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Professor Pratt On Truth
by [?]

One other trouble of Dr. Pratt’s must be noticed. It concerns the ‘transcendence’ of the object. When our ideas have worked so as to bring us flat up against the object, NEXT to it, ‘is our relation to it then ambulatory or saltatory?’ Dr. Pratt asks. If YOUR headache be my object, ‘MY experiences break off where yours begin,’ Dr. Pratt writes, and ‘this fact is of great importance, for it bars out the sense of transition and fulfilment which forms so important an element in the pragmatist description of knowledge–the sense of fulfilment due to a continuous passage from the original idea to the known object. If this comes at all when I know your headache, it comes not with the object, but quite on my side of the “epistemological gulf.” The gulf is still there to be transcended.’ (p. 158).

Some day of course, or even now somewhere in the larger life of the universe, different men’s headaches may become confluent or be ‘co- conscious.’ Here and now, however, headaches do transcend each other and, when not felt, can be known only conceptually. My idea is that you really have a headache; it works well with what I see of your expression, and with what I hear you say; but it doesn’t put me in possession of the headache itself. I am still at one remove, and the headache ‘transcends’ me, even tho it be in nowise transcendent of human experience generally. Bit the ‘gulf’ here is that which the pragmatist epistemology itself fixes in the very first words it uses, by saying there must be an object and an idea. The idea however doesn’t immediately leap the gulf, it only works from next to next so as to bridge it, fully or approximately. If it bridges it, in the pragmatist’s vision of his hypothetical universe, it can be called a ‘true’ idea. If it only MIGHT bridge it, but doesn’t, or if it throws a bridge distinctly AT it, it still has, in the onlooking pragmatist’s eyes, what Professor Pratt calls ‘trueness.’ But to ask the pragmatist thereupon whether, when it thus fails to coalesce bodily with the object, it is REALLY true or has REAL trueness,–in other words whether the headache he supposes, and supposes the thinker he supposes, to believe in, be a real headache or not,–is to step from his hypothetical universe of discourse into the altogether different world of natural fact.