It cannot fall the young man who died and was buried,
Nor the young woman who died and was put by his side,
Nor the little child that peep'd in at the door, and then drew back
and was never seen again,
Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and feels it with
bitterness worse than gall,
Nor him in the poor house tubercled by rum and the bad disorder,
Nor the numberless slaughter'd and wreck'd, nor the brutish koboo
call'd the ordure of humanity,
Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths for food to slip in,
Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest graves of the earth,
Nor any thing in the myriads of spheres, nor the myriads of myriads
that inhabit them,
Nor the present, nor the least wisp that is known.
Magnifying and applying come I,
Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,
Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah,
Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules his grandson,
Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha,
In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the crucifix
With Odin and the hideous-faced Mexitli and every idol and image,
Taking them all for what they are worth and not a cent more,
Admitting they were alive and did the work of their days,
(They bore mites as for unfledg'd birds who have now to rise and fly
and sing for themselves,)
Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself,
bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see,
Discovering as much or more in a framer framing a house,
Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd-up sleeves
driving the mallet and chisel,
Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or
a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation,
Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes no less to me
than the gods of the antique wars,
Minding their voices peal through the crash of destruction,
Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd laths, their white
foreheads whole and unhurt out of the flames;
By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple interceding for
every person born,
Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three lusty angels
with shirts bagg'd out at their waists,
The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins past and to come,
Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee lawyers for his
brother and sit by him while he is tried for forgery;
What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square rod about me, and
not filling the square rod then,
The bull and the bug never worshipp'd half enough,
Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd,
The supernatural of no account, myself waiting my time to be one of
The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as the
best, and be as prodigious;
By my life-lumps!
The force of nominalism comes from the appeal to facts; its absurdity comes of perpetually substituting these facts for the differences that distinguish them. These differences cannot occur before the facts that manifest them; therefore the nominalist, who is a hard-headed fellow, swears that differences are nothing except their occurrence. . . . When nominalists say that an essence, before it is exemplified, has no identity, so that reference to it is impossible, they are as usual reversing the relative status of essences and facts. It is the facts that cannot be identified or divided before they arise and are caught in some net of essence, at least in the net of chronology and topography; but essences supply the very definitions by which the facts may be said to define themselves, and may become possible themes for discrimination. . . .
The use of philosophy, and in particular of the discrimination of essence, is to distil the wine out of those trodden grapes, in order that in whatever kind of world we may be living, we may live freely in the spirit.
This is [science's] business, to investigate and to understand the material world better; but if it ceased to investigate things by experiment and lapsed into the description of experience as a drama, it would cease to be science and would become autobiography. Science—I am speaking of natural science, not of mathematics or philology—is the study of nature; the description of experience is literature.
[M]odern psychologism: the view that all we see, say and think is false, but that the only truth is that we see, say and think it. If nothing be real except experience, nothing can be true except biography. Society must then be conceived as carried on in a literary medium, with no regard to the natural basis of society.
Humanism begins in the moral sphere, with the perception that every man's nature is, for him, the arbiter of values. So far, this view merely universalizes the Gospel text that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. From such moral enlightenment, however, we may easily slip into equivocations that will land us in moral chaos. In saying that a man's nature is, for him, the arbiter of values, we may understand that nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so. We shall then have confused what a man is with what he thinks he is, and identified his interests with his wishes. Under cover of freedom to be ourselves we shall be denying that we have any true nature; and under cover of asserting our native rights, we shall be denying that we have any ultimate interests. Humanism, so understood, will have disintegrated humanity, declared all passions equally good and proclaimed moral anarchy.
At the end [of your article] you seem to be sorry that, having reduced idealism sceptically to absurdity, I shouldn't simply go back to the conventions from which the idealists started. Those conventions, as stated by the Scholastics, are contrary to naturalism: that is why they led to idealism as soon as criticism was applied to them. I have tried to profit by that experience and to state commonsense belief with more circumspection, so as not to be forced to abandon them by the treacherous elements of grammar and moralism which the Socratic School introduced into philosophy.
At the end you seem to be sorry that, having reduced idealism sceptically to absurdity, I shouldn't simply go back to the conventions from which the idealists started. Those conventions, as stated by the Scholastics, are contrary to naturalism: that is why they led to idealism as criticism was applied to them. I have tried to profit by that experience and to state commonsense beliefs with more circumspection, so as not to be forced to abandon them by the treacherous elements of grammar and moralism which the Socratic School introduced into philosophy.
[Russell asserts] that substance is a notion derived from syntax, the implication being that grammar is the only source of that notion, and that the structure of language is not based on the structure of things. I suppose human discriminations are indeed no index to the total contents of the universe or its total form, or to the infinitesimal texture of matter. Only human reactions to gross objects on the human scale are likely to be transcribed into human grammar. Such reactions might suggest the distinction and connection between subject and predicate; because an object like an apple, known to be one by its movements under manipulation, may be indicated by several different sensations of sight, smell, and taste; indications which language then treats as attributes of the apple. But this grammatical usage is very far from being the sole occasion for the category of substance. Objects suffer transformation, and there is a notorious continuity and limitation in the quantity, quality, and force of their variations. So much grain yields so much flour, and of such a kind; this flour yields so much bread; this bread keeps alive so much muscle and blood, and so many eyes capable of looking and seeing coloured patches. The matter or energy which can suffer these mutations and insure their continuity is their common substance.
Certainly I do not exclude transcendental logic; but I admit it only in what I think its place, consistently with materialism; just as, consistently with materialism, I admit the authority of grammar over language when a particular language has developed a particular grammar, and thereby has become coherent internally and communicative. Yet a language, however organically developed, cannot impose its grammar on things or on other languages. Similarly transcendental logic serves to render articulate certain special perspectives necessarily confined to the subjective or poetic sphere. Whether it should have any validity or appropriateness in relation to further facts remains an open question.