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three Presidential Addresses to the Aristotelian Society in the sessions of 1915, 1916 and 1917. Chapter I. was also communicated to the Aristotelian Society and published in Proceedings, Vol. XIX., under the title “ Philosophy as Monadology.”
I have not burdened the text with footnotes, and much indebtedness is passed without acknowledgment. The leaders who have influenced me most are first of all, Bergson, to whom I owe the distinct orientation of my philosophy. Croce's aesthetic theory came as a revelation to me. To Gentile I owe the full concept of the immanence of the ideal in every form of the actuality of experience. But it is to friends past and present of the Aristotelian Society that I owe the interest in philosophy which has sustained me throughout my life.
H. W. C.
LONDON, March 1922.
THE MODERN SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION
We are accustomed to distinguish between science and philosophy. The main ground of the distinction is that experience, when we study it systematically, presents to us two distinct aspects, one subjective and the other objective. Science deals with Nature, the objective aspect of the world when it confronts the mind as external existence. Philosophy deals with Mind, the subjective aspect which experience presents when we have regard to the fact that external existence itself is primarily and fundamentally apprehended as idea. The two aspects of reality, the aspect of existence which it presents to science, the aspect of idea which it presents to philosophy, are not reciprocally exclusive, and cannot exist harmoniously in independence, for each in its very definition is universal in the absolute meaning of the term, and each, therefore, is inclusive of the other. Hence the initial difficulty of the problem of their relation, a problem which since the development and triumphant advance of scientific knowledge in the nineteenth century has come more and more to be the main and crucial problem of philosophy.
Every relation implies an identity underlying the manifest difference in the terms; but in the case of the two aspects which reality presents to our mind, the scientific and the philosophic, there seems no possibility of reconciling the difference in an identity. We seem in fact to have, not a relation, but two alternatives, the adoption of either, philosophy or science, involving the rejection of the other. For, in so far as science is knowledge, it must fall within the knowing which philosophy regards as experience, but in so far as science presupposes the existence of its object, its reality must assume a form which is inaccessible to philosophy, and philosophy itself to be justified as science must fall within existence and cease to be philosophy. And this gives rise to a curious dilemma. The one horn is that reality, or existence, supposed independent of knowledge is in its independence, not merely unknown but by its definition unknowable; and to be unknowable and to be non-existent are, so far as our thinking is concerned, one and the same.
The other horn is that the essence of science is discovery, and if there be no existence completely independent of the knowledge of it, there is nothing to discover.
Science has never been seriously troubled with this dilemma. Indeed, the very fact that philosophy has been so largely engrossed with it has always been to science the reproach of philosophy, marking it as an abstract, speculative, jejune, logistic, inquiry, remote from the concrete, practical, urgent, interests of human life. For itself, science simply sweeps the difficulty aside, cuts the Gordian knot, by the simple rough-and-ready device of assuming the existence of the object it is required to presuppose; assuming, that is, the entire independence of the object in its existence of the act by which it is known. But having done so science cannot stop. The need for a theory of knowledge is imperative, because knowledge itself is fact. It is obliged, therefore, to go on and assume that knowing is not anything, that it is no more than the simple de facto relation of togetherness, in which one thing, a mind, in consequence of a peculiar quality it possesses, can, without affecting in any way the thing which confronts it, contemplate that thing and thereby know it without its knowing contributing anything to the constitution of the thing known. In this way science has come to adopt as its method the study of the material universe in complete abstraction from the conditions of knowledge, and has set before itself as its ideal the attainment of a systematic body of truth about the universe, devoid altogether of any taint of subjectivity or relativity.