The Problem of Personality/Part 1/Chapter 5
MR. F. C. S. SCHILLER.
The works of Mr. Schiller which we shall here study are his Riddles of the Sphinx, his essay on Axioms as Postulates, in Personal Idealism, and his later contribution of Philosophical Essays published under the title of Humanism.
As these writings extend over an interval of a dozen years, it is not surprising to find a natural development of his thought, and in some instances a change of ideas. Mr. Schiller’s first work was the most ambitious in its range of treatment, although possibly it was not so expressive of his characteristic courage as the later essay on Axioms as Postulates, which, if accepted as valid, would revolutionize our notions of Truth. But this view is still adopted generally in his collection of essays entitled Humanism, and, although he has not yet sought to systematically establish and defend this view, he holds out the hope of so doing in the future. Meanwhile he shows the full scope of his doctrine to be wider than an epistemological theory; involving as it does certain views of experience, the world and God, which he seeks to embody under the inspiring designation ‘Humanism.’ This he prefers to such titles as ‘Pragmatism,’ which is good, but not the final term of philosophic innovation, and ‘Radical Empiricism,’ which it interprets synthetically, and ‘Personal Idealism,’ which is perhaps liable to ambiguity, and has already been adopted for the System of G. H. Howison in his Limits of Evolution. Humanism is the watchword of the movement which sets up the whole personality in philosophy to the place which it actually occupies in life, namely the supreme place; and from this vantage-ground alone can the problems of thought be properly surveyed and correlated with the essential conditions of will and emotion.
Upon plunging into the Riddles of the Sphinx, which, notwithstanding Mr. Schiller’s development of thought, still contains sufficient permanence of material, especially in its relation to personality, to preserve its value for the student of Humanism, we soon find something bearing on our topic to catch hold of, and upon which we can drift to ‘high and dry’ philosophic certainty, secure from the waves of Agnosticism, Scepticism, and Pessimism. As it was with the γνώθι σεαυτόν of Socrates and the Cogito ergo sum of Descartes, so it is with ‘the one indisputable fact and basis of philosophy’ of Schiller; the reality of the Self it is impossible to doubt. For to deny it is to resolve everything, including our ‘only chance’ of knowledge, into a destructive whirl of ‘appearance’ and illusion, from which there is no escape. It is no idle coincidence then that the historical representatives of Scepticism and Agnosticism, Hume and Kant, have been just those who tried to disprove the reality of the Self. Their arguments Schiller refutes, and then fearlessly proceeds to examine the cheap phrases and empty charges of anthropomorphism flung at religion and any philosophy that recognizes the uniqueness of personality in our own interpretation of experience. Science is itself infected with the dreaded taint of anthropomorphism. So is philosophy. It behoves thought, therefore, to be conscious of itself and to construct a system true to the noblest part of reality, the conditio sine quâ non of experience, namely, the Self, which furnishes the key to all else, and therefore makes necessary a teleological explanation of the universe.
Before examining more closely Schiller’s doctrine of the Self, let us briefly state the leading principles of the system laid down in the Riddles of the Sphinx. The ‘Riddles’ themselves are the relation of Man to the World, to his Cause, and to his Future. The first is to be solved by the doctrine of the Plurality of ultimate reals; the second requires God, non-phenomenal and personal, but also finite; and the third is met by a theory of Immortality, qualified by the degree of consciousness reached by the soul in its past. Prominent in Schiller’s system is the process of Becoming, a real process with a beginning and an end in time. Time comes into being with the World-Process, through a determination of the Divine Spirit to form the ultimate spiritual entities into a harmonious cosmos. Between the individual selves and God there is interaction. Evil enters through non-adaptation of the Ego to the interaction with God. Hence Evil tends to become less as Evolution goes on. Error is in the same case as Evil. The material world is due to the Divine side of the ‘stress,’ while on its own side the Ego produces the phenomenal Self. The process of Evolution means the perfecting of the interaction, so that the development of the world will reveal more and more the nature of God, until at the completion, the perfected spirits would behold the countenance of God. The perfection of the individuals and their grouping into societies must go together, and this is the true End of the Process. The Ideal is to be conceived as the perfection of activity (as in Aristotle).
