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A Review
Chapter I
William James'
Some Problems of Philosophy
by Doug Renselle
Doug's Pre-review Commentary
Start of Review

ISM Extremes

Dedication Introduction Note


Move to any Chapter of William James' Some Problems of Philosophy,
or to beginning of its review via this set of links
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Chapter I...............Philosophy and Its Critics


(Most quotes verbatim William James, some paraphrased.)

(Relevant to Pirsig, William James Sidis, and Quantonics Thinking Modes.)


James begins, "The progress of society is due to the fact that individuals vary from the human average in all sorts of directions, and that the originality is often so attractive or useful that they are recognized by their tribes as leaders, and become objects of envy or admiration, and setters of new ideals.

"Among the variations, every generation of men produces some individuals exceptionally preoccupied with theory. Such men find matter for puzzle and astonishment where no one else does. Their imagination invents explanations and combines them. They store up the learning of their time, utter prophecies and warnings, and are regarded as sages. Philosophy, etymologically meaning the love of wisdom [actually, love of sophism], is the work of this class of minds, regarded with an indulgent relish, if not with admiration, even by those who do not understand them or believe much in the truth which they proclaim."

(Our bracketed comment.)

We wonder, if his thoughts include William James Sidis as he writes here.

4-5 "I will tarry a moment, however, over the matter of definition. Limited by the omission of the special sciences, the name of philosophy has come more and more to denote ideas of universal scope exclusively. The principles of explanation that underlie all things without exception, the elements common to gods and men and animals and stones, the first whence and the last whither of the whole cosmic procession, the conditions of all knowing, and the most general rules of human action these furnish the problems commonly deemed philosophic par excellence; and the philosopher is the man who finds the most to say about them. Philosophy is defined in the usual scholastic textbooks as 'the knowledge of things in general by the ultimate causes, so far as natural reason can attain to such knowledge.'" James defines philosophy and shows his view of a philosopher's scope of work.
6 "Philosophy, indeed, in one sense of the term is only a compendious name for the spirit in education which the word 'college' stands for in America. Things can be taught in dry dogmatic ways or in a philosophic way." Most of America's academic institutions today teach rote, purely conceptual, political correctness.
7 "Philosophy, beginning in wonder, as Plato and Aristotle said, is able to fancy everything different from what it is. It sees the familiar as if it were strange, and the strange as if it were familiar. It can take things up and lay them down again. Its mind is full of air that plays round every subject. It rouses us from our caked prejudices. Historically it has always been a sort of fecundation of four different human interests, science, poetry, religion, and logic, by one another. It has sought by hard reasoning for results emotionally valuable." (Our bold emphasis.)

Today, we would say quantum-realistically, "Its mind is full of vacuum energy space..." AKA VES.

We adore his use of 'fecundation' thus. 'Fec' from Greek/Latin is 'to make,' and 'und' from Latin is 'waves.' This fits his later use of flux and Pirsig's Dynamic Quality (DQ) as ultimate 'valuableness.'

"A man with no philosophy in him is the most inauspicious and unprofitable of all possible social mates.

"I say nothing in all this of what may be called the gymnastic use of philosophic study, the purely intellectual power gained by defining the high and abstract concepts of the philosopher, and discriminating between them.

"In spite of the advantages thus enumerated, the study of philosophy has systematic enemies, and they were never as numerous as at the present day. The definite conquests of science and the apparent indefiniteness of philosophy's results partly account for this; to say nothing of man's native rudeness of mind, which maliciously..."

Our bold red. James commences here, to show some problems and prominent criticisms.

We think Millennium III offers an imminent inversion of this relationship. In Quantonics we expose much of science's hubris and classical shallow-think (thing-king). Once serious thinkers see how philosophy routinely exposes scientific mathematics' foam foundation, watch out...

"...enjoys deriding long words and abstractions. 'Scholastic jargon,' 'mediaeval dialectics,' are for many people synonyms of the word philosophy. With his obscure and uncertain speculations as to the intimate nature and causes of things, the philosopher is likened to a 'blind man in a dark room looking for a black hat that is not there.' His occupation is described as the art of 'endlessly disputing without coming to any conclusion,' or more contemptuously still as the 'systematische Missbrauch einer eben zu diesen Zwecke erfundenen Terminologie.'

"Only to a very limited degree is this sort of hostility reasonable. I will take up some of the current objections in successive order, since to reply to them will be a convenient way of entering into the interior of our subject.

"Objection 1. Whereas the sciences make steady progress and yield applications of matchless utility, philosophy makes no progress and has no practical applications."

Note how one of quantum science's two acknowledged remaining large problems is '...a quantum interpretation problem...' Nature allows us no final conclusion because nature is quantum, i.e., many islands of truth, each when compared to another from a single dialectical perspective issues paradice to unilogical minds.

