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The task of this concluding chapter is merely to weave together the conclusions of the other chapters and present them if possible as a coherent whole; and to touch as well upon certain consequences which have not as yet appeared. We may draw, I believe, certain inferences as to the nature of reality which will forbid us to accept either an idealistic or a realistic philosophy at its full value. But I believe that all of the conclusions that I have reached are in substantial agreement with Appearance and Reality, though I have been compelled to reject certain theories, logical and psychological, which appear in the Principles[ of Logic] and elsewhere. Out of absolute idealism we retain what I consider its most important doctrines, Degrees of Truth and Reality and the Internality of Relations; we reject the reliance upon “consciousness” or “the work of the mind” as a principle of explanation. With regard to objects, I have reached the conclusion that all objects are non-mental; and with regard to mental activity, I conclude that we find only physiological activity or logical activity, both independent of, and more fundamental than what we call the activity of mind. But the materialism, which (as exemplified particularly in the work of Mr. Bosanquet) from one point of view may very justly be said to lie at the basis of idealism, presents only one aspect of the situation. If the aim of my examination of structural psychology was to demonstrate that the more accurately and scientifically one pursues the traces of mentality in the “mind” of the individual, the less one finds; so on the other hand my examination of the epistemologist’s world has been an attempt to prove that the more closely one scrutinizes the “external world,” and the more eagerly and positively one plucks at it, the less there is to see and touch. Cut off a “mental” and a “physical” world, dissect and classify the phenomena of each: the mental resolves into a curious and intricate mechanism, and the physical reveals itself as a mental construct. If you will find the mechanical anywhere, you will find it in the workings of mind; and to inspect living mind, you must look nowhere but in the world outside. Such is the general doctrine to which my theory of objects points.

There are other conclusions bound up with this doctrine. As to the problem of knowledge, we have found that it does not exist. Knowledge, that is to say, is not a relation, and cannot be explained by any analysis. We do not say, however, that in knowing, the “mind” comes into immediate and direct contact with the object, for we find that such an assertion has no great meaning, for there is no “mind” for the object to be brought into contact with, and with the physical organism the object known may or may not be in direct contact. And to say that the object is dependent on or independent of the knower–this again I think is a statement of no great importance, though of the two alternatives I think that it is perhaps truer to say that the object is independent. For quaknown, the object is simply there, and has no relation to the knower whatever, and the knower, quaknower, is not a part of the world which he knows: he does not exist.

This bare and hypothetical knowledge, I admit, is only a part of what serves our use. We do not, in point of fact, simply know: we make tentative and hardly formulated theories of knowledge in practice, theories which go to make up our real knowledge. And again there is much in that which we call knowledge which is not knowing in what narrowly speaking is the only legitimate sense. It is these two disturbing factors which complicate and indeed create the problem. The point is worthy of great elaboration, and even in so sketchy a discussion as the present may occupy us for several moments. What I mean is this. Theoretically, that which we know is merely spread out...

Published By:   Johns Hopkins University Press