The Philosophies of Royce, James and Dewey in their American Setting

THAT part of North America to which our forefathers came, the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida, and that ever receding frontier of which they progressively took possession, that frontier that was at last arrested by the Pacific stretching from Washington to southern California, this far-stretching country defines in geography and history the community of the United States of America. But while historical geography thus draws its boundaries and marks out the set of its vast adventure, it does not define and exhibit the mind that was formed within this American community and that informed and shaped the course of that adventure.

It was a mind that brought with it from Europe habits already formed of ecclesiastical and political self-government. The dominant habits were those of Puritanism and the democracy of the town meeting. The philosophy of the Puritanism is indicated in the phrase "thrift and righteousness." Calvinism had found a place for business within its spiritual economy. It could find the blessing of God in what the medieval church had called usury. It opened the door to a capitalistic régime. God had given men property and blessed them in its increase, and punished the unprofitable steward by taking away even that which he had. In England, the Puritans and their successors from whom the American colonists came remained after the restoration a subordinate part of the nation. The monarchy, parliament. and the courts, and the social hierarchy from which their functionaries were drawn, bore witness to old feudal habits that still controlled the national life, set the standards of conduct, gave form to social values, and

(212) furnished their emotional resonance. The culture of England's ruling class, sprung from an unbroken history, dominated the spiritual life of the community. When the colonies threw off their allegiance to the English crown and entered the family of independent nations, they had brought about a change which was even more profound than their political revolution. They had changed the character of the state which gave the former colonists their political consciousness. When they recognized themselves as citizens it was no longer as members of the English social hierarchy. For this they had substituted a political national structure which was a logical development of the town meeting. The state has never impressed itself upon the American citizen. It is nothing but the extension in representative form of the political habits of the town meeting. The caucus and the political boss stand so largely for its modus operandi that it commands little weight of inherited respect. It was not until the national state became a practical necessity in the administration and distribution of public lands that it became an essential part of the political consciousness of the community west of the Alleghanies (sic). Then it could be appealed to for the development of roads, canals, and railways. Apart from these the pioneers continued to govern themselves in the fashion of town meetings. Any man was qualified for an office if he could secure the votes for his election. And the astonishing thing was that it worked so well. Thinly spread over a vast continent, this nexus of town meetings not only governed themselves in rough and ready fashion but organized states which were organic parts of the United States, and the fundamental reality of it in men's consciousness was baptized in blood. But the reality of it grew out the solution of their problems. It was a union that had to be achieved, not one that could be brought out like an invisible writing in men's ancient inherited experience. The habit of self-government in local affairs was an inherited English method, but the creation of a national state out of these habits was purely American. De-

(213) -spite two revolutions English society had preserved the outward form of a state which symbolized its unity in the forms of feudal loyalties, while the power had been shifted to a Parliament within which the representatives of new groups were given a voice in governmental control. But these representatives belonged to a hereditary ruling class who fused their representation of a rising democracy with the historical traditions of the English gentleman -- the essence of English liberalism. Within the community the men whom commerce and industry had clothed with new demands placed these demands in the keeping of those who had the historic tradition and training. So the as yet unfranchised voters and the nonconformists could find their articulate spokesman in so typical an English gentleman and so vivid a churchman as Gladstone. The education and social training which we call culture was in the minds of Englishmen an essential part of the consciousness of the state. Carlyle wanted to deepen it into a religion and Disraeli saw in it not only the opportunity of Tory democracy but of a far-flung imperialism. The state could be realized not only in the symbolic person of the monarch but also in the dependence of the masses upon those whose training and social position gifted their representatives with the right to fight their battles within the ancient structure of the state. It was not only the military victories of England that were won on the fields of her public schools. The historical and functional universality of the state could be still incarnated in a social feudal structure. The training, the culture, and the ideas of its upper classes were essential factors even in the political struggles which democratized its government.

It is, I think, necessary to recall this fundamental difference between the American and English communities, if we are to understand the part played in our life by a culture which in one sense is as much English as American.

