The Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association
Harold Chapman Brown
THE thirteenth annual meeting of the American Philosophical Association was held at Yale University, December 29, 30, and 31, in conjunction with the meeting of the affiliated Psychological Association. Altogether the affair was highly successful not only from the interest of the papers presented, but also, on the social side, from the cordial hospitality of Yale and her graduate club, together with the excellent facilities for commingling at the Hotel Taft, the headquarters of both associations.
That the presence of the two associations together in New Haven was appreciated by their members was attested by the frequent ex-change of visits at their respective sessions and the awakening discussion of the joint meeting on Wednesday morning. Except for the address of the President of the Philosophical Association, Professor McGilvary, Monday evening was left open and gave grateful opportunity for private dinners and reunions of friends, while a joint dinner and smoker, on Tuesday, served to bring the members of the two associations together to listen to Professor Warren, the President of the Psychological Association, and to exchange views informally.
As the addresses of both presidents will be published shortly there is no need of summarizing them here. Professor McGilvary spoke on "Time and the Experience of Time," distinguishing his position from the positions of James, Bergson, and Royce; and Professor Warren, on "The Mental and the Physical," setting forth the advantages of a "double aspect" theory in the present state of psychological investigation.
The general attendance at the meetings of the Philosophical Association was large, although tardy arrivals somewhat weakened the first session, and haste to leave town, or perhaps an unusually interesting programme of the psychologists, reduced the attendance at the last session to a pitiful handful. It was evident that few papers and extended general discussion contribute most to the ends
( 58) of the association, for in spite of the general excellence of Monday's papers and their bearing on the next day's discussion, night came without that clear demarcation of problems and issues which constitutes the only end practicably attainable by such discussion. The association would do well to consider the advantages of a more radical adherence to the method of topical discussion introduced by a small number of papers. Furthermore, the contrast between the outcome of the longer discussion of Tuesday and the more limited one of the joint session indicated that one day, at least, is necessary for the best results.
If, however, it is necessary to retain a miscellaneous programme for the benefit of those whose interests can not be met by the chosen topics, certain modifications of this year's programme seem advisable. In the first place, the beginning is a more desirable locus for such papers than the end, for the sake both of avoiding the disconcerting anticlimax of a vanishing audience and of approaching fresh minds and not those already jaded or turned to other lines of reflection by previous meetings. Secondly, the practice of circulating abstracts should not be allowed to lapse so that, as at the present meeting, most critics begin with the apology that they had had no abstracts should not be allowed to lapse so that, as at the presentation of a speaker's time is twenty minutes, he should write a twenty-minute paper and not make extempore and not always intelligible omissions, or read against time at a speed far greater than human articulatory powers can master or human apprehension meet.
Monday morning's meeting was duly opened by Professor McGilvary. Professor W. M. Urban spoke on "Existance, Value, and Reality." His contentions were that value is indefinable; that it belongs neither to existence nor to subsistence, but is a third type of objective; that value presupposes existence, but does not depend upon it; that all values are scaled; and that a theory of existence is independent of a theory of value. Professor Pitkin pointed out that what we have here is really a relational theory of value, and he maintained that the theory could be better stated in other terms. Professor Ur-ban's conception of a special value judgment seemed to him undesirable. Professor Sheldon objected to conceiving value as something that lies behind qualities that are not values, or, in other words, to making them a sort of Kantian thing-in-itself. He also expressed a wish for a presentation of concrete instances. Professor Urban replied that he was trying to eliminate the value judgment, but he could not accept value as quality because of such ambiguities as that of the concept of good, used in the ethical, and in the more general sense.
If the first discussion seemed based on the assumption that the meaning of words can be determined apart from concrete situations,
Professor Henderson's paper, on "The Scale of Values," proceeded in the opposite fashion. A questionnaire was presented with a view to sealing moral, intellectual, social, economic, taste, and health values in the order of desirability. There was rather general dissent to the questionnaire proposed by Professor Henderson both on the ground of ambiguity as to the exact situations intended, and a tendency of his eases, in some instances, to involve each other surreptitiously. Professors Tufts, Sheldon, and Creighton introduced a discussion as to the value of any hypothetical situations on the ground that choices made in them differ fundamentally from those made under the pressure of actual living. Attention then turned to the classes of people from whom answers had been obtained, and many thought these rather artificially selected. Professor Henderson's reply recognized these objections, but he insisted that an approximation had been obtained in the order moral, intellectual, social, property, and health values, that had some predictive significance as to the choices of most individuals.
