Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/190

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

unintelligibility and the man of common-sense charging the logical world with abstractness and unreality. The former view is the more profound, since association by similarity is the more elementary and gives constancy to meanings; while the latter view is the more practical, since association by contiguity alone informs the mind about the mechanical sequence of its own experience. Neither principle can be dispensed with, and each errs only in denouncing the other and wishing to be omnivorous, as if on the one hand logic could make anybody understand the history of events and the conjunction of objects, or on the other hand as if cognitive and moral processes could have any other terms than constant and ideal natures. The namable essence of things or the standard of values must always be an ideal figment; existence must always be an empirical fact. The former remains always remote from natural existence and the latter irreducible to a logical principle.[1]

  1. For the sake of simplicity only such ideas as precede conceptions of things have been mentioned here. After things are discovered, however, they may be used as terms in a second ideal synthesis and a concretion in discourse on a higher plane may be composed out of sustained concretions in existence. Proper names are such secondary concretions in discourse. “Venice” is a term covering many successive aspects and conditions, not distinguished in fancy, belonging to an object existing continuously in space and time. Each of these states of Venice constitutes a natural object, a concretion in existence, and is again analysable into a mass of fused but recognisable qualities—light, motion, beauty—each of which was an original concretion in discourse, a primordial term in experience. A quality is recognised by its own idea or permanent nature, a thing by its constituent qualities, and an embodied spirit by fusion into an ideal essence of the constant characters possessed by a thing. To raise natural objects into historic entities it is necessary to repeat upon a higher plane that concretion in discourse by which sensations were raised to ideas. When familiar objects attain this ideal character they have become poetical and achieved a sort of personality. They then possess a spiritual status. Thus sensuous experience is solidified into logical terms, these into ideas of things, and these, recast and smelted again in imagination, into forms of spirit.