These differences of attitude in the corresponding groups in the English and American communities stand out most

(214) sharply, if we recognize that in England they were dominant elements in the middle class which was fighting its way to a controlling political position, a middle class which stood between a lower class of tenants, farm laborers, and the industrial proletariat of the manufacturing cities, on the one side, and the upper class of gentility, nobility, and the crown above them, on the other. In American society there was nothing below them and nothing above them. They did not have to convince a community of ancient tradition that their control would not sacrifice the values woven into its social structure and hallowed by its history. If the American Puritan was freed from the opposition of his English fellow, he was freed also from the necessity of deepening his philosophy to meet the demands of a more varied community. He had problems enough, but these did not include that of justifying his way of life and the principles underlying his view of the world to powerful hostile parts of his own community. This type of English individualism was set free to propagate itself in a great continent without its natural enemies.

It was an individualism which placed the soul over against his Maker, the pioneer over against society, and the economic man over against his market. The relations were largely contractual. Behind it lay a simplified religious philosophy, a theology, in which dogmatic answers were given to questionings as to the purpose of the world, the future of the human soul, moral obligations, and social institutions. Its Calvinism had separated church and state. It had come to terms with the Newtonian revolution and eighteenth-century enlightenment. Popular education and economic opportunity sprang naturally from its social attitude and its geographical situation. it was the distillation of the democracy inherent in Calvinism and the Industrial Revolution at liberty to expand and proliferate for a century without the social problems which beset it in Europe. The American pioneer was spiritually stripped for the material conquest of a continent and the formation of a democratic community.


It has not been, therefore, either in the fields of philosophic reflection and aesthetic appreciation or in that of historic retrospect that the American has sought for the import of his political activity. His most comprehensive institutions for of social control and organization have found their existence in the immediate problems of the community. The same is true of the economic life of the community. Success in business has not meant entrance into time-honored ruling classes. In no country in the world has striking success in business been so occupied with the economic organization and development in the economic processes themselves. Those larger communities which political and economic activities have always implied and involved, and which the historic relations of members of tile European nations have in some sort expressed, have had little or no existence in the retrospect and historic structure of the American mind, with which to dignify and build out the import of activities which transcend their immediate field.

It has followed that the values of these social processes have been found in the achievements they have immediately secured or in the interest in the activities themselves, and as the immediate ends in politics and business are inadequate expressions of their values in the community the ideal phase of politics and business has been found in the process rather than in their objectives. This implicit philosophy has been inarticulate. That it is there is evidenced in the social values which have permeated and controlled political and economic life in America, values which have transcended our politics and our business. The advance which has been achieved in our society has in the main been due neither to leadership nor to ideas. There have been a few outstanding exceptions, but by and large I think this is true of the history of the community, of the United States. And yet we have inherited the literature, the philosophy, and the art of the Europe from which we separated ourselves in our political and economic undertakings. It was a culture which did not root in the active life of the com-

(216) -munity. The colleges which were the natural habitats of this culture, which should therefore have endowed with this culture those who were going out into the active life of the community, were not the centers from which the politicians and business men of the community were drawn. In the earlier years of our history they trained a larger percentage of the clergymen than of any other calling, but the separation of church and state was too profound not only in our institutions but also in our social attitudes to allow the church to be a dominant force in the direction of the onward life of the community.

It is this break between the culture and the directive forces in the community that was characteristic of the century and a quarter of the history of the mind of America. It stands out in all expressions of this culture, but it is to its import in philosophy that I wish to draw attention.

In eighteenth century thought, science had discovered laws in nature and assumed them to exist in social processes. As God enacted them in nature, let the monarch enact them in society; and personal obligation to these monarchs would insure their operation in church and state. It was the undertaking of the romantic philosophies to fuse these two principles of social control into one. Nature was rational and society was rational. The principle of control was reason, but this controlling reason could be found only in an inclusive self that contained nature and society. Contrariety, the irrational, contradiction, evil, and sin, in nature and men, could only be overcome by the wider experience within which these disappear in the rational. What the romantic philosophy undertook was to find this process, in which the contradictions disappear in the higher synthesis, within the experience of the individual mind; but as the solution must be already achieved in the timeless process of the infinite, the finite mind could find no direction for its conduct within its own reason. It could only realize itself in taking its place within so much of the transcendent whole as was evident in its experience. As that experience widened we

(217) could realize more and more of that infinite whole, but we had no such intelligent process within ourselves as would enable us to take the helm into our own hands and direct the course of our own conduct, either in thought or action. Still it was a romantic philosophy that was warm with the inner life of the self, and it vivified the past by reliving it. It brought romance into history and philosophy.