The last paper of the morning, Professor Cohen's "History versus Value," contested the value of history as peculiarly exhibiting the nature of things, or their values. The special eases of economies, jurisprudence, ethics, polities, religion, and philosophy were examined for evidence. The opinion of the meeting seemed, however, to accord with that expressed by Professor Woodbridge, that a false use of history had been assumed in the argument, for while history does not determine standards, it is an extension of experience, and often enables us to understand valuations through the conditions that gave rise to them. Professor Tufts also insisted upon the value of the correct use of history, illustrating his point by a conception of law as a growing essence.
In the afternoon Dr. Kallen was first on the programme with a brilliantly written paper on "Value and Existence in Art and Religion." In a world not made for man, men must contradict their own experience; hence, value has its seat, not in nature, but in human nature. Value appears as an ideal reconstruction of environment; the unity of mind results from the interests of the body. Immortality and freedom are also desiderates, but while art acknowledges the reality of experience and changes existence into values by injecting value into it, religion conserves values which it postulates outside of existence, but does not create them. Professor Hocking anathematized the paper as an epitome of what he most disbelieved. Religion and philosophy do not deal with the unreal and subjective. Values are rooted in experience and in the permanent. Because of the possibility of a vicarious satisfaction of instincts, the plurality of values is not ultimate, but can be reduced to forms of the one value.
( 60) Dr. Kallen replied that the empirical attitude is self-validating in the struggle for existence and that the conditions of satisfaction are not facts.
Professor Tufts presented, the most empirical paper of the after-noon, on "Social Factors in the Judgment of Value." The situation in which predicates of valuation arise is dominated by a selective activity of the organism. This may change its character from time to time as can be seen in the history of economic, social, ethical, and esthetic values. The good, for example, is empirically only good because good people approve it. Existence could only deter-mine a standard of value if we could find in the universe something sympathetic to ourselves, a larger self, as it were. Professor Over-street voiced the importance of the analysis of actual situations where the type of situation determines value, but he objected to distinctions made in terms of objectivity, subjectivity, or mixed forms when we don't really know what objectivity, etc., mean. It is better to think of value merely in terms of real situation. Professor Tufts, however, felt that this was merely a question of nomenclature.
Professor Montague's paper, "A Neo-realistic Conception of Value," defined values as "all objects in so far as they satisfy human interests," and developed this definition as implying two sorts of value, primary and secondary,-those satisfying interests of consciouslife, and those regulative of impersonal processes. All values have extensity and intensity. He confined himself to developing the class of primary values with respect to their relations to cognitive, affective, and conative faculties. Values are forms of adaptation to environment. The truth-seeker bows to things as they are, the good-seeker needs arrogance, but the beauty-seeker must trust to luck. Professor Bakewell remarked that this discussion was peculiarly foreign to the realistic position, and objectionable because, factually, some values, such as the esthetic, are not measurable by extensity and intensity. Also the distinction between the primary and secondary values is only one of degree, so the principle of division leads to a cross classification. We can enjoy beliefs and appreciate the beauty of truths. Moreover, the principle of conformity between individual and environment is false,-witness the case of the martyr whose quivering flesh is not the conformity to environment that a value should attain. Professor Sheldon also objected to the a priori standpoint of the classification and to the artificial division of the individual into three faculties. Professor French asked if there were no wholly objective values. To this last Professor Montague answered categorically, no. He then justified his method as the one best for the association and his content as providing for an intersection of values; truth can be pursued for logical, ethical, or esthetic ends. The case of the martyr is no real exception.
On account of the lateness of the hour, the paper of Dr. Dashiell, who was introduced by Professor Woodbridge, was postponed until Wednesday morning.
Dr. Dashiell emphasized the dynamic aspect of the universe and defined value as that character of things which the conditions of dynamic life throw into perspective. The distinction between value and things is accordingly relative, and valuation may create new values as well as modify old ones. The value experience is primary and only afterwards analyzable into the organic and extra-organic; hence it is incorrect to try to attribute a priori either an organic or an extra-organic constitution to values. Dr. Drake's criticism was primarily directed at Dr. Dashiell's conception of the ultimateness of value. Values result from the reaction of an organism on its perceptions, but some values are irreducible, others not. Dr. Dashiell had not distinguished intrinsic and extrinsic values. For all practical purposes consciousness is necessary for values and some, though not all values, are modified by valuation. Dr. Dashiell replied that he objected to making value a reaction to perception merely. The relational theory is not to be reduced to a simple relation between two things.
