§1. The Divisions of Philosophy
120. . . . I have already explained 3) that by Philosophy I mean that department of Positive Science, or Science of Fact, which does not busy itself with gathering facts, but merely with learning what can be learned from that experience which presses in upon every one of us daily and hourly. It does not gather new facts, because it does not need them, and also because new general facts cannot be firmly established without the assumption of a metaphysical doctrine; and this, in turn, requires the coöperation of every department of philosophy; so that such new facts, however striking they may be, afford weaker support to philosophy by far than that common experience which nobody doubts or can doubt, and which nobody ever even pretended to doubt except as a consequence of belief in that experience so entire and perfect that it failed to be conscious of itself; just as an American who has never been abroad fails to perceive the characteristics of Americans; just as a writer is unaware of the peculiarities of his own style; just as none of us can see himself as others see him.
Now I am going to make a series of assertions which will sound wild; for I cannot stop to argue them, although I cannot omit them if I am to set the supports of pragmatism in their true light.
121. Philosophy has three grand divisions. The first is Phenomenology, which simply contemplates the Universal Phenomenon and discerns its ubiquitous elements, Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness, together perhaps with other series of categories. The second grand division is Normative Science, which investigates the universal and necessary laws of the relation of Phenomena to Ends, that is, perhaps, to Truth, Right, and Beauty. The third grand division is Metaphysics, which endeavors to comprehend the Reality of Phenomena. Now Reality is an affair of Thirdness as Thirdness, that is, in its mediation between Secondness and Firstness. Most, if not all of you, are, I doubt not, Nominalists; and I beg you will not take offence at a truth which is just as plain and undeniable to me as is the truth that children do not understand human life. To be a nominalist consists in the undeveloped state in one's mind of the apprehension of Thirdness as Thirdness. The remedy for it consists in allowing ideas of human life to play a greater part in one's philosophy. Metaphysics is the science of Reality. Reality consists in regularity. Real regularity is active law. Active law is efficient reasonableness, or in other words is truly reasonable reasonableness. Reasonable reasonableness is Thirdness as Thirdness.
So then the division of Philosophy into these three grand departments, whose distinctness can be established without stopping to consider the contents of Phenomenology (that is, without asking what the true categories may be), turns out to be a division according to Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness, and is thus one of the very numerous phenomena I have met with which confirm this list of categories.
122. Phenomenology treats of the universal Qualities of Phenomena in their immediate phenomenal character, in themselves as phenomena. It, thus, treats of Phenomena in their Firstness.
123. Normative Science treats of the laws of the relation of phenomena to ends; that is, it treats of Phenomena in their Secondness.
124. Metaphysics, as I have just remarked, treats of Phenomena in their Thirdness.
125. If, then, Normative Science does not seem to be sufficiently described by saying that it treats of phenomena in their secondness, this is an indication that our conception of Normative Science is too narrow; and I had come to the conclusion that this is true of even the best modes of conceiving Normative Science which have achieved any renown, many years before I recognized the proper division of philosophy.
I wish I could talk for an hour to you concerning the true conception of normative science. But I shall only be able to make a few negative assertions which, even if they were proved, would not go far toward developing that conception. Normative Science is not a skill, nor is it an investigation conducted with a view to the production of skill. Coriolis wrote a book on the Analytic Mechanics of the Game of Billiards.1) If that book does not help people in the least degree to play billiards, that is nothing against it. The book is only intended to be pure theory. In like manner, if Normative Science does not in the least tend to the development of skill, its value as Normative Science remains the same. It is purely theoretical. Of course there are practical sciences of reasoning and investigation, of the conduct of life, and of the production of works of art. They correspond to the Normative Sciences, and may be probably expected to receive aid from them. But they are not integrant parts of these sciences; and the reason that they are not so, thank you, is no mere formalism, but is this, that it will be in general quite different men — two knots of men not apt to consort the one with the other — who will conduct the two kinds of inquiry. Nor again is Normative Science a special science, that is, one of those sciences that discover new phenomena. It is not even aided in any appreciable degree by any such science, and let me say that it is no more by psychology than by any other special science. If we were to place six lots each of seven coffee beans in one pan of an equal-armed balance, and forty-two coffee beans in the other pan, and were to find on trial that the two loads nearly balanced one another, this observation might be regarded as adding in some excessively slight measure to the certainty of the proposition that six times seven make forty-two; because it is conceivable that this proposition should be a mistake due to some peculiar insanity affecting the whole human race, and the experiment may possibly evade the effects of that insanity, supposing that we are affected with it. In like manner, and in just about the same degree, the fact that men for the most part show a natural disposition to approve nearly the same arguments that logic approves, nearly the same acts that ethics approves, and nearly the same works of art that esthetics approves, may be regarded as tending to support the conclusions of logic, ethics, and esthetics. But such support is perfectly insignificant; and when it comes to a particular case, to urge that anything is sound and good logically, morally, or esthetically, for no better reason than that men have a natural tendency to think so, I care not how strong and imperious that tendency may be, is as pernicious a fallacy as ever was. Of course it is quite a different thing for a man to acknowledge that he cannot perceive that he doubts what he does not appreciably doubt.
