Essay Logic And Perception

Essays in Experimental Logic

Chapter 14: The Logic of Judgments of Practice

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In introducing the discussion, I shall first say a word to avoid possible misunderstandings. It may be objected that such a term as "practical judgment" is misleading; that the term "practical judgment" is a misnomer, and a dangerous one, since all judgments by their very nature are intellectual or theoretical. Consequently, there is a danger that the term will lead us to treat as judgment and knowledge something which is not really knowledge at all and thus start us on the road which ends in mysticism or obscurantism. All this is admitted. I do not mean by practical judgment a type of judgment having a different organ and source from other judgments. I mean simply a kind of judgment having a specific type of subject-matter. Propositions exist relating to agenda —to things to do or be done, judgments of a situation demanding action. There are, for example, propositions of the form:  M. N. should do thus and so; it is better, wiser, more prudent, right, advisable, opportune, expedient, etc., to act thus and so. And this is the type of judgment I denote practical.

It may also be objected that this type of subject-matter is not distinctive; that there is no ground for

(336) marking it off from judgments of the form SP, or mRn. I am willing, again, to admit that such may turn out to be the fact. But meanwhile the prima facie difference is worth considering, if only for the sake of reaching a conclusion as to whether or no there is a kind of subject-matter so distinctive as to imply a distinctive logical form. To assume in advance that the subject-matter of practical judgments must be reducible to the form SP or mRn is assuredly as gratuitous as the contrary assumption. It begs one of the most important questions about the world which can be asked: the nature of time. Moreover, current discussion exhibits, if not a complete void, at least a decided lacuna as to propositions of this type. 'Mr. Russell has recently said that of the two parts of logic the first enumerates or inventories the different kinds or forms of propositions.[1] It is noticeable that he does not even mention this kind as a possible kind. Yet it is conceivable that this omission seriously compromises- the discussion of other kinds.

Additional specimens of practical judgments may be given: He had better consult a physician; it would not be advisable for you to invest in those bonds; the United States should either modify its Monroe Doctrine or else make more efficient military preparations; this is a good time to build a house; if I do that I shall be doing wrong, etc. It is silly to dwell upon the

(337) practical importance of judgments of this sort, but not wholly silly to say that their practical importance arouses suspicion as to the grounds of their neglect in discussion of logical forms in general. Regarding them, we may say:

1. Their subject-matter implies an incomplete situation. This incompleteness is not psychical. Something is "there," but what is there does not constitute the entire objective situation. As there, it requires something else. Only after this something else has been supplied will the given coincide with the full subject-matter. This consideration has an important bearing upon the conception of the indeterminate and contingent. It is sometimes assumed (both by adherents and by opponents) that the validity of these notions entails that the given is itself indeterminate-which appears to be nonsense. The logical implication is that of a subject-matter as yet unterminated, unfinished, or not wholly given. The implication is of future things. Moreover, the incompleteness is not personal. I mean by this that the situation is not confined within the one making the judgment; the practical judgment is neither exclusively nor primarily about one's self. On the contrary, it is a judgment about one's self only as it is a judgment about the situation in which one is included, and in which a multitude of other factors external to self are included. The contrary assumption is so constantly made about moral judgments

( 338) that this statement must appear dogmatic. But surely the prima facie case is that when I judge that I should not give money to the street beggar I am judging the nature of an objective situation, and that the conclusion about myself is governed by the proposition about the situation in which I happen to be included. The full, complex proposition includes the beggar, social conditions and consequences, a charity organization society, etc., on exactly the same footing as it contains myself. Aside from the fact that it seems impossible to defend the "objectivity" of moral propositions on any other ground, we may at least point to the fact that judgments of policy, whether made about ourselves or some other agent, are certainly judgments of a situation which is temporarily unfinished. "Now is a good time for me to buy certain railway bonds" is a judgment about myself only because it is primarily a judgment about hundreds of factors wholly external to myself. If the genuine existence of such propositions be admitted, the only question about moral judgments is whether or no they are cases of practical judgments as the latter have been defined-a question of utmost importance for moral theory, but not of crucial import for our logical discussion.

2. Their subject-matter implies that the proposition is itself a factor in the completion of the situation, carrying it forward to its conclusion. According as the judgment is that this or that should be done, the

(339) situation will, when completed, have this or that subject-matter. The proposition that it is well to do this is a proposition to treat the given in a certain way. Since the way is established by the proposition, the proposition is a determining factor in the outcome. As a proposition about the supplementation of the given, it is a factor in the supplementation — and this not as an extraneous matter, something subsequent to the proposition, but in its own logical force. Here is found, prima facie at least, a marked distinction of the practical proposition from descriptive and narrative propositions, from the familiar SP propositions and from those of pure mathematics. The latter imply that the proposition does not enter into the constitution of the subject-matter of the proposition. There also is a distinction from another kind of contingent proposition, namely, that which has the form: "He has started for your house"; "The house is still burning"; "It will probably rain." The unfinishedness of the given is implied in these propositions, but it is not implied that the proposition is a factor in determining their completion.

3. The subject-matter implies that it makes a difference how the given is terminated: that one outcome is better than another, and that the proposition is to be a factor in securing (as far as may be) the better. In other words, there is something objectively at stake in the forming of the proposition. A right or wrong descriptive judgment (a judgment confined

(340) to the given, whether temporal, spatial, or subsistent) does not affect its subject-matter; it does not help or hinder its development, for by hypothesis it has no development. But a practical proposition affects the subject-matter for better or worse, for it is a judgment as to the condition (the thing to be done) of the existence of the complete subject-matter.[2]

4. A practical proposition is binary. It is a judgment that the given is to be treated in a specified way; it is also a judgment that the given admits of such treatment, that it admits of a specified objective termination. It is a judgment, at the same stroke, of end — the result to be brought about — and of means. Ethical theories which disconnect the discussion of ends —as so many of them do— from determination of means, thereby take discussion of ends out of the region of judgment. If there be such ends, they have no intellectual status.

To judge that I should see a physician implies that the given elements of the situation should be completed in a specific way and also that they afford the conditions which make the proposed completion

(341) practicable. The proposition concerns both resources and obstacles —intellectual determination of elements lying in the way of, say, proper vigor, and of elements which can be utilized to get around or surmount these obstacles. The judgment regarding the need of a physician implies the existence of hindrances in the pursuit of the normal occupations of life, but it equally implies the existence of positive factors which may be set in motion to surmount the hindrances and reinstate normal pursuits.

It is worth while to call attention to the reciprocal character of the practical judgment in its bearing upon the statement of means. From the side of the end, the reciprocal nature locates and condemns utopianism and romanticism: what is sometimes called idealism. From the side of means, it locates and condemns materialism and predeterminism: what is sometimes called mechanism. By materialism I mean the conception that the given contains exhaustively the entire subject-matter of practical judgment: that the facts in their givenness are all "there is to it." The given is undoubtedly just what it is; it is determinate throughout. But it is the given of something to be done. The survey and inventory of present conditions (of facts) are not something complete in themselves; they exist for the sake of an intelligent determination of what is to be done, of what is required to complete the given. To conceive the given in any such way, then, as to imply

(342) that it negates in its given character the possibility of any doing, of any modification, is self-contradictory. As a part of a practical judgment, the discovery that a man is suffering from an illness is not a discovery that he must suffer, or that the subsequent course of events is determined by his illness; it is the indication of a needed and a possible course by which to restore health. Even the discovery that the illness is hopeless falls within this principle. It is an indication not to waste time and money on certain fruitless endeavors, to prepare affairs with respect to death, etc. It is also an indication of search for conditions which will render in the future similar cases remediable, not hopeless. The whole case for the genuineness of practical judgments stands or falls with this principle. It is open to question. But decision as to its validity must rest upon empirical evidence. It cannot be ruled out of court by a dialectic development of the implications of propositions about what is already given or what has already happened. That is, its invalidity cannot be deduced from an assertion that the character of the scientific judgment as a discovery and statement of what is forbids it, much less from an analysis of mathematical propositions. For this method only- begs the question. Unless the facts are complicated by the surreptitious introduction of some preconception; the prima facie empirical case is that the scientific judgment —the determinate diagnosis— favors instead of

(343) forbidding the doctrine of a possibility of change of the given. To overthrow this presumption means, I repeat, to discover specific evidence which makes it impossible. And in view of the immense body of empirical evidence showing that we add to control of what is given (the subject-matter of scientific judgment) by means of scientific judgment, the likelihood of any such discovery seems slight.