Beginning, then, with the reality of the Self, Schiller examines the question whether our consciousness of our own existence can be made the basis of theoretical inferences. Kant denied this principle put forward by Descartes in his famous formula. But Schiller shows that this is based on a misunderstanding of the Cartesian formula, due to its necessary presentation in an intellectual form in a philosophical argument. But its force does not lie in ‘I think,’ but in the ‘I’ whose reality is intuitively assured in all experience. So viewed, the supposed objections are seen to be in the form of an ignoratio elenchi. Schiller goes on, however, to refute Kant from his own words. Because thought cannot adequately think the Self, the latter is a conception only, and—that is to say—no reality. But the true reason for thought’s inability to think the subject, Kant has previously implied, namely, because it is the subject for every conception, and for every experience besides!
Having passed through the extremes of Agnosticism, Scepticism, Pessimism, and being on the brink of despair, Schiller revives this conviction of the Self’s reality as the one truth which is left and which may be plucked like a brand from the burning—though it merely serve to light the funereal pyre of Knowledge! But no, it serves a purpose far more useful than that, even to kindle one by one the torches of reality in this otherwise dark and unintelligible world. Its light is intelligence! Schiller exposes the futility of Hume’s objection to personal identity. Hume declared that he could not find the Soul without stumbling upon some impression or idea. If absolute blankness of all content was the condition of the ‘self’ for which he was seeking, and to which he was willing to grant reality, then indeed he was on a vain quest, for it would be a most uncanny ghost of a soul that would satisfy him.
And so Schiller finds a basis for his Reconstruction of Reality. The Self is the most certain of all things; it is the Alpha, and it would not be surprising if it turned out also to be the Omega, the goal of philosophy.
As the unity of thought and feeling, the conscious Self is a better guide now than either (abstract) thought or (phenomenal) perceptions. Schiller has not yet grasped fully the Pragmatic theory of knowledge, for he speaks of ‘the use of the categories and first principles of our thought.’ And yet he had previously given evidence of having the germ of the later development, when, as a test concerning certain principles of knowledge, he had asked of one ‘does it work ?’ But there he concluded that this is not enough; for the principle is not completely disproved because it does not work; logical considerations must be taken into account. And further, the pessimist admits that knowledge appears to work. Schiller’s development of the teleological principle of explanation approximates to the later ‘Humanistic’ view, in some of its statements. These signs are not only interesting; they are relevant to our inquiry; for between the acceptance of the reliability of the Self and such theories of knowledge as are represented by the designation of ‘Humanism,’ there is close connection.
Schiller finds use for the distinction, familiar in philosophy, between the phenomenal Self and the Transcendental Ego, that is, between the Self as it appears to itself in its interaction with the Deity, and the Self as the ultimate reality. He seeks to avoid the dualism, however, which proves so dangerous in Kant’s theory. There is needed something in consciousness to connect the moments of experience. The Transcendental Ego serves to do this, as a permanent being, and as the form, which contains the whole of our psychic life as its content. The error of Kant in separating the form from the matter is avoided by maintaining that the two selves are in some way one, an empirical truth corresponding to our conviction that the Self changes and yet is the same. The Transcendental Ego is defined as the ‘I’ with all its powers and latent capacities of development, the ultimate reality which we have not yet reached. In the progress of development the approximation of the two goes on, until at last coincidence and perfection shall be reached. This is supported by the testimony of Psychology to the phenomena of multiplex personality and ‘secondary’ selves. Our whole Selves are deeper and more real than our ordinary selves.
The existence of other selves and of their worlds of objectivity is explained after the analogy of hypnotism. As ‘several subjects may be made to share in the same hallucinations,’ so may ‘an operator of vastly greater knowledge and power’ create subjective worlds valid for several persons. Between the Ego and the Deity interaction is going on, and the material world is the resultant, from the Divine force, and our phenomenal consciousness is due to our imperfect adaptation to the ‘stress.’
