Page:Avenarius and the Standpoint of Pure Experience.djvu/19

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11
APPRECIATIONS OF EXPERIENCE

sufficiently good equivalent for the 'fidential,' and in our discussion may be substituted for it. The important thing to notice, however, is that when we get these three attitudes, or three feeling-tones, or better, when we get all the reality-feeling and reality-attitude that Professor Royce and Avenarius both describe, we have got what we were looking for. At least experience has no other test by which thought can recognize its goal.

Experience means for Avenarius what I have attempted to mean by it. The subject of the experience in question merely observes the situation before him and reports it, but there are no implications about real objective facts in what he reports, except for him who reports the facts of experience. The facts reported may be wholly mythological, but to be objects of experience they must characterize experience by their apparent reality, and the observer must be quite unaware of having in any way produced the facts out of himself or contributed anything to determine their character. He simply observes and reports.[1] This account of an object of experience we frequently have implied in the insistence of people who have seen apparitions, that they were not dreaming, that they tell simply what they saw, that it was as plain as day, etc.

Whether Luther ever hurled his ink-bottle at the devil or not, or whether 'der alt böse Feind' ever became to him a visual object, Luther's experience may well have been characterized by the reality of the devil as an actual person. The experience of many thousands of persons is no doubt characterized by the efficiency of holy relics to cure disease. The friendliness of disembodied souls, miracles of the saints, the existence of God, can all be objects of experience. That is, experience is adjusted to the reality of these things, just as our experience is adjusted to the reality of our fellow of whom we can get no glimpse whatever. But we sometimes awaken from the cognitive dream. We do so all the time in trivial ways, as when one seeks for his purse or his keys, and finds he has left them at home. But in the case of ideas which play large dramatic rôles in life the change, when it occurs, is gradual. But the change can always occur, and that is the important point.

We are familiar with the distinction of the 'What' and the 'That.' Avenarius distinguishes what we may call the 'What' and a variable 'That.' There is a certain content, imagined or perceived, and there is my attitude toward it, by which I characterize it as certainly known, or as believed, or as probable, or as doubted, or as disbelieved and rejected. Every cognitive experience includes these two factors. There is a content, and the content is the object of an attitude. The content, Avenarius designates as elements; the


  1. 'Kritik der Reinen Erfahrung,' Vol. II., pp. 352 and 356.