These considerations throw light upon the proper meaning of (practical) idealism and of mechanism. Idealism in action does not seem to be anything except an explicit recognition of just the implications we have been considering. It signifies a recognition that the given is given as obstacles to one course of active development or completion and as resources for another course by which development of the situation directly blocked may be indirectly secured. It is not a blind instinct of hopefulness or that miscellaneous obscurantist emotionalism often called optimism, any more than it is utopianism. It is recognition of the increased liberation and redirection of the course of events achieved through accurate discovery. Or, more specifically, it is this recognition operating as a ruling motive in extending the work of discovery and utilizing its results.

"Mechanism" means the reciprocal recognition on the side of means. It is the recognition of the import within the practical judgment, of the given, of fact, in its determinate character. The facts in

(334) their isolation, taken as complete in themselves, are not mechanistic. At most, they just are, and that is the end of them. They are mechanistic as indicating the mechanism, the means, of accomplishing the possibilities which they indicate. Apart from a forward look (the anticipation of the future movement of affairs) mechanism is a meaningless conception. There is no sense in applying the conception to a finished world, to any scene which is simply and only done with. Propositions regarding a past world, just as past (not as furnishing the conditions of what is to be done), might be complete and accurate, but they would be of the nature of a complex catalogue. To introduce, in addition, the conception of mechanism is to introduce the implication of possibilities of future accomplishment.[3]


5. The judgment of what is to be done implies, as we have just seen, a statement of what the given facts of the situation are, taken as indications of the course to pursue and of the means to be employed in its pursuit. Such a statement demands accuracy. Completeness is not so much an additional requirement as it is a condition of accuracy. For accuracy depends fundamentally upon relevancy to the determination of what is to be done. Completeness does not mean exhaustiveness per se, but adequacy as respects end and its means. To include too much, or what is irrelevant, is a violation of the demand for accuracy quite as well as to leave out —to fail to discover— what is important.

Clear recognition of this fact will enable one to avoid certain dialectic confusions. It has been argued that a judgment of given existence, or fact, cannot be hypothetical; that factuality and hypothetical character are contradictions in terms. They would be if the two qualifications were used in the same respect. But they are not. The hypothesis is that the facts which constitute the terms of the proposition of the given are relevant and adequate for the purpose in hand —the determination of a possibility to be accomplished in action. The data may be as factual, as absolute as you please, and yet in no way guarantee that they are the data of this particular judgment. Suppose the thing to be done is the formation of a prediction regarding the return of a comet. The prime

(346) difficulty is not in making observations, or in the mathematical calculations based upon them —difficult as these things may be. It is making sure that we have taken as data the observations really implicated in the doing rightly of this particular thing: that we have not left out something Which is relevant, or included something which has nothing to do with the further movement of the comet. Darwin's hypothesis of natural selection does not stand or fall with the correctness of his propositions regarding breeding of animals in domestication. The facts of artificial selection may be as stated —in themselves there may be nothing hypothetical about them. But their bearing upon the origin of species is a hypothesis. Logically, any factual proposition is a hypothetical proposition when it is made the basis of any inference.

6. The bearing of this remark upon the nature of the truth of practical judgments (including the judgment of what is given) is obvious. Their truth or falsity is constituted by the issue. The determination of end-means (constituting the terms and relations of the practical proposition) is hypothetical until the course of action indicated has been tried. The event or issue of such action is the truth or falsity of the judgment. This is an immediate conclusion from the fact that only the issue gives the complete subject-matter. In this case, at least, verification and truth completely coincide —unless there is some serious error in the prior analysis.


This completes the account, preliminary to a consideration of other matters. But the account suggests another and independent question with respect to which I shall make an excursus. How far is it possible and legitimate to extend or generalize the results reached to apply to all propositions of facts? That is to say, is it possible and legitimate to treat all scientific or descriptive statements of matters of fact as implying indirectly if not directly, something to be done, future possibilities to be realized in action ? The question as to legitimacy is too complicated to be discussed in an incidental way. But it cannot be denied that there is a possibility of such application, nor that the possibility is worth careful examination. We may frame at least a hypothesis that all judgments of fact have reference to a determination of courses of action to be tried and to the discovery of means for their realization. In the sense already explained all propositions which state discoveries or ascertainments, all categorical propositions, would be hypothetical, and their truth would coincide with their tested consequences effected by intelligent action.

This theory may be called pragmatism. But it is a type of pragmatism quite free from dependence upon a voluntaristic psychology. It is not complicated by reference to emotional satisfactions or the play of desires.

I am not arguing the point. But possibly critics of pragmatism would get a new light upon its meaning

(348) were they to set out with an analysis of ordinary practical judgments and then proceed to consider the bearing of its result upon judgments of facts and essences. Mr. Bertrand Russell has remarked[4] that pragmatism originated as a theory about the truth of theories, but ignored the "truths of fact" upon which theories rest and by which they are tested. I am not concerned to question this so far as the origin of pragmatism is concerned. Philosophy, at least, has been mainly a matter of theories; and Mr. James was conscientious enough to be troubled about the way in which the meaning of such theories is to be settled and the way in which they are to be tested. His pragmatism was in effect (as Mr. Russell recognizes) a statement of the need of applying to philosophic theories the same kinds of test as are used in the theories of the inductive sciences. But this does not preclude the application of a like method to dealing with so-called "truths of fact." Facts may be facts, and yet not be the facts of the inquiry in hand. In all scientific inquiry, however, to call them facts or data or truths of fact signifies that they are taken as the relevant facts of the inference to be made. If (as this would seem to indicate) they are then implicated however indirectly in a proposition about what is to be done, they are themselves theoretical in logical quality. Accuracy of statement and correctness of reasoning would then be factors in truth, but so also

(349) would be verification. Truth would be a triadic relation, but of a different sort from that expounded by Mr. Russell. For accuracy and correctness would both be functions of verifiability.


It is my purpose to apply the conclusions previously drawn as to the implications of practical judgment to the subject of judgments of value. First, I shall try to clear away some sources of misunderstanding.

Unfortunately, however, there is a deep-seated ambiguity which makes it difficult to dismiss the matter of value summarily. The experience of a good and the judgment that something is a value of a certain kind and amount have been almost inextricably confused. The confusion has a long history. It is found in mediaeval thought; it is revived by Descartes; recent psychology has given it a new career. The senses were regarded as modes of knowledge of greater or less adequacy, and the feelings were regarded as modes of sense, and hence as modes of cognitive apprehension. Descartes was interested in showing, for scientific purposes, that the senses are not organs of apprehending the qualities of bodies as such, but only of apprehending their relation to the wellbeing of the sentient organism. Sensations of pleasure and pain, along with those of hunger, thirst, etc., most easily lent themselves to this treatment; colors,

(350) tones, etc., were them assimilated. Of them all he says: "These perceptions of sense have been placed within me by nature for the purpose of signifying what things are beneficial or harmful."[5] Thus it was possible to identify the real properties of bodies with their geometrical ones, without exposing himself to the conclusion that God (or nature) deceives us in the perception of color, sound, etc. These perceptions are only intended to teach us what things to pursue and avoid, and as such apprehensions they are adequate. His identification of any and every experience of good with a judgment or cognitive apprehension is clear in the following word: "When we are given news the mind first judges of it and if it is good it rejoices."[6]

This is a survival of the scholastic psychology of the vis aestimativa. Lotze's theory that the emotions, as involving pleasure and pain, are organs of value judgments, or in more recent terminology, that they are cognitive appreciations of worth (corresponding to immediate apprehensions of sensory qualities) presents the same tradition in a new terminology.

