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"One of the most important books that have been published during the 
last twenty-five years."— J. H. Muirhead in Literary Guide. 

" This is a truly great book. It is one of supreme interest and importance 
to the student of Ethics, as well as to the student of Metaphysics. Every 
particular thing in it is delightful. The style, though often paradoxical, is 
singularly bright and attractive. It is hardly too much to say that the book 
is altogether the most important independent work on Metaphysics that has 
ever been written in English." — International Journal of Ethics. 

"This book must be studied and reckoned with by all students of Meta- 
physics." — Guardian. 


H metaphysical lEssa? 


F. H. BRADLEY, LL.D. Glasgow 

Fellow of Merton College, Oxford 



First Edition, June, 1893 ; 

Second Edition (with an Appendix), February, 1897 

Third Impression, June, 1899; 

Fourth Impression, February, 1906; 

Fifth Impression (corrected), November, 1908; 

Sixth Impression (corrected), June, 1916. 

E R 





I have described the following work as an essay in 
metaphysics. Neither in form nor extent does it 
carry out the idea of a system. Its subject indeed 
is central enough to justify the exhaustive treatment 
of every problem. But what I have done is in- 
complete, and what has been left undone has often 
been omitted arbitrarily. The book is a more or 
less desultory handling of perhaps the chief ques- 
tions in metaphysics. 

There were several reasons why I did not attempt 
a more systematic treatise, and to carry out even 
what I proposed has proved enough for my powers. 
I began this book in the autumn of 1887, and, after 
writing the first two fifths of it in twelve months, 
then took three years with the remainder. My 
work has been suspended several times through 
long intervals of compulsory idleness, and I have 
been glad to finish it when and how I could. I do 
not say this to obviate criticism on a book now 
deliberately published. But, if I had attempted 
more, I should probably have completed nothing. 

And in the main I have accomplished all that lay 
within my compass. This volume is meant to be a 
critical discussion of first principles, and its object 
is to stimulate enquiry and doubt. To originality 
in any other sense it makes no claim. If the 


reader finds that on any points he has been led 
once more to reflect, I shall not have failed, so far 
as I can, to be original. But I should add that my 
book is not intended for the beginner. Its language 
in general I hope is not over-technical, but I have 
sometimes used terms intelligible only to the 
student. The index supplied is not an index but a 
mere collection of certain references. 

My book does not design to be permanent, and 
will be satisfied to be negative, so long as that word 
implies an attitude of active questioning. The 
chief need of English philosophy is, I think, a 
sceptical study of first principles, and I do not know 
of any work which seems to meet this need suffici- 
ently. By scepticism is not meant doubt about or 
disbelief in some tenet or tenets. I understand by 
it an attempt to become aware of and to doubt all 
preconceptions. Such scepticism is the result only 
of labour and education, but it is a training which 
cannot with impunity be neglected. And I know 
no reason why the English mind, if it would but 
subject itself to this discipline, should not in our day 
produce a rational system of first principles. If I 
have helped to forward this result, then, whatever 
form it may take, my ambition will be satisfied. 

The reason why I have so much abstained from 
historical criticism and direct polemics may be briefly 
stated. I have written for English readers, and it 
would not help them much to learn my relation to 
German writers. Besides, to tell the truth, I do 
not know precisely that relation myself. And, 
though I have a high opinion of the metaphysical 
powers of the English mind, I have not seen any 


serious attempt in English to deal systematically 
with first principles. But things among us are not 
| as they were some few years back. There is no 
| established reputation which now does much harm 
: to philosophy. And one is not led to feel in writing 
that one is face to face with the same dense body of 
stupid tradition and ancestral prejudice. Dogmatic 
Individualism is far from having ceased to flourish, 
but it no longer occupies the ground as the one 
accredited way of " advanced thinking." The 
present generation is learning that to gain educa- 
tion a man must study in more than one school. 
And to criticise a writer of whom you know nothing 
is now, even in philosophy, considered to be the 
thing that it is. We owe this improvement mostly 
to men of a time shortly before my own, and who 
insisted well, if perhaps incautiously, on the great 
claims of Kant and Hegel. But whatever other 
influences have helped, the result seems secured. 
There is a fair field for any one now, I believe, who 
has anything to say. And I feel no desire for mere 
polemics, which can seldom benefit oneself, and 
which seem no longer required by the state of our 
philosophy. I would rather keep my natural place 
as a learner among learners. 

If anything in these pages suggests a more dog- 
matic frame of mind, I would ask the reader not 
hastily to adopt that suggestion. I offer him a set 
of opinions and ideas in part certainly wrong, but 
where and how much I am unable to tell him. 
That is for him to find out, if he cares to and if he 
can. Would it be better if I hinted in effect 
he is in danger of expecting more, and that I, if I 


chose, perhaps might supply it ? I have everywhere 
done my best, such as it is, to lay bare the course 
of ideas, and to help the reader to arrive at a judg- 
ment on each question. And, as I cannot suppose 
a necessity on my part to disclaim infallibility, I 
have not used set phrases which, if they mean any- 
thing, imply it. I have stated my opinions as truths 
whatever authority there may be against them, and 
however hard I may have found it to come to an 
opinion at all. And, if this is to be dogmatic, I 
certainly have not tried to escape dogmatism, 

1 1 is difficult again for a man not to think too 
much of his own pursuit. The metaphysician 
cannot perhaps be too much in earnest with meta- 
physics, and he cannot, as the phrase runs, take 
himself too seriously. But the same thing holds 
good with every other positive function of the 
universe. And the metaphysician, like other men, 
is prone to forget this truth. He forgets the narrow 
limitation of his special province, and, filled by his 
own poor inspiration, he ascribes to it an importance 
not its due. I do not know if anywhere in my work 
I may seem to have erred thus, but I am sure that 
such excess is not my conviction or my habitual 
mood. And to restore the balance, and as a con- 
fession possibly of equal defect, I will venture to 
transcribe some sentences from my note-book. I 
see written there that " Metaphysics is the finding 
of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct, 
but to find these reasons is no less an instinct." 
Of Optimism I have said that " The world is the 
best of all possible worlds, and everything in it is a 
necessary evil." Eclecticism I have found preach 


that " Every truth is so true that any truth must be 
false," and Pessimism that " Where everything is bad 
it must be good to know the worst," or " Where all 
is rotten it is a man's work to cry stinking fish." 
About the Unity of Science I have set down that 
"Whatever you know it is all one," and of Intro- 
spection that " The one self-knowledge worth 
having is to know one's mind." The reader may 
judge how far these sentences form a Credo, and he 
must please himself again as to how seriously he 
takes a further extract : " To love unsatisfied the 
world is mystery, a mystery which love satisfied 
seems to comprehend. The latter is wrong only 
because it cannot be content without thinking itself 

But for some general remarks in justification of 
metaphysics I may refer to the Introduction. 


It is a pleasure to me to find that a new edition of 
this book is wanted. I am encouraged to hope 
that with all its defects it has helped to stimulate 
thought on first principles. And it has been a 
further pleasure to me to find that my critics have 
in general taken this work in the spirit in which it 
was offered, whether they have or have not found 
themselves in agreement with its matter. And 
perhaps in some cases sympathy with its endeavour 
may have led them to regard its shortcomings too 
leniently. I on my side have tried to profit by 
every comment, though I have made no attempt to 
acknowledge each, or to reply to it in detail. But I 
fear that some criticisms must have escaped my 
notice, since I have discovered others by mere 

For this edition I have thought it best not to 
make many alterations ; but I have added in an 
Appendix, beside some replies to objections, a 
further explanation and discussion of certain diffi- 



Introduction 1-7 ^/ 

Preliminary objections to metaphysics answered. 
The task is not impossible, 2, or indefensible, 3-7. 