Most German philosophers are unilogical, homological dialecticians.

"Reply 1. The opposition is unjustly founded, for the sciences are themselves branches of the tree of philosophy. As fast as questions got accurately answered, the answers were called 'scientific,' and what men call 'philosophy' today is but the residuum of questions still unanswered."

[Reviewer note: James covers a good historical perspective of primary philosophers and their ideas for next six pages. We cover only fragments we find of exceptional interest in relating James' philosophy to our protagonists: Boris Sidis, William James Sidis, Henri Louis Bergson, Robert M. Pirsig, and quantum science.]

We agree. Science's current foundation rests on a classical fault line of ancient dialectic and syllogistic logic. Science's current building blocks (pre-quantum) build quake-prone edifices which are soon to topple.

Science's classical delusions emerse 'accurate answers.'


"It will be instructive to trace very briefly the origins of our present habits of thought.

"Auguste Comte, the founder of a philosophy which he called 'positive,' said that human theory on any subject always took three forms in succession. In the theological stage of theorizing, phenomena are explained by spirits producing them; in the metaphysical stage, their essential feature is made into an abstract idea, and this is placed behind them as if it were an explanation; in the positive stage, phenomena are simply described as to their coexistences and successions. Their 'laws' are formulated, but no explanation of their natures or existence is sought after. Thus a 'spiritus rector' would be a metaphysical, a 'principle of attraction' a theological, and a 'law of the squares' would be a positive theory of the planetary movements."

Three forms:
1. Theological

2. Metaphysical

3. Positive
17 "Comte's account is too sharp and definite. Anthropology shows that the earliest attempts at human theorizing mixed the theological and metaphysical together. Common things needed no special explanation, remarkable things alone, odd things, especially deaths, calamaties, diseases, called for it. What made things act was the mysterious energy in them, and the more awful they were, the more of this mana they possessed. The great thing was to acquire mana oneself. 'Sympathetic magic' is the collective name for what seems to have been the primitive philosophy here. You could act on anything by controlling anything else that either was associated with it or resembled it."

(Our bold color emphasis.)

From our perspective, primitive philosophy sensed quantum reality's VES, and William James' own reserve energy as mana.

Classical science's 'action at a distance,' which Einstein called absurd (which we now know is real), appears strong kin to 'sympathetic magic.'

'Primitive philosophy' may not have been so primitive after all. Certainly it was intuitive. Pirsig and Bergson tell us to pay attention to our intuitions as source of Value, of Quality.

"Acting on any resemblance or associated thing," sounds much like quantum entanglement! Real, demonstrated quantum entanglement (see EPR gedanken experiment) is source of zero latency action at a distance.

(Reader, please note that we used SOM words in our last sentence. Our words: zero, latency, action, and distance all have unique SOM, objective definitions. Their quantum semantics may be entirely different. E.g., 'distance' usually implies a classical space-time continuum. Many quantum philosophers deny any such continuum. Quantum reality is not homogeneous as classicists would insist. Instead, it is heterogeneous as Bergson and James told us over 100 years ago. Quantum reality is unlimited, nondistributive islands of locally ~certain/nonlocally uncertain 'truth' which we call "many truths." Their focus on apparent local ~certainty and their concomitant denial of nonlocal uncertainty is what deludes classicists of an unreal whole, block, homogeneous, continuous, analytical reality.)

Finally, consider mana as reserve energy's dual. James taught Boris Sidis about reserve energy and Boris used it to teach Bill Sidis. Boris and Bill claim their extreme high intellect arises from their uses of reserve energy. Bill goes on to make it a center piece of his book which we are reviewing in parallel with this review titled, The Animate and the Inanimate.

See our 2001 How to Tap Into Reserve Energy.

18 "'Sympathetic' theorizing persists to the present day. 'Thoughts are things,' for a contemporary school of practical philosophy. Cultivate the thought of what you desire, affirm it, and it will bring all similar thoughts from elsewhere to reinforce it, so that your wish may be fulfilled."

We differ here only by saying, "Thoughts are memetic quantons." As such they are Static Patterns of Value.

To compare Compte's positivism to other 'ISMs' see our helpful ISM Extremes. Positivism is a mind-centric reductionist atomism, an analytic ISM.

20 "Modern science began only after 1600, with Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Torricelli, Pascal, Harvey, Newton, Huygens, and Boyle. Five men telling one another in succession the discoveries which their lives had witnessed, could deliver the whole of it into our hands: Harvey might have told Newton, who might have told Voltaire; Voltaire might have told Dalton, who might have told Huxley, who might have told the readers of this book."
21 "The men who began this work of emancipation were philosophers in the original sense of the word, universal sages. Galileo said that he had spent more years on philosophy than months on mathematics. Descartes was a universal philosopher in the fullest sense of the term. But the fertility of the newer conceptions made special departments of truth grow at such a rate that they became too unwieldy with details for the more universal minds to carry them, so the special sciences of mechanics, astronomy, and physics began to drop off from the parent stem." (Our bold color emphasis.)