As against all this, the present paper takes its stand with the position stated by Hume, in the following words: "A passion is an original existence, or, if you will, modification of existence; and contains not any representative quality, which renders it a copy of any

( 351) other existence or modification. When I am angry I am actually possest with the passion, and in that emotion have no more a reference to any other object, than when I am thirsty, or sick, or more than five feet high."[7] In so doing, I may seem to some to be begging the question at issue. But such is surely the prima facie fact of the matter. Only a prior dogma to the effect that every conscious experience is, ipso facto, a form of cognition leads to any obscuration of the fact, and the burden of proof is upon those who uphold the dogma.[8]

A further word upon "appreciation" seems specially called for in view of the currency of the doctrine that "appreciation" is a peculiar kind of knowledge, or cognitive revelation of reality: peculiar in having a distinct type of reality for its object and in having for its organ a peculiar mental condition differing from

( 352) the intelligence of everyday knowledge and of science. Actually, there do not seem to be any grounds for regarding appreciation as anything but an intentionally enhanced or intensified experience of an object. Its opposite is not descriptive or explanatory knowledge, but depreciation —a degraded realization of an object. A man may climb a mountain to get a better realization of a landscape; he may travel to Greece to get a realization of the Parthenon more full than that which he has had from pictures. Intelligence, knowledge, may be involved in the steps taken to get the enhanced experience, but that does not make the landscape or the Parthenon as fully savored a cognitive object. So the fulness of a musical experience may depend upon prior critical analysis, but that does not necessarily make the hearing of music a kind of non-analytic cognitive act. Either appreciation means just an intensified experience, or it means a kind of criticism, and then it falls within the sphere of ordinary judgment, differing in being applied to a work of art instead of to some other subject-matter. The same mode of analysis may be applied to the older but cognate term "intuition." The terms "acquaintance" and "familiarity" and "recognition" (acknowledgment) are full of like pitfalls of ambiguity.

In contemporary discussion of value-judgments, however, appreciation is a peculiarly treacherous term. It is first asserted (or assumed) that all experiences of good are modes of knowing: that good

(353) is a term of a proposition. Then when experience forces home the immense difference between evaluation as a critical process (a process of inquiry for the determination of a good precisely similar to that which is undertaken in science in the determination of the nature of an event) and ordinary experience of good and evil, appeal is made to the difference between direct apprehension and indirect or inferential knowledge, and "appreciation" is called in to play the convenient rôle of an immediate cognitive apprehension. Thus a second error is used to cover up and protect a primary one. To savor a thing fully —as Arnold Bennett's heroines are wont to do— is no more a knowing than is the chance savoring which arises when things smelled are found good, or than is being angry or thirsty or more than five feet high. All the language which we can employ is charged with a force acquired through reflection. Even when I speak of a direct experience of a good or bad, one is only too likely to read in traits characterizing a thing which is found in consequence of thinking, to be good; one has to use language simply to stimulate a recourse to a direct experiencing in which language is not depended upon. If one is willing to make such an imaginative excursion —no one can be compelled— he will note that finding a thing good apart from reflective judgment means simply treating the thing in a certain way, hanging on to it, dwelling upon it, welcoming it and acting to perpetuate its presence, taking delight in it.


It is a way of behaving toward it, a mode of organic reaction. A psychologist may, indeed, bring in the emotions, but if his contribution is relevant it will be because the emotions which figure in his account are just part of the primary organic reaction to the object. In contrary fashion, to find a thing bad (in a direct experience as distinct from the result of a reflective examination) is to be moved to reject it, to try to get away from it, to destroy or at least to displace it. It connotes not an act of apprehension but an act of repugning, of repelling. To term the thing good or evil is to state the fact (noted in recollection) that it was actually involved in a situation of organic acceptance or rejection, with whatever qualities specifically characterize the act.

All this is said because I am convinced that contemporary discussion of values and valuation suffers from confusion of the two radically different attitudes —that of direct, active, non-cognitive experience of goods and bads and that— of valuation, the latter being simply a mode of judgment like any other form of judgment, differing in that its subject-matter happens to be a good or a bad instead of a horse or planet or curve. But unfortunately for discussions, "to value" means two radically different things: to prize and appraise; to esteem and to estimate: to find good in the sense described above, and to judge it to be good, to know it as good. I call them radically different because to prize names a

(355) practical, non-intellectual attitude, and to appraise names a judgment. That men love and hold things dear, that they cherish and care for some things, and neglect and contemn other things, is an undoubted fact. To call these things values is just to repeat that they are loved and cherished; it is not to give a reason for their being loved and cherished. To call them values and then import into them the traits of objects of valuation; or to import into values, meaning valuated objects, the traits which things possess as held dear, is to confuse the theory of judgments of value past all remedy.

And before coming to the more technical discussion, the currency of the confusion and the bad result consequences may justify dwelling upon the matter. The distinction may be compared to that between eating something and investigating the food properties of the thing eaten. A man eats something; it may be said that his very eating implies that he took it to be food, that he judged it, or regarded it cognitively, and that the question is just whether he judged truly or made a false proposition. Now if anybody will condescend to a concrete experience he will perceive how often a man eats without thinking; that he puts into his mouth what is set before him from habit, as an infant does from instinct. An onlooker or anyone who reflects is justified in saying that he acts as if he judged the material to be food. He is not justified in saying that any judgment or

( 356) intellectual determination has entered in. He has acted; he has behaved toward something as food: that is only to say that he has put it in his mouth and swallowed it instead of spewing it forth. The object may then be called food. But this does not mean either that it is food (namely, digestible and nourishing material) or that the eater judged it to be food and so formed a proposition which is true or false. The proposition would arise only in case he is in some doubt, or if he reflects that in spite of his immediate attitude of aversion the thing is wholesome and his system needs recuperation, etc. Or later, if the man is ill, a physician may inquire what he ate, and pronounce that something not food at all, but poison.

In the illustration employed, there is no danger of any harm arising from using the retroactive term "food"; there is no likelihood of confusing the two senses "actually eaten" and "nourishing article." But with the terms "value" and "good" there is a standing danger of just such a confusion. Overlooking the fact that good and bad as reasonable terms involve a relationship to other things (exactly similar to that implied in calling a particular article food or poison), we suppose that when we are reflecting upon or inquiring into the good or value of some act or object, we are dealing with something as simple, as self-inclosed, as the simple act of immediate prizing or welcoming or cherishing performed without rhyme or reason, from instinct or habit. In truth just as

(357) determining a thing to be food means considering its relations to digestive organs, to its distribution and ultimate destination in the system, so determining a thing found good (namely, treated in a certain way) to be good means precisely ceasing to look at it as a direct, self-sufficient thing and considering it in its consequences-that is, in its relations to a large set of other things. If the man in eating consciously implies that what he eats is food, he anticipates or predicts certain consequences, with more or less adequate grounds for so doing. He passes a judgment or apprehends or knows— truly or falsely. So a man may not only enjoy a thing, but he may judge the thing enjoyed to be good, to be a value. But in so doing he is going beyond the thing immediately present and making an inference to other things, which, he implies, are connected with it. The thing taken into the mouth and stomach has consequences whether a man thinks of them or not. But he does not know the thing he eats —he does not make it a term of a certain character— unless he thinks of the consequences and connects them with the thing he eats. If he just stops and says "Oh, how good this is," he is not saying anything about the object except the fact that he enjoys eating it. We may if we choose regard this exclamation as a reflection or judgment. But if it is intellectual, it is asserted for the sake of enhancing the enjoyment; it is a means to an end. A very hungry man will generally satisfy his appetite to some extent

(358) before he indulges in even such rudimentary propositions.[9]


But we must return to a placing of our problem in this context. :fly theme is that a judgment of value is simply a case of a practical judgment, a judgment about the doing of something. This conflicts with the assumption that it is a judgment about a particular kind of existence independent of action, concerning which the main problem is whether it is subjective or objective. It conflicts with every tendency to make the determination of the right or wrong course of action (whether in morals, technology, or scientific inquiry) dependent upon an independent determination of some ghostly things called value-objects — whether their ghostly character is attributed to their existing in some transcendental eternal realm or in some realm called states of mind. It asserts that value-objects mean simply objects as judged to possess a certain force within a situation temporally

(359) developing toward a determinate result. To find a thing good is, I repeat, to attribute or impute nothing to it. It is just to do something to it. But to consider whether it is good and how good it is, is to ask how it, as if acted upon, will operate in promoting a course of action.

Hence the great contrast which may exist between a good or an immediate experience and an evaluated or judged good. The rain may be most uncomfortable (just be it, as a man is more than five feet tall) and yet be "good" for growing crops-that is, favor or promote their movement in a given direction. This does not mean that two contrasting judgments of value are passed. It means that no judgment has yet taken place. If, however, I am moved to pass a value-judgment I should probably say that in spite of the disagreeableness of getting wet, the shower is a good thing. I am now judging it as a means in two contrasting situations, as a means with respect to two ends. I compare my discomfort as a consequence of the rain with the prospective crops as another consequence, and say "let the latter consequence be." I identify myself as agent with it, rather than with the immediate discomfort of the wetting. It is quite true that in this case I cannot do anything about it; my identification is, so to speak, sentimental rather than practical so far as stopping the rain or growing the crops is concerned. But in effect it is an assertion that one would not on

( 360) account of the discomfort of the rain stop it; that one would, if one could, encourage its continuance. Go it, rain, one says.