$001? E. Bppearance. 

Primary and Secondary Qualities. . . 11-18 

Attempt to explain error by taking primary qualities 
alone as real, II, The secondary shown to be un- 
real, 12-14. I* ut the primary have no independent 
existence, 14-17, save as useful fictions, 17-18. 

II. Substantive and Adjective .... 19-24 

Problem of Inherence. Relation between the thing 
and its qualities is unintelligible, 19-24. 

III. Relation and Quality 2 5~34 

I. Qualities without relations are unintelligible. They 
cannot be found, 26-27. They cannot be got bare 
legitimately, 27-28, or at all, 28-30. 

II. Qualities with relations are unintelligible. They 
cannot be resolved into relations, 30, and the relations 
bring internal discrepancies, 31. 

III. Relations with, or without, qualities are unin- 
telligible, 32-34. 

IV. Space and Time 35~43 

Their psychological origin is irrelevant, 35. Space 
is inconsistent because it is, and is not, a relation, 36-38, 
and its connection with other content is unintelligible, 


I ime, as usually 1 vices, 39, 40. 

And 10 I taken otii- 1 the "now "is 

at, 40-43. 



V. Motion and Change and its Perception. 44~53 

Motion is inconsistent ; is not so fundamental as 
Change, 44, 45. Change is a new instance of our dilem- 
ma and is unintelligible, 45~49- 

Perception of Succession is not timeless, 49-51. Its 
true nature, 51-53. 

VI. Causation ....... 54-61 

Effort to avoid the contradiction of Change. But the 
Cause and its Effect are not compatible, 54, 55. Illu- 
sory attempt at explanation, 55, 56. The Cause spreads 
to take in all the conditions, and yet cannot be com- 
plete, 56-58. Its relation to its effect is unintelligible, 

Causal sequence must be, and cannot be, continuous, 

VII. Activity . 62-70 

Whether an original datum, or not, is irrelevant, 62. 
It has a meaning which implies change in time, 63, and 
self-caused change, 64, 65. Passivity what and how 
connected with Activity. Occasion what, 65. Condi- 
tion and Sum of Conditions, 66-68. 

Activity and Passivity imply one another, but are in- 
consistent, 68-70. 

VIII. Things ....... 71-74 

Our previous results have ruined Things, 71. Things 
must have identity which is ideal, and so appearance, 
72, 7^. Everyday confusion as to Things' identity, 

IX. The Meanings of Self .... 75-102 

The Self at last, but what does it mean ? 75, 76. Self 
as body excluded, 77- I- Self as total contents of ex- 
perience at one moment, 77. II. Self as average con- 
tents of experience, 77-79. HI- Essential self, 80, 81. 
Personal identity, 81-86. IV. Self as Monad, 86-87. 
V. Self as what interests, 88. VI. Self as opposed to 
Not-self, 88-96. Each is a concrete group, 89, 90. But 
does any content belong solely to self, 90, 91, or to 
Not-self, 91, 92 ? Doubtful cases, 92-94. Self and 
Not-self on the whole are not fixed, 95, 96. Perception 
of Activity, its general nature, 96-100. VII. Self as 
Mere Self, 100-101. 



X. The Reality of Self .... 103-120 

Self is doubtless a fact, but, as it appears, can it be 
real? 103-104. (a) Self as Feeling proves for several 
reasons untenable, 104-107. (6) Nor is self-conscious- 
ness in better case, 107-m. (c) Personal Identity use- 
less, and so also functional unity of self, 11 2-1 14. {d) 
Self as Activity, Force, or Will, 114-117. (e) Self as 
Monad, 1 17, 1 18. Conclusion, 119, 120. 

XI. Phenomenalism 1 21-126 

Result so far, 121. Phenomenalism as a remedy, 
121, 122. But it does not include the facts, itself for one, 
122. And its elements are unintelligible, 123. And 
difficulty as to past and future and Identity, 123, 124. 
And what are Laws, 124, 125? Final dilemma, 125, 126. 

XII. Things in Themselves .... 127-132 S 

Separation of Universe into two hemispheres is in- 
defensible, 127-129, and only doubles our difficulties, 
129-131. Appearances are facts, which somehow must 
qualify reality, 131, 132. 

JBooft iff.— Vealftg. 

XIII. The General Nature of Reality . 135-143 

Result, so far, mainly negative, 135 ; but we have an 
absolute criterion, 136. Objection based on develop- 
ment, 137. Our criterion is supreme, and not merely 
negative. It gives positive knowledge about reality, 
137-140. Further, the Real is one substantially. Plu- 
rality of Reals is not possible, 140-143. 

XIV. The General Nature of Reality (cont) . 144-161 

The Absolute is one system, and its matter is Experi- 
ence, 144-147. But has it more than theoretical perfec- 
tion, 147, 148 ? No answer from any practical postulate, 
148-155. Ontological Argument, 149, 150. Practical 
and theoretical Axioms, 151-154. 

But, indirectly, theoretical perfection seems to imply 
perfection on all sides, 155-158. 

< >ur knowledge of the Absolute is incomplete, but 
positive. Its sources, 1 59- 161. 



XV. Thought and Reality 


Nature of Ideality, 162, 163. This visible in judg- 
ment through contrast of predicate with subject, 163-165. 
Truth what, 165 ; is based on Ideality of the Finite, 

Puzzle about the relation of thought to reality, 
167. Thought is dualistic, and its subject and predicate 
are different, 168-170. And if thought succeeded in 
transcending dualism, it would perish as thought, 170- 
172. But why should it not do so? 173-175. 

But can we maintain an Other to thought, 175, 176? 
Yes, if this Other is what thought itself desires and im- 
plies. And that is the case, 176-180. The relational 
form implies a completion beyond itself, 180-182. Our 
Absolute is no Thing-in-itself, 183. 

XVI. Error 184-196 

A good objection must be founded on something dis- 
crepant, not merely something unexplained, 184-186. 
Problem of Error. It involves a dilemma, 186. Error 
is Appearance and false Appearance, 187, 188. It is re- 
jected by Reality because it makes that discordant, 188- 
191. But it belongs to Reality somehow, 191. Error 
can be made truth by division and rearrangement, 
192-194. And its positive discordance can be absorbed, 
194-196. This possible solution must be real, 196. 

XVII. Evil 197-204 

Main difficulties made by an error, 197. Several 
senses of evil. Evil as pain, 198-200 ; as failure to 
realize End, 200, 201 ; and as immorality, 201-203. ln 
no sense is it incompatible with the Absolute. And 
no diversity is lost there, 203, 204. 

XVIII. Temporal and Spatial Appearance 


Time and space are inexplicable, but not incompatible 
with our Absolute, 205. Question of origin irrelevant, 
and appeal to "fact of consciousness" idle, 206. 

Time points to something beyond itself in several 
ways, 207-210. It is transcended, 210. 

Unity of Time. There is none, 210-214. My " real'' 
world — what, 212. Direction of Time. There is none, 
or rather there may be any number, 214-218. Se- 
quence in Causation is but appearance, 218-220. 