This romantic philosophy was reflected in America in Emerson and the members of the Concord School, but in America it answered neither to the program of the Absolute Idealists that sought to sweep all activities of the spirit, scientific, aesthetic, religious, and political, within the logic of the development of the self, nor to the undertaking of Carlyle to find within the depths of the self a principle of feudal leadership that could guide English society out of the wastes of the Industrial Revolution. It was allied in America to the clerical revolt against Calvinism and brought with it a romantic discovery of a self that could interpret nature and history by identifying itself with their processes, but it was worked out neither in the logic of thought and social organization nor with regard to the demands of immediate social problems. It was a part of American culture, a culture which was fundamentally European. But the American became self-conscious in his belief that he had broken with the structure of European society. He felt himself to be hostile to the society from which his culture sprang. Nor was this break between culture and social activities mended by the literature of the New England group. This was shot through with a nostalgia for the richer and profounder spiritual experience across the Atlantic. It followed from this situation that culture in America was not an interpretation of American life. And yet the need for interpretation was present in American consciousness, and the lack of a competent native culture was recognized. I believe that there is no more striking character of American consciousness than this division between the two great currents of activity, those of politics and business on the

(218) one side, and the history, literature, and speculation which should interpret them on the other.

This culture appeared then in the curriculums of American schools and colleges. There was no other to put in its place. America's native culture accepted the forms and standards of European culture, was frankly imitative. It was confessedly inferior, not different. It was not indigenous. The cultivated American was a tourist even if he never left American shores. When the American felt the inadequacy of the philosophy and art native to the Puritan tradition, his revolt took him abroad in spirit if not in person, but he was still at home for he was an exponent of the only culture the community possessed.

When the great speculative mind of Josiah Royce appeared in a California mining camp and faced the problem of good and evil and examined the current judgments and the presuppositions back of them, he inevitably turned to the great philosophies of outre mer, in his dissatisfaction with the shallow dogmatism of the church and college of the pioneer. In all European philosophies since the time of Descartes the problem of knowledge had been central, the problem of relating the cognitive experience of the individual mind to the great structures of the physical universe which Newtonian science presented, and to the moral universe which western society in its states and churches predicated. Some of these structures were new and some were old, and at various points they clashed with each other. The scientific presentations demanded acceptance on the basis of objective evidence. When they clashed with inherited dogma the individual had to find within himself, if he attempted to think out his problem, the reason for acceptance or rejection. If the clash came between scientific doctrines evidence could be obtained from the findings. The scientist was not thrown back upon his own mind. But if the conflict arose between the dogmas in social institutions and scientific doctrine no such appeal could be made to accept findings. Western thought presupposed an ordered, in-

(219) telligible, moral universe. Its ordered intelligible character, that is, its uniformity, enabled the mind to test its scientific findings, but its moral order presupposed a supreme end or purpose in which the purposes of voluntary individuals could appear as elements of an organized whole. However, no such ordered moral whole is given by which one may test his individual purpose. The same might be said of intelligible nature. No complete universe is given by which the scientist may test his hypothesis. But the scientist is quite willing to accept the experimental test of his hypothesis. His experience thus becomes a part of the objective world of science. For no modern scientist has skepticism been a practical problem. But the Western world has been obsessed with the conception of a given moral order with which the individual will must accord if the individual is to be moral. The scientist is not the less scientific because the hypothesis which he has brought to the experimental test is later proved to be incorrect. But the moral individual is good or bad as he has or has not conformed to the given moral order, and yet his judgment is fallible. Only Kant's rigorous but empty categorical imperative offers a seemingly logical escape from the dilemma. As it proved in the case of Kant and his idealistic successors, the established institutions of society offer the only palpable expressions of such a given moral order. Here skepticism is a practical problem. And it was out of attempted solution of the relation of the individual will and its purpose to a given all-inclusive aim of the absolute will that Royce's idealism arose.

