloses itself. He takes his ground on it. He starts with it. He ends with it, or with what it suggests and sanctions. We have but to examine, he thinks, the mode in which facts of daily experience commend themselves to us, and we shall be in possession of the conditions which determine the arrival of the Truth, whether through Nature or Revelation.We have no power except through the facts. He distrusts profoundly, not reason, but the uninstructed reason—the reason that draws its knowledge out of itself. Reason has nothing of its own to draw upon. It is, itself, the faculty to know facts; and, in knowing facts, it carries with it its own guarantee. It knows them as they are