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The conclusion derived from the two preceding sections has been that within the whole which is experience and is reality, there is a distinction of real and ideal (within which is included the distinction of real and unreal): a distinction which turns out to be appearance and not real, inasmuch as the real is largely ideal, and the ideal is also real; a distinction, however, which in a sense supports reality. 1* For it is by this distinction that the word reality contains any meaning. We have found that reality is in a sense dependent upon thought, upon a relative point of view, for its existence; for ultimately the world is completely real or completely ideal, and ideality and reality turn out to be the same. And we found that the ideal can never be set over against the real absolutely, but tends to run, either forward or back, into the real which it intends, or the real out of which it may be said to be made: for both these reals are after all nothing but itself at another stage of development. It will be evident that the problem of error, in such a theory, becomes a very clamorous one. To approach this problem we must examine more narrowly the various moments of the process of apprehending an object: and inquire whether the distinction of real and ideal, as we have found its general principle, corresponds to the distinction of object and act, or of object and presentation. The nature of mental “activity” and the operation of categories must be discussed. And the question, much agitated in recent years of the subject-matter of psychology, must be agitated again. 2*

The distinction between real and ideal in psychology takes several forms. On the one hand, it may be said, is external reality, and on the other mental content, which is ideal in so far as it intends that reality and has reality of its own as well; and which, under the aspect of that reality of its own, can be studied by the psychologist. Or we may deny the possibility of a valid distinction between content and external reality, and distinguish only between object and act or conation. Or we may deny activity to consciousness altogether, and assemble existents in one complex or another. Or we may say that reality consists of elements of sensation, the rest being ideal construction. Or there is the view of Mr. Bradley, for whom everything is in a way psychical, and for whom therefore the distinction between object and act is not identical with that between an internal and an external reality but is reducible to the problem of knowing one’s own mind.

The questions involved are these: in an act of apprehension is there a part which is strictly mental and a part which is strictly external? and even if the distinction can be made, can it be made sharply enough to give us a class of objects which can form a separate science, psychology? and the ultimate question is: is there a problem of the possibility of knowledge as well as that of the morphology and structure of knowledge?

There are two terms of psychology, which imply unexamined assumptions, and one of which at least has undergone the fire of recent realism: “mental content,” and “psychical process.” The first is an assumption still of the majority of psychologists. The presentation of an external object may or may not “agree” with that object, but in the cases where we assume a complete agreement or identity, the presentation is like a point at which the circumferences of two circles are in contact: the one point may be taken twice over in two diverging contexts. Thus Miss Wodehouse declares that content has one context, while object has another. 3 The one is continuous with mental history, the other with external or physical. And Witasek states the theory in a more extreme way (which Miss Wodehouse would probably not accept) when he says:

a stone die is hard and...

Published By:   Faber & Faber logo    Johns Hopkins University Press

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