The specific intervention of action is obvious enough in plenty of other cases. It occurs to me that this agreeable "food" which I am eating isn't a food for me; it brings on indigestion. It functions no longer as an immediate good; as something to be accepted. If I continue eating, it will be after I have deliberated. I have considered it as a means to two conflicting possible consequences, the present enjoyment of eating and the later state of health. One or other is possible, not both —though of course I may "solve" the problem by persuading myself that in this instance they are congruent. The value-object now means thing judged to be a means of procuring this or that end. As prizing, esteeming, holding dear denote ways of acting, so valuing denotes a passing judgment upon such acts with reference to their connection with other acts, or with respect to the continuum of behavior in which they fall. Valuation means change of mode of behavior from direct acceptance and welcoming to doubting and looking into —acts which involve postponement of direct (or so-called overt) action and which imply a future act having a different meaning from that just now occurring — for even if one decides to continue in the previous act its meaning-content is different when it is chosen after reflective examination.

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A practical judgment has been defined as a judgment of what to do, or what is to be done: a judgment respecting the future termination of an incomplete and in so far indeterminate situation. To say that judgments of value fall within this field is to say two things: one, that the judgment of value is never complete in itself, but always in behalf of determining what is to be done; the other, that judgments of value (as distinct from the direct experience of something as good) imply that value is not anything previously given, but is something to be given by future action, itself conditioned upon (varying with) the judgment. This statement may appear to contradict the recent assertion that a value-object for knowledge means one investigated as a means to competing ends. For such a means it already is; the lobster will give me present enjoyment and future indigestion if I eat it. But as long as I judge, value is indeterminate. The question is not what the thing will do —I may be quite clear about that: it is whether to perform the act which will actualize its potentiality. What will I have the situation become as between alternatives? And that means what force shall the thing as means be given? Shall I take it as means to present enjoyment, or as a (negative) condition of future health ? When its status in these respects is determined, its value is determined; judgment ceases, action goes on. Practical judgments do not therefore primarily concern themselves with the value of objects; but

(362) with the course of action demanded to carry an incomplete situation to its fulfilment. The adequate control of such judgments may, however, be facilitated by judgment of the worth of objects which enter as ends and means into the action contemplated. For example, my primary (and ultimate) judgment has to do, say, with buying a suit of clothes: whether to buy and, if so, what ? The question is of better and worse with respect to alternative courses of action, not with respect to various objects. But the judgment will be a judgment (and not a chance reaction) in the degree in which it takes for its intervening subject-matter the value-status of various objects. What are the prices of given suits ? What are their styles in respect to current fashion ? How do their patterns compare ? What about their durability ? How about their respective adaptability to the chief wearing use I have in mind ? Relative, or comparative, durability, cheapness, suitability, style, aesthetic attractiveness constitute value traits. They are traits of objects not per se, but as entering into a possible and foreseen completing of the situation. Their value is their force in precisely this function. The decision of better and worse is the determination of their respective capacities and intensities in this regard. Apart from their status in this office, they have no traits of value for knowledge. A determination of better value as found in some one suit is equivalent to (his the force of) i derision as to what it is better

(363) to do. It provided the lacking stimulus so that action occurs, or passes from its indeterminate-indecisive-state into decision.

Reference to the terms "subjective" and "objective" will, perhaps, raise a cloud of ambiguities. But for this very reason it may be worth while to point out the ambiguous nature of the term objective as applied to valuations. Objective may be identified, quite erroneously, with qualities existing outside of and independently of the situation in which a decision as to a future course of action has to be reached. Or, objective may denote the status of qualities of an object in respect to the situation to be completed through judgment. Independently of the situation requiring practical judgment, clothes already have a given price, durability, pattern, etc. These traits are not affected by the judgment. They exist; they are given. But as given they are not determinate values. They are not objects of valuation; they are data for a valuation. We may have to take pains to discover that these given qualities are, but their discovery is in order that there may be a subsequent judgment of value. Were they already definite values, they would not be estimated; they would be stimuli to direct response. If a man had already decided that cheapness constituted value, he would simply take the cheapest suit offered. What he judges is the value of cheapness, and this depends upon its weight or importance in the situation requiring

( 364) action, as compared with durability, style, adaptability, etc. Discovery of shoddy would not affect the de facto durability of the goods, but it would affect the value of cheapness —that is, the weight assigned that trait in influencing judgment — which it would not do, if cheapness already had a definite value. A value, in short, means a consideration, and a consideration does not mean an existence merely, but an existence having a claim upon judgment. Value judged is not existential quality noted, but is the influence attached by judgment to a given existential quality in determining judgment.

The conclusion is not that value is subjective, but that it is practical. The situation in which judgment of value is required is not mental, much less fanciful. I can but think that much of the recent discussion of the objectivity of value and of value-judgments rests upon a false psychological theory. It rests upon giving certain terms meanings that flow from an introspective psychology which accepts a realm of purely private states of consciousness, private not in a social sense (a sense implying courtesy or mayhap secrecy toward others), but existential independence and separateness. To refer value to choice or desire, for example, is in that case to say that value is subjectively conditioned. Quite otherwise, if we have steered clear from such a psychology. Choice, decision, means primarily a certain act, a piece of behavior on the part of a particular thing. That

(365) a horse chooses to eat hay means only that it eats hay; that the man chooses to steal means (at least) that he tries to steal. This trial may come, however, after an intervening act of reflection. It then has a certain intellectual or cognitive quality. But it may mean simply the bare fact of an action which is retrospectively called a choice: as a man, in spite of all temptation to belong to another nation, chooses to be born an Englishman, which, if it has any sense at all, signifies a choice to continue in a line adopted without choice. Taken in this latter sense (in which case, terms like choice and desire refer to ways of behavior), their use is only a specification of the general doctrine that all valuation has to do with the determination of a course of action. Choice, preference, is originally only a bias in a given direction, a bias which is no more subjective or psychical than is the fact that a ball thrown is swerving in a particular direction rather than in some other curve. It is just a name for the differential character of the action. But let continuance in a certain line of action become questionable, let, that is to say, it be regarded as a means to a future consequence, which consequence has alternatives, and then choice gets a logical or intellectual sense; a mental status if the term "mental" is reserved for acts having this intellectualized quality. Choice still means the fixing of a course of action; it means at least a set to be released as soon as physically possible. Otherwise

(366) man has not chosen, but has quieted himself into a belief that he has chosen in order to relieve himself of the strain of suspense.

Exactly the same analysis applies to desire. Diverse anticipated ends may provoke divided and competing present reactions; the organism may be torn between different courses, each interfering with the completion of the other. This intra-organic pulling and hauling, this strife of active tendencies, is a genuine phenomenon. The pull in a given direction measures the immediate hold of an anticipated termination or end upon us, as compared with that of some other. If one asked after the mechanism of the valuing process, I have no doubt that the answer would be in terms of desires thus conceived. But unless everything relating to the activity of a highly organized being is to be denominated subjective, I see no ground for calling it subjective. So far as I can make out, the emphasis upon a psychological treatment of value and valuation in a subjective sense is but a highly awkward and negative way of maintaining a positive truth: that value and valuation fall within the universe of action: that as welcoming, accepting, is an act, so valuation is a present act determining an act to be done, a present act taking place because the future act is uncertain and incomplete.

It does follow from this fact that valuation is not simply a recognition of the force or efficiency of a means

(367) with respect to continuing a process. For unless there is question about its continuation, about its termination, valuation will not occur. And there is no question save where activity is hesitant in direction because of conflict within it. Metaphorically we may say that rain is good to lay the dust, identifying force or efficiency with value. I do not believe that valuations occur and values are brought into being save in a continuing situation where things have potency for carrying forward processes. There is a close relationship between prevailing, valiancy, valency, and value. But the term "value" is not a mere reduplication of the term "efficiency": it adds something. When we are moving toward a result and at the same time are stimulated to move toward something else which is incompatible with it (as in the case of the lobster as a cause of both enjoyment and indigestion), a thing has a dual potency. Not until the end has been established is the value of the lobster settled, although there need be no doubt about its efficiencies. As was pointed out earlier, the practical judgment determines means and end at the same time. How then can value be given, as efficiency is given, until the end is chosen? The rain is (metaphorically) valuable for laying dust. Whether it is valuable for us to have the dust laid —and if so, how valuable— we shall never know until some activity of our own which is a factor in dust-laying comes into conflict with an incompatible activity. Its value is its force,

(368) indeed, but it is its force in moving us to one end rather than to another. Not every potency, in other words, but potency with the specific qualification of falling within judgment about future action; means value or valuable thing. Consequently there is no value save in situations where desires and the need of deliberation in order to choose are found, and yet this fact gives no excuse for regarding desire and deliberation and decision as subjective phenomena.

