Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/179

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this blind budding of existence, to some logical or moral necessity; but this very attempt remains, perhaps, the most striking monument to that irrational fatality that rules affairs, a monument which reason itself is compelled to raise with unsuspected irony.

Reliance on external perception, constant appeals to concrete fact and physical sanctions, have always led the mass of reasonable men to magnify concretions in existence and belittle concretions in discourse. They are too clever, as they feel, to mistake words for things. The most authoritative thinker on this subject, because the most mature, Aristotle himself, taught that things had reality, individuality, independence, and were the outer cause of perception, while general ideas, products of association by similarity, existed only in the mind. The public, pleased at its ability to understand this doctrine and overlooking the more incisive part of the philosopher’s teaching, could go home comforted and believing that material things were primary and perfect entities, while ideas were only abstractions, effects those realities produced on our incapable minds. Aristotle, however, had a juster view of general concepts and made in the end the whole material universe gravitate around them and feel their influence, though in a metaphysical and magic fashion to which a more advanced natural science need no longer appeal. While in the shock of life man was always coming upon the