Professor Sheldon opened the general discussion and derived a definition of value through a comparison of instances of values and their common properties. The resulting conclusion, after examining six classes of values, those satisfying instinct, the economic, the esthetic, the moral, the intellectual, and the religious, was that value is always the furthering of a tendency already present, but is not dependent upon consciousness. Values are real and closely related to potentiality.' The scale of values is relative to the number of tendencies furthered; hence the high value of personality. If a tendency to perfection were omnipresent in experience there would be an all-inclusive value.
Professor Perry, the other leader of the debate, was rich in references to published studies of value. He took his departure from Professor Sheldon in asserting the need of discussing value in epistemological terms on the ground that values can not be collected like butterflies. His first task was to present a classification of definitions of value. From this classification it resulted that, although judgments of value are often complex, there is no unique class of value judgments. Value is a certain kind of fact and all values exist. But wherever there is value, there is a certain kind of bias of interest; hence effort and interest form the central point in discussing value. A norm is merely an acknowledged standard.
In reply to Professor Overstreet's question as to the exact relation between the papers, it was gradually brought out that Professor
( 62) Perry's conception of interest, while relating in his opinion to the structure and nature of things, is still a mental factor, and so narrower than Professor Sheldon's tendency, and Professor Perry seemed to imply that values give a fulfilment of interest, while they only further Professor Sheldon's tendency.
Professor Urban introduced the distinction between the psychological and the ontological definitions. The latter he believed to be impossible, but the former, as given by Professor Perry, was in accordance with his own views. If Professor Sheldon uses the words "better than," he must presuppose the fulfilment condition for values.
For some moments the discussion drifted into a sceptical turn. Professor Pitkin confessed an inability to understand what was meant by "bias," "interest,"and "appetite"as used to ground the definition of value, and he thought that Professor Urban was wrong in inferring that value is absolute from the fact that values can be ordered, since, as the mathematicians have taught us, entities that can be ordered must be complexes. And Professor Creighton maintained that the whole procedure was aimed at a type of scholastic definition of little value beside a discussion of the actual manifestations of values. Professor Woodbridge suggested that Professor Sheldon had really restated in modern philosophy certain classic questions which should be discussed, such as, Is being good' and with such questions goes the need of reanalyzing potentiality and actuality. Professor Perry objected that this sort of question was unintelligible as meaning different things to different people, and Professor Love-joy pointed out that historically Professor Woodbridge's problem had led to an "immoral optimism." He then recurred to the original discussion by defending definitions against Professor Creighton on the grounds of utility. Professor Perry should define his position more closely with reference to hedonism, for hedonistic satisfaction means gratification of interests, and if a plurality of interests is also a good, the concept of the good has a double meaning transcending pure hedonism.
Dr. Kallen maintained, as against Professor Pitkin, that the question of discovering the element of value is independent of those elements, but he felt with Professor Creighton, that a knowledge of acquaintance is worth more than too much knowledge about. Professor Perry's definition, moreover, was circular without some external criterion of satisfaction.
The afternoon's discussion crystallized the differences between Professor Perry and Professor Sheldon, as anticipated above. Its new features were Miss Calkins's extension of the olive branch to the New Realists, and the introduction, somewhat late, of the problem of the scaling of values.
Miss Calkins, forgetting her last year's harmony with Professor Perry, again entertainingly offered a first agreement, for his concept of interest, as well as Professor Montague's satisfaction, coincides with her idealistic liking and willing. She might be willing to differ from Professor Montague as to classes of the valued, for his cognitive values made no appeal, but in fundamental points, he was ripe to enter a triumvirate with her and Professor Perry. Professor Urban thought the agreement of slight significance because it was on grounds general enough to be psychological commonplaces. Professor Over-street insisted on trying to introduce discord into the triumvirate, first by offering crucial examples and then by distinguishing an organicity party (Professor Perry) from a psychological party (Miss Calkins and Professor Montague). Professor Sheldon could not be even an ally because his potentiality differed radically from the kind of liking and seeking the others meant. Crucial instances introduced by Professor Pitkin, Professor Tufts, and Professor Lord emphasized the fact that his tendency was something wider than the limitations of conscious or organic processes, though inclusive of such processes. Professor French found it hard to believe that value could be so defined and have the same meaning in case of physical as in ease of conscious processes.