To use an Irish bull, as long as a man knows what he desires there is no desire; there is movement or endeavor in a given direction. Desire is desires, and simultaneous desires are incompatible; they mark, as we have noted, competing activities, movements in directions, which cannot both be extended. Reflection is a process of finding out what we want, what, as we say; we really want, and this means the formation of new desire, a new direction of action. In this process, things get values —something they did not possess before, although they had their efficiencies.

At whatever risk of shock, this doctrine should be exposed in all its nakedness. To judge value is to engage in instituting a determinate value where none is given. It is not necessary that antecedently given values should be the data of the valuation; and where they are given data they are only terms in the determination of a not yet existing value. When a man is ill and after deliberation concludes that it be well to see

(369) a doctor, the doctor doubtless exists antecedently. But it is not the doctor who is judged to be the good of the situation, but the seeing of the doctor: a thing which, by description, exists only because of an act dependent upon a judgment. Nor is the health the man antecedently possessed (or which somebody has) the thing which he judges to be a value; the thing judged to be a value is the restoring of health —something by description not yet existing. The results flowing from his past health will doubtless influence him in reaching his judgment that it will be a good to have restored health, but they do not constitute the good which forms his subject-matter and object of his judgment. He may judge that they were good without judging that they are now good, for to be judged now good means to be judged to be the object of a course of action still to be undertaken. And to judge that they were good (as distinct from merely recalling certain benefits which accrued from health) is to judge that if the situation had required a reflective determination of a course of action one would have judged health an existence to be attained or preserved by action. There are dialectic difficulties which may be raised about judgments of this sort. For they imply the seeming paradox of a judgment whose proper subject-matter is its own determinate formation. But nothing is gained by obscuring the fact that such is the nature of the practical judgment: it is a judgment of what and how to judge —of

(370) the weight to be assigned to various factors in the determination of judgment. It would be interesting to inquire into the question whether this peculiarity may not throw light upon the nature of "consciousness," but into that field we cannot now go.


From what has been said, it immediately follows, of course, that a determinate value is instituted as a decisive factor with respect to what is to be done. Wherever a determinate good exists, there is an adequate stimulus to action, and no judgment of what is to be done or of the value of an object is called for. It is frequently assumed, however, that valuation is a process of applying some fixed or determinate value to the various competing goods of a situation; that valuation implies a prior standard of value and consists in comparing various goods with the standard as the supreme value. This assumption requires examination. If it is sound it deprives -the position which has been taken of any validity. For it renders the judgment of what to do a matter of applying a value existing ready-made, instead of making —as we have done— the valuation a determination within the practical judgment. The argument would run this way: Every practical judgment depends upon a judgment of the value of the end to be attained; this end may be such only proximately, but that implies something else judged to be good, and so, logically,

(371) till we have arrived at the judgment of a supreme good, a final end or summum bonum. If this statement correctly describes the state of the case there can be no doubt that a practical judgment depends upon a prior recognition of value; consequently the hypothesis upon which we have been proceeding reverses the actual facts.

The first thing by way of critical comment is to point out the ambiguity in the term "end." I should like to fall back upon what was said earlier about the thoroughly reciprocal character of means and end in the practical judgment. If this be admitted it is also admitted that only by a judgment of means —things having value in the carrying of an indeterminate situation to a completion— is the end determinately made out in judgment. But I fear I cannot count upon this as granted. So I will point out that "end" may mean either the de facto limit to judgment, which by definition does not enter into judgment at all, or it may mean the last and completing object of judgment, the conception of that object in which a transitive incompletely given situation would come to rest. Of end in the first sense, it is to be said that it is not a value at all; of end in the second sense, that it is identical with a finale of the kind we have just been discussing or that it is determined in judgment, not a value given by which to control the judgment. It may be asserted that in the illustration used some typical suit of clothes is the value which affords the

(372) standard of valuation of all the suits which are offered to the buyer; that he passes judgment on their value as compared with the standard suit as an end and supreme value. This statement brings out the ambiguity just referred to. The need of something to wear is the stimulus to the judgment of the value of suits offered, and possession of a suit puts an end to judgment. It is an end of judgment in the objective, not in the possessive, sense of the preposition "of "; it is an end not in the sense of aim, but in the sense of a terminating limit. When possession begins, judgment has already ceased. And if argument ad verucundiam has any weight I may point out that this is the doctrine of Aristotle when he says we never deliberate about ends, but only about means. That is to say, in all deliberation (or practical judgment or inquiry) there is always something outside of judgment which fixes its beginning and end or terminus. And I would add that, according to Aristotle, deliberation always ceases when we have come to the "first link in the chain of causes, which is last in the order of discovery," and this means "when we have traced back the chain of causes [means] to ourselves." In other words, the last end-in-view is always that which operates as the direct or immediate means of setting our own powers in operation. The end-in-view upon which judgment of action settles down is simply the adequate or complete means to the doing of something.


We do deliberate, however, about aims, about ends-in-view — a fact which shows their radically different nature from ends as limits to deliberation. The aim in the present instance is not the suit of clothes, but the getting of a proper suit. That is what is precisely estimated or valuated; and I think I may claim to have shown that the determination of this aim is identical with the determination of the value of a suit through comparison of the values of cheapness, durability, style, pattern of different suits offered. Value is not determined by comparing various suits with an ideal model, but by comparing various suits with respect to cheapness, durability, adaptability with one another —involving, of course, reference also to length of purse, suits already possessed, etc., and other specific elements in the situation which demands that something be done. The purchaser may, of course, have settled upon something which serves as a model before he goes to buy; but that only means that his judging has been done beforehand; the model does not then function in judgment, but in his act as stimulus to immediate action. And there is a consideration here involved of the utmost importance as to practical judgments of the moral type: The more completely the notion of the model is formed outside and irrespective of the specific conditions which the situation of action presents, the less intelligent is the act. Most men might have their ideals of the model changed somewhat in the face of the actual offering,

(374) even in the case of buying clothes. The man who is not accessible to such change in the case of moral situations has ceased to be a moral agent and become a reacting machine. In short, the standard of valuation is formed in the process of practical judgment or valuation. It is not something taken from outside and applied within it — such application means there is no judgment.


Nothing has been said thus far about a standard. Yet the conception of a standard, or a measure, is so closely connected with valuation that its consideration affords a test of the conclusions reached. It must be admitted that the concepts of the nature of a standard pointed to by the course of the prior discussion is not in conformity with current conceptions. For the argument points to a standard which is determined within the process of valuation, not outside of it, and hence not capable of being employed ready-made, therefore, to settle the valuing process. To many persons, this will seem absurd to the point of self-contradiction. The prevailing conception, however, has been adopted without examination; it is a preconception. If accepted, it deprives judgment and knowledge of all significant import in connection with moral action. If the standard is already given, all that remains is its mechanical application to the case in hand —as one would apply a yard

(375) rule to dry-goods. Genuine moral uncertainty is then impossible; where it seems to exist, it is only a name for a moral unwillingness, due to inherent viciousness, to recognize and apply the rules already made and provided, or else for a moral corruption which has enfeebled man's power of moral apprehension. When the doctrine of standards prior to and independent of moral judgments is accompanied by these other doctrines of original sin and corruption, one must respect the thoroughgoing logic of the doctrine. Such is not, however, the case with the modern theories which make the same assumption of standards preceding instead of resulting from moral judgments, and which ignore the question of uncertainty and error in their apprehension. Such considerations do not, indeed, decide anything, but they may serve to get a more unprejudiced hearing for a hypothesis which runs counter to current theories, since it but formulates the trend of current practices in their increasing tendency to make the act of intelligence the central factor in morals.