In later chapters, James blows huge holes in much of Descartes' work.
22 Re: Descartes' and Galileo's fruits of their labor, "There was no question of agencies, nothing animistic or sympathetic in this new way of taking nature. It was description only, of concomitant variations, after the particular quantities that varied had been successfully abstracted out. The result soon showed itself in a differentiation of human knowledge into two spheres, one called 'Science,' within which the more definite laws apply, the other 'General Philosophy,' in which they do not. The state of mind called positivistic is the result. 'Down with philosophy!' is the cry of innumerable scientific minds. 'Give us measurable facts only, phenomena, without the mind's additions, without entities or principles that pretend to explain.' It is largely from this kind of mind that the objection that philosophy has made no progress proceeds."

(Our bold color emphasis.)

We call this mind, "The classical, SOM mind," and we explain how it uses CTMs, or Classical Thing-king Methods.

It is interesting to consider science's 'measurables' in terms of intrinsic human sensory capability. Our senses fall roughly into these categories:

Sense Bandwidth Octaves2
balance unknown ?
gravity constant/range (0-16 Gs) 0/4
heat ~1 kHz to ~1.25 MHz ~10.25
pressure 0 to ~10Atm (swag) ~3.5
sight ~1.25 MHz to 2.5 MHz 1
smell ~10,000 odors (Curtis) ~13.3
sound ~30 Hz to ~20 kHz 10
touch unknown ?

Assuming Planck's length is a minimum for any real dimension, and using that dimension as our minimum reality spatial wavelength, we can guess that reality offers a total change/flux bandwidth from zero Hertz to ~2·1043 Hertz. This bandwidth represents somewhat less than 143 octaves for nature's whole musical score. (We assumed integer frequencies. We assumed 1043 Hertz is approximately 2143 octaves. We had no frequency equivalent for odor so we used odor count as a frequency proxy. Ditto pressure and gravity. We did not consider phase issues, implying low human phase discrimination on most of our sensory inputs.)

Our table above gives a small (incomplete) sense of human sensory capability in terms of how many of a 'gross of octaves' we can 'process' directly. Roughly, it comes to 42 octaves, and those lie predominately in nature's spectrum's very low end (actually less, because humans do not necessarily use or process all of illustrated bandwidths too, octaves are classical 2D sine flux quantum flux is nD sine (omnimensional/omniadic), et al., so nature's quantum flux from a sensory perspective is almost unlimited we are trying to show how limited classical science's perspective of reality is and worse, how they deny our sensory cap-abilities outside ranges shown above, calling those experiences and perceptions "paraphenomenal" and "absurd").

Our table begs many questions. E.g., is any overt mechanism preventing us from sensing more of our natural spectrum? Are we limited by our current evolutionary progress? Or can we learn to tap into parts or all of nature's other 101 octaves, plus its other quantum flux? How does this incapacity affect our capabilities to understand and interpret reality? Through a process of denial, is this how classicists put themselves in a SOM box to begin with? Is this why classical science denies quantum isoflux' existence, quantum reality's most essential stuff?

Our intent is to obviate classical science's extraordinary sensory 'measurement' limitations. Those limitations keep classical science in its SOM box. Even with ancillary accoutrement, science can only extend its sensory capacity to about half (in octaves; see 29Jul2001 extended comment below) of nature's full potential 2D sine frequency bandwidth, i.e., about 72+ octaves.

29Jul2001 rev - Our last paragraph is misleading from a bandwidth perspective. Each higher octave doubles all lower octaves' combined bandwidths (think of a 2's complement binary number with 144 bits and 72 octaves as that binary number with its lower 72 bits ones and its upper 72 bits zeroes). If we naïvely consider assisted human bandwidth as reality's lower 72 octaves then reality's upper ~72 octaves harbor at least ~272 or ~1021 times as much bandwidth (total of ~2144 or ~1043 'Hertz') as those lower 72 octaves combined. As you can now surmise humans' lower half 72 octaves of bandwidth is not half of reality's spectrum in frequency but only one part in ~1021 parts! Is it clear to you that individual humans' sensory bandwidths perceive only a very, very tiny portion of reality's whole spectrum? Doug.


"Philosophy has become a collective name for questions that have not yet been answered to the satisfaction of all by whom they have been asked.

"...But to assume therefore, that the only possible philosophy must be mechanical and mathematical, and to disparage all enquiry into the other sorts of question, is to forget the extreme diversity of aspects under which reality undoubtedly exists."