Such skepticism has had its place in the American community, but it has belonged mainly to the adolescent over against the claims of the dogma of the church. It was not reflected in the general attitude of a community engaged in the reconstruction of its institutions. A striking difference between the spiritual lives of Europe and America, since the American revolution, is that a continuous process of revolution and reconstruction was going on in Europe while American

(220) institutions have been subject to no conscious reconstruction. The values embodied in the institutions of the European communities were felt to be profoundly threatened, or revolutionary parties sought to restate them in their own programs, or political and social reformers insisted that the changes they sought would not imperil them. In the background of all thought lay these values, and it is this sense of them in the face of the profound changes that were going on that gave to Europe in the nineteenth century its peculiar character. This same culture brought to American shores lacked this background of social reconstruction. It was foreign and yet it was our only culture. The dominance of middle-class ideals of contractual freedom, of political democracy, of freedom of the school from the church, these were commonplaces in American consciousness. The insurgence of these concepts and attitudes into an old feudally ordered society gave a rich setting for novelist, poet, and historian. The cultured American had to become a European to catch the flavor. He had to get another soul as does the man who has learned a new vernacular or who has traveled in foreign parts. Our own bitter struggle to abolish slavery that the country might remain a united community found little to illuminate and interpret it in this culture. The problem was not a European problem. Skepticism had a profound social import in Europe. The freethinker was not simply one who criticized theological dogma. He was a libertarian in a political sense and was thought to be endangering all institutions. It is only necessary to reflect upon socialism in Europe, and to think of the meaninglessness of it in the American community during the nineteenth century, to bring vividly to consciousness the profound difference between the European and the American minds. The result of this was that while there was a cultured group in the community, and while culture was sought vividly in institutions of learning, in lyceums and clubs, it did not reflect the political and economic activities which were fundamental in American life. We re-

(221) -alize that Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel each stood for a phase of the reconstruction that was going on in the German community; and we realize that this romantic idealism was not so foreign to the English community that Green could not draw from this idealism a new and living sense of the individual in the community and the social reality that expressed itself in the individual. But one cannot dream of that philosophy interpreting the relation of the American individual to society. And yet the American philosopher had to acquire his detachment of thought, his sense of the philosophic problem, and his training in philosophic disciplines in these European philosophies. They were, of course, as much his as were the medieval doctrines of Thomas and Scotus, or the philosophies of Greece. But Royce did not present the problems of American consciousness in the terms of the older philosophies. They were recognizedly distant in history, but he did present the problem of the relation of the American individual to his universe, physical and moral, in terms of the absolute idealism that was at home in a German, almost a Prussian soil. It is only in a community in which personal subordination is sublimated into identification of the self with the larger social whole, where feudal social organization still persists, that romantic idealism can interpret the immediate problem of the individual to the world. It was the passionate struggle of Royce's great mind to fashion, in his philosophy of Loyalty, an expression of this idealism which would fit the problem of American thought. He was obliged to take it into the vernacular of the church, where alone skepticism had a meaning, to seek for reverberations from Calvinistic and Pauline conceptions. His individual was voluntaristic; the judgment was an expression of purpose. His individual is American in his attitude, but he calls upon this American to realize himself in an intellectual organization of conflicting ends that is already attained in the absolute self, and there is nothing in the relation of the American to his society that provides any mechanism that even by

(222) sublimation can accomplish such a realization. Not even in the Blessed Community, with Royce's social analysis of the self, does Royce lay hands upon an American social attitude that will express his undertaking. Causes, loyalty to which unites the man to the group, so far from fusing themselves with higher causes till loyalty reaches an ultimate loyalty to loyalty, remain particular and seek specific ends in practical conduct, not resolution in an attained harmony of disparate causes at infinity. Nor does Royce's stroke of genius -- the infinite series involved in self-representation -- reflect the self-consciousness of the American individual. The same remark may be made upon Royce's doctrine of interpretation. In each of these conceptions Royce points out that the individual reaches the self only by a process that implies still another self for its existence and thought. If the structure of reality that is organized about the self in the social process is already there, the concept affords a striking picture of its infinity. The logical implication, empty in itself, can interpret a structure if the structure is there and reveal its character. But the American even in his religious moments did not make use of his individualism -- his self-consciousness -- to discover the texture of reality. He did not think of himself as arising out of a society, so that by retiring into himself he could seize the nature of that society. On the contrary, the pioneer was creating communities and ceaselessly legislating changes within them. The communities came from him, not he from the community. And it followed that he did not hold the community in reverent respect.