Schiller makes the sensible distinction of a good and bad (including false and confused) anthropomorphism. The false kind consists in the ascription to beings other than ourselves of qualities which we know that they cannot possess. The confused sort is due to a contradiction entering in between the points of analogy with which we start, and the principles with which we conclude. Good anthropomorphism (seeing that non-anthropomorphic truth is a fiction) will seek to parallel all things to the principles of explanation furnished by the human mind, and ultimately the universe must lie stated in these terms (the highest) if it is to be explained. And so Teleology comes in. Action for the sake of rational ends is implied in our natures, and we cannot avoid this, the best explanation of change, in regard to natural processes. A historical method will not suffice, for no description, no mere regress of causes, can satisfy our rational nature. To discover the significance of things is the task of metaphysics, and therefore it is necessary that we explain the lower by the higher, and not the reverse, as the extreme physicists and biologists urge. The final cause will be found to be the true ground of existence, and this is possible only through the Deity transcendent above the evolutionary process. Evolution, ‘which was to have abolished teleology, turns out itself to require the most boldly teleological treatment.’ But to be free from objection, the teleological explanation must not be narrowly anthropocentric. The universal end of the world-process is being subserved by the lesser ends. If teleology be kept from conflict with scientific mechanism, both philosophy and science will gain. It is only by a knowledge of what has been, that we can venture a prediction of what is to be, and that an adequate explanation can be given of the natural Process as a whole; while, on the other hand, the teleological formula of metaphysics should eventually be of benefit to the sciences of ethics, sociology, biology, and, lastly,—the order being one of time as well as of logic—physics and mechanics. Such is Schiller’s contribution to the Problem of Teleology.
Bearing in mind his general Theory of Interaction, previously indicated, the following supplementary ideas on the nature of God are given. God is the Creator, ‘the non-phenomenal and unbecome Cause’; the Sustainer, as interacting with the Ego; it follows also that he is personal and intelligent Spirit. The reasons given for Personality are to the point:—
(a) Cause is a category which is valid only if used by persons and of persons.
(b) Personality is the conception expressive of the highest we know.
(c) Not only as Cause, but also as Perfector of the world-process, God must be regarded as possessing Personality.
(d) Since purpose belongs only to intelligent beings, and Evolution is meaningless if not teleological, therefore we acknowledge the divine Personality, rather than contradict our principle of not multiplying entities needlessly to invent gratuitous fictions like an unconscious or an impersonal intelligence. In a footnote he expresses his willingness to accept the terms ‘supra-personal’ or ‘ultra-personal’ as applicable to God; for doubtless the Personality of God transcends that of man as far as man transcends the atom. But he adds a proviso which is needed in the light of F. H. Bradley’s doctrine of the Absolute as ‘supra-personal but not personal.’ Schiller is wise therefore in clearing himself from such a meaningless position (which really asserts the Unknowable in a new dress!) by the stipulation that by supra-personal we mean something including and transcending, rather than excluding personality.
But there is a fourth attribute of God, insisted on throughout Schiller’s writings, viz. that God is finite, or rather, that to God as to all realities, ‘infinite’ has no meaning. For firstly, Kant’s rebuttal of the so-called Teleological (or ‘physico-theological’) ‘Proof’of God’s existence turned upon the conclusion to an infinite God from inadequate finite premises. All that could be inferred was a cause adequate to the production of the world. To go beyond this is to argue for the unknowable from the known, to seek the infinite from finite data. Again God is finite as Force, for resistance is implied in Force; and God cannot be all if He is to enforce His will upon the world—‘unless He is by some inexplicable chance divided against Himself.’
From his previous account of the universe the same result follows. Regarding infinity as negative and conceptual, he had denied that Space and Time possess it; and he had refused to acknowledge an infinite process of Becoming, or the conception of ‘the world as a whole’ as infinite. ‘An infinite whole is a contradiction in terms.’ The belief in infinity contradicts the important conception of causation, to which Schiller holds under the form of a First Cause, as against the unprofitable notion of an endless regress. While he is influenced by the Cosmological and Teleological Proofs, it is evident that he has departed from them considerably, inasmuch as he argues to a finite Being.