24 "In some respects, indeed, 'science' has made less progress than 'philosophy' its most general conceptions would astonish neither Aristotle nor Descartes, could they revisit our earth." This ends our quotation of James' extensive response to Objection 1.

"Objection 2. Philosophy is dogmatic, and pretends to settle things by pure reason, whereas the only fruitful mode of getting at truth is to appeal to concrete experience. Science collects, classes, and analyzes facts, and thereby far outstrips philosophy.

"Reply 2. This objection is historically valid. Too many philosophers have aimed at closed systems, established a priori, claiming infallibility, and to be accepted or rejected only as totals. The sciences on the other hand, using hypotheses only, but always seeking to verify them by experiment and observation, open a way for indefinite self-correction and increase. At the present day, it is getting more and more difficult for dogmatists claiming finality for their systems, to get a hearing in educated circles. Hypothesis and verification, the watchwords of science, have set the fashion too strongly in academic minds."

In Quantonics, we brook no argument with science's insistence on validation and verification. We argue that classical science's insistence on an objective, closed reality is an enormous fault line which runs to great depths in all science and academia. We argue, with Irving Stein, et al., that this fault line is a Newtonian ontology which is fundamentally wrong in its assumptions about reality. A scientific meme quake is imminent.

We think James' arguments agree with our position.

"Objection 3. Philosophy is out of touch with real life, for which it substitutes abstractions. The real world is various, tangled, painful. Philosophers have, almost without exception, treated it as noble, simple, and perfect, ignoring the complexity of fact, and indulging in a sort of optimism that exposes their systems to the contempt of common men, and to the satire of such writers as Voltaire and Schopenhauer. The great popular success of Schopenhauer is due to the fact that, first among philosophers, he spoke the concrete truth about the ills of life.

"Reply 3. This objection also is historically valid, but no reason appears why philosophy should keep aloof from reality permanently. Her manners may change as she successfully develops. The thin and noble abstractions may give way to more solid and real constructions, when the materials and methods for making such constructions shall be more and more securely ascertained. In the end philosophers may get into as close contact as realistic novelists with the facts of life."

This begins James' third and last objection and reply.

Quantum science provides much assistance in helping philosophy regain its self-respect and its proper hierarchical superiority over less perceptive and perspicacious science.

"In conclusion. In its original acceptation, meaning the completest knowledge of the universe, philosophy must include the results of all the sciences, and cannot be contrasted with the latter. It simply aims at making of science what Herbert Spencer calls a 'system of completely unified knowledge.' In the more modern sense, of something contrasted with the sciences, philosophy means 'metaphysics.' The older sense is the more worthy sense, and as the results of the sciences get more available for co-ordination, and the conditions for finding truth in different kinds of question get more methodically defined, we may hope that the term will revert to its original meaning. Science, metaphysics, and religion may then again form a single body of wisdom, and lend each other mutual support.

"At present this hope is far from its fulfillment. I propose in this book to take philosophy in the narrow sense of metaphysics, and to let both religion and the results of the sciences alone."

We see this contrast arising from both classical science and philosophy adhering concepts born of Parmenidean, Platonic, Aristotelian substance-think. These concepts bore modern science and mathematics. These concepts are of opposition, contradiction, pugilism, war, and hate. They are versus concepts. They divide, separate, localize, and reduce. Yet their division is of a 'whole,' closed, homogeneous continuum. How does one do that? How does one divide a 'whole,' closed, continuum?

Modern classical philosophy and science, what Pirsig and we call 'SOM,' find their foundations in such ludicrousness. As Stein suggests, it is time for a new quantum ontology. Dump Newton's ontology!

Return to Chapter Index

To contact Quantonics write to or call:

Doug Renselle
Quantonics, Inc.
Suite 18 #368 1950 East Greyhound Pass
Carmel, INdiana 46033-7730

©Quantonics, Inc., 2000-2011 Rev. 5May2009  PDR Created: 7Apr2000  PDR
(9Apr2000 rev - Add some early omissions. Correct typos.)
(27Jun2000 rev - Correct typos.)
(3Oct2000 rev - Add anchor to page 22 comments.)
(29Jul2001 rev - Extend, clarify our page 22 bandwidth comments.)
(16Sep2001 rev - Add anchor to our page 22 29Jul2001 extended bandwidth comments.)
(10Dec2001 rev - Add top of page frame-breaker. Change Modes/Methods to Methods.)
(18Feb2002 rev - Add page 17 comments link to HtTIRE.)
(28Nov2004 rev - Adjust colors. Add GIFs. Omnimensional to omnimensional.)
(20Jan2005 rev - Add p. 7 anchor ref to flux.)
(28Aug2007 rev - Reformat. Massive respell.)
(5May2009 rev - Make page current.)

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