Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/560

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will limit myself to the corollary he draws from the doctrine of the Relativity of Knowledge, as held by me. Rightly pointing out that I hold this in common with "Messrs. Mill, Lewes, Bain, and Huxley," but not adding, as he should have done, that I hold it in common with Hamilton, Mansel, and the long list of predecessors through whom Hamilton traced it, the reviewer proceeds to infer from this doctrine of relativity that no absolute truth of any kind can be asserted—not even the absolute truth of the doctrine of relativity itself. And then he leaves it to be supposed by his reader that this inference tells especially against the system he is criticising. If, however, the reviewer's inference is valid, this "denial of all truth" must be charged against the doctrines of thinkers called orthodox, as well as against the doctrines of those many philosophers, from Aristotle down to Kant, who have said the same thing. But now I go further, and reply that, against that form of the doctrine of relativity held by me, this allegation cannot be made with the same effect as it can against preceding forms of the doctrine. For I diverge from other relativists in asserting that the existence of a non-relative is not only a positive deliverance of consciousness, but a deliverance transcending in certainty all. others whatever, and is one without which the doctrine of relativity cannot be framed in thought. I have urged that, "unless a real Non-relative or Absolute be postulated, the Relative itself becomes absolute, and so brings the argument to a contradiction;"[1] and elsewhere I have described this consciousness of a Non-relative manifested to us through the Relative as "deeper than demonstration—deeper even than definite cognition deep as the very nature of mind;"[2] which seems to me to be saying as emphatically as possible that, while all other truths may be held as relative, this truth must be held as absolute. Yet, strangely enough, though contending thus against the pure relativists, and holding with the reviewer, that "every asserter of such a (purely-relative) philosophy must be in the position of a man who saws across the branch of a tree on which he actually sits, at a point between himself and the trunk,"[3] I am singled out by him as though this were my own predicament. So far, then, from admitting that the view I hold "involves the denial of all truth," I assert that, having at the outset posited the coexistence of subject and object as a deliverance of consciousness which precedes all reasoning[4]—having subsequently shown, analytically, that this postulate is in every way verified,[5] and that in its absence the proof of relativity is impossible—my view is distinguished by an exactly-opposite trait.

The justification of his second proposition the reviewer commences by saying that "in the first place the process of Evolution, as understood by Mr. Spencer, compels him to be at one with Mr. Darwin in

  1. "First Principles," § 26.
  2. Ibid., § 62.
  3. Compare "Principles of Psychology," §§ 88, 95, 391, 401, 406.
  4. "First Principles," §§ 39, 45.
  5. "Principles of Psychology," part vii.