But the grand indictment is not yet complete. The philosopher must be told that he has false grounds for the assumption of infinite existence, and the theologian that the doctrine is not only illogical but irreligious, and detrimental to piety, to faith, and to good works. Infinity in God would make Him the Author of Evil would neutralize His Personality, and would deprive the worshipper of his true heritage of religious emotion. Personality and Infinity are incompatible, for Personality rests on the distinction of Self from Not-Self. With this highest attribute sacrificed at the altar of an abstraction, there would disappear also power, intelligence, wisdom and goodness, from an Infinite Being.
The religious and philosophical doctrines of infinity meet in Pantheism, which leads into the general discussion of Monism and Pluralism. The pantheistic tendency is in every way a mistake, emotionally, scientifically, logically. The result is practically indistinguishable from Atheism. Change and Becoming are impossible on strict absolutistic grounds, as the Eleatics consistently maintained. From the standpoint of the finite, God comes to mean nothing, and from the standpoint of the Infinite, the world is nothing—a practical and theoretical failure is really the result.
Examining Monism, Dualism, and Pluralism, Schiller at once discards Dualism. Between the other two systems he proceeds to a defence of Pluralism. The unity claimed by Monism might indeed have the advantage if it were not necessarily abstract, and devoid of all practical value. It does not simplify the understanding of the world. This merely abstract unity cannot explain the phenomenal manifold. Pluralism escapes the difficult problem of origins. But it is prone to fall into another danger quite as great as that which seems fatal to Monism. A relation between the Reals seems required, and this relation seems to imply a Unity. In such a manner, then, does Pluralism imply the Unity of the world. This difficulty is to be avoided by a rational assumption that ‘the possibility of the interaction of the many is implied in their very existence, and does not require any special proof.’ In a sense, therefore, Pluralism seems to be based on Monism, but the One is without reality, being merely an ideal factor in a real plurality. Pluralism seeks a better unity, the actual result to be arrived at by the process of interaction, the perfection and harmony of a real universe, evolved in the course of Time. In this conception Pantheism and Individualism are transcended. The Many and the One are recognized, but the primacy and reality of the Many are more valid than the abstractions of the One. The influence of the Divine factor in the interaction provides the element of good in the moral world of our experience. In this sense God is immanent in all things. But He is also transcendent in Himself, though finite.
Leaving the Riddles of the Sphinx, the exposition of which has run into some length—but into no greater than it deserves—I turn to the essay on ‘Axioms as Postulates’ in Personal Idealism. Here there is the same emphasis, even in the opening words, upon the Self as real and valid, upon the part played by the ‘whole personality’ in the formation of a metaphysic as in every other human enterprise. Schiller sets forward a twofold ground of agreement among philosophers. The first is that the world is experience, and the second is that for the organization of this experience into a reality for philosophy certain connecting principles are needed. Then he asks that pointed question, which causes such heart-burnings among the ‘Experience’-Philosophers—‘Whose experience?’ and secondly, ‘Of what is it the experience?’ In reply to the first question, it is vain to say that it is the experience of the Absolute. Schiller’s answer is, ‘our experience,’ or if that is assuming too much, ‘my experience.’ ‘Here again,’ he says, ‘I must be prepared to be assailed by a furious band of objectors intent on asking me—Who are you? How dare you take yourself for granted? Have you not heard how the self is a complex psychological product, which may be divided and analysed away in a dozen different ways? And do you actually propose to build your philosophy upon so discredited a foundation?’ In reply, certain observations are made:—
(a) There is a divergence among the analyses of the Self.
(b) A Self conducts the analysis in every case.
(c) These analyses must serve some purpose, which is relative to selfhood.
(d) For the acceptance of an analysis choice is involved, and ‘if I choose to analyse differently or not at all, if I find it convenient to operate with the whole organism as the standard unit in my explications, what right have Scribes and Pharisees to complain?’ Now comes the Pragmatism, which is to be so prominent in Schiller’s subsequent work. Since consequences must justify the choice made, it is damaging to the aforesaid analyses that nothing valuable or workable has resulted. He is therefore hopeful that the assumption of his own existence may perhaps prove more valuable than any of the denials of the Self that are propounded by ‘psychologies which neglect their proper problem in their anxiety to be ranked among the natural sciences.’
