Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/69

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the new growth; many, in fact, which were formerly equal in rank to the best, now grow obscure. Attention ignores them, in its haste to arrive at what is significant of something more. Nor are the principles of synthesis, by which the aristocratic few establish their oligarchy, themselves unequivocal. The first principles of logic are like the senses, few but arbitrary. They might have been quite different and yet produced, by a now unthinkable method, a language no less significant than the one we speak. Twenty-six letters may suffice for a language, but they are a wretched minority among all possible sounds. So the forms of perception and the categories of thought, which a grammarian’s philosophy might think primordial necessities, are no less casual than words or their syntactical order. Why, we may ask, did these forms assert themselves here? What principles of selection guide mental growth?

To give a logical ground for such a selection is evidently impossible, since it is logic itself that is to be accounted for. A natural ground is, in strictness, also irrelevant, since natural connections, where thought has not reduced them to a sort of equivalence and necessity, are mere data and juxtapositions. Yet it is not necessary to leave the question altogether unanswered. By using our senses we may discover, not indeed why each sense has its specific quality or exists at all, but what are its organs and occasions. In like manner we may, by developing the Life of Reason,