Space, whatever is its origin, transcends itself, 221, 



XIX. — The This and the Mine . . . 223-240 

Their general nature, 223. They are positive and 
negative, 224. Feeling as immediate experience of 
reality, 224, 225. The This as feeling of reality, and as 
positive fragmentariness, 226, 227. 

The This as negative. It transcends itself, 227, 228. 
The This as unique and as Self-will, 228, 229. 

Is there more than content in the This? 230-233. 
Does any content stick in the This ? 233. No, it only 
seems to do so through our failure, 234-240. The 
" merely mine," what, 237. 

XX. — Recapitulation 241-246 

Result so far, 241, 242. Individuality and Perfection, 
are they merely negative? 243-245. Perfection and 
quantity, 245. There is but one perfect being, 246. 

XXI. — Solipsism 247-260 

Problem stated, 247, 248. The Experience appealed 
to is Direct or Indirect, 248. 

I. Direct Experience does not give my self as sole 
substantive, 248-250. 

II. But can we transcend direct experience at all? 
Or is the this-mine " unique " ? No, not in sense of 
"exclusive," and we are forced to go beyond, 251-254. 
Then, if so, can we stop at our past and future self, or 
must we conclude also to other souls? 254, 255. 
Neither can be demonstrated, but both depend on the 
same argument, 255-258. Nor would unreality of other 
selves prove Solipsism, 258. Everything is, and also 
is not, my experience, 258, 259. Truths contained in 
Solipsism, 260. 

XXII.— Nature 261-294 

Nature— meaning of, and origin of for us, 261, 262. 
In its essence there is an Antinomy. It is relation of 
unknown to unknown, 263-265. It is a mere system of 
the conditions of some phenomena, and an inconsistent 
abstraction, 266, 267. 

Is all Nature extended? 267-269. Is any part of 
Nature inorganic ? 270-272. Is it all relative to finite 
souls? 273-280. These questions not important, 280, 
281. Identity of Nature, 281-283. Position of physical 
OCC, 283-286. Unity of Nature, 286-288. Solidity, 
288-290. Infinity of Nature, 290-292. Its Uniformity, 
292. Nature is contingent, in what sense, 293, 


XXIII. — Body and Soul 2 95-35^ 

They are phenomenal and furnish no ground for an 
objection, 295-297. Body, what, 297, 298. Soul, what, 
298. It is not the same as experience. This shown from 
point of view of the individual, 299-304 ; and of the 
Absolute, 305-307. 

Objections discussed. (1) If phenomenal, is the soul 
a mere appendage to the organism ? Problem of con- 
tinuity and of dispositions. The soul an ideal construc- 
tion, 307-316. (2) Does the series imply a transcendent 
Ego ? 316. (3) Are there psychical facts which are not 
events ? 317-323. 

Relation of Body and Soul. They are not one thing, 
323,358. They are causally connected, 324, 325. One is 
not the idle adjective of the other, 326-331. The true 
view stated, 333-335 ; but the connection remains in- 
explicable, 336, 337. How far can body or soul be 
independent ? 337-342, 

Communication between Souls, its nature, 342-347. 

Identity of diverse souls, its nature and action, 
347-352. Identity within one soul, and how far it tran- 
scends the mechanical view, 353-57. 

XXIV. — Degrees of Truth and Reality . 359-400 

The Absolute has no degrees, but this not true of 
Existence, 359, 360. Truth — nature of, 360, 361. It re- 
mains conditional, 361. Hence no total truth or error, 
only more or less of Validity, 362, 363. 

The Standard, what. It has two features which are 
essentially connected, 363-365. Approach to this mea- 
sures degree of relative truth, 365. All thought, even 
mere imagination, has some truth, 365-370. The 
Standard further specified, in relation to mere pheno- 
mena, 370, and to higher appearances, 370-372. No 
other standard possible, 372-374. And ours is appli- 
cable everywhere, 375-377. The world of Sense, its 
proper place. Neither mere Sense nor mere Thought is 
real, 378-381. The truer and more real must appear 
more; but in what sense? 381, 382. 

Complete conditions not same as Reality, 383. Un- 
seen Nature and psychical Dispositions, 383, 384. Po- 
tential Existence, what, 384-387. Possibility and Chance 
and external Necessity, relative and absolute, 387-394. 
Degrees of Possibility, 394. The Ontological Proof, 
its failure and justification, 395-397. Bastard form of 
it, 398, 399. Existence necessary, in what sense, 400. 

XXV. Goodness . ... 401-454 

Good and Evil and their degrees are not illusions, but 
still are appearances, 401, 402. Goodness, what, 402. 


The merely pleasant, why not good, 403. Pleasure by 
itself not good, 404-407. Good is not the satisfied 
will, but is in general the approved, 407, 408. How far 
is it "desirable"? 408, 409. 

Goodness is a one-sided inconsistent aspect of per- 
fection, 409, 410. The Absolute both is and is not 
good, 411, 412. 

Goodness, more specially, as Self-realization, 412, 413, 
Its double aspect as Self-sacrifice and Self-assertion, 
414. What these are, 415-418. They come together 
but are transcended in the Absolute, 419. But popular 
Ethics asserts each as ultimate, and hence necessarily 
fails, 420-429. Relativity of Goodness, 429, 430. 

Goodness as inner Morality, 431, 432. Is inconsis- 
tent and ends in nothing or in evil, 432-436. 

The demands of Morality carry it beyond itself into 
Religion, 436-438. What this is, and how it promises 
satisfaction, 439-442. It proves inconsistent, and is 
an appearance which passes beyond itself, 442-448 ; 
but it is no illusion, 448-450. The practical problem 
as to religious truth, 450-453. Religion and Philo- 
sophy, 453, 454. 

XXVI. The Absolute and its Appearances . . 455-510 

Object of this Chapter, 455-457. The chief modes 
of Experience ; they all are relative, 458. Pleasure, 
Feeling, the Theoretical, the Practical, and the 
./Esthetic attitude are each but appearance, 458-466. 
And each implies the rest, 466-468. 

But the Unity is not known in detail. Final inex- 
plicabilities, 468-470. The universe cannot be reduced 
to Thought and Will, 469. This shown at length, 470- 
482. The universe how far intelligible, 482, 483. The 
primacy of Will a delusion, 483-485. 

Appearance, meaning of the term, 485, 486. Ap- 
pearances and the Absolute, 486-489. Nature, is it 
beautiful and adorable ? 490-495. Ends in Nature — a 
question not for Metaphysics, 496, 497. Philosophy of 
Nature what, 496-499. 

Progress, is there any in the Absolute, 499-501 ; or 
any life after death, 501-510? 

XXVII. Ultimate Doubts 5 !I -55a 

Is our conclusion merely possible ? 5 12. Preliminary 
statement as to possibility and doubt. These must rest 
on positive knowledge, 512-518. 

This applied to our Absolute. It is one, 518-522. 
It is experience, 522-526. But it docs not (properly 
speaking) consist of souls, 526-530 ; nor is it (properly) 



personal, 531-533. Can the Absolute be called happy? 


Knowledge is conditional or absolute, and so is im- 
possibility, 535-538. Finite knowledge is all condi- 
tional, 539-542. It varies in strength and in corrigi- 
bility, 542, 543. 

In the end not even absolute truth is quite true, and 
yet the distinction remains, 544, 545. Relation of truth 
to reality, 545^547- 

Our result reconciles extremes, and is just to our 
whole nature, 547-549. Error and illusion, 549, 550. 
The presence of Reality in all appearances, but to 
different degrees, is the last word of philosophy, 

Appendix — 


Note A. Contradiction and the Contrary 
Note B. Relation and Quality. 
Note C. Identity .... 
Explanatory Notes .... 