Schiller interprets the Self as not yet completely known, but as revealed in its true reality with the process of experience. The World, too, is only imperfectly known as yet. This leads him into an exposition of his Pragmatic Theory of Knowledge. Briefly put, it is that our knowledge is gradually evolved by a series of experimental guesses or ‘postulates.’ There is a large element of indeterminateness manifested in the World. The same characteristics of plasticity and growth are present in the intellectual cosmos. Logic is essentially dependent upon psychological needs. This, too, must be the method of superhuman intelligence, if there be one at work in the forming of the cosmos. ‘Its nature must be the same as ours; it also proceeds by experiment, and adapts means to ends, and learns from experience.’ Matter is the raw material and is conceived after the Aristotelian view of potentiality. Bearing this in mind, Schiller criticizes ordinary Empiricism, in which the activity of the Self is ignored in the presence of ‘impressions and ideas’; and Apriorism, which in its intellectualistic bias has maintained certain ‘necessities of thought.’ This ‘necessity,’ this ‘universality’ claimed for a priori truths, the Postulates of Pragmatism are quite capable of yielding. So Schiller boldly sets out to compel the Axioms, and even the Laws of Thought to own their true nature as Postulates, justified in experience by their working, and by the satisfaction they bring to the whole nature of man. These Postulates depend upon psychical temperament, and ‘radiate from human personality as their centre.’ This is a confession of the indissoluble relation which exists between a Pragmatic doctrine of knowledge and a conviction that the Self is real. This is the pragmatic motif for Schiller’s insistence upon the fact of the Self, at a period when it is very unfashionable to do so.
He assumes also the characteristic features of consciousness, e.g. its continuity, coherence, conativeness, and purposiveness. Consciousness cannot be defined, and is the πού στώ of this, and every such inquiry. But more than all the features above named is the consciousness of an identical Self. The psychological theories do not affect more than the scientific aspect of the matter. Upon this Self-identity of consciousness, which is a psychical fact, he raises his theory of the postulation of logical Identity, the greatest principle of thought. This has come to be through our demand for identity, based upon our consciousness of identity, and ratified by its working in the world of objects. So, too, the consciousness of Self and of Not-Self (as equivalent to the external world) has grown up through successful postulation to account for the felt unsatisfactoriness of experience. This gives the clue to his explanation of the rise of other Postulates—Contradiction, and Excluded Middle, Hypothesis, Causation, Sufficient Reason, Uniformity of Nature, Space, and Time. One postulate is not yet fully axiomatic, that is, Teleology. Schiller again argues in favour of Teleology, and the necessity for anthropomorphism. The bias of Natural Science against these postulates, and the crude treatment of them in the past by their advocates account for the fact that Teleology is still a postulate and not an axiom.
The Personality of God is again briefly vindicated, as also is His Goodness, as a methodological postulate. Infinity is again denied. And Schiller concludes his powerful Essay with a polemic against intellectualism, and a plea for the Pragmatic Theory of Knowledge. The Will-to-believe must be regarded, and philosophy must be reconstructed on a voluntaristic basis.
Passing now to the consideration of Humanism we may reserve the examination of the Preface to the last. For it is Schiller’s latest contribution in the book, and also his most pronounced expression of opinion on our general problem.
In the first Essay on the Ethical Basis of Metaphysics, the development of his theory of knowledge is made clear. Schiller distinguishes between Irrationalism as a doctrine and the view that our cognitive activities are pervaded by the purposive character of mental life generally. The question of value must be raised; purpose and end are, in fact, fundamental to the right understanding of experience. This is further expounded in the ‘Discourse Concerning Pragmatism,’ entitled Useless Knowledge, in which the position is maintained that action is primary, and knowledge only secondary—that the Good is the Source of the True. This is completed by the third Essay on Truth, in which the various definitions of truth are examined and shown to be open to serious objection. Truth is not individual either; it must win recognition from society. Pragmatism can show how this is possible, viz. by efficiency and usefulness being taken as the criteria of truth in our intellectual activity. The usefulness is relative to any human end, but ultimately to the perfection of our whole life.
