Bradley on Ideas

Writers of the stature of T. S. Eliot and Geoffry Hill praise F. H. Bradley’s prose.  Here’s a passage from later in Principles of Logic, in the wonderful chapter deploring in detail English Empiricism: “The Theory of the Association of Ideas”.  Note Bradley’s remarkable tone of elegiac scorn:

According to the view which to me seems the truth, to talk of an association between psychical particulars [psychological ideas] is to utter mere nonsense.  These particulars in the first place have got no permanence; their life endures for a fleeting moment.  In the second place they can never have more than one life; when they are dead they are done with.  There is no Hades where they wait in disconsolate exile, till Association announces resurrection and recall.  When the fact is bodily buried in the past, no miracle opens up the mouth of the grave and calls up to the light a perished reality, unchanged by the processes that rule in nature.  These touching beliefs of a pious legend may babble in the tradition of a senile psychology, or contort themselves in the metaphysics of some frantic dogma, but philosophy must register them and sigh and pass on.

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