Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/117

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with all confidence to lead us back to the concrete values for which they stood and to the relations which they enabled us to state and discover. Experience would thus be furnished with an intelligible structure and articulation, and a psychological analysis would be made of knowledge into its sensuous material and its ideal objects. What, then, was Berkeley’s objection to these algebraic methods of inference and to the notions of space, matter, independent existence, and efficient causality which these methods involve?

What he abhorred was the belief that such methods of interpreting experience were ultimate and truly valid, and that by thinking after the fashion of “mathematical atheists” we could understand experience as well as it can be understood. If the flux of ideas had no other key to it than that system of associations and algebraic substitutions which is called the natural world we should indeed know just as well what to expect in practice and should receive the same education in perception and reflection; but what difference would there be between such an idealist and the most pestilential materialist, save his even greater wariness and scepticism? Berkeley at this time—long before days of “Siris” and tar-water—was too ignorant and hasty to understand how inane all spiritual or poetic ideals would be did they not express man’s tragic dependence on nature and his congruous development in her bosom. He lived in an age when the study and