In the Essay on Lotze’s Monism, that philosopher’s ‘proof’ of the underlying unity is subjected to attack. Schiller enlarges upon his previous view that Pluralism may ‘beg’ interaction.
In regard to the argument from Change, appeal must be made to our inner experience, and there we find the consciousness of change based on a feeling of our identity. But this does not apply to the Absolute, for we can have no such feeling of its identity. Lotze’s re-creation of spiritual beings by their stepping out of the Absolute, at the close of his argument is an effort to save his theory from abstractness.
Schiller agrees with Lotze’s arguments to prove that God must be conceived as personal and spiritual. But he differs from him in the attempt to connect this view with the doctrine of God as the Unity of things. Even religion does not require this identification. The Unity of the Absolute could have no religious value. Lotze’s admission of free-will affords a ground for the conception of a Divine guidance and Providence, but it creates an inherent instability in the Absolute. The mysterious problem of Evil thwarts the Unity of things, and destroys the argument. Lotze’s identification of God with the Absolute leads him, according to Schiller, into a kind of Pantheism. The a priori proofs share, in common with Lotze’s proof from interaction, the weakness of being too abstract. This kind of reasoning would hold in any kind of world.
In the Essay on Reality and Idealism, Schiller clearly indicates the connection between Pragmatism and the conviction of the Self’s reality. ‘The only certain and ultimate test of reality is the absence of internal friction, is its undisputed occupation of the field of consciousness, in a word, its self-sufficiency.’ Upon this criterion the distinction between real and unreal, and even that between the Self and the World, is based. The emotional consequences of presentations in experience are various; so the subject must, of necessity, distinguish himself from the object, the world, which does not ‘feel’; and he must seek to control this realm. Hence the attention to phenomena which are followed by pains or other consequences which are practically important.
The chief remaining essay for our purposes—since I am compelled to exclude the arguments concerning Immortality—is that which controverts the main tenets set forth in Bradley’s Appearance and Reality, in the interests of Schiller’s pragmatistic theory. The title, ‘On Preserving Appearances,’ indicates its polemical aim. Schiller is opposed to the whole method of the dialectic of Bradley, by which everything is first convicted of unreality and then ‘somehow’ reconstituted by the Absolute. Such a negative procedure is itself a verdict of condemnation upon the arguments employed, and, perhaps, upon Logic itself, for ‘nothing which exists in however despicable a sense can really be contradictory.’ The contradictions can only be in our thought, for the reality is there in spite of them! Therefore, Bradley’s criterion that the real is that which is not self-contradictory is only partial, the complete criterion being, according to Schiller, the principle of Harmony. The Absolute, furthermore, is ‘quite as unknowable as Spencer’s monstrosity.’ And then once again Schiller lays it down that the only reality we can start with is our own immediate, personal experience, and that apart from this basis no ultimate reality can be reached. The distinction of ‘appearance and reality’ remains always relative to our knowledge of our world, or, if preferred, Schiller is willing to say ‘that for me it remains relative to my world.’
In the Preface, the chief topic is the advent of ‘Humanism,’ in place of the terms ‘Pragmatism’ and ‘Personal Idealism.’ It represents an attitude of thought which is sympathetic towards the full life of Personality. It signifies an attempt to put forward a philosophic theory of a ‘re-anthropomorphized’ or, as Schiller prefers, a ‘re-humanized’ universe. He is ready to stand by Protagoras, and maintain that Man is the measure of all things. Instead of illusory hopes of a philosophy without assumptions, Humanism candidly confesses that its starting-point is our immediate experience and experienced self, from which it can proceed in any direction. Even the a priori philosophers really take this for granted, and cannot give us any superhuman system.
