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Emerson—The Philosopher of Democracy (1903) (on Ralph Waldo Emerson)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

It is said that Emerson is not a philosopher. I find this denegation false or true according as it is said in blame or praise—according to the reasons proffered. When the critic writes of lack of method, of the absence of continuity, of coherent logic, and, with the old story of the string of pearls loosely strung, puts Emerson away as a writer of maxims and proverbs, a recorder of brilliant insights and abrupt aphorisms, the critic, to my mind, but writes down his own incapacity to follow a logic that is finely wrought. “We want in every man a long logic; we cannot pardon the absence of it, but it must not be spoken. Logic is the procession or proportionate unfolding of the intuition; but its virtue is as silent method; the moment it would appear as propositions and have a separate value, it is worthless.” Emerson fulfills his own requisition. The critic needs the method separately propounded, and not finding his wonted leading-string is all lost. Again, says Emerson, “There is no compliment like the addressing to the human being thoughts out of certain heights and presupposing his intelligence”—a compliment which Emerson’s critics have mostly hastened to avert. But to make this short, I am not acquainted with any writer, no matter how assured his position in treatises upon the history of philosophy, whose movement of thought is more compact and unified, nor one who combines more adequately diversity of intellectual attack with concentration of form and effect. I recently read a letter from a gentleman, himself a distinguished writer of philosophy, in which he remarked that philosophers are a stupid class, since they want every reason carefully pointed out and labelled, and are incapable of taking anything for granted. The condescending patronage by literary critics of Emerson’s lack of cohesiveness may remind us that philosophers have no monopoly of this particular form of stupidity.

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Value, Objective Reference, and Criticism (1925)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

In some writings of mine on judgments of value considered as evaluations, there was no attempt to reach or state any conclusion as to the nature of value itself.1 The position taken was virtually this: No matter what value is or is taken to be, certain traits of evaluative judgments as judgments can be formulated. One can assuredly consider the nature of impersonal judgments, such as “it rains,” without going into the physical and meteorological constitution of rain. So it seemed possible to consider the nature of value-judgments (as evaluations, not just statements about values already had) without consideration of value, just as, once more, one might discuss deliberation without analysis of things deliberated upon.

The outcome soon showed the mistake. There was a tactical error in connection with the present status of the discussion. There was much interest in value, and little in the theory of judgments, and my essay to disentangle the two only gave the impression that I was trying in a roundabout way to insinuate a peculiar theory concerning value itself, or else that because I did not discuss value I thought it of little importance as compared with instrumentalities. But the error was more than one of mode of presentation, as, indeed, might have occurred to me in considering the analogy between evaluation judgments and deliberation. For if deliberation constitutes a distinctive type of judgment, it is because there is a distinctive type of subject-matter; not that it is necessary to go into details about special matters deliberated upon, but that certain generic traits need to be registered. For as Aristotle remarked long ago, we do not deliberate concerning necessary things, or things that have happened, but only about things still contingent. Hence to make out that deliberation is representative of a distinctive logical type, it is necessary to show that genuinely contingent subject-matter exists. And my theory regarding evaluation judgment involved a similar implication regarding value as its subject-matter. The present article is, accordingly, an attempt to supply the deficiency by showing that the nature of value is such as not only to permit of but to require the general type of judgment sketched in the previous writings.

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Analysis of Reflective Thinking from How We Think (1933)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

When a situation arises containing a difficulty or perplexity, the person who finds himself in it may take one of a number of courses. He may dodge it, dropping the activity that brought it about, turning to something else. He may indulge in a flight of fancy, imagining himself powerful or wealthy, or in some other way in possession of the means that would enable him to deal with the difficulty. Or, finally, he may face the situation. In this case, he begins to reflect.

REFLECTION INCLUDES OBSERVATION

The moment he begins to reflect, he begins of necessity to observe in order to take stock of conditions. Some of these observations are made by direct use of the senses; others by recollecting observations previously made either by himself or by others. The person who had the engagement to keep, notes with his eyes his present location, recalls the place where he should arrive at one o’clock, and brings back to mind the means of transportation with which he is acquainted and their respective locations. In this way he gets as clear and distinct a recognition as possible of the nature of the situation with which he has to deal. Some of the conditions are obstacles and others are aids, resources. No matter whether these conditions come to him by direct perception or by memory, they form the “facts of the case.” They are the things that are there, that have to be reckoned with. Like all facts, they are stubborn. They cannot be got out of the way by magic just because they are disagreeable. It is no use to wish they did not exist or were different. They must be taken for just what they are. Hence observation and recollection must be used to the full so as not to glide over or to mistake important features. Until the habit of thinking is well formed, facing the situation to discover the facts requires an effort. For the mind tends to dislike what is unpleasant and so to sheer off from an adequate notice of that which is especially annoying.

