Reason in Common Sense

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Reason in Common Sense
by George Santayana

THE LIFE OF REASON

OR THE

PHASES OF HUMAN PROGRESS


BY

GEORGE SANTAYANA


INTRODUCTION

AND

REASON IN COMMON SENSE

ἡ γὰρ νοὒ ἐνέργεια ζωή


NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

1920

Copyright, 1905, by

CHARLES SCRIBNER‘S SONS


Published, February, 1906

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

THE SUBJECT OF THIS WORK, ITS METHOD AND ANTECEDENTS

Progress is relative to an ideal which reflection creates.—Efficacious reflection is reason.—The Life of Reason a name for all practical thought and all action justified by its fruits in consciousness.—It is the sum of Art.—It has a natural basis which makes it definable.—Modern philosophy not helpful.—Positivism no positive ideal.—Christian philosophy mythical: it misrepresents facts and conditions.—Liberal theology a superstitious attitude toward a natural world.—The Greeks thought straight in both physics and morals.—Heraclitus and the immediate.—Democritus and the naturally intelligible.—Socrates and the autonomy of mind.—Plato gave the ideal its full expression.—Aristotle supplied its natural basis.—Philosophy thus complete, yet in need of restatement.—Plato’s myths in lieu of physics.—Aristotle’s final causes.—Modern science can avoid such expedients.—Transcendentalism true but inconsequential.—Verbal ethics.—Spinoza and the Life of Reason.—Modern and classic sources of inspiration. ... Pages 1-32



REASON IN COMMON SENSE

CHAPTER I

THE BIRTH OF REASON

Existence always has an Order, called Chaos when incompatible with a chosen good.—Absolute order, or truth, is static, impotent, indifferent.—In experience order is relative to interests which determine the moral status of all powers.—The discovered conditions of reason not its beginning.—The flux first.—Life the fixation of interests.—Primary dualities.—First gropings.—Instinct the nucleus of reason.—Better and worse the fundamental categories. ... Pages 35-47


CHAPTER II

FIRST STEPS AND FIRST FLUCTUATIONS

Dreams before thoughts.—The mind vegetates uncontrolled save by physical forces.—Internal order supervenes.—Intrinsic pleasure in existence.—Pleasure a good, but not pursued or remembered unless it suffuses an object.—Subhuman delights.—Animal living.—Causes at last discerned.—Attention guided by bodily impulse. ... Pages 48-63


CHAPTER III

THE DISCOVERY OF NATURAL OBJECTS

Nature man’s home.—Difficulties in conceiving nature.—Transcendental qualms.—Thought an aspect of life and transitive.—Perception cumulative and synthetic.—No identical agent needed.—Example of the sun.—His primitive divinity.—Causes and essences contrasted.—Voracity of intellect.—Can the transcendent be known?—Can the immediate be meant?—Is thought a bridge from sensation to sensation?—Mens naturaliter platonica.—Identity and independence predicated of things. ... Pages 64-83


CHAPTER IV

ON SOME CRITICS OF THIS DISCOVERY

Psychology as a solvent.—Misconceived rôle of intelligence.—All criticism dogmatic.—A choice of hypotheses.—Critics disguised enthusiasts.—Hume’s gratuitous scepticism.—Kant’s substitute for knowledge.—False subjectivity attributed to reason.—Chimerical reconstruction.—The Critique a work on mental architecture.—Incoherences.—Nature the true system of conditions.— Artificial pathos in subjectivism.—Berkeley’s algebra of perception.—Horror of physics.—Puerility in morals.—Truism and sophism.—Reality is the practical made intelligible.—Vain “realities” and trustworthy “fictions”. ... Pages 84-117


CHAPTER V

NATURE UNIFIED AND MIND DISCERNED

Man’s feeble grasp of nature.—Its unity ideal and discoverable only by steady thought.—Mind the erratic residue of existence.—Ghostly character of mind.—Hypostasis and criticism both need control.—Comparative constancy in objects and in ideas.—Spirit and sense defined by their relation to nature.—Vague notions of nature involve vague notions of spirit.—Sense and spirit the life of nature, which science redistributes but does not deny. ... Pages 118-136