With much of Schiller’s philosophy of personality I find myself in hearty agreement. Without committing myself to his theory of knowledge, it seems plain to me that such a Pragmatism or Humanism depends for its very life upon the conviction of the reality of the Self. This is the starting-point, actual no less than theoretical, for a philosophy of postulation. If the fashionable ‘Experience’ philosophy will hide a multitude of distinctions in other realms, both of Absolutism and of Empiricism, here in Humanism it has to own its twofold aspect of subject and object. Schiller is ready to ask the simple question ‘Whose experience?’ which causes such a commotion among the ‘Pure Experience’ philosophers. And with the problem of the Self thus raised philosophy must deal. The task of Metaphysics is to explain the distinctions which palpably lie within experience, involving the problems of the relation of the Self to Nature, of Self to Self, and of Self to God.
Let us briefly consider now the more detailed view of the Self given by Schiller. It seems to me that he does not improve his system by his distinction between the Empirical Self and the Transcendental Ego. For the latter is confessedly an ideal. The difficulties of the Kantian dualism concerning the Ego can hardly be avoided by clipping off the epistemological function of the Transcendental Ego, or by saying—with surely a Bradleian reminiscence—that the two are somehow one. Nor can the difficulty of knitting up the moments of our experience with an identical Ego, which we know as ourself, be overcome by making an Ideal Ego do it. Of course, there is this Interaction Theory to support, and both the Ego and the Self are needed for the ‘stress’ of the Divine and the human sides. But neither this nor the hypnotistic analogy will carry our sympathies any further in this direction.
Briefly then, Schiller’s view of the Self as real and the centre of experience and philosophy accords entirely with that adopted in the present work. Humanism insists on Personality throughout. With the intention of Schiller in giving a place to the Transcendental Ego as opposed to the Self as existing at any one moment, I am in sympathy, but I cannot endorse his use of the term so redolent with historical associations, nor can I approve of his method of seeking the Ego as distinct from the Self, in the future, as an Ideal. I agree with his maintenance of self-identity (worked out in ‘Axioms as Postulates’) as the basis of all postulation of identity and of the Law of Identity. His emphasis upon the whole Personality throughout his works, as opposed to a shallow empiricism, or an abstract intellectualism is also valuable. His recognition of purpose and practical needs, of individual and social satisfaction when experimentation is found to work is also true to a certain extent, and may be true in the sense that Pragmatism or Humanism claims.
With Schiller’s views on Anthropomorphism and Teleology I am in accord, and so I may pass them over. It is the outcome of the Humanistic view of things to see that the significant thing in thought, as in all else, is to be aware of the active personality which reclaims an unknown void, and is rewarded by reality and enrichment of experience. And so the highest explanation of the Universe must be in the highest terms, along the lines of purpose, meaning, and development towards an Ideal, as we know it in ourselves.
A discussion of Schiller’s views of the Deity would strictly involve an estimate of his Interaction Theory. But this is not possible here. And. we are concerned more with those doctrines which have been emphasized in his recent writings. As to the Personality of God, I consider Schiller’s views well-founded. At the same time some of his conclusions appear to be uncritically anthropomorphic, not only in his early work, but also in his later Essays, as when he says that the nature of a superhuman intelligence must be the same as ours, proceeding by experiment, adapting means to ends and learning from experience! This surely deserves the charge which Professor Howison brings against Schiller’s ‘God,’ of being ‘finite and pathological.’
But there is another serious question to which my answers would scarcely coincide with his. I refer to the view of the finite nature of God. This is, of course, a part of the general discussion of Infinity, against which Schiller is strenuous in season and out of season. But strictly the question arises in this paper merely as bearing on our prime subject.