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Voluntarism and the Roycean Philosophy (1916) (on Josiah Royce)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

I am not about to inflict upon you a belated discovery that voluntarism is an integral factor in the Roycean theory of knowledge. Were it not obvious of itself, we have the emphatic utterances of Professor Royce himself in his address to this Association twelve years ago. Following a clue in that paper, it is my purpose to present some considerations relative to the relationship of voluntarism and intellectual-ism1 in the earliest phase of Mr. Royce’s published philosophy, thinking that the matter has historic interest and that it involves points relevant to forming a critical judgment of his later developments. Let me begin by quoting Mr. Royce upon his own early attitude. In 1881 he wrote a paper in which he “expressed a sincere desire to state the theory of truth wholly in terms of an interpretation of our judgments as present acknowledgments, since it made these judgments the embodiments of conscious attitudes that I then conceived to be essentially ethical and to be capable of no restatement in terms of any absolute warrant whatever.” And, referring to his change of views in the last respect, he says: “I am still of the opinion that judging is an activity guided by essentially ethical motives. I still hold that, for any truth seeker, the object of his belief is also the object of his will to believe.… I still maintain that every intelligent soul, however weak or confused, recognizes no truth except that which intelligently embodies its own present purpose.”2 The statement is explicit. Taken in connection with the earlier position, it arouses curiosity as to the reasons for the transition from subordination of intellect to will to the reversed position.

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What Pragmatism Means by “Practical” (1907) (on William James)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

Pragmatism, according to Mr. James, is a temper of mind, an attitude; it is also a theory of the nature of ideas and truth; and, finally, it is a theory about reality. It is pragmatism as method which is emphasized, I take it, in the subtitle, “a new name for some old ways of thinking.”1 It is this aspect which I suppose to be uppermost in Mr. James’s own mind; one frequently gets the impression that he conceives the discussion of the other two points to be illustrative material, more or less hypothetical, of the method. The briefest and at the same time the most comprehensive formula for the method is: “The attitude of looking away from first things, principles, ‘categories,’ supposed necessities; and of looking towards last things, fruits, consequences, facts” (pp. 54–55). And as the attitude looked “away from” is the rationalistic, perhaps the chief aim of the lectures is to exemplify some typical differences resulting from taking one outlook or the other.

But pragmatism is “used in a still wider sense, as meaning also a certain theory of truth” (p. 55); it is “a genetic theory of what is meant by truth” (pp. 65–66). Truth means, as a matter of course, agreement, correspondence, of idea and fact (p. 198), but what do agreement, correspondence, mean? With rationalism they mean “a static, inert relation,” which is so ultimate that of it nothing more can be said. With pragmatism they signify the guiding or leading power of ideas by which we “dip into the particulars of experience again,” and if by its aid we set up the arrangements and connections among experienced objects which the idea intends, the idea is verified; it corresponds with the things it means to square with (pp. 205–6). The idea is true which works in leading us to what it purports (p. 80)2 Or, “any idea that will carry us prosperously from any one part of experience to any other part, linking things satisfactorily, working securely, simplifying, saving labor, is true for just so much, true in so far forth” (p. 58). This notion presupposes that ideas are essentially intentions (plans and methods), and that what they, as ideas, ultimately intend is prospective—certain changes in prior existing things. This contrasts again with rationalism, with its copy theory, where ideas, as ideas, are ineffective and impotent since they mean only to mirror a reality (p. 69) complete without them. Thus we are led to the third aspect of pragmatism. The alternative between rationalism and pragmatism “concerns the structure of the universe itself” (p. 258). “The essential contrast is that reality… for pragmatism is still in the making” (p. 257). And in a recent number of the Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods,3 he says: “I was primarily concerned in my lectures with contrasting the belief that the world is still in the process of making with the belief that there is an eternal edition of it ready-made and complete.”

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Nature, Communication and Meaning from Experience and Nature (1925)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

Of all affairs, communication is the most wonderful. That things should be able to pass from the plane of external pushing and pulling to that of revealing themselves to man, and thereby to themselves; and that the fruit of communication should be participation, sharing, is a wonder by the side of which transubstantiation pales. When communication occurs, all natural events are subject to reconsideration and revision; they are re-adapted to meet the requirements of conversation, whether it be public discourse or that preliminary discourse termed thinking. Events turn into objects, things with a meaning. They may be referred to when they do not exist, and thus be operative among things distant in space and time, through vicarious presence in a new medium. Brute efficiencies and inarticulate consummations as soon as they can be spoken of are liberated from local and accidental contexts, and are eager for naturalization in any non-insulated, communicating, part of the world. Events when once they are named lead an independent and double life. In addition to their original existence, they are subject to ideal experimentation: their meanings may be infinitely combined and re-arranged in imagination, and the outcome of this inner experimentation—which is thought—may issue forth in interaction with crude or raw events. Meanings having been deflected from the rapid and roaring stream of events into a calm and traversable canal, rejoin the main stream, and color, temper and compose its course. Where communication exists, things in acquiring meaning, thereby acquire representatives, surrogates, signs and implicates, which are infinitely more amenable to management, more permanent and more accommodating, than events in their first estate.

