This applicability, the prerequisite of significant thought, is also its eventual test; and the gathering of new experiences, the consciousness of more and more facts crowding into the memory and demanding co-ordination, is at once the presentation to reason of her legitimate problem and a proof that she is already at work. It is a presentation of her problem, because reason is not a faculty of dreams but a method in living; and by facing the flux of sensations and impulses that constitute mortal life with the gift of ideal construction and the aspiration toward eternal goods, she is only doing her duty and manifesting what she is. To accumulate facts, moreover, is in itself to prove that rational activity is already awakened, because a consciousness of multitudinous accidents diversifying experience involves a wide scope in memory, good methods of classification, and keen senses, so that all working together they may collect many observations. Memory and all its instruments are embodiments, on a modest scale, of rational activities which in theory and speculation reappear upon a higher level. The expansion of the mind in point of retentiveness and wealth of images is as much an advance in knowledge as is its development in point of organisation. The structure may be widened at the base as well as raised toward its ideal summit, and while a mass of information imperfectly digested leaves something still for intelligence to do, it shows at the same time how much intelligence has done already.
Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/211
Jump to navigation Jump to search