International Library of Psychology Philosophy and Scientific Method Possibility Possibility By SCOTT BUCHANAN LONDON KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER Co., LTD. NEW YORK HARCOURT, BRACE COMPANY, INC. 1927 TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE 9 INTRODUCTION i I. INTELLECTUAL IMAGINATION . 17 II. SCIENTIFIC POSSIBILITY . . 33 III. ABSOLUTE POSSIBILITY . . 67 IV. DEFINITION OF POSSIBILITY . 81 V. POSSIBILITY AND ACTUALITY . 97 APOLOGY FOR HISTORICAL PIRACY . . . . in VI. KANT .... 115 VII. ARISTOTLE . . . .141 VIII. DYNAMISM .... 161 IX. ...
International Library of Psychology Philosophy and Scientific Method Possibility Possibility By SCOTT BUCHANAN LONDON KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER Co., LTD. NEW YORK HARCOURT, BRACE COMPANY, INC. 1927 TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE 9 INTRODUCTION i I. INTELLECTUAL IMAGINATION . 17 II. SCIENTIFIC POSSIBILITY . . 33 III. ABSOLUTE POSSIBILITY . . 67 IV. DEFINITION OF POSSIBILITY . 81 V. POSSIBILITY AND ACTUALITY . 97 APOLOGY FOR HISTORICAL PIRACY . . . . in VI. KANT .... 115 VII. ARISTOTLE . . . .141 VIII. DYNAMISM .... 161 IX. CONCLUSION . . . .177 INDEX 197 POSSIBILITY INTRODUCTION THE life of man might be portrayed as a series of rebirths, each of which consists in a passage from one world into another. The state of affairs at any given instant is an unstable equilibrium between opposing forces and values. One lives in one world and believes in another, suffering this and at the same time expecting or desiring that. It would seem highly important to know which world this is, and to be able to describe that. But most of us are hard-pressed when we are compelled to do so. Even poets and prophets, whose business it is to speak of such matters, admit the difficulty. Some years ago Walter De la Mare wrote an essay on the Intellectual Imagination. It was originally an address at Eton on the occasion of a memorial service to Rupert Brooke. It was an attempt to capture the spirit of a young man who died before his poetry had disclosed the height and depth of the world in which he lived. What he had expressed was enough to place him among those artists, who instead of taking permanent flight from this world, are content to see the commonplace in the shifting crosslights POSSIBILITY of the ideal. The result was an intellectual insight which only philosophers are supposed to achieve in rare moments of clarity. The majority of persons achieve something less. The other world is for them a heaven, sometimes distant and unreal, at other times just round the corner. If it is near, they are bold, shrewd, obstinate, fanatic. If it is far away, they are timid, diffident, uncertain, apologetic. They are at the extremes of the Aristotelian measures of virtue. Most of us vary along this scale. In moments of naive enthusiasm heaven is around us, the child believes in fairies, the middle-aged man sees himself as saviour of the world, the old man dreams dreams. In moments of sophisticated review of our adventures, our persistent disposition to seize the unseen heaven takes on the sinister guise of a fatal credulity, rendering us subject to the whims of a malevolent and deceitful Cartesian demon. The belief in a heaven easy to attain is the cause of a hell on earth. At such times faith often turns into rage at a world that does not allow the prophets vision to come true, or into self-condemnation for our childish fancies. We appear in the true colours of a citizen of an otherworldly kingdom. Such is the dialectic of mans knowledge and faith. One may as well submit and resolve to make the best of two worlds, heaven and earth, illusion and certainty, INTRODUCTION imagined happiness and real disappointment, possibility and actuality. Unfortunately, our present culture is not so simply black and white. It is rather a scene of many possible worlds with all degrees and kinds of value claiming our consideration. This aspect of things causes certain temperaments to hasten transmigra tion and to multiply rebirths in the hope that breadth of experience will teach stability in the end. To other temperaments this is dissipation of mind, and recourse is sought by another route to a place of vantage from which all may be seen in perspective. This latter, I take it, is the philosophers temperament and mood. It is his duty to be the good shepherd of his thoughts and let wool-gathering take care of itself. This essay takes this task seriously, yet, I hope, lightly. It takes the position of the bewildered individual seeking an intellectual way of life...
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