Index -..,.«« 





The writer on metaphysics has a great deal against 
him. Engaged on a subject which more than others 
demands peace of spirit, even before he enters on 
the controversies of his own field, he finds himself 
involved in a sort of warfare. He is confronted 
by prejudices hostile to his study, and he is tempted 
to lean upon those prejudices, within him and around 
him, which seem contrary to the first. It is on the 
preconceptions adverse to metaphysics in general 
that I am going to make some remarks by way of 
introduction. We may agree, perhaps, to understand 
by metaphysics an attempt to know reality as against 
mere appearance, or the study of first principles or 
ultimate truths, or again the effort to comprehend 
the universe, not simply piecemeal or by fragments, 
but somehow as a whole. Any such pursuit will 
encounter a number of objections. It will have to 
hear that the knowledge which it desires to obtain 
is impossible altogether ; or, if possible in some 
degree, is yet practically useless ; or that, at all 
events, we can want nothing beyond the old philo- 
sophies. And I will say a few words on these 
arguments in their order. 

(a) The man who is ready to prove that meta- 
physical knowledge is wholly impossible has no 
right here to any answer. He must be referred for 
conviction to the body of this treatise. And he can 
hardly refuse to go there, since he himself has, per- 
haps unknowingly, entered the arena. He is a 
brother metaphysician with a rival theory of first 

a. r. ■ B 


principles. And this is so plain that I must excuse 
. myself from dwelling on the point. To say the 
reality is such that our knowledge cannot reach it, 
is a claim to know reality ; to urge that our know- 
ledge is of a kind which must fail to transcend 
appearance, itself implies that transcendence. For, 
if we had no idea of a beyond, we should assuredly 
not know how to talk about failure or success. And 
the test, by which we distinguish them, must ob- 
viously be some acquaintance with the nature of the 
goal. Nay, the would-be sceptic, who presses on 
us the contradictions of our thoughts, himself asserts 
dogmatically. For these contradictions might be 
ultimate and absolute truth, if the nature of the 
reality were not known to be otherwise. But this 
introduction is not the place to discuss a class of 
objections which are themselves, however unwill- 
ingly, metaphysical views, and which a little acquaint- 
ance with the subject commonly serves to dispel. 
So far as is necessary, they will be dealt with in 
their proper place ; and I will therefore pass to the 
second main argument against metaphysics. 

(6) It would be idle to deny that this possesses 
great force. " Metaphysical knowledge," it insists, 
" may be possible theoretically, and even actual, if 
you please, to a certain degree ; but, for all that, it 
is practically no knowledge worth the name." And 
this objection may be rested on various grounds. I 
will state some of these, and will make the answers 
which appear to me to be sufficient. 

The, first reason for refusing to enter on our field 
is an appeal to the confusion and barrenness which 
prevail there. " The same problems," we hear it 
often, " the same disputes, the same sheer failure. 
Why not abandon it and come out ? Is there 
nothing else more worth your labour ? " To this I 
shall reply more fully soon, but will at present deny 
entirely that the problems have not altered. The 
assertion is about as true and about as false as would 


be a statement that human nature has not changed. 
And it seems indefensible when we consider that in 
history metaphysics has not only been acted on by 
the general development, but has also reacted. But, 
apart from historical questions, which are here not in 
place, I am inclined to take my stand on the admitted 
possibility. If the object is not impossible, and the 
adventure suits us — what then ? Others far better 
than ourselves have wholly failed — so you say. But 
the man who succeeds is not apparently always the 
man of most merit, and even in philosophy's cold 
world perhaps some fortunes go by favour. One 
never knows until one tries. 

But to the question, if seriously I expect to suc- 
ceed, I must, of course, answer, No. I do not sup- 
pose, that is, that satisfactory knowledge is possible. 
How much we can ascertain about reality will be 
discussed in this book ; but I may say at once that I 
expect a very partial satisfaction. I am so bold as 
to believe that we have a knowledge of the Absolute, 
certain and real, though I am sure that our compre- 
hension is miserably incomplete. But I dissent 
emphatically from the conclusion that, because im- 
perfect, it is worthless. And I must suggest to the 
objector that he should open his eyes and should 
consider human nature. Is it possible to abstain 
from thought about the universe ? I do not mean 
merely that to every one the whole body of 
things must come in the gross, whether consciously 
or unconsciously, in a certain way. I mean that, by 
various causes, even the average man is compelled to 
wonder and to reflect. To him the world, and his 
share in it. is a natural object of thought, and seems 
likely to remain one. And so, when poetry, art, and 
religion have ceased wholly to interest, or when they 
show no longer any tendency to struggle with ulti- 
mate problems and to come to an understanding 
with them ; when the sense of mystery and en- 
chantment no longer draws the mind to wander aim- 


lessly and to love it knows not what ; when, in 
short, twilight has no charm — then metaphysics 
will be worthless. For the question (as things are 
now) is not whether we are to reflect and ponder on 
ultimate truth — for perhaps most of us do that, and 
are not likely to cease. The question is merely as 
to the way in which this should be done. And the 
claim of metaphysics is surely not unreasonable. 
Metaphysics takes its stand on this side of human 
nature, this desire to think about and comprehend 
reality. And it merely asserts that, if the attempt 
is to be made, it should be done as thoroughly as 
our nature permits. There is no claim on its part 
to supersede other functions of the human mind ; 
but it protests that, if we are to think, we should 
sometimes try to think properly. And the opponent 
of metaphysics, it appears to me, is driven to a 
dilemma. He must either condemn all reflection 
on the essence of things, — and, if so, he breaks, 
or, rather, tries to break, with part of the highest 
side of human nature, — or else he allows us to 
think, but not to think strictly. He permits, that 
is to say, the exercise of thought so long as it is 
entangled with other functions of our being ; but 
as soon as it attempts a pure development of its 
own, guided by the principles of its own distinc- 
tive working, he prohibits it forthwith. And this 
appears to be a paradox, since it seems equivalent 
to saying, You may satisfy your instinctive longing 
to reflect, so long as you do it in a way which is 
unsatisfactory. If your character is such that in youf 
thought is satisfied by what does not, and cannot, 
pretend to be thought proper, that is quite legiti- 
mate. But if you are constituted otherwise, and if 
in you a more strict thinking is a want of your 
nature, that is by all means to be crushed out. 
And, speaking for myself, I must regard this as at 
once dogmatic and absurd. 