Let us, accordingly, consider the alternatives to regarding the standard of value as something evolved in the process of reflective valuation. How can such a standard be known ? Either by an a priori method of intuition, or by abstraction from prior cases. The latter conception throws us into the arms of hedonism. For the hedonistic theory of the standard of value derives its logical efficiency

(376) from the consideration that the notion of a prior and fixed standard (one which is not determined within the situation by reflection) forces us back upon antecedent irreducible pleasures and pains which alone are values definite and certain enough to supply standards. They alone are simple enough to be independent and ultimate. The apparently commonsense alternative would be to take the "value" of prior situations in toto, say, the value of an act of kindness to a sufferer. But any such good is a function of the total unanalyzed situation; it has, consequently, no application to a new situation unless the new exactly repeats the old one. Only when the "good" is resolved into simple and unalterable units, in terms of which old situations can be equated to new ones on the basis of the number of units contained, can an unambiguous standard be found.

The logic is unimpeachable, and points to irreducible pleasures and pains as the standard of valuation. The difficulty is not in the logic but in empirical facts, facts which verify our prior contention. Conceding, for the sake of argument, that there are definite existences such as are called pleasures and pains, they are not value-objects, but are only things to be valued. Exactly the same pleasure or pain, as an existence, has different values at different times according to the way in which it is judged. What is the value of the pleasure of eating the lobster as compared with the pains of indigestion ? The ride tells its, of course,

( 377) to break up the pleasure and pain into elementary units and count.[10] Such ultimate simple units seem, however, to be about as much within the reach of ordinary knowledge as atoms or electrons are within the grasp of the man of the street. Their resemblance to the ultimate, neutral units which analytic psychologists have postulated as a methodological necessity is evident. Since the value of even such a definite entity as a toothache varies according to the organization constructed and presented in reflection, it is clear that ordinary empirical pleasures and pains are highly complex.

This difficulty, however, may be waived. We may even waive the fact that a theory which set out to be ultra-empirical is now enmeshed in the need for making empirical facts meet dialectical requirements. Another difficulty is too insuperable to be waived.

( 378) In any case the quantity of elementary existences which constitutes the criterion of measurement is dependent upon the very judgment which is assumed to be regulated by it. The standard of valuation is the units which will result from an act; they are future consequences. Now the character of the agent judging is one of the conditions of the production of these consequences. A callous person not only will not foresee certain consequences, and will not be able to give them proper weight, but he does not afford the same condition of their occurrence which is constituted by a sensitive man. It is quite possible to employ judgment so as to produce acts which will increase this organic callousness. The analytic conception of the moral criterion provides —logically— for deliberate blunting of susceptibilities. If the matter at issue is simply one of number of units of pleasure over pain, arrange matters so that certain pains will not, as matter of fact, be felt. While this result may be achieved by manipulation of extraorganic conditions, it may also be effected by rendering the organism insensitive. Persistence in a course which in the short run yields uneasiness and sympathetic pangs, will in the long run eliminate these pains and leave a net pleasure balance.

This is a time-honored criticism of hedonism. My present concern with it is purely logical. It shows that the attempt to bring over from past objects the elements of a standard for valuing future conse-

(379) -quences is a hopeless one. The express object of a valuation-judgment is to release factors which being new, cannot be measured on the basis of the past alone. This discussion of the analytic logic as applied in morals would, however, probably not be worth while did it not serve to throw into relief the significance of any appeal to fulfilment of a system or organization as the moral good —the standard. Such an appeal, if it is wary, is an appeal to the present situation as undergoing that reorganization that will confer upon it the unification which it lacks; to organization as something to be brought about, to be made. And it is clear that this appeal meets all the specifications of judgments of practice as they have been described. The organization which is to be fulfilled through action is an organization which, at the time of judging, is present in conception, in idea —in, that is, reflective inquiry as a phase of reorganizing activity. And since its presence in conception is both a condition of the organization aimed at and a function of the adequacy of the reflective inquiry, it is evident that there is here a confirmation of our statement that the practical judgment is a judgment of what and how to judge as an integral part of the completion of an incomplete temporal situation. More specifically, it also appears that the standard is a rule for conducting inquiry to its completion: it is a counsel to make examination of the operative factors complete, a warning against suppressing recognition of any of

(380) them. However a man may impose upon himself or upon others, a man's real measure of value is exhibited in what he does, not in what he consciously thinks or says. For the doing is the actual choice. It is the completed reflection.

It is comparatively easy at the present time in moral theory to slam both hedonism and apriorism. It is not so easy to see the logical implications of the alternative to them. The conception of an organization of interests or tendencies is often treated as if it were a conception which is definite in subject-matter as well as clear-cut in form. It is taken not as a rule for procedure in inquiry, a direction and a warning (which it is), but as something all of whose constituents are already given for knowledge, even though not given in fact. The act of fulfilling or realizing must then be treated as devoid of intellectual import. It is a mere doing, not a learning and a testing. But how can a situation which is incomplete in fact be completely known until it is complete ? Short of the fulfilment of a conceived organization, how can the conception of the proposed organization be anything more than a working hypothesis, a method of treating the given elements in order to see what happens ? Does not every notion which implies the possibility of an apprehension of knowledge of the end to be reached[11] also imply either an a priori

( 381) revelation of the nature of that end, or else that organization is nothing but a whole composed of elementary parts already given-the logic of hedonism ?

The logic of subsumption in the physical sciences meant that a given state of things could be compared with a ready-made concept as a model —the phenomena of the heavens with the implications of, say, the circle. The methods of experimental science broke down this motion; they substituted for an alleged regulative model a formula which was the integrated function of the particular phenomena themselves, a formula to be used as a method of further observations and experiments and thereby tested and developed. The unwillingness to believe that, in a similar fashion, moral standards or models can be trusted to develop out of the specific situations of action shows how little the general logical force of the method of science has been grasped. Physical knowledge did not as matter of fact advance till the dogma of models or forms as standards of knowledge had been ousted. Yet we hang tenaciously to a like doctrine in morals for fear of moral chaos. It once seemed to be impossible that the disordered phenomena of perception could generate a knowledge of law and order; it was

( 382) supposed that independent principles of order must be supplied and the phenomena measured by approach to or deviation from the fixed models. The ordinary conception of a standard in practical affairs is a precise analogue. Physical knowledge started on a secure career when men had courage to start from the irregular scene and to treat the suggestions to which it gave rise as methods for instituting new observations and experiences. Acting upon the suggested conceptions analyzed, extended, and ordered phenomena and thus made improved conceptions —methods of inquiry— possible. It is reasonable to believe that what holds moral knowledge back is above all the conception that there are standards of good given to knowledge apart from the work of reflection in constructing methods of action. As the bringer of bad news gets a bad name, being made to share in the production of the evil which he reports, so honest acknowledgment of the uncertainty of the moral situation and of the hypothetical character of all rules of moral mensuration prior to acting upon them, is treated as if it originated the uncertainty and created the skepticism.

It may be contended, however, that all this does not justify the earlier statement that the limiting situation which occasions and cuts off judgment is not itself a value. Why, it will be asked, does a man buy a suit of clothes unless that is a value, or at least a proximate means to a further value ? The answer is short and simple: Because he has to; because the

(383) situation in which he lives demands it. The answer problably seems too summary. But it may suggest that while a man lives, he never is called upon to judge whether he shall act, but simply how he shall act. A decision not to act is a decision to act in a certain way; it is never a judgment not to act, unqualifiedly. It is a judgment to do something else —to wait, for example. A judgment that the best thing to do is to retire from active life, to become a Simon Stylites, is a judgment to act in a certain way, conditioned upon the necessity that, irrespective of judging, a man will have to act somehow anyway. A decision to commit suicide is not a decision to be dead; it is a decision to perform a certain act. The act may depend upon reaching the conclusion that life is not worth living. But as a judgment, this is a conclusion to act in a way to terminate the possibility of further situations requiring judgment and action. And it does not imply that a judgment about life as a supreme value and standard underlies all judgments as to how to live. More specifically, it is not a judgment upon the value of life per se, but a judgment that one does not find at hand the specific means of making life worth while. As an act to be done, it falls within and assumes life. As a judgment upon the value of life, by definition it evades the issue. No one ever influenced a person considering committing suicide by arguments concerning the value of life, but only by suggesting or supplying conditions

(384) and means which make life worth living; in other words, by furnishing direct stimuli to living.

