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“And there can be really no such science as the theory of cognition.” ( A&R76)

It has been the conclusion of the foregoing chapter that no distinct province of mental objects exists as the field of psychology; that no definition can anywhere be found to throw the mental on one side and the physical on the other; that we can never construct the external world from the mental, for the external is already implied in the mental. The difference between mental and real, or in the excellent terms of Mr. Alexander between the personal and the objective, is one of practical convenience and varies at every moment; so that the terms content and presentation do not stand for objects of a science but for aspects of an object. We go on to ask, naturally, whether the terms with which the epistemologist deals are any more substantial. The distinctions of immanentand transcendentobject, the terms realand unrealobject, a prioriand a posterioriknowledge, phenomenonand reality; passive apprehensionand the activity of consciousness; these are all terms which have a certain significance in practical knowledge. But whether thought has more than a practical validity, whether there is any reality for thought to reach and whether thought reaches it–the absolute validity of knowledge–is the problem of the theory of knowledge. There are evidently three divisions of the question: the problem of the genesis of knowledge, of the structure of knowledge, and of the possibility of knowledge. It is, I believe, the position of all sound idealism, and I believe is the position of Mr. Bradley, that the only real problem is the second. For it may be said, in criticism of the first problem, that it does not deal with objects of knowledge, and in criticism of the third, that there are no objectsof knowledge, when the object is treated as a hard and fast reality.

The present chapter is to consider the claims of the third problem, and I will only touch very briefly on the question of the “growth of knowledge.” While the problem is by no means a negligible one, it can never occupy a place of priority in the theory of knowledge, and the reason is simply this. We are all agreed that the knowledge of the world possessed by man is superior to that possessed by the ape, and that the knowledge of the European is superior to that of the savage, but there remains in this knowledge a somehowwhich is not resolved unless by a theory which is not the outcome of any “genetic” research. There is recognised in the history which we consider a growth, but it is a growth of “knowledge” only in the vague or practical sense of the world. In evolution or in the development of the child there is a systematic alteration of values, with an outer expansion and an inner elaboration of content, which we find to be continuous with the values and the content of our own experience. But this alteration is a growth of knowledge only if knowledge is already assumed; and if we make no assumptions about the validity of our own knowledge, the growth which we trace is not the growth of knowledge at all, but is the history only of adaptation, if you like, to environment. And in such an account, of course, our knowledge of the environment to which we see the organism adapting itself is taken not as absolute but as relative: we assume only a system of relations such that our knowledge will not be falsified on the plane on which it is knowledge. Nothing, then, is so far known as to the nature of knowledge.

The basis of structural psychology, as we have seen, resolves itself into physiology; and while physiology is by no means irrelevant to the problem of knowledge, its contribution is always indirect. Knowledge being given, physiology can suggest the limitations and give some of the conditions of truth and error; it gives us the...

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