But the reader, perhaps, may press me with a 


different objection. Admitting, he may say, that 
thought about reality is lawful, I still do not under- 
stand why, the results being what they are, you 
should judge it to be desirable. And I will try to 
answer this frankly. I certainly do not suppose that 
it would be good for every one to study metaphysics, 
and I cannot express any opinion as to the number 
of persons who should do so. But I think it quite 
necessary, even on the view that this study can pro- 
duce no positive results, that it should still be pur- 
sued. There is, so far as I can see, no other certain 
way of protecting ourselves against dogmatic super- 
stition. Our orthodox theology on the one side, 
and our common-place materialism on the other side 
(it is natural to take these as prominent instances), 
vanish like ghosts before the daylight of free scepti- 
cal enquiry. I do not mean, of course, to condemn 
wholly either of these beliefs ; but I am sure that 
either, when taken seriously, is the mutilation of 
our nature. Neither, as experience has amply 
shown, can now survive in the mind which has 
thought sincerely on first principles ; and it seems 
desirable that there should be such a refuge for the 
man who burns to think consistently, and yet is too 
good to become a slave, either to stupid fanaticism 
or dishonest sophistry. That is one reason why I 
think that metaphysics, even if it end in total scepti- 
cism, should be studied by a certain number of 

And there is a further reason which, with myself 
perhaps, has even more weight. All of us, I pre- 
sume, more or less, are led beyond the region of 
ordinary facts. Some in one way and some in others, 
we seem to touch and have communion with what is 
beyond the visible world. In various manners we 
find something higher, which both supports and 
humbles, both chastens and transports us. And, 
with certain persons, the intellectual effort to under- 
stand the universe is a principal way of thus ex- 


periencing the Deity. No one, probably, who has 
not felt this, however differently he might describe it, 
has ever cared much for metaphysics. And, where- 
ever it has been felt strongly, it has been its own 
justification. The man whose nature is such that 
by one path alone his chief desire will reach con- 
summation, will try to find it on that path, whatever 
it may be, and whatever the world thinks of it ; and, 
if he does not, he is contemptible. Self-sacrifice is 
too often the " great sacrifice " of trade, the giving 
cheap what is worth nothing. To know what one 
wants, and to scruple at no means that will get it, 
may be a harder self-surrender. And this appears 
to be another reason for some persons pursuing the 
study of ultimate truth. 

(c) And that is why, lastly, existing philosophies 
cannot answer the purpose. For whether there is 
progress or not, at all events there is change ; and 
the changed minds of each generation will require 
a difference in what has to satisfy their intellect. 
Hence there seems as much reason for new philo- 
sophy as there is for new poetry. In each case the 
fresh production is usually much inferior to something 
already in existence ; and yet it answers a purpose 
if it appeals more personally to the reader. What 
is really worse may serve better to promote, in cer- 
tain respects and in a certain generation, the exercise 
of our best functions. And that is why, so long as 
we alter, we shall always want, and shall always have, 
new metaphysics. 

I will end this introduction with a word of warn- 
ing. I have been obliged to speak of philosophy as 
a satisfaction of what may be called the mystical side 
of our nature — a satisfaction which, by certain per- 
sons, cannot be as well procured otherwise. And I 
may have given the impression that I take the 
metaphysician to be initiated into something far 
higher than what the common herd possesses. Such 
a doctrine would rest on a most deplorable error, 


the superstition that the mere intellect is the highest 
side of our nature, and the false idea that in the in- 
tellectual world work done on higher subjects is for 
that reason higher work. Certainly the life of one 
man, in comparison with that of another, may be 
fuller of the Divine, or, again, may realize it with an 
intenser consciousness ; but there is no calling or 
pursuit which is a private road to the Deity. And 
assuredly the way through speculation upon ultimate 
truths, though distinct and legitimate, is not superior 
to others. There is no sin, however prone to it the 
philosopher may be, which philosophy can justify so 
little as spiritual pride. 




The fact of illusion and error is in various ways 
forced early upon the mind ; and the ideas by 
which we try to understand the universe, may be 
considered as attempts to set right our failure. In 
this division of my work I shall criticize some of 
these, and shall endeavour to show that they have 
not reached their object. I shall point out that the 
world, as so understood, contradicts itself; and is 
therefore appearance, and not reality. 

In this chapter I will begin with the proposal to 
make things intelligible by the distinction between 
primary and secondary qualities. This view is old, 
but, I need hardly say, is far from obsolete, nor can 
it ever disappear. From time to time, without 
doubt, so long as there are human beings, it will 
reappear as the most advanced and as the one 
scientific theory of first principles. And I begin 
with it, because it is so simple, and in the main so 
easily disposed of. The primary qualities are those 
aspects of what we perceive or feel, which, in a 
word, are spatial ; and the residue is secondary. 
The solution of the world s enigma lies in taking the 
former as reality, and everything else somehow as 
derivative, and as more or less justifiable appear- 

The foundation of this view will be known to the 
reader, but for the sake of clearness I must trace it 
in outline. We assume that a thing must be self- 




consistent and self-dependent. It either has a 
quality or has not got it And, if it has it, it can 
not have it only sometimes, and merely in this or 
that relation. But such a principle is the condem- 
nation of secondary qualities. 

It matters very little how in detail we work with 
it. A thing is coloured, but not coloured in the 
same way to every eye ; and, except to some eye, it 
seems not coloured at all. Is it then coloured or 
not ? And the eye—- relation to which appears 
somehow to make the quality — does that itself 
possess colour ? Clearly not so, unless there is 
another eye which sees it. Nothing therefore is 
really coloured ; colour seems only to belong to 
what itself is colourless. And the same result holds, 
again, with cold and heat. A thing may be cold or 
hot according to different parts of my skin ; and, 
without some relation to a skin, it seems without any 
such quality. And, by a like argument, the skin is 
proved not itself to own the quality, which is hence 
possessed by nothing. And sounds, not heard, are 
hardly real ; while what hears them is the ear, it- 
self not audible, nor even always in the enjoyment 
of sound. With smell and with taste the case seems 
almost worse ; for they are more obviously mixed 
up with our pleasure and pain. If a thing tastes 
only in the mouth, is taste its quality ? Has it 
smell where there is no nose? But nose and 
tongue are smelt or tasted only by another nose or 
tongue ; nor can either again be said to have as a 
quality what they sometimes enjoy. And the 
pleasant and disgusting, which we boldly locate in 
the object, how can they be there ? Is a thing 
delightful or sickening really and in itself ? Am 
even I the constant owner of these wandering 
adjectives ? — But I will not weary the reader by 
insistence on detail. The argument shows every- 
where that things have secondary qualities only for 
an organ ; and that the organ itself has these 



qualities in no other way. They are found to be 
adjectives, somehow supervening on relations of the 
extended. The extended only is real. And the 
facts of what is called subjective sensation, under 
which we may include dream and delusion of all 
kinds, may be adduced in support. They go to 
show that, as we can have the sensation without the 
object, and the object without the sensation, the 
one cannot possibly be a quality of the other. The 
secondary qualities, therefore, are appearance, 
coming from the reality, which itself has no quality 
but extension. 

This argument has two sides, a negative and a 
positive. The first denies that secondary qualities 
are the actual nature of things, the second goes on 
to make an affirmation about the primary. I will 
enquire first if the negative assertion is justified. I 
will not dispute the truth of the principle that, if a 
thing has a quality, it must have it ; but I will ask 
whether on this basis some defence may not be 
made. And we may attempt it in this way. All the 
arguments, we may protest, do but show defect in, or 
interference with, the organ of perception. The 
fact that I cannot receive the secondary qualities 
except under certain conditions, fails to prove that 
they are not there and existing in the thing. And, 
supposing that they are there, still the argument 
proves their absence, and is hence unsound. And 
sheer delusion and dreams do not overthrow this 
defence. The qualities are constant in the things 
themselves ; and, if they fail to impart themselves, 
or impart themselves wrongly, that is always due to 
something outside their nature. If we could per- 
ceive them, they are there. 

But this way of defence seems hardly tenable. 