A certain confusion was introduced when certain members tried to recur to the problem of the relation of value to existence and the problem of mechanism and teleology. Professor McGilvary inquired why we suppose that what aids tendency is good and what opposes it evil. Is desire nothing but consciousness of movement toward, or is something more added ?
Professor Spaulding thought that Professor Sheldon's answer shifted the ground and introduced the second dominant topic of the afternoon by inquiring how we decided what tendencies give rise to values that are better than others. The answer, that it was the number of tendencies furthered, Professor Creighton characterized as the reductio ad absurdum of the whole discussion, and it did not seem, in general, to satisfy the members of the association. Professor Pitkin suggested that instead of a number of individual tendencies, the maximum action in the field might furnish a criterion; Professor Hocking, that it might be the kind of quantitative control; and Professor Overstreet, that it might be the inclusiveness of the tendency. Professor Sheldon did not seem very certain of his attitude toward these suggestions and, unfortunately, the lateness of the hour pre-vented a sharpening of the issues on this point, as the meeting was adjourned in favor of the business meeting.
On Wednesday morning a joint discussion with the Psychological Association took place. The topic was "The Standpoint and Method of Psychology." President Warren presided.
Professor Creighton discussed two questions : Would results in psychology analogous to those of the physical sciences satisfy us? and is the identity between the physical and the mental such that similar methods can be applied in psychology and in the physical sciences ? To both questions his reply was a qualified negative. Psychology has the same ideal of accuracy as other sciences, but its obligation to deal with personality and with social problems alters its status. We are under no logical necessity to divide mind into faculties and, factually, we need not interpolate psychical states between things and experience. Psychology falls on the one hand into brain physiology, and, on the other, into an interpretation of life in terms of the self.
Professor F. M. Urban maintained that philosophy develops its methods and problems independently, and takes its material from the entire field of experience. Psychology cultivates part of this field and is related to philosophy exactly as the other sciences are. Certain problems of introspection, probability, and the psychometric functions lead directly to philosophic considerations, and in them the philosopher can be of help to the psychologist. For example, in trying to correlate mental states as revealed by introspection with definite groups of conditions, one is confronted with the difficulty that no group of conditions, however carefully controlled, will always pro-duce the same mental content. The judgments given on the comparison of two stimuli have all the features of chance events. Are we to conclude that they are not causally necessitated? Or again, with psychometrics comes the use of analytic functions and the assumption that natural events may be represented by analytic functions. Causal connection is represented by functional dependence, and psychology uses a highly specialized form of this notion only. What are the reasons for doing so? The answer must result from analyzing the logical implications of the assumption, and from finding the consequences of dropping it as a whole or in part. The result is an analysis of the idea of causality.
Professor Dewey turned aside from the "dreary" methodological problem and discussed the unwieldy ideas that students of psychology bring to the philosophic class-room, ideas which it is the chief labor of the teacher of philosophy to eradicate. Some examples are the idea of a distinct world of the psychic, and of the privacy of consciousness. Either philosophy must be wholly compromised by such psychological conceptions or the philosopher must challenge the ideas of the psychologist. Naturally he prefers the latter alternative. Nor is he presumptuous in doing so, for not only have some among the psychologists challenged them, but also history shows that many of these notions are nothing but adaptations of notions forged by philosophers which, having given, they can take away. Behaviorism
( 65) is promising, but must not be prejudiced by earlier psychological conceptions. It can not mean mere mechanics of the nervous system, a subcutaneous psychology, but must permit environment to be taken into consideration as well. Perhaps the most important thing is to get rid of the abstract term consciousness, although it is, of course, justifiable to distinguish conscious acts from those that are not conscious.
Professor Munsterberg built up his discussion from the fight in Germany over the proposed separation of philosophical and psycho-logical professorships. He believes that psychology can never lead us to real philosophical problems since psychological facts can be interpreted by any one of several conflicting theories; double aspect, interactional, or parallelistic. Philosophy must determine general conceptions, but it determines them a priori and without reference to experience. Dualism is preferable, and there are two sorts of psychology, usually unhappily mixed; the objective, or causal, and the subjective, or purposive. The former is most studied, but it is no more truly psychology than the latter. Causal psychology is justified by the success of applied psychology, and it is in this field that behaviorism may succeed. Both forms are transcended in the aver-individual will and absolute validity.