However, I fear that all this argument may only obscure a point obvious without argument, namely, that all deliberation upon what to do is concerned with the completion and determination of a situation in some respect incomplete and so indeterminate. Every such situation is specific; it is not merely incomplete; the incompleteness is of a specific situation. Hence the situation sets limits to the reflective process; what is judged has reference to it and that which limits never is judged in the particular situation in which it is limiting. Now we have in ordinary speech a word which expresses the nature of the conditions which limit the judgments of value. It is the word "invaluable." The word does not mean something of supreme value as compared with other things any more than it means something of zero value. It means something out of the scope of valuation —something out of the range of judgment; whatever in the situation at hand is not and cannot be any part of the subject-matter of judgment and which yet instigates and cuts short the judgment. It means, in short, that judgment at some point runs against the brute act of holding something dear as its limit.


The statement that values are determined in the process of judgment of what to do (that is. in situa-

(385) -tions where preference depends upon reflection upon the conditions and possibilities of a situation requiring action) will be met by the objection that our practical deliberations usually assume precedent specific values and also a certain order or grade among them. There is a sense in which I am not concerned to deny this. Our deliberate choices go on in situations more or less like those in which we have previously chosen. When deliberation has reached a valuation, and action has confirmed or verified the conclusion, the result remains. Situations overlap. The m which is judged better than it in one situation is found worse than l in another, and so on; thus a certain order of precedence is established. And we have to broaden the field to cover the habitual order of reflective preferences in the community to which we belong. The valu-eds or valuables thus constituted present themselves as facts in subsequent situations. Moreover, by the same kind of operation, the dominating objects of past valuations present themselves as standardized values.

But we have to note that such value-standards are only presumptive. Their status depends, on one hand, upon the extent in which the present situation is like the past. In a progressive or rapidly altering social life, the presumption of identical present value is weakened. And while it would be foolish not to avail one's self of the assistance in present valuations of the valuables established in other situations,

(386) we have to remember that habit operates to make us overlook differences and presume identity where it does not exist —to the misleading of judgment. On the other hand, the contributory worth of past determinations of value is dependent upon the extent in which they were critically made; especially upon the extent in which the consequences brought about through acting upon them have been carefully noted. In other words, the presumptive force of a past value in present judgment depends upon the pains taken with its verification.

In any case, so far as judgment takes place (instead of the reminiscence of a prior good operating as a direct stimulus to present action) all valuation is in some degree a revaluation. Nietzsche would probably not have made so much of a sensation, but he would have been within the limits of wisdom, if he had confined himself to the assertion that all judgment, in the degree in which it is critically intelligent, is a transvaluation of prior values. I cannot escape recognition that any allusion to modification or transformation of an object through judgment arouses partisan suspicion and hostility. To many it appears to be a survival of an idealistic epistemology. But I see only three alternatives. Either there are no practical judgments —as judgments they are wholly illusory; or the future is bound to be but a repetition of the past or a reproduction of something eternally existent in some transcendent realm (which is the same thing

(387) logically),[12] or the object of a practical judgment is some change, some alteration, to be brought about in the given, the nature of the change depending upon the judgment and yet constituting its subject-matter. Unless the epistemological realist accepts one of the two first alternatives, he seems bound, in accepting the third, to admit not merely that practical judgments make a difference in things as an after-effect (this he seems ready enough to admit), but that the import and validity of judgments is a matter of the difference thus made. One may, of course, hold that this is just what marks the distinction of the practical judgment from the scientific judgment. But one who admits this fact as respects a practical judgment can no longer claim that it is fatal to the very idea of judgment to suppose that its proper object is some difference to be brought about in things, and that the truth of the judgment is constituted by the differences in consequences actually made. And a logical realist who takes seriously the

(388) notion that moral good is a fulfilment of an organization or integration must admit that any proposition about such an object is prospective (for it is something to be attained through action), and that the proposition is made for the sake of furthering the fulfilment. Let one start at this point and carry back the conception into a consideration of other kinds of propositions, and one will have, I think, the readiest means of apprehending the intent of the theory that all propositions are but the propoundings of possible knowledge, not knowledge itself. For unless one marks off the judgment of good from other judgment by means of an arbitrary division of the organism from the environment, or of the subjective from the objective, no ground for any sharp line of division in the propositional-continuum will appear.

But (to obviate misunderstanding) this does not mean that some psychic state or act makes the difference in things. In the first place, the subject-matter of the judgment is a change to be brought about; and, in the second place, this subject-matter does not become an object until the judgment has issued in act. It is the act which makes the difference, but nevertheless the act is but the complete object of judgment and the judgment is complete as a judgment only in the act. The anti-pragmatists have been asked (notably by Professor A. W. Moore) how they sharply distinguish between judgment —or knowledge— and

( 389) act and yet freely admit and insist that knowledge makes a difference in action and hence in existence. This is the crux of the whole matter. And it is a logical question. It is not a query (as it seems to have been considered) as to how the mental can influence a physical thing like action —a variant of the old question of how the mind affects the body. On the contrary, the implication is that the relation of knowledge to action becomes a problem of the action of a mental (or logical) entity upon a physical one only when the logical import of judgment has been misconceived. The positive contention is that the realm of logical propositions presents in a realm of possibility the specific rearrangement of things which overt action presents in actuality. Hence the passage of a proposition into action is not a miracle, but the realization of its own character —its own meaning as logical. I do not profess, of course, to have shown that such is the case for all propositions; that is a matter which I have not discussed. But in showing the tenability of the hypothesis that practical judgments are of that nature, I have at least ruled out any purely dialectic proof that the nature of knowledge as such forbids entertaining the hypothesis that the import —indirect if not direct— of all logical propositions is some difference to be brought about. The road is at least cleared for a more unprejudiced consideration of this hypothesis on its own merits.



I mentioned incidentally in the first section that it is conceivable that failure to give adequate consideration to practical judgments may have a compromising effect upon the consideration of other types. I now intend to develop this remark with regard to sense perception as a form of knowledge. The topic is so bound up with a multitude of perplexing psychological and epistemological traditions that I have first to make it reasonably clear what it is and what it is not which I propose to discuss. I endeavored in an earlier series of papers[13] to point out that the question of the material of sense perception is not, as such, a problem of the theory of knowledge at all, but simply a problem of the occurrence of a certain material — a problem of causal conditions and consequences. That is to say, the problem presented by an image[14] of a bent stick, or by a dream, or by "secondary" sensory qualities is properly a problem of physics — of conditions of occurrence, and not of logic, of truth or falsity, fact or fiction. That the existence of a red quale is dependent upon disturbances of a certain velocity of a medium in connection with certain changes of the organism is not to be confused with the notion that red is a way of knowing, in some more or less adequate fashion, some more "real" object or else

(391) of knowing itself. The fact of causation —or functional dependence— no more makes the quale an "appearance" to the mind of something more real than itself or of itself than it makes bubbles on the water a real fish transferred by some cognitive distortion into a region of appearance. With a little stretching we may use the term appearance in either case, but the term only means that the red quale or the water-bubble is an obvious or conspicuous thing from which we infer something else not so obvious.

This position thus freely resumed here needs to be adequately guarded on all sides. It implies that the question of the existence or presence of the subject-matter of even a complex sense perception may be treated as a question of physics. It also implies that the existence of a sense perception may be treated as a problem of physics. But the position is not that all the problems of sense perception are thereby exhausted. There is still, on the contrary, the problem of the cognitive status of sense perception. So far from denying this fact, I mean rather to emphasize it in holding that this knowledge aspect is not to be identified —  as it has been in both realistic and idealistic epistemologies — with the simple occurrence of presented subject-matter and with the occurrence of a perceptive act. It is often stated, for example, that primitive sense objects when they are stripped of all inferential material cannot possibly be false — with the implication that they, therefore, must

(392) be true. Well, I meant to go this statement one better —to state that they are neither true nor false— that is, that the distinction of true-or-false is as irrelevant and inapplicable as to any other existence, as it is, say, to being more than five feet high or having a low blood pressure. This position when taken leaves over the question of sense perception as knowledge, as capable of truth or falsity. It is this question, then, which I intend to discuss in this paper.


My first point is that some sense perceptions at least (as matter of fact the great bulk of them), are without any doubt forms of practical judgment —or, more accurately, are terms in practical judgments as propositions of what to do. When in walking down a street I see a sign on the lamp-post at the corner, I assuredly see a sign. Now in ordinary context (I do not say always or necessarily) this is a sign of what to do —to continue walking or to turn. The other term of the proposition may not be stated or it may be; it is probably more often tacit. Of course, I have taken the case of the sign purposely. But the case may be extended. The lamp-post as perceived is to a lamp-lighter a sign of something else than a turn, but still a sign of something to be done. To another man, it may be a sign of a possible support. I am anxious not to force the scope of cases of this

(393) class beyond what would be accepted by an unbiased person, but I wish to point out that certain features of the perceived object, as a cognitive term, which do not seem at first sight to fall within this conception of the object, as, an intellectual sign of what to do, turn out upon analysis to be covered by it. It may be said, for example, that our supposed pedestrian perceives much besides that which serves as evidence of the thing to be done. He perceives the lamp-post, for example, and possibly the carbons of the arc. And these assuredly do not enter into the indication of what to do or how to do it.