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The Ethics of Animal Experimentation (1926)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

Different moralists give different reasons as to why cruelty to animals is wrong. But about the fact of its immorality there is no question, and hence no need for argument. Whether the reason is some inherent right of the animal, or a reflex bad effect upon the character of the human being, or whatever it be, cruelty, the wanton and needless infliction of suffering upon any sentient creature, is unquestionably wrong. There is, however, no ethical justification for the assumption that experimentation upon animals, even when it involves some pain or entails, as is more common, death without pain,—since the animals are still under the influence of anaesthetics,—is a species of cruelty. Nor is there moral justification for the statement that the relations of scientific men to animals should be under any laws or restrictions save those general ones which regulate the behavior of all men so as to protect animals from cruelty. Neither of these propositions conveys, however, the full truth, for they are couched negatively, while the truth is positive. Stated positively, the moral principles relating to animal experimentation would read as follows:—

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General Theory of Propositions from Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (1938)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

Judgment has been analyzed to show that it is a continuous process of resolving an indeterminate, unsettled situation into a determinately unified one, through operations which transform subject-matter originally given. Judgment, in distinction from propositions which are singular, plural, generic and universal, is individual, since it is concerned with unique qualitative situations. Comparison-contrast is, upon this position, the fundamental operation by which re-determination of prior situations is effected; “comparison” being a name for all the processes which institute cumulative continuity of subject-matter in the ongoing course of inquiry. Comparison-contrast has been shown to be involved in affirmation-negation, in measurement, whether qualitative or numerical, in description-narration, and in general propositions of the two forms, generic and universal. Moreover, it is a complex of operations by which existential conjunctions and eliminations, in conjugate connection with each other are effected—not a “mental” affair.

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The Logic of Judgments of Practice (1915)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

In introducing the discussion, I shall first say a word to avoid possible misunderstandings. It may be objected that such a term as “practical judgment” is misleading; that the term “practical judgment” is a misnomer, and a dangerous one, since all judgments by their very nature are intellectual or theoretical. Consequently, there is a danger that the term will lead us to treat as judgment and knowledge something which is not really knowledge at all and thus start us on the road which ends in mysticism or obscurantism. All this is admitted. I do not mean by practical judgment a type of judgment having a different organ and source from other judgments. I mean simply a kind of judgment having a specific type of subject-matter. Propositions exist relating to agenda—to things to do or be done, judgments of a situation demanding action. There are, for example, propositions of the form: M. N. should do thus and so; it is better, wiser, more prudent, right, advisable, opportune, expedient, etc., to act thus and so. And this is the type of judgment I denote practical.

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The Existential Matrix of Inquiry: Cultural from Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (1938)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

The environment in which human beings live, act and inquire, is not simply physical. It is cultural as well. Problems which induce inquiry grow out of the relations of fellow beings to one another, and the organs for dealing with these relations are not only the eye and ear, but the meanings which have developed in the course of living, together with the ways of forming and transmitting culture with all its constituents of tools, arts, institutions, traditions and customary beliefs.

I

To a very large extent the ways in which human beings respond even to physical conditions are influenced by their cultural environment. Light and fire are physical facts. But the occasions in which a human being responds to things as merely physical in purely physical ways are comparatively rare. Such occasions are the act of jumping when a sudden noise is heard, withdrawing the hand when something hot is touched, blinking in the presence of a sudden increase of light, animal-like basking in sunshine, etc. Such reactions are on the biological plane. But the typical cases of human behavior are not represented by such examples. The use of sound in speech and listening to speech, making and enjoying music; the kindling and tending of fire to cook and to keep warm; the production of light to carry on and regulate occupations and social enjoyments:—these things are representative of distinctively human activity

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Democracy and America from Freedom and Culture (1939) (on Thomas Jefferson)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

I make no apology for linking what is said in this chapter with the name of Thomas Jefferson. For he was the first modern to state in human terms the principles of democracy. Were I to make an apology, it would be that in the past I have concerned myself unduly, if a comparison has to be made, with the English writers who have attempted to state the ideals of self-governing communities and the methods appropriate to their realization. If I now prefer to refer to Jefferson it is not, I hope, because of American provincialism, even though I believe that only one who was attached to American soil and who took a consciously alert part in the struggles of the country to attain its independence, could possibly have stated as thoroughly and intimately as did Jefferson the aims embodied in the American tradition: “the definitions and axioms of a free government,” as Lincoln called them. Nor is the chief reason for going to him, rather than to Locke or Bentham or Mill, his greater sobriety of judgment due to that constant tempering of theory with practical experience which also kept his democratic doctrine within human bounds.