For, if the qualities impart themselves never except 

under conditions, how in the end are we to say 

what they are when unconditioned ? Having once 

in, and having been compelled, to take their 


appearance into the account, we cannot afterwards 
strike it out. It being admitted that the qualities 
come to us always in a relation, and always as 
appearing, then certainly we know them only as 
appearance. And the mere supposition that in 
themselves they may really be what they are, seems 
quite meaningless or self-destructive. Further, we 
may enforce this conclusion by a palpable instance. 
To hold that one's mistress is charming, ever and in 
herself, is an article of faith, and beyond reach of 
question. But, if we turn to common things, the 
result will be otherwise. We observed that the 
disgusting and the pleasant may make part of the 
character of a taste or a smell, while to take these 
aspects as a constant quality, either of the thing or 
of the organ, seems more than unjustifiable, and 
even almost ridiculous. And on the whole we 
must admit that the defence has broken down. The 
secondary qualities must be judged to be merely 

But are they the appearance of the primary, and 
are these the reality ? The positive side of the 
contention was that in the extended we have the 
essence of the thing ; and it is necessary to ask if 
this conclusion is true. The doctrine is, of course, 
materialism, and is a very simple creed. What is 
extended, together with its spatial relations, is sub- 
stantive fact, and the rest is adjectival. We have 
not to ask here if this view is scientific, in the sense 
of being necessarily used for work in some sciences. 
That has, of course, nothing to do with the ques- 
tion now before us, since we are enquiring solely 
whether the doctrine is true. And, regarded in this 
way, perhaps no student would call materialism 

I will indicate briefly the arguments against the 
sole reality of primary qualities, (a) In the first place, 
we may ask how, in the nature of the extended, the 
terms stand to the relations which have to hold 


between them. This is a problem to be handled 
(Chapter iv.), and I will only remark here that its 
result is fatal to materialism. And, {b) in the second 
place, the relation of the primary qualities to the 
secondary — in which class feeling- and thought have 
presumably to be placed — seems wholly unin- 
telligible. For nothing is actually removed from 
existence by being labelled " appearance." What 
appears is there, and must be dealt with ; but 
materialism has no rational way of dealing with 
appearance. Appearance must belong, and yet can- 
not belong, to the extended. It neither is able to 
fall somewhere apart, since there is no other real 
place ; nor ought it, since, if so, the relation would 
vanish and appearance would cease to be derivative. 
But, on the other side, if it belongs in any sense to 
the reality, how can it be shown not to infect that 
with its own unreal character? Or we may urge 
that matter must cease to be itself, if qualified 
essentially by all that is secondary. But, taken 
otherwise, it has become itself but one out of two 
elements, and is not the reality. 

And, (c) thirdly, the line of reasoning which 
showed that secondary qualities are not real, has 
equal force as applied to primary. The extended' 
comes to us only by relation to an organ ; and, 
whether the organ is touch or is sight or muscle- 
feeling — or whatever else it may be — makes no 
difference to the argument For, in any case, the 
thing is perceived by us through an affection of our 
body, and never without that. And our body itself 
is no exception, for we perceive that, as extended,; 
solely by the action of one part upon another per- 
cipient part. That we have no miraculous intuition 
of our body as spatial reality is perfectly certain. 
But, if so, the extended thing will have its quality 
only when perceived by something else ; and the 
percipient something else is again in the same case. 
Nothing, in short, proves extended except in relation 


to another thing, which itself does not possess the 
quality, if you try to take it by itself. And, further, 
the objection from dream and delusion holds again. 
That objection urges that error points to a necessary 
relation of the object to our knowledge, even where 
error is not admitted. But such a relation would 
reduce every quality to appearance. We might, 
indeed, attempt once more here to hold the former 
line of defence. We might reply that the extended 
thing is a fact real by itself, and that only its relation 
to our percipience is variable. But the inevitable 
conclusion is not so to be averted. If a thing is 
known to have a quality only under a certain con- 
dition, there is no process of reasoning from this 
which will justify the conclusion that the thing, if 
unconditioned, is yet the same. This seems quite 
certain ; and, to go further, if we have no other 
source of information, if the quality in question is 
non-existent for us except in one relation, then for 
us to assert its reality away from that relation is more 
than unwarranted. It is, to speak plainly, an attempt 
in the end without meaning. And it would seem 
that, if materialism is to stand, it must somehow get 
to the existence of primary qualities in a way which 
avoids their relation to an organ. But since, as we 
shall hereafter see (Chapter iv.), their very essence is 
relative, even this refuge is closed. 

(d) But there is a more obvious argument against 
the sole reality of spatial qualities ; and, if I were 
writing for the people an attack upon materialism, 
I should rest great weight on this point. Without 
secondary quality extension is not conceivable, and 
no one can bring it, as existing, before his mind if 
he keeps it quite pure. In short, it is the violent 
abstraction of one aspect from the rest, and the 
mere confinement of our attention to a single side 
of things, a fiction which, forgetting itself, takes a 
ghost for solid reality. And I will say a few words 
on this obvious answer to materialism. 


That doctrine, of course, holds that the extended 
can be actual, entirely apart from every other 
quality. But extension is never so given. If it is 
visual, it must be coloured ; and if it is tactual, or 
acquired in the various other ways which may fall 
under the head of the " muscular sense," — then it is 
never free from sensations, coming from the skin, or 
the joints, or the muscles, or, as some would like tc 
add, from a central source. And a man may say 
what he likes, but he cannot think of extension 
without thinking at the same time of a " what " that 
is extended. And not only is this so, but particular 
differences, such as " up and down," " right and 
left," are necessary to the terms of the spatial re- 
lation. But these differences clearly are not merely 
spatial. Like the general " what," they will consist 
in all cases of secondary quality from a sensation of 
the kinds I have mentioned above. Some psycho- 
logists, indeed, could go further, and could urge that 
the secondary qualities are original, and the primary 
derivative ; since extension (in their view) is a con- 
struction or growth from the wholly non-extended. 
I could not endorse that, but I can appeal to what 
is indisputable. Extension cannot be presented, or 
thought of, except as one with quality that is 
secondary. It is by itself a mere abstraction, for 
some purposes necessary, but ridiculous when taken 
as an existing thing. Yet the materialist, from 
defect of nature or of education, or probably both, 
worships without justification this thin product of 
his untutored fancy. 

44 Not without justification," he may reply, 44 since 
in the procedure of science the secondary qualities 
are explained as results from the primary. Obviously, 
therefore, these latter are independent and prior." 
But this is a very simple error. For suppose that 
you have shown that, given one element, A, an- 
other, 6, does in fact follow on it ; suppose that you 
can prove that b comes just the same, whether A is 

a r. c 


attended by c, or d> or e, or any one of a number 
of other qualities, you cannot go from this to the re- 
sult that A exists and works naked. The secondary 
b can be explained, you urge, as issuing from the 
primary A, without consideration of aught else. Let 
it be so ; but all that could follow is, that the special 
natures of A's accompaniments are not concerned 
in the process. There is not only no proof, but there 
is not even the very smallest presumption, that A 
could act by itself, or could be a real fact if alone. 
It is doubtless scientific to disregard certain aspects 
when we work ; but to urge that therefore such as- 
pects are not fact, and that what we use without 
regard to them is an independent real thing, — this 
is barbarous metaphysics. 

We have found then that, if the secondary quali- 
ties are appearance, the primary are certainly not 
able to stand by themselves. This distinction, from 
which materialism is blindly developed, has been 
seen to bring us no nearer to the true nature of 



We have seen that the distinction of primary from 
secondary qualities has not taken us far. Let us, 
without regard to it, and once more directly turning 
to what meets us, examine another way of making 
that intelligible. We find the world's contents 
grouped into things and their qualities. The sub- 
stantive and adjective is a time-honoured distinction 
and arrangement of facts, with a view to understand 
them and to arrive at reality. I must briefly point 
out the failure of this method, if regarded as a serious 
attempt at theory. 