Now I am unwilling to dogmatize in regard to the Infinite, and for this reason especially, viz. that mathematical usage has so put its stamp upon the term, as to invalidate any outside claim for it. Accordingly I consider that a different concept should be employed in philosophy. Again, I would not maintain that this metaphysical concept will meet the requirements of the definition of ‘Infinity.’ Hence it is of no avail to try and refute such a metaphysical Absolute or Perfect, with the objection that it does not answer to Kant’s definition of Infinity, viz. ‘that which cannot be completed by successive syntheses.’ If the conception ‘Absolute’ be granted in a relative sense, relative like all else to our capabilities (surely a Humanistic position), there is no contradiction in regarding such a conception as preserving all that was valuable in the conception of the Infinite, without incurring the charges of falsity and abstractness which are hurled at us for using it in a ‘philosophical’ sense. The proper distance between the science of mathematics and constructive metaphysics is thereby preserved. If this, then, be what Schiller means when he says, ‘to God, as to all realities, infinite has no meaning,’ I should agree with him. But it is not. He will not allow one uninterrupted gaze towards reality as a whole. He denies that the universe may be conceived under such ideas. His pluralism is vital and fundamental. Not only is there no Absolute, no Unity of all; there is division and discord at the heart of things. We may hope for a unity as the world learns to swing together better, as Evolution does its work in nature, society, and the individual; but there is no underlying unity or world-ground. The whole process is one of approximation toward unity, never before realized in thought or existence; the Becoming is essential to the true conception of things, and it is in Time.
The idea of God as being but a part of the universe does not satisfy ‘the craving for unity’ which, abuse it as one will, has at least a pragmatic bearing. It seems to me that we require a Personal Ground of all things, the Supreme Unity. But I leave this for the present.
God is not limited by some accident or ‘chance,’ as Schiller implies as a possible view,—‘dividing Him against Himself.’ It is not reasonable to introduce chance in such a connection, but it is rational to endow the Perfect Personality with the power of Self-determination. I have previously indicated my objections to Pluralism. It lacks the defmiteness at least which belongs to the One. The possibility of ultimate interaction between pluralistic entities is opposed surely to our notions of rationality. And why the unity, which even Schiller has to admit to account for this ultimate possibility of interaction, should be merely abstract, I am at a loss to conceive.
Schiller is willing to hold to Teleology as a postulate on its way to becoming an axiom. And yet against an ‘infinite’ unity he is emphatic. May not a similar venture of faith rationalize the universe, and so justify itself? May not Perfect Personality be the ground of all, even of the independence of the world of Egos? May not God be more than a strenuous Pilot wrestling with a refractory fleet in an unfortunate storm, and seeking to make a possible port? May He not be what unbounded worship wills, what faith believes, goodness implies, reason justifies, and love demands, when it uses the controversial terms ‘Infinite’ and ‘Unity’? In the light of the views which are set forth later, I think that the ‘venture of faith’ is reasonable and even necessary.
- Riddles of the Sphinx, A Study in the Philosophy of Evolution, by a Troglodyte; London, Swan, Sonnenschein & Co., 1891.
- Personal Idealism, by Eight Members of the University of Oxford. Edited by H. Sturt. London, Macmillan & Co., 1902.
- Humanism, Philosophical Essays by F. C. S. Schiller, M.A., Macmillan, 1903.
- Riddles, p. 51.
- Riddles, p. 141 ff.
- Ibid. p. 142.
- Ibid. pp. 91-92.
- See also Ibid. pp. 167-168, 260 (footnote).
- Riddles, p. 281.
- Ibid. p. 286.
- Ibid. p. 145 ff.
- Riddles, p. 310.
- Ibid. p. 310.
- Appearance and Reality, pp. 173, 531-33. See supra, Chapter I.; also see Part II., Chapter VI.
- Riddles, p. 311. Italics mine.
- Riddles, Chapter IX.
- Ibid. p. 253.
- Riddles, p. 355.
- Humanism, p. 52.
- Ibid. p. 53. Italics after ‘whole’ are mine.
- Humanism, p. 53.
- Ibid. p. 58.
- Ibid. p. 94. For other assertions of this aspect of Pragmatism, see pp. 95-6.
- Humanism, p. 118 ff.
- Ibid. p. 122.
- Ibid. p. 130.
- Humanism, p. 66.
- Ibid. pp. 118, 119.
- Humanism, p. 187.
- Ibid. p. 191.
- Ibid. p. 192.
- Ibid. p. 192, footnote.
- Personal Idealism, p. 58.
- Limits of Evolution, p. xii.
- Riddles, p. 311.