The realist, then, would seek in behalf of philosophy the same renunciation the same rigour of procedure, that has been achieved in science. This does not mean that he would reduce philosophy to natural or physical science. He recognizes that the philosopher has undertaken certain peculiar problems, and that he must apply himself to these, with whatever method he may find it necessary to employ. It remains the business of the philosopher to attempt a wide synoptic survey of the world, to raise underlying and ulterior questions, and in particular to examine the cognitive and moral processes. And it is quite true that for the present no technique at all comparable with that of the exact sciences is to be expected. But where such technique is attainable, as for example in symbolic logic, the realist welcomes it. And for the rest he limits himself to a more modest aspiration. He hopes that philosophers may come like scientists to speak a common language, to formulate common problems and to appeal to a common realm of fact for their resolution. Above all he desires to get rid of the philosophical monologue, and of the lyric and impressionistic mode of philosophizing. And in all this he is prompted not by the will to destroy but by the hope that philosophy is a kind of knowledge, and neither a song nor a prayer nor a dream. He proposes, therefore, to rely less on inspiration and more on observation and analysis. He conceives his function to be in the last analysis the same as that of the scientist. There is a world out yonder more or less shrouded in darkness, and it is important, if possible, to light it up. But instead of, like the scientist, focussing the mind's rays and throwing this or that portion of the world into brilliant relief, he attempts to bring to light the outlines and contour of the whole, realizing too well that in diffusing so widely what little light he has, he will provide only a very dim illumination.
Ralph Barton Perry, The Present Conflict of Ideals: A Study of the Philosophical Background of the World War (1918)