We may take the familiar instance of a lump of 
sugar. This is a thing, and it has properties, adjec- 
tives which qualify it. It is, for example, white, and 
hard, and sweet The sugar, we say, is all that ; but 
what the is can really mean seems doubtful. A thing 
is not any one of its qualities, if you take that quality 
by itself; if "sweet" were the same as "simply 
sweet," the thing would clearly be not sweet. And, 
again, in so far as sugar is sweet it is not white or 
hard ; for these properties are all distinct Nor, 
again, can the thing be all its properties, if you take 
them each severally. Sugar is obviously not mere 
whiteness, mere hardness, and mere sweetness ; for 
its reality lies somehow in its unity. But if, on the 
other hand, we inquire what there can be in the 
thing beside its several qualities, we are baffled once 
more. We can discover no real unity existing out- 
side these qualities, or, again, existing within them. 


But it is our emphasis, perhaps, on the aspect of 
unity which has caused this confusion. Sugar is, of 
course, not the mere plurality of its different adjec- 
tives ; but why should it be more than its properties 
in relation ? When " white," " hard," " sweet," and 
the rest co-exist in a certain way, that is surely the 
secret of the thing. The qualities are, and are in re- 
lation. But here, as before, when we leave phrases 
we wander among puzzles. " Sweet," " white," and 
"hard" seem now the subjects about which we are 
saying something. We certainly do not predicate 
one of the other ; for, if we attempt to identify them, 
they at once resist. They are in this wholly incom- 
patible, and, so far, quite contrary. Apparently, 
then, a relation is to be asserted of each. One 
quality, A, is in relation with another quality, B. 
But what are we to understand here by is ? We 
do not mean that " in relation with B " is A, and yet 
we assert that A is "in relation with B." In the 
same way C is called " before D," and E is spoken of 
as being " to the right of F? We say all this, but 
from the interpretation, then " before D " is C, and 
" to the right of F"is £, we recoil in horror. No, we 
should reply, the relation is not identical with the 
thing. It is only a sort of attribute which inheres 
or belongs. The word to use, when we are pressed, 
should not be is, but only has. But this reply comes 
to very little. The whole question is evidently as to 
the meaning of has ; and, apart from metaphors not 
taken seriously, there appears really to be no answer. 
And we seem unable to clear ourselves from the old 
dilemma, If you predicate what is different, you as- 
cribe to the subject what it is not ; and if you predi- 
cate what is not different, you say nothing at all. 

Driven forward, we must attempt to modify our 
statement. We must assert the relation now, not of 
one term, but of both. A and B are identical in such 
a point, and in such another point they differ ; or, 
again, they are so situated in space or in time. And 


thus we avoid is, and keep to are. But, seriously, 
that does not look like the explanation of a difficulty ; 
it looks more like trifling with phrases. For, if you 
mean that A and B f taken each severally, even 
" have " this relation, you are asserting what is false. 
But if you mean that A and B in such a relation are 
so related, you appear to mean nothing. For here, 
as before, if the predicate makes no difference, it is 
idle ; but, if it makes the subject other than it is, it is 

But let us attempt another exit from this be- 
wildering circle. Let us abstain from making the 
relation an attribute of the related, and let us make it 
more or less independent. " There is a relation C, 
in which A and B stand ; and it appears with both 
of them." But here again we have made no pro- 
gress. The relation C has been admitted different 
from A and B, and no longer is predicated of them. 
Something, however, seems to be said of this relation 
C, and said, again, of A and B. And this something 
is not to be the ascription of one to the other. If so, 
it would appear to be another relation, D % in which 
C, on one side, and, on the other side, A and B, 
stand. But such a makeshift leads at once to the in- 
finite process. The new relation D can be predicated 
in no way of C, or of A and B ; and hence we must 
have recourse to a fresh relation, E % which comes 
between D and whatever we had before. But this 
must lead to another, F\ and so on, indefinitely. 
Thus the problem is not solved by taking relations 
as independently real. For, if so, the qualities and 
their relation fall entirely apart, and then we have 
said nothing. Or we have to make a new relation 
between the old relation and the terms ; which, when 
it is made, does not help us. It either itself demands 
a new relation, and so on without end, or it leaves 
us where we were, entangled in difficulties. 

The attempt to resolve the thing into properties, 
each a real thing, taken somehow together with in- 


dependent relations, has proved an obvious failure. 
And we are forced to see, when we reflect, that a 
relation standing alongside of its terms is a delu- 
sion. If it is to be real, it must be so somehow at 
the expense of the terms, or, at least, must be some- 
thing which appears in them or to which they belong. 
A relation between A and 2? implies really a substan- 
tial foundation within them. This foundation, if we 
say that A is like to B, is the identity X which holds 
these differences together. And so with space and 
time — everywhere there must be a whole embracing 
what is related, or there would be no differences and 
no relation. It seems as if a reality possessed differ- 
ences, A and B } incompatible with one another and 
also with itself. And so in order, without contra- 
diction, to retain its various properties, this whole 
consents to wear the form of relations between them. 
And this is why qualities are found to be some in- 
compatible and some compatible. They are all 
different, and, on the other hand, because belonging 
to one whole, are all forced to come together. And 
it is only where they come together distantly by the 
help of a relation, that they cease to conflict. On the 
other hand, where a thing fails to set up a relation 
between its properties, they are contrary at once. 
Thus colours and smells live together at peace in the 
reality ; for the thing divides itself, and so leaves 
them merely side by side within itself. But colour 
collides with colour, because their special identity 
drives them together. And here again, if the iden- 
tity becomes relational by help of space, they are 
outside one another, and are peaceful once more. 
The " contrary," in short, consists of differences pos- 
sessed by that which cannot find the relation which 
serves to couple them apart. It is marriage at- 
tempted without a modus vivendi. But where the 
whole, relaxing its unity, takes the form of an ar- 
rangement, there is co-existence with concord. 

I have set out the above mainly because of the 


light which it throws upon the nature of the " con- 
trary." It affords no solution of our problem of inher- 
ence. It tells us how we are forced to arrange things 
in a certain manner, but it does not justify that ar- 
rangement The thing avoids contradiction by its dis- 
appearance into relations, and by its admission of the 
adjectives to a standing of their own. But it avoids 
contradiction by a kind of suicide. It can give no 
rational account of the relations and the terms which 
it adopts, and it cannot recover the real unity, with- 
out which it is nothing. The whole device is a clear 
makeshift. It consists in saying to the outside 
world, " I am the owner of these my adjectives," 
and to the properties, " I am but a relation, which 
leaves you your liberty." And to itself and for itself 
it is the futile pretence to have both characters at 
once. Such an arrangement may work, but the 
theoretical problem is not solved. 

The immediate unity, in which facts come to us, 
has been broken up by experience, and later by 
reflection. The thing with its adjectives is a device 
for enjoying at once both variety and concord. 
But the distinctions, once made, fall apart from the 
thing, and away from one another. And our 
attempt to understand their relations brought us 
round merely to a unity, which confesses itself a 
pretence, or else falls back upon the old undivided 
substance, which admits of no relations. We shall 
see the hopelessness of its dilemma more clearly 
when we have examined how relation stands to 
quality. But this demands another chapter. 

