Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/37

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ests. Both conceptions, fortunately, lie before us. Heraclitus and Democritus, in systems easily seen to be complementary, gave long ago a picture of nature such as all later observation, down to our own day, has done nothing but fill out and confirm. Psychology and physics still repeat their ideas, often with richer detail, but never with a more radical or prophetic glance. Nor does the transcendental philosophy, in spite of its self-esteem, add anything essential. It was a thing taken for granted in ancient and scholastic philosophy that a being dwelling, like man, in the immediate, whose moments are in flux, needed constructive reason to interpret his experience and paint in his unstable consciousness some symbolic picture of the world. To have reverted to this constructive process and studied its stages is an interesting achievement; but the construction is already made by common-sense and science, and it was visionary insolence in the Germans to propose to make that construction otherwise. Retrospective self-consciousness is dearly bought if it inhibits the intellect and embarrasses the inferences which, in its spontaneous operation, it has known perfectly how to make. In the heat of scientific theorising or dialectical argument it is sometimes salutary to be reminded that we are men thinking; but, after all, it is no news. We know that life is a dream, and how should thinking be more? Yet the thinking must