Two meanings of the term ‘philosophy’ call for our particular notice. The two meanings agree in making philosophical knowledge positive, that is in making it a knowledge of things real, in opposition to mathematical knowledge, which is knowledge of the consequences of arbitrary hypotheses; and they further agree in making philosophical truth extremely general. But in other respects they differ as widely as they well could. For one of them, which is better entitled (except by usage) to being distinguished as philosophia prima than is ontology, embraces all that positive science which rests upon familiar experience and does not search out occult or rare phenomena; while the other, which has been called philosophia ultima, embraces all that truth which is derivable by collating the results of the different special sciences, but which is too broad to be perfectly established by any one of them. The former is well named by Jeremy Bentham’s term cenoscopy […], the latter goes by the name of synthetic philosophy.
The sort of science that is founded upon the common experience of all men was recognized by Jeremy Bentham under the name of cenoscopy, in opposition to idioscopy, which discovers new phenomena.
Metaphysics is the proper designation for the third, and completing department of coenoscopy, which in places welds itself into idioscopy, or special science.
Among the theoretical sciences [of discovery], I distinguish three classes, all resting upon observation, but being observational in very different senses. [—]
Class II is philosophy, which deals with positive truth, indeed, yet contents itself with observations such as come within the range of every man’s normal experience, and for the most part in every waking hour of his life. Hence Bentham calls this class, coenoscopic. [CP 1.241n1: “Coenoscopic … from two Greek words, one of which signifies common – things belonging to others in common; the other looking to. By coenoscopic ontology, then, is designated that part of the science which takes for its subject those properties which are considered as possessed in common by all the individuals belonging to the class which the name ontology is employed to designate, i.e. by all individuals.” The Works of Jeremy Bentham, Edinburgh, 1843, viii, 83, footnote.] These observations escape the untrained eye precisely because they permeate our whole lives, just as a man who never takes off his blue spectacles soon ceases to see the blue tinge. Evidently, therefore, no microscope or sensitive film would be of the least use in this class. The observation is observation in a peculiar, yet perfectly legitimate, sense. If philosophy glances now and then at the results of special sciences, it is only as a sort of condiment to excite its own proper observation. [—]
Next, passing to Class II, philosophy, whose business it is to find out all that can be found out from those universal experiences which confront every man in every waking hour of his life, must necessarily have its application in every other science. For be this science of philosophy that is founded on those universal phenomena as small as you please, as long as it amounts to anything at all, it is evident that every special science ought to take that little into account before it begins work with its microscope, or telescope, or whatever special means of ascertaining truth it may be provided with.