Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/106

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


rooted in the very elements of our being, in our senses, intellect, and imagination, which had shaped themselves through many generations under a constant fire of observation and disillusion, these were to be called subjective, not only in the sense in which all knowledge must obviously be so, since it is knowledge that someone possesses and has gained, but subjective in a disparaging sense, and in contrast to some better form of knowledge. But what better form of knowledge is this? If it be a knowledge of things as they really are and not as they appear, we must remember that reality means what the intellect infers from the data of sense; and yet the principles of such inference, by which the distinction between appearance and reality is first instituted, are precisely the principles now to be discarded as subjective and of merely empirical validity.

“Merely empirical” is a vicious phrase: what is other than empirical is less than empirical, and what is not relative to eventual experience is something given only in present fancy. The gods of genuine religion, for instance, are terms in a continual experience: the pure in heart may see God. If the better and less subjective principle be said to be the moral law, we must remember that the moral law which has practical importance and true dignity deals with facts and forces of the natural world, that it expresses interests and aspirations in which man’s fate in time and space, with his pains, pleasures, and all other empirical