38 Chapters
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Conduct and Experience (1930)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

Conduct,” as it appears in the title, obviously links itself with the position taken by behaviorists; “experience,” with that of the introspectionists. If the result of the analysis herein undertaken turns out to involve a revision of the meaning of both concepts, it will probably signify that my conclusions will not be satisfactory to either school; they may be regarded by members of both as a sterile hybrid rather than a useful mediation. However, there are many subdivisions in each school, and there are competent psychologists who decline to enroll in either, while the very existence of controversy is an invitation to reconsideration of fundamental terms, even if the outcome is not wholly satisfactory.

Before we enter upon the theme, an introductory remark should be made. That is that the subject is so highly complex and has so many ramifications that it is impossible to deal with it adequately The difficulty is increased by the fact that these ramifications extend to a historical, intellectual background in which large issues of philosophy and epistemology are involved, a background so pervasive that even those who have no interest in, or use for, philosophy would find, if they took the trouble to investigate, that the words they use—the words we all must use—are deeply saturated with the results of these earlier discussions. These have escaped from philosophy and made their way into common thought and speech.

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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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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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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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Logical Objects (1916)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

The exigencies which produced this paper will, I hope, render apologies unnecessary. I am only too conscious that it is not a paper for discussion, but a memorandum of certain positions which might be developed. I would suggest, however, that the following points may afford a handle which discussion can take hold of: First, what is the nature of empirically observable inference? Can it be sufficiently identified by behavioristic criteria? If so, secondly, is it not altogether probable, in view of its tremendous importance in life and the danger of going wrong to which experience shows it is exposed, that certain distinctive instrumentalities would be evolved in the course of improving the performance of the act? Any one of the five points mentioned might then be used as a testing case with reference to the hypothesis that they illustrate just such instrumentalities.

The object of this paper is to propound an hypothesis concerning the nature of what, for brevity, may be called “logical entities.” By this word I denote such things as are referred to by common nouns, bywords like “between,” “if,” “or,” by numbers, or in general what are usually referred to as subsistences and essences. The history of thought shows at least three types of theories. They have been treated as (i) physical properties abstracted and grasped in “rational apprehension”; as (ii) mental (i.e., psychical) existences; and (iii) as marking a peculiar type of Being, which is neither physical nor psychical, but rather “metaphysical” in one of the most commonly used senses of that word. It is not part of my present intention to tell the reasons for the oscillation of historic speculations among the different views. It is not out of place however to note that mathematical science has repeatedly generated the latter type of view. The similarities of the Rules for the Direction of Mind of Descartes and the main theses of contemporary analytic realism are many and striking; it is probable that they also exist, mutatis mutandis, between the latter and the ancient Megaric logic, or whatever may have been that contemporary theory which stared Plato in the face as a reductio ad absurdum of one phase of his own philosophy. And it would be superfluous to point out that amid their differences practically all schools of contemporary realists agree in the third conception, though they exhibit a preference for the word logical over the word metaphysical in describing this tertium quid in the realm of Being. The hypothesis which I would present is a development of a fourth point of view which has been repeatedly suggested in the history of thought, but never, as far as I am aware, with adequate emancipation from irrelevant considerations. It is that logical entities are truly logical, while “logical” denotes having to do intrinsically with the occurrence of inference. In other words, logical objects are things (or traits of things) which are found when inference is found and which are only found then.

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