Page:Avenarius and the Standpoint of Pure Experience.djvu/39

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31
APPRECIATIONS OF EXPERIENCE

ceive myself about it. The true judgment has a kind of value which a false judgment would not have. That to which the judgment corresponds is this ought, which is authoritative for the individual.

It is enough to point out that this felt imperative is in the first place a character of pure experience, whatever else it may be.

Another subjective principle of a similar sort is Sigwart’s ‘Principle of Agreement.’ If any one question the validity of this principle, Sigwart admits that “We can only fall back upon our consciousness that the unification of elements which agree (viz., subject and predicate) is something absolutely self-evident,”[1]—or in other words, that it is a fact of pure experience. But, says Sigwart, there is experience that is obviously subjective and individual, and experience which has all the character of universal validity. The latter sort of experience can be tested by certain principles such as (1) stability in the character of objects,—they are not found with one character to-day and a different one to-morrow; and (2) social agreement.[2] But the objective validity which depends upon these tests can get along very well without any transcendent object whatever.

A very common way of arguing for the realistic metaphysical existence of the outer world is to call in the concept of causality. There must be an outer world, it is said, as the cause of our sensations, which depend upon the stimulation of a sense organ. Sigwart’s comment upon this argument is the right one. He says: “No doubt scientific reflection upon our sense-perceptions, which begins by assuming that they are occasioned by external objects, finds itself confirmed in this assumption by the fact that it is thus enabled to explain our sensations. . . . But it is, after all, convincing only after we have tacitly presupposed the existence of objects, the assumption of which it was intended to explain.”[3]

Objective validity in the realist’s sense is, then, Sigwart admits, not so obvious in any character of experience. “But,” he continues, “it still remains open to us to acknowledge the existence of an external world, which is the same for all, as a postulate of our search for science and knowledge, which we can not avoid believing, although we recognize that it is not self-evident.”[4]

I should put it more strongly than this. We can not help having the outer world as a fact of experience because our experience must needs be that of a human being. We may say that we doubt or that we suspend judgment, but we have all the time our natural organic


  1. Sigwart, ‘Logic,’ English translation, Vol. I., p. 296.
  2. L. c., Vol. I., p. 310.
  3. L. c., Vol. I., p. 321.
  4. L. c., Vol. I., p. 322.