Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/97

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primordial constitution or tendency, however, must always remain, having structure and involving a definite life; for if we thought to reach some wholly vacant and indeterminate point of origin, we should have reached something wholly impotent and indifferent, a blank pregnant with nothing that we wished to explain or that actual experience presented. When, starting with the inevitable preformation and constitutional bias, we sought to build up a simpler and nobler edifice of thought, to be a palace and fortress rather than a prison for experience, our critical philosophy would still be dogmatic, since it would be built upon inexplicable but actual data by a process of inference underived but inevitable.

No doubt Aristotle and the scholastics were often uncritical. They were too intent on building up and buttressing their system on the broad human or religious foundations which they had chosen for it. They nursed the comfortable conviction that whatever their thought contained was eternal and objective truth, a copy of the divine intellect or of the world’s intelligible structure. A sceptic may easily deride that confidence of theirs; their system may have been their system and nothing more. But the way to proceed if we wish to turn our shrewd suspicions and our sense of insecurity into an articulate conviction and to prove that they erred, is to build another system, a more modest one, perhaps, which will grow more spontaneously and inevitably in