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Philosophies of Freedom (1928)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

A recent book on Sovereignty concludes a survey of various theories on that subject with the following words: “The career of the notion of sovereignty illustrates the general characteristics of political thinking. The various forms of the notion have been apologies for causes rather than expressions of the disinterested love of knowledge. The notion has meant many things at different times; and the attacks upon it have sprung from widely different sources and been directed toward a multiplicity of goals. The genesis of all political ideas is to be understood in terms of their utility rather than of their truth and falsity.”1 Perhaps the same thing may be said of moral notions; I do not think there is any doubt that freedom is a word applied to many things of varied plumage and that it owes much of its magic to association with a variety of different causes. It has assumed various forms as needs have varied; its “utility” has been its service in helping men deal with many predicaments.

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The Superstition of Necessity (1893)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

Lest my title give such offense as to prejudice unduly my contention, I may say that I use the term in the way indicated by its etymology: as a standing-still on the part of thought; a clinging to old ideas after those ideas have lost their use, and hence, like all superstitions, have become obstructions. For I shall try to show that the doctrine of necessity is a survival; that it holds over from an earlier and undeveloped period of knowledge; that as a means of getting out of and beyond that stage it had a certain value, but, having done its work, loses its significance. Halting judgment may, indeed, at one time have helped itself out of the slough of uncertainty, vagueness, and inadequacy on to ground of more solid and complete fact, by the use of necessity as a crutch; once upon the ground, the crutch makes progress slower and, preventing the full exercise of the natural means of locomotion, tends to paralyze science. The former support has become a burden, almost an intolerable one.

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Evolution and Ethics (1898)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

To a strictly logical mind the method of the development of thought must be a perplexing, even irritating matter. Its course is not so much like the simple curve described by a bullet as it speeds its way to a mark, as it is like the devious tacking of a sail boat upon a heavy sea with changeable winds. It would be difficult to find a single problem during the whole record of reflective thought which has been pursued consistently until some definite result was reached. It generally happens that just as the problem becomes defined, and the order of battle is drawn, with contestants determined on each side, the whole scene changes; interest is transferred to another phase of the question, and the old problem is left apparently suspended in mid-air. It is left, not because any satisfactory solution has been reached; but interest is exhausted. Another question which seems more important has claimed attention. If one, after a generation or a century, reviews the controversy and finds that some consensus of judgment has finally been reached, he discovers that this has come about, not so much through exhaustive logical discussion, as through a change in men’s points of view. The solution is psychologically, rather than logically, justified.

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Moral Judgment and Knowledge from Ethics (1932)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

That reflective morality, since it is reflective, involves thought and knowledge is a truism. The truism raises, however, important problems of theory. What is the nature of knowledge in its moral sense? What is its function? How does it originate and operate? To these questions, writers upon morals have given different answers. Those, for example, who have dwelt upon approval and resentment as the fundamental ethical factor have emphasized its spontaneous and “instinctive” character—that is, its non-reflective nature—and have assigned a subordinate position to the intellectual factor in morals. Those who, like Kant, have made the authority of duty supreme, have marked off Moral Reason from thought and reasoning as they show themselves in ordinary life and in science. They have erected a unique faculty whose sole office is to make us aware of duty and of its imperatively rightful authority over conduct. The moralists who have insisted upon the identity of the Good with ends of desire have, on the contrary, made knowledge, in the sense of in sight into the ends which bring enduring satisfaction, the supreme thing in conduct; ignorance, as Plato said, is the root of all evil. And yet, according to Plato, this assured insight into the true End and Good implies a kind of rationality which is radically different from that involved in the ordinary affairs of life. It can be directly attained only by the few who are gifted with those peculiar qualities which enable them to rise to metaphysical understanding of the ultimate constitution of the universe; others must take it on faith or as it is embodied, in a derived way, in laws and institutions. Without going into all the recondite problems associated with the conflict of views, we may say that two significant questions emerge. First, are thought and knowledge mere servants and attendants of emotion, or do they exercise a positive and transforming influence? Secondly, are the thought and judgment employed in connection with moral matters the same that are used in ordinary practical affairs, or are they something separate, having an exclusively moral significance? Putting the question in the form which it assumed in discussion during the nineteenth century: Is conscience a faculty of intuition independent of human experience, or is it a product and expression of experience?

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