We are not likely to exaggerate the critical importance of religion, as the carrier of the fundamental standards of social conduct, in the building up of the great American community; but it belonged to the character of the pioneer that his religious principles and doctrines like his political principles and doctrines were put into such shape that be could carry them about with him. They were part of the limited baggage with

(223) which he could trek into the unpeopled west. He was not interested in their origins or the implications of those origins, but in the practical uses to which they could be put. And no American, in his philosophical moments, regarding the sectarian meeting-houses of a western community would have felt himself at home in spiritual landscape of Royce's Blessed Community. Notwithstanding Royce's intense moral sense and his passionate love of the community from which he came and to which he continued to belong, his philosophy belonged, in spite of himself, to culture and to a culture which did not spring from the controlling habits and attitudes of American society. I can remember very vividly the fascination of the idealisms in Royce's luminous presentations. They were a part of that great world of outre mer and exalted my imagination as did its cathedrals, its castles, and all its romantic history. It was part of the escape from the crudity of American life, not an interpretation of it.

In the psychological philosophy of William James, on the other hand, we find purpose explaining and elucidating our cognition, rather than setting up a metaphysical problem which can only be solved by positing an infinite intellect. James's chapter on the concept is the source of his later pragmatism, and of the pregnant ideas which both Royce and Dewey confess that they owe to him. The passage from the percept to the concept is by way of attentive selection and the source of this attentive selection must be found in the act. Knowledge predicates conduct, and conduct sets the process within which it must be understood. Royce admits it, and considers the judgment an act, and then proceeds to draw metaphysical conclusions, if the universe is a moral universe. But for James the act is a living physiological affair, and must be placed in the struggle for existence, which Darwinian evolution had set up as the background of life. Knowledge is an expression of the intelligence by which animals meet the problems with which life surrounds them. The orientation of

(224) knowledge is changed. Its efficacy can be determined not by its agreement with a pre-existent reality but by its solution of the difficulty within which the act finds itself. Here we have the soil from which pragmatism sprang. Both Royce and James were influenced by the science of their period. Royce was affected by mathematical science at the point at which mathematics and logic coalesce, and he was a considerable figure in the development of symbolic logic. James's medical training brought him under the influence of the biological sciences. But back of this lay James's own individual problem the skepticism of adolescence set in a long period of illness that sickened both body and mind. What could he believe that would give him the assurance with which to face life? He demanded the right to believe that he might live. There must be a meaning in life that transcended the mechanistic conception of it which the biological sciences presented. Renouvier fortified him in his refusal to surrender the will to mechanism. The mechanistic doctrine could not be proved, and his own will to believe pulled him out the pit.

James, though born in New York, was a New Englander. New England was the seat of the Puritan tradition and also the seat of culture, both that of the Old World and that which had continued to flourish in America. He had the keenest aesthetic response and had even tentatively addressed himself to the artist's life. Residence abroad had equipped him with European languages and made him at home in Europe, as he was at home in Boston and at Harvard, but his mental and moral citizenship was in America, as that of his brother Henry was not. In his own experience he was not aware of the break between the profound processes of American life and its culture. He was not of pioneer stock. He condemned the crudity, the political corruption, the materialism of American life, but be condemned it as an American. It was perhaps because the solution that he sought for his own problems did not take him to foreign systems, that it was out of his own physiology and psychology,

(225) that be felt his way to an intellectual and moral world within which he could live, that the cleavage between life and culture did not appear in his philosophy. His philosophy was a native American growth. The adolescent skepticism with which his mental struggles began was common to American youth who thought at all, and be found and fashioned within himself the weapons with which to defeat it. He lived and thought freely. If any man's culture has been a part of himself, this was true of James. He carried no burden of learning or critical apparatus, and he was instinctively responsive to what was native to other people. Like Goethe he was at home in any circle, but without Goethe's sophistication. And yet he remained a New Englander, as far as American life was concerned. The principle of his solution was found in the individual soul. His was a lofty individualism. He was ready to go to the help of the Lord against the mighty, and called on others to go with him, but it was as individuals they were to go, to bring more moral order into a pluralistic unfinished universe.

