NEW BOOKS

G. C. FIELD
1922 Mind  
NEW BOOKS. Bradley, whom he regards (p. 333) as (mainly) a aceptio furbishing up again "the essential theses of Sextos Empiricus " ; but he usually seeks hisphilosophic alliet in other camps. That he can find such allies at all becomes intelligible when we discover what he means by scepticism. It appears from his answer to the old objection that a complete denial of knowledge destroys itself by applying also to the denial itself (p. 350 !•). Prof. Bensi waves it aside as mere verbalism,'
more » ... verbalism,' because for him scepticism means only a denial that philosophy is knowledge, and leaves both ' facts' and ' faith' intact. It can recognise that ' facts ' are, and denies only that they can be explained. Thus in short, and in principle, it is "nothing but empiricism" (p. 368 n.). It is compatible also with practical certainty (p. 398), and has nothing to fear from a line of thought which substitutes it for theoretic Consequently it can swallow pragmatism whole, without a twinge. But can it also digest it ? The purely theoretio character Prof. Bensi ascribes to soeptioiam renders this doubtful. No doubt, if to overcome scepticism it is necessary to do so 'theoretically,' "on the ground on which it arises and with arms taken solely from that ground " (p. 398), nnd if there is no conceivable objection to the position that a belief may be at once theoretically false and practically indispensable and all the better for being false, pragmatism not only cannot overcome soeptioisin, but must merge into it. For pragmatism does not offer any ' purely theoretic' cure for doubt. It mutt admit that " reason as such " does not extricate itself from the contradictions in which it gets involved. But then pragmatism does not draw the old sceptical inference from this situation, but deals with it in an essentially novel manner. It points out that there is no such thing as ' reason as such,' that it is an abstraction or fiction. It refuses to sever 'theoretic ' truth from its ' practical' consequences. It regards the union of theoretic falsity with practical value as a monstrosity, which can hardly be tolerated as a starting-point, and cannot stand as the conclusion, of a philosophio inquiry. la short it challenges the finality of the distinction between theory and practice, and the irrelevance of practical value to theoretic truth. And so it is entitled to hold that the unworkableness of a belief it an argument against it. If a professed ' sceptic' act* a* if he believed, he casts a doubt on his profession. His disbelief falls under suspicion of being make-believe. Ann if he cannot but affirm by his acts the belief he repudiates in words, he refutes his scepticism in a far more final and conclusive manner than by any trick of dialectics. This is not to say, however, that all scepticism is impossible. It implies only that, to be tenable, scepticism must become practical and develop also a mode of living. F. 0. S. SCHUUB.
doi:10.1093/mind/xxxi.123.368 fatcat:ss3jsga2nnhahm6wenss4rvese