126. In one of the ways I have indicated, especially the last, Normative Science is by the majority of writers of the present day ranked too low in the scale of the sciences. On the other hand, some students of exact logic rank that normative science, at least, too high, by virtually treating it as on a par with pure mathematics.1) There are three excellent reasons any one of which ought to rescue them from the error of this opinion. In the first place, the hypotheses from which the deductions of normative science proceed are intended to conform to positive truth of fact and those deductions derive their interest from that circumstance almost exclusively; while the hypotheses of pure mathematics are purely ideal in intention, and their interest is purely intellectual. But in the second place, the procedure of the normative sciences is not purely deductive, as that of mathematics is, nor even principally so. Their peculiar analyses of familiar phenomena, analyses which ought to be guided by the facts of phenomenology in a manner in which mathematics is not at all guided, separate Normative Science from mathematics quite radically. In the third place, there is a most intimate and essential element of Normative Science which is still more proper to it, and that is its peculiar appreciations, to which nothing at all in the phenomena, in themselves, corresponds. These appreciations relate to the conformity of phenomena to ends which are not immanent within those phenomena.
127. There are sundry other widely spread misconceptions of the nature of Normative Science. One of these is that the chief, if not the only, problem of Normative Science is to say what is good and what bad, logically, ethically, and esthetically; or what degree of goodness a given description of phenomenon attains. Were this the case, normative science would be, in a certain sense, mathematical, since it would deal entirely with a question of quantity. But I am strongly inclined to think that this view will not sustain critical examination. Logic classifies arguments, and in doing so recognizes different kinds of truth. In ethics, too, qualities of good are admitted by the great majority of moralists. As for esthetics, in that field qualitative differences appear to be so prominent that, abstracted from them, it is impossible to say that there is any appearance which is not esthetically good. Vulgarity and pretension, themselves, may appear quite delicious in their perfection, if we can once conquer our squeamishness about them, a squeamishness which results from a contemplation of them as possible qualities of our own handiwork — but that is a moral and not an esthetic way of considering them. I hardly need remind you that goodness, whether esthetic, moral, or logical, may either be negative — consisting in freedom from fault — or quantitative — consisting in the degree to which it attains. But in an inquiry, such as we are now engaged upon, negative goodness is the important thing.
128. A subtle and almost ineradicable narrowness in the conception of Normative Science runs through almost all modern philosophy in making it relate exclusively to the human mind. The beautiful is conceived to be relative to human taste, right and wrong concern human conduct alone, logic deals with human reasoning. Now in the truest sense these sciences certainly are indeed sciences of mind. Only, modern philosophy has never been able quite to shake off the Cartesian idea of the mind, as something that »resides« — such is the term 1) — in the pineal gland. Everybody laughs at this nowadays, and yet everybody continues to think of mind in this same general way, as something within this person or that, belonging to him and correlative to the real world. A whole course of lectures would be required to expose this error. I can only hint that if you reflect upon it, without being dominated by preconceived ideas, you will soon begin to perceive that it is a very narrow view of mind. I should think it must appear so to anybody who was sufficiently soaked in the Critic of the Pure Reason.