CHAPTER VI

DISCOVERY OF FELLOW-MINDS

Another background for current experience may be found in alien minds.—Two usual accounts of this conception criticised: analogy between bodies, and dramatic dialogue in the soul.—Subject and object empirical, not transcendental, terms.—Objects originally soaked in secondary and tertiary qualities.—Tertiary qualities transposed.—Imputed mind consists of the tertiary qualities of perceived body—“Pathetic fallacy” normal, yet ordinarily fallacious.—Case where it is not a fallacy.—Knowledge succeeds only by accident.—Limits of insight.—Perception of character.—Conduct divined, consciousness ignored.—Consciousness untrustworthy.—Metaphorical mind.—Summary. ... Pages 137-160


CHAPTER VII

CONCRETIONS IN DISCOURSE AND IN EXISTENCE

So-called abstract qualities primary.—General qualities prior to particular things.—Universals are concretions in discourse.—Similar reactions, merged in one habit of reproduction, yield an idea.—Ideas are ideal.—So-called abstractions complete facts.—Things concretions of concretions.—Ideas prior in the order of knowledge, things in the order of nature.—Aristotle’s compromise.—Empirical bias in favour of contiguity.—Artificial divorce of logic from practice.—Their mutual involution.—Rationalistic suicide.—Complementary character of essence and existence. ... Pages 161-183


CHAPTER VIII

ON THE RELATIVE VALUE OF THINGS AND IDEAS

Moral tone of opinions derived from their logical principle.—Concretions in discourse express instinctive reactions.—Idealism rudimentary.—Naturalism sad.—The soul akin to the eternal and ideal.—Her inexperience.—Platonism spontaneous.—Its essential fidelity to the ideal.—Equal rights of empiricism.—Logic dependent on fact for its importance, and for its subsistence.—Reason and docility.—Applicable thought and clarified experience. ... Pages 184-204


CHAPTER IX

HOW THOUGHT IS PRACTICAL

Functional relations of mind and body.—They form one natural life.—Artifices involved in separating them.—Consciousness expresses vital equilibrium and docility.—Its worthlessness as a cause and value as an expression.—Thought’s march automatic and thereby implicated in events.—Contemplative essence of action.—Mechanical efficacy alien to thought’s essence.—Consciousness transcendental and transcendent.—It is the seat of value.—Apparent utility of pain.—Its real impotence.—Preformations involved.—Its untoward significance.—Perfect function not unconscious.—Inchoate ethics.—Thought the entelechy of being.—Its exuberance. ... Pages 205-235


CHAPTER X

THE MEASURE OF VALUES IN REFLECTION

Honesty in hedonism.—Necessary qualifications.—The will must judge.—Injustice inherent in representation.—Æsthetic and speculative cruelty.—Imputed values: their inconstancy.—Methods of control.—Example of fame.—Disproportionate interest in the aesthetic.—Irrational religious allegiance.—Pathetic idealisations.—Inevitable impulsiveness in prophecy.—The test a controlled present ideal. ... Pages 236-255


CHAPTER XI

SOME ABSTRACT CONDITIONS OF THE IDEAL

The ultimate end a resultant.—Demands the substance of ideals.—Discipline of the will.—Demands made practical and consistent.—The ideal natural.—Need of unity and finality.—Ideals of nothing.—Darwin on moral sense.—Conscience and reason compared.—Reason imposes no new sacrifice.—Natural goods attainable and compatible in principle.—Harmony the formal and intrinsic demand of reason. ... Pages 256-268


CHAPTER XII

FLUX AND CONSTANCY IN HUMAN NATURE

Respectable tradition that human nature is fixed.—Contrary currents of opinion.—Pantheism.—Instability in existences does not dethrone their ideals.—Absolutist philosophy human and halting.—All science a deliverance of momentary thought.—All criticism likewise.—Origins inessential.—Ideals functional.—They are transferable to similar beings.—Authority internal.—Reason autonomous.—Its distribution.—Natural selection of minds.—Living stability.—Continuity necessary to progress.—Limits of variation. Spirit a heritage.—Perfectibility.—Nature and human nature.—Human nature formulated.—Its concrete description reserved for the sequel. ... Pages 269-291


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1952, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.