Professor Yerkes was unfortunately absent, so the meeting was thrown open for general discussion. Miss Calkins found herself close to Professor Creighton in distinguishing the two kinds of psychology and introduced her nomenclature of the ideal (causal), and the self (teleological), psychology. Professor Dearborn emphasized the need for practical psychology, but objected to the introduction of any artificial limitations. Professor Dunlap expressed sympathy with Professor Dewey, although he recognized certain difficulties in delimiting the behaviorist's field, manifest in such problems as whether such processes as digestion should not also be ranked as behavior. Professor Stanley Hall called attention to the contrast between himself and Professor Munsterberg, for he had gone from philosophy to psychology, while Professor Münsterberg was going in the opposite direction, and inquired whether it was not artificial to separate the problems. He concluded, however, that the important thing was to keep at work, for the carrying through of any one point of view would be an advantage.
The small afternoon session was opened by Professor Armstrong's discussion of "Bergson, Berkeley, and Philosophical Intuition."Professor Armstrong contended that Bergson's attempt to reduce philosophies to developments of a single intuition, however inspiring and vital its results might appear to students, distorted the facts. For example, although Berkeley's philosophy is a theistic immaterial-
( 66) -ism, it is equally true that Berkeley wished to reform science. The immaterialism might have been related to several different conceptions of science. We can ask, then, whether his scientific conceptions, and Bergson's own biology, are mere media of expression or integral parts in their respective philosophies. Both Professor Lovejoy and Miss Calkins welcomed this emphasis on Berkeley's philosophy as being something more than a mere doctrine of esse est percipi and Professor Lovejoy pointed out other evils that Bergson's conception of intuition introduced into the study of the history of philosophy.
Professor Riley read some excerpts concerning "Some Aspects of the New Realism"from a book that he is about to bring out on the history of American philosophy. The extracts exposited the origins and development of the new realism and the doctrines set forth in the realists' volume. Professor Lovejoy objected that the place indicated for the account in the book distorted chronology for the sake of connecting the old with the new realism, and Professor Perry complained of lack of reference to the influence of James. Professor Riley justified himself before Professor Lovejoy by explaining the popular character of the intended book, and before Professor Perry by referring to unread chapters.
Mrs. Ladd-Franklin's paper, which should have been entitled, “The Non-Existence of Existence" instead of "Non-occurrence,"as on the official programme, was fundamentally an exposition of indefinables in philosophy. The abstract term existence has no meaning unless "précisé." We need a conception of domain of which may be asked whether a specificd object occurs in this domain, in-stead of a meaningless question concerning the existence of the object. Domains are the indefinables, although they may be fixed by the logical method of pointing. They have not yet been completely classified, but the distinction of the domain of objects having a "pastness"-, and a "space-coefficient,"and that of objects not having these, is general. The terms real and reality are as obscure as the term existence and need further demarcations. The doctrine that results from these conceptions is a hypothetical realism and a real solepsism. Professor Lovejoy gladly welcomed the expression "occurrence in a domain."
Professor Hyslop laid bare certain prejudices entering into our thinking from an unjustifiable carrying over of distinctions from one field to another. Thus the mechanical, the physical, and the teleo-
- logical are grouped together as against the teleological, the spiritual, the supernatural, etc., although the assimilation of the terms in the two groups is logically unnecessary and historically sequential upon the rise of Christian thought. Professor Montague offered several valuable illustrations and, as Professor Britain, the last speaker on the programme, was absent, the session was declared at an end.
At the business meeting of the Philosophical Association the following officers were elected: President, Professor Tufts; Vice-president, Professor Sheldon; Secretary and Treasurer, Professor Spaulding; Members of the Executive Committee, Professor Bakewell, Professor Riley, and Professor Bush (to serve one year in place of Miss Calkins, resigned). Besides the usual business, Professor Creighton introduced Professor Hoernlé who laid before the Association the attractions of the International Congress of Philosophy to meet in London in 1915. The place of the Association's meeting next year was left in the hands of the executive committee with power.
At a joint business meeting with the Psychological Association the report of the special committee that has been studying the conditions of the resignation of Professor Mecklin from Lafayette was unanimously accepted, and instructions given concerning its publication and circulation.
HAROLD CHAPMAN BROWN.