— William James American philosopher, psychologist, and pragmatist 1842 - 1910
Quelle: 1890s, The Principles of Psychology (1890), Ch. 28
Kontext: This world might be a world in which all things differed, and in which what properties there were were ultimate and had no farther predicates. In such a world there would be as many kinds as there were separate things. We could never subsume a new thing under an old kind; or if we could, no consequences would follow. Or, again, this might be a world in which innumerable things were of a kind, but in which no concrete thing remained of the same kind long, but all objects were in a flux. Here again, though we could subsume and infer, our logic would be of no practical use to us, for the subjects of our propositions would have changed whilst we were talking. In such worlds logical relations would obtain, and be known (doubtless) as they are now, but they would form a merely theoretic scheme and be of no use for the conduct of life. But our world is no such world. It is a very peculiar world, and plays right into logic's hands. Some of the things, at least, which it contains are of the same kind as other things; some of them remain always of the kind of which they once were; and some of the properties of them cohere indissolubly and are always found together. Which things these latter things are we learn by experience in the strict sense of the word, and the results of the experience are embodied in 'empirical propositions.' Whenever such a thing is met with by us now, our sagacity notes it to be of a certain kind; our learning immediately recalls that kind's kind, and then that kind's kind, and so on; so that a moment's thinking may make us aware that the thing is of a kind so remote that we could never have directly perceived the connection. The flight to this last kind over the heads of the intermediaries is the essential feature of the intellectual operation here. Evidently it is a pure outcome of our sense for apprehending serial increase; and, unlike the several propositions themselves which make up the series (and which may all be empirical), it has nothing to do with the time- and space-order in which the things have been experienced.