He heralded the scientific method in philosophy. The test of the hypothesis was in its working, and all ideas were hypotheses. Thinking was but a part of action, and action found its completion and its standards in consequences. He adopted Pierce's laboratory habit of mind. But what were the consequences? In the laboratory of the scientist the hypothesis -- the idea -- is fashioned in terms of anticipated consequences. The experiment must be adjusted to certain prevised events, if the experiment is to say anything. The control of conduct is as essential in the formation of ideas as in the culmination of the act which tests them. And here lies the whole case of pragmatism in its interpretation of knowledge, for if the idea comes into the act, without becoming a part of the apparatus for intelligent control in this situation, the consequence will not test the truth of the idea. They will reveal nothing but the attitude of the individual. Now from the early days in which James was fighting for a foothold of assurance in living,

(226) through the poignant thought brought to expression in the will to believe, in his profoundly sympathetic analysis of types of religious experience, and in the lectures on pragmatism, James faced ideas of freedom of the will, of God, and the moral order of the universe, which demanded acceptance of the individual, at the peril of the loss of the values they subtend. And James fought to make the attitude of the individual in these crises pragmatic evidence of the truth of these ideas. This led to the ambiguous term satisfaction as the test of truth. This predisposition inevitably blurred his analysis of knowledge in conduct and the nature of the idea. For all of his analysis of the self, James's individual remained a soul in his article on the moral philosopher, and even in his celebrated chapter on habit. It entered in advance of the situation it helped to determine. It carried standards and criteria within itself. It was still the American individual that had fashioned the ecclesiastical and political community within which it lived, though James was a New Englander and no pioneer and lived in a community old enough to have its own culture, though it was a culture that was in great measure sterile in the development of the larger American community. His individual had that in him which was not fashioned in the living process in which his intelligence arose.

John Dewey was also a New Englander like James, and like Royce he was intellectually bred in the idealisms of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, and can say today that if there be a synthesis in ultimate Being of the realities which can be cognitively substantiated and of meanings which should command our highest admiration and approval, then concrete phenomena, -- ought to be capable of being exhibited as definite manifestations of the eternal union of the real-ideal, though today this is for Dewey a condition contrary to fact, But while Royce went to Harvard, Dewey went to the University of Michigan. Both Dewey and Royce published psychologies, though Dewey's came earlier in the development of his

(227) thought, and constituted in its treatment of the will and the emotions an early step in the formulation of conduct as the field of experience. Like Royce, Dewey was profoundly influenced by James's psychology, though as I have already indicated it suggested to him a method of interpretation of knowledge rather than a metaphysical problem to be worked out in Hegelian fashion. As in the case of James, it was biological science with its dominant conception of evolution that offered him a process within which to analyze and place intelligence.

It would, however, be an error to ascribe to James's Psychology the starting-point of Dewey's independent thought. In his Outline of Ethics, 1891, in which are to be found the essential positions of his ethical doctrine, among his many acknowledgments to English idealistic and naturalistic writers, he makes no reference to James; and yet here we find him denouncing the "fallacy that moral action means something more than action itself." Here we find the "one moral reality -- the full free play of human life," the "analysis of individuality into function including capacity and environment," and the "idea of desire as the ideal activity in contrast with actual possession." How far he had traveled from his earlier position appears from the following passage from an article printed in 1884. He there

declares that God, as the perfect Personality or Will, is the only Reality, and the source of all activity. It is therefore the source of all activity of the individual personality. The Perfect Will is the motive, source, and realization of the life of the individual. He has renounced his own particular life as an unreality; he has asserted that the sole reality is the universal Will, and in that reality all his actions take place.[1]

In the Outline of Ethics we find the will, the idea, and the consequences all placed inside of the act, and the act itself placed only within the larger activity of the individual in society.


All reference of knowledge to a pre-existent ideal reality has disappeared. Knowledge refers to consequences imagined or experienced. Dewey passed out of his idealistic position by the way of the psychological analysis of the moral act. He occupied himself with the function of knowledge in doing. Instead of finding in the conflict of aims a problem, that knowledge can solve only in an absolute will, it becomes the immediate moral problem of the individual within the act. And his next step was by way of the school, in which he subjected his philosophy to the more severe test of actual accomplishments in education. He accepted the headship of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago upon the condition that it should include that of Education; and his earliest steps in the new field were in the establishment of the Experimental School, in which the education of the children was worked out upon the principle that knowing is a part of doing.