The reply is threefold. In the first place, it is easy —and usual— to read back into the sense perception more than was actually in it. It is easy to recall the familiar features of the lamp-post; it is practically impossible —or at least very unusual— to recall what was actually perceived. So we read the former into the latter. The tendency is for actual perception to limit itself to the minimum which will serve as sign. But, in the second place, since it is never wholly so limited, since there is always a surplusage of perceived object, the fact stated in the objection is admitted. But it is precisely this surplusage which has not cognitive status. It does not serve as a sign, but neither is it known, or a term in knowledge. A child, walking by his father's side, with no aim and hence no reason for securing indications of what to do, will probably see more in his idle curiosity than his

(394) parent. He will have more presented material. But this does not mean that he is making more propositions, but only that he is getting more material for possible propositions. It means, in short, that he is in an aesthetic attitude of realization rather than in a cognitive attitude. But even the most economical observer has some aesthetic, non-cognitive surplusage.[15] In the third place, surplusage is necessary for the operation of the signifying function. Independently of the fact that surplusage may be required to render the sign specific, action is free (its variation is under control) in the degree in which alternatives are present. The pedestrian has probably the two alternatives in mind: to go straight on or to turn. The perceived object might indicate to him another alternative —to stop and inquire of a passer-by. And, as is obvious in a more complicated case, it is the extent of the perceived object which both multiplies alternative ways of acting and gives the grounds for selecting among them. A physician, for example, deliberately avoids such hard-and-fast alternatives as have been postulated in our instance. He does not observe simply to get an indication of whether the man is well or ill; but in order to determine what to do he extends his explorations over a

(395) wide field. :Much of his perceived object field is immaterial to what he finally does; that is, does not serve as sign. But it is all relevant to judging what he is to do. Sense perception as a term in practical judgment must include more than the element which finally serves as sign. If it did not, there would be no perception, but only a direct stimulus to action.[16]

The conclusion that such perceptions as we have been considering are terms in an inference is to be carefully discriminated from the loose statement that sense perceptions are unconscious inferences. There is a great difference between saying that the perception of a shape affords an indication for an inference and saying that the perception of shape is itself an inference. That definite shapes would not be perceived, were it not for neural changes brought about in prior inferences, is a possibility; it may be, for aught I know, an ascertained fact. Such telescoping of a perceived object with the object inferred from it may be a constant function; but in any case the telescoping is not a matter of a present inference

( 396) going on unconsciously, but is the result of an organic modification which has occurred in consequence of prior inferences. In similar fashion, to say that to see a table is to get an indication of something to write on is in no way to say that the perception of a table is an inference from sensory data. To say that certain earlier perceived objects not having as perceived the character of a table have now "fused" with the results of inferences drawn from them is not to say that the perception of the table is now an inference. Suppose we say that the first perception was of colored patches; that we inferred from this the possibility of reaching and touching, and that on performing these acts we secured certain qualities of hardness, smoothness, etc., and that these are now all fused with the color-patches. At most this only signifies that certain previously inferred qualities have now become consolidated with qualities from which they were formerly inferred. And such fusion or consolidation is precisely not inference. As matter of fact, such "fusion" of qualities, given and formerly inferred, is but a matter of speaking. What has really happened is that brain processes which formerly happened successively now happen simultaneously. What we are dealing with is not a fact of cognition, but a fact of the organic conditions of the occurrence of an act of perception.

Let us apply the results to the question of sense "illusions." The bent reed in the water wines

(397) naturally to mind. Purely physical considerations account for the refraction of the light which produces an optical image of a bent stick. This has nothing to do with knowledge or with sense perception —with seeing. It is simply and wholly a matter of the properties of light and a lens. Such refractions are constantly produced without our noting them. In the past, however, light refracted and unrefracted has been a constant stimulus to responsive actions. It is a matter of the native constitution of the organism that light stimulates the eyes to follow and the arms to reach and the hands to clutch and handle. As a consequence, certain arrangements of reflected and refracted light have become a sign to perform certain specific acts of handling and touching. As a rule, stimuli and reactions occur in an approximately homogeneous medium —the air. The system of signs or indexes of action set up has been based upon this fact and accommodated to it. A habit or bias in favor of a certain kind of inference has been set up. We infer from a bent ray of light that the hand, in touching the reflecting object, will, at a certain point, have to change its direction. This habit is carried over to a medium in which the conclusion does not hold. Instead of saying that light is bent —which it is— we infer that the stick is bent: we infer that the hand could not protract a straight course in handling the object. But an expert fisherman never makes such an error in spearing fish.

(398) Reacting in media of different refractive capacities, he bases his signs and inferences upon the conditions and results of his media. I see no difference between these cases and that of a man who can read his own tongue. He sees the word "pain" and infers it means a certain physical discomfort. As matter of fact, the thing perceived exists in an unfamiliar medium and signifies bread. To the one accustomed to the French language the right inference occurs.[17] There is neither error nor truth in the optical image: It just exists physically. But we take it for something else, we behave to it as if it were something else. We mis-take it.


So far as I can see, the pronounced tendency to regard the perceived object as itself the object of a peculiar kind of knowledge instead of as a term in knowledge of the practical kind has two causes. One is the confirmed habit of neglecting the wide scope and import of practical judgments. This leads to overlooking the responsive act as the other term indicated by the perception, and to taking the perceived object as the whole of the situation just by itself. The other cause is the fact that because perceived objects are constantly employed as evidence of what is to be done —or how to do something— they them-

(399) -selves become the objects of prolonged and careful scrutiny. We pass naturally and inevitably from recognition to observation. Inference will usually take care of itself if the datum is properly determined. At the present day, a skilled physician will have little difficulty in inferring typhoid instead of malaria from certain symptoms provided he can make certain observations-that is, secure certain data from which to infer. The labor of intelligence is thus transferred from inference to the determination of data, the data being determined, however, in the interests of inference and as parts of an inference.

At this point, a significant complication enters in. The ordinary assumption in the discussion of the relation of perceived objects to knowledge is that "the" object —the real object— of knowledge in perception is the thing which caused the qualities which are given. It is assumed, that is, that the other term of a proposition in which a sense datum is one term must be the thing which produced it. Since this producing object does not for the most part appear in ordinary sense perception, we have on our hands perception as an epistemological problem —the relation of an appearance to some reality which it, somehow, conceals rather than indicates. Hence also the difficulties of "reconciling" scientific knowledge in physics where these causes are the terms of the propositions with "empirical" or sense perception knowledge where they do not even appear.

The Influence of Logic and Perception Essay

698 Words3 Pages

The Influence of Logic and Perception

The online website,, defines logic as the study of the principles of reasoning, especially of the structure of propositions as distinguished from their content and of method and validity in deductive reasoning. ( This same website defines critical thinking as the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion. ( I think in simpler terms critical thinking is thinking smart as opposed to using unreasonable and illogical thinking. Critical thinking is not necessarily looking at things negatively. Logic relates to…show more content…

When buying a car, I will seek the advice of respected friends who have a lot of knowledge on this subject. I highly respect their opinions, and will use their ideas to make my final decision. I think the influences in my life that have helped to form perceptual process at times also may have hindered me. These influences in my life have trained my thoughts and ideas to such a degree that at times I have not thought for myself. I have taken these ideas as fact without looking at them from my own perspective. I think the situation where I have seen this the most is not respecting another individual’s point of view. When I have been taught something was right for so long, it is difficult to listen and look at another side of a story openly. I think the problem is these ideas have been around me for so long, that I have taken them as fact. The one important thing is I am very informed on the opinions I feel strongly about. I will not argue something unless I feel I have strong facts to support my argument. I can think of one instance where my perception of reality was far from the actual reality. There was an instance at work where I thought there was a promotion coming my way. The rumor had been started by a coworker who told me that she overheard this was coming. What really happened is there was another person with the same first name who they were promoting in another department. There was an obvious error in judgment on my part trusting this

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