Page:Avenarius and the Standpoint of Pure Experience.djvu/41

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

natural view of the world is not logic, so that the philosophy which we finally construct is a compromise, some logic, some natural Weltbegriff. All sorts of mythological objects may be objects of experience. We know that to different individuals and to communities in different stages of culture, very different objects are objects of experience. We frequently express our estimate of these by calling the individual insane and the community superstitious. In doing so, however, we simply set our experience over against the one which we criticize. Both are equally pure experience, though one may be a pure experience of mythological objects, and the other such an experience as we call clarified and scientific. In the growth from childhood to intellectual maturity we see, in some measure, the transition from the former to the latter. In the historical growth of a race from primitive and prehistoric beginnings to a high degree of civilization of the modern type, we see, on a large scale, the movement from the one type of reine Erfahrung to the other. Thus we may describe experience as a form with a variable content, or as a variable character.

This is to advance somewhat beyond the discussion as above pursued, but it brings us to the considerations which occupy the second section of this paper.


The term ‘Pure Experience’ is intended to translate the German ‘reine Erfahrung,’ but the German word ‘rein’ suggests ‘mere,’ ‘nothing else than’ which the English word ‘pure’ less readily connotes. The English term at once suggests the question, What is an unpure experience? Experience conceived not as pure is conceived not as experience simply, experience as such, but as interpreted in the light of some metaphysic. Pure experience is experience taken in an absolutely empirical way, and conceived without metaphysical presupposition. The previous discussion has attempted to give an example of taking experience in the sense of ‘reine Erfahrung,’ experience without metaphysical implications. Transcendent objects may or may not exist. It is a question not of them, but of experience characterized, in this discussion, as cognitive. For the most recent and the clearest statement of the ‘pure experience’ position see Professor William James in the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, Vol. I., Nos. 18, 20, 21, and Vol. II., Nos. 2, 7, 11; and Professor Dewey in Vol. II., No. 15, of same journal.