Now Pragmatism is recognized as a part of a current of thought which has had other expressions in other communities. Elsewhere in particular it has been allied with an anti-intellectualism, as for example in Bergson's philosophy. Two characteristics of this phase of modern thought may be noted, one the reference of thought to conduct, and the other the inclusion of intelligence within the sweep of biologic evolution. That these should lead to anti-intellectualism implies that intelligence and thought are not so native to human conduct and behavior even in their most elaborate social expressions, but that they deform experience. In other words, it is assumed that thought has the function not only of facilitating conduct but also of presenting reality as well. Even a theory of knowledge cannot serve two masters, and it was the task of freeing cognition from the shackles of a divided allegiance which Dewey accomplished in his Essays in Experimental Logic. Here Pierce's laboratory habit of mind follows through the whole process of knowing. In particular it is exhibited in elaboration of the problem from which it starts upon its experi-

(229) -mental undertaking. In isolating the sense data, and the relations which the conflicts of experience have shaken out, in sharp logical distinction from the non-problematic world within which it arises, Dewey exempts the logical process that is seeking knowledge from any responsibility for the world that has set the problem. It frees having, enjoying, and suffering and the percept, as the statement of the object that is simply there, from a consciousness of, and the way is open for the more complete analysis of consciousness in Experience and Nature. The gist of it is that what had been already achieved for the moral act was now established for the act of knowing, and if cognition is not responsible for the world that sets the problem still less is it called upon to read back into a pre-existent reality its accomplishment in the solution of its problem, the "fallacy of conversion of eventual functions into antecedent existence." In Experience and Nature the parallelism between the analysis of the moral act and the cognitive act is completed. As it is shown in the former that it is in social participation that the peculiar character of the moral appears, so in the latter it is through the participation that is involved in communication, and hence in thought itself, that meaning arises. There is a grand simplicity in the advance from the Syllabus and Outline of Ethics in 1891 to Experience and Nature and The Quest for Certainty in 1929. As Whitehead has admonished us, "Seek for simplicity and then distrust it." It is a wise admonition, but before we address ourselves to the subtle problems and the difficult readjustments which any great reconstruction bring with it, we may stop to enjoy the sense of enormous relief with which one completes The Quest for Certainty. That baffled sense of the philosophic squirrel running a ceaseless dialectical round within his cage, that despairing sense of the philosophic Sisyphus vainly striving to roll the heavily weighted world of his reflexion up into a preexistent reality -- these drop away and the philosopher can face about toward the future and join in the scientist's adven-

(230) -ture. Not the eagerness to grapple with a dialectical opponent, not the sense of escape into a city not built with hands, but the sense of freedom for action -- it is a novel attitude in which to lay down a profound philosophic treatise.

It has been a term of opprobrium that has been cast upon Dewey's doctrine that it is the philosophy of American practicality. But now that the world has become somewhat more respectful of us and more curious about us it may not, perhaps, be opprobrious to recognize the relation of Dewey's habitat to his philosophic output. In the first place it was beyond the Alleghanies, that he formulated his problem and worked out the essentials of his doctrine. Though Hegelianism flourished in a small and somewhat Teutonic group in St. Louis, which was not without its repercussions in America, as witness both Royce and Dewey, it was Royce who established the absolute idealisms in American thought by making them a part of culture. There was no sublimation of the individual in the structure of society in America which could make absolute idealism an outgrowth of America consciousness; but as a part of culture it took its place, and the center of gravity of this culture was in New England. I have indicated what seems to me the important characteristic of American life, the freedom, within certain rather rigid but very wide boundaries, to work out immediate politics and business with no reverential sense of a pre-existing social order within which they must take their place and whose values they must preserve. We refer to this as individualism, perhaps uncouth, but unafraid. In its finest form it was embodied in William James, for it was in him refined by a genuine native culture. Now there is only one way in which such an individualism can be brought under constructive criticism, and that is by bringing the individual to state his ends and purposes in terms of the social means he is using. You cannot get at him with an ethics from above, you can reach him by an ethics that is simply the development of the intelligence implicit in his act. I take it that it is such an

(231) implicit intelligence that has been responsible for the steady development and social integration that has taken place in the American community, with little leadership and almost entirely without ideas. It is hardly necessary to point out that John Dewey's philosophy, with its insistence upon the statement of the end in the terms of the means, is the developed method of that implicit intelligence in the mind of the American community. And for such an implicit intelligence there is no other test of moral and intellectual hypotheses except that they work. In the profoundest sense John Dewey is the philosopher of America.



  1. I am indebted for this quotation to the thesis of Dr. Maurice Baum, entitled "A Comparative Study of the Philosophies of William James and John Dewey."

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