Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/93

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advance of psychology meant, in this school, the retreat of reason; for as one notion after another was clarified and reduced to its elements it was ipso facto deprived of its function.

So far were these philosophers from conceiving that validity and truth are ideal relations, accruing to ideas by virtue of dialectic and use, that while on the one hand they pointed out vital affinities and pragmatic sanctions in the mind’s economy they confessed on the other that the outcome of their philosophy was sceptical; for no idea could be found in the mind which was not a phenomenon there, and no inference could be drawn from these phenomena not based on some inherent “tendency to feign.” The analysis which was in truth legitimising and purifying knowledge seemed to them absolutely to blast it, and the closer they came to the bed-rock of experience the more incapable they felt of building up anything upon it. Self-knowledge meant, they fancied, self-detection; the representative value of thought decreased as thought grew in scope and elaboration. It became impossible to be at once quite serious and quite intelligent; for to use reason was to indulge in subjective fiction, while conscientiously to abstain from using it was to sink back upon inarticulate and brutish instinct.

In Hume this sophistication was frankly avowed. Philosophy discredited itself; but a man of parts, who loved intellectual games even better than backgammon, might take a hand with the