He broke off [fell silent], and she fancied that he looked sad. She could not be sure, for the [communication] Machine did not transmit nuances of expression. It only gave a general idea of people - an idea that was good enough for all practical purposes, Vashti thought. The imponderable bloom, declared by a discredited philosophy to be the actual essence of intercourse, was rightly ignored by the Machine, just as the imponderable bloom of the grape was ignored by the manufacturers of artificial fruit. Something "good enough" had long since been accepted by our race.
-The Machine Stops, by E.M. Forster
Does this passage refer to any particular philosophy, which apparently holds that our ability to discern subtle and perhaps accidentally communicated messages, such as those in our facial expressions or tones of voice, are "the actual essence of intercourse," apparently the most important part of the message?
Or would you say that by the words "a discredited philosophy" Forster meant just an old-fashioned outlook which many people used to take?