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Society for Philosophical Inquiry
WASHINGTON, D. C.
PRINTED FOR THE SOCIETY
PROF. J. MACBRIDE STERRETT, A. M., D. D.
Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer
KEPLER HOYT, A, M.
Prefatory Note. In this series of the Memoirs several departures from the plan followed in the preceding series have been made, and accordingly a word of explanation will not be out of place.
The literary portion of the records of the meetings has been separated from the minutes of the business at these meetings, and the former has been placed first and the latter last in this series of the Memoirs. The Commemorative Meetings are also placed in a group by themselves.
In presenting the accounts of the meetings—papers read and discussion following-an endeavor has been made to give in substance the main thoughts brought out by the various papers and also briefly the points made in the discussion. In order to do this, it has been necessary to present a more extended account of the papers than has been done in the preceding series. It is hoped, that by doing this, the reader, who may not have been present at the time the papers were presented, will be able to follow intelligently the principal thought of the various speakers.
It will be noted, also, that there are some missing papers between the close of the preceding series and the beginning of
this series. This is undoubtedly due to the confusion incident to the illness of the late Doctor Farquhar, secretary of the Society. The first three papers appear without dates, after that the series is consecutive and complete.—EDITOR.
This series of Memoirs has been prepared under the editorial direction of the Secretary, Edward E. Richardson, Ph. D.
Nihilism versus Realism: Phenomenalism versus Noumenal
BY REV. DR. S. S. LAWS. Particular attention was given to Pyrrho and Hume, both of whom, together with Fichte, were classed as nihilists. The speaker found a substantial agreement in many important respects between the Humian philosophy and the doctrine of Pyrrho, who denied all real distinction between good and bad, justice and injustice, etc.
Berkeley destroyed matter, and Hume after having also destroyed mind, proceeded to erect a mental system.
Mr. H. Farquhar, discussing some of the points in question, referred to Dr. Harris' doctrine of the successive stages of sense perception, reflection, etc., in the growth of knowledge.
Huxley's admiration for Hume was mentioned, as was also the fact that Spencer did not recognize any obligation to Hume.
Professor Coleman considered that Hume could not in fairness be placed in quite the same class as Pyrrho, inasmuch as the former did not go as far in his destructive thinking as did the latter. The great mistake of Hume was his misconception of the nature of cause.
Dr. Sewall argued in favor of the close resemblance between the doctrines of Pyrrho and Hume. Both denied knowledge in the true meaning of the term, and also relation as far as phenomena themselves were concerned.
BY DOCTOR PAINTER.
A comparison was instituted between Descartes on the one hand and Bacon and Spinoza on the other. Spinoza emptied both matter and spirit of any real content. The Lochian intuitions of God, self, and matter were referred to. These intuitions which were accepted by Locke as undisputed, although not proven, were explained or an attempted explanation was made by Berkeley. Natural phenomena were regarded as appearances of divine power. All of the primary qualities of Locke were reduced to secondary qualities by Berkeley. Ideas were not distinguished from sensations by Berkeley. In the Berkeleian doctrine there is a transition from psychology to ontology without an adequate consideration of epistemological questions.
Dr. Sewall, in his remarks following the reading of the paper, defined matter as that being which is perceptible to the senses.
Ideas From Sensation Versus Ideas From Reflection.
PROFESSOR J. MACBRIDE STERRETT. With Hume, impressions were the ultimate origin of ideas. Causality was not, therefore, knowledge because not derived from impressions but from a sequence of events. The customary became the causal.
If the question is asked from what is the idea of self derived it is, of course, impossible to point out the impression of a pure ego from which this was derived. This scrutiny to which Hume would subject all ideas was his "articles of inquisition.”
The modern science position is widely at variance with the Humian as regards the principles of causality.
While Berkeley destroyed matter, Hume demolished also self and God. Hume was an individualist.