I will, in conclusion, dispose very briefly of a 
possible suggestion. The distinctions taken in the 
thing are to be held only, it may be urged, as the 
ways in which we regard it The thing itself 
maintains its unity, and the aspects of adjective 
and substantive are only our points of view. 
Hence they do no injury to the real. But this 
defence is futile, since the question is how without 


error we may think of reality. If then your col- 
lection of points of view is a defensible way of sc 
thinking, by all' means apply it to the thing, and 
make an end of our puzzle. Otherwise the thing, 
without the points of view, appears to have no 
character at all, and they, without the thing, to 
possess no reality — even if they could be made 
compatible among themselves, the one with the 
other. In short, this distinction, drawn between 
the fact and our manner of regarding it, only serves 
to double the original confusion. There will now 
be an inconsistency in my mind as well as in the 
thing; and, far from helping, the one will but 
aggravate the other. 



It must have become evident that the problem, 
discussed in the last chapter, really turns on the 
respective natures of quality and relation. And the 
reader may have anticipated the conclusion we are 
now to reach. The arrangement of given facts into 
relations and qualities may be necessary in practice, 
but it is theoretically unintelligible. The reality, so 
characterized, is not true reality, but is appearance. 

And it can hardly be maintained that this char- 
acter calls for no understanding — that it is a unique 
way of being which the reality possesses, and which 
we have got merely to receive. For it most evid- 
ently has ceased to be something quite immediate. 
It contains aspects now distinguished and taken as 
differences, and which tend, so far as we see, to a 
further separation. And, if the reality really has a 
way of uniting these in harmony, that way assuredly 
is not manifest at first sight. On our own side 
those distinctions which even consciously we make 
may possibly in some way give the truth about 
reality. But, so long as we fail to justify them and 
to make them intelligible to ourselves, we are 
bound, so far, to set them down as mere appear- 

The object of this chapter is to show that the 
very essence of these ideas is infected and con- 
tradicts itself. Our conclusion briefly will be 
this. Relation presupposes quality, and quality 
relation. Each can be something neither together 


with, nor apart from, the other ; and the vicious 
circle in which they turn is not the truth about 

i. Qualities are nothing without relations. In 
trying to exhibit the truth of this statement, I will 
lay no weight on a considerable mass of evidence. 
This, furnished by psychology, would attempt to 
show how qualities are variable by changes of rela- 
tion. The differences we perceive in many cases 
seem to have been so created. But I will not 
appeal to such an argument, since I do not see that 
it could prove wholly the non-existence of original 
and independent qualities. And the line of proof 
through the necessity of contrast for perception 
has, in my opinion, been carried beyond logical 
limits. Hence, though thesq^ considerations have 
without doubt an important bearing on our problem, 
I prefer here to disregard them. And I do not 
think that they are necessary. 

We may proceed better to our conclusion in the 
following way. You can never, we may argue, find 
qualities without relations. Whenever you take 
them so, they are made so, and continue so, by 
an operation which itself implies relation. Their 
plurality gets for us all its meaning through rela- 
tions ; and to suppose it otherwise in reality is 
wholly indefensible. I will draw this out in greater 

To find qualities without relations is surely im- 
possible. In the field of consciousness, even when 
we abstract from the relations of identity and dif- 
ference, they are never independent One is to- 
gether with, and related to, one other, at the least, 
— in fact, always to more than one. Nor will an 
appeal to a lower and undistinguished state of mind, 
where in one feeling are many aspects, assist us in 
any way. I admit the existence of such states with- 
out any relation, but I wholly deny there the 
presence of qualities. For if these felt aspects, 


while merely felt, are to be called qualities proper, 
they are so only for the observation of an outside 
observer. And then for him they are given as 
aspects — that is, together with relations. In short, if 
you go back to mere unbroken feeling, you have no 
relations and no qualities. But if you come to what 
is distinct, you get relations at once. 

I presume we shall be answered in this way. 
Even though, we shall be told, qualities proper can 
not be discovered apart from relations, that is no 
real disproof of their separate existence. For we 
are well able to distinguish them and to consider 
them by themselves. And for this perception 
certainly an operation of our minds is required. So 
far, therefore, as you say, what is different must be 
distinct, and, in consequence, related. But this 
relation does not really belong to the reality. The 
relation has existence only for us, and as a way of 
our getting to know. But the distinction, for all 
that, is based upon differences in the actual ; and 
these remain when our relations have fallen away 
or have been removed. 

But such an answer depends on the separation of 
product from process, and this separation seems 
indefensible. The qualities, as distinct, are always 
made so by an action which is admitted to imply 
relation. They are made so, and, what is more, 
they are emphatically kept so. And you cannot 
ever get your product standing apart from its 
process. Will you say, the process is not essential ? 
But that is a conclusion to be proved, and it is 
monstrous to assume it Will you try to prove it 
by analogy? It is possible for many purposes to 
accept and employ the existence of processes and 
relations which do not affect specially the inner 
nature of objects. But the very possibility of so 
distinguishing in the end between inner and outer, 
and of setting up the inner as absolutely indepen- 
dent of all relation, is here in question. Mental 


operations such as comparison, which presuppose in 
the compared qualities already existing, could in no 
case prove that these qualities depend on no relations 
at all. But I cannot believe that this is a matter to 
be decided by analogy, for the whole case is briefly 
this. There is an operation which, removing one 
part of what is given, presents the other part in 
abstraction. This result is never to be found any- 
where apart from a persisting abstraction. And, if 
we have no further information, I can find no excuse 
for setting up the result as being fact without the 
process. The burden lies wholly on the assertor, 
and he fails entirely to support it. The argument 
that in perception one quality must be given first 
and before others, and therefore cannot be relative, 
is hardly worth mentioning. What is more natural 
than for qualities always to have come to us in 
some conjunction, and never alone ? 

We may go further. Not only is the ignoring of 
the process a thing quite indefensible — even if it 
blundered into truth — but there is evidence that it 
gives falsehood. For the result bears internally 
the character of the process. The manyness of the 
qualities cannot, in short, be reconciled with their 
simplicity. Their plurality depends on relation, 
and, without that relation, they are not distinct. 
But, if not distinct, then not different, and therefore 
not qualities. 

I am not urging that quality without difference is 
in every sense impossible. For all I know, creatures 
may exist whose life consists, for themselves, in one 
unbroken simple feeling ; and the arguments urged 
against such a possibility in my judgment come 
short. And, if you want to call this feeling a 
quality, by all means gratify your desire. But then 
remember that the whole point is quite irrelevant. 
For no one is contending whether the universe is 
or is not a quality in this sense ; but the question 
is entirely as to qualities. And a universe con- 


fined to one feeling would not only not be qualities, 
but it would fail even to be one quality, as different 
from others and as distinct from relations. Our 
question is really whether relation is essential to 

We have seen that in fact the two are never 
found apart We have seen that the separation by 
abstraction is no proof of real separateness. And 
now we have to urge, in short, that any separateness 
implies separation, and so relation, and is therefore, 
when made absolute, a self-discrepancy. For con- 
sider, the qualities A and B are to be different from 
each other ; and, if so, that difference must fall some- 
where. If it falls, in any degree or to any extent, 
outside A or B, we have relation at once. But, on 
the other hand, how can difference and otherness 
fall inside ? If we have in A any such otherness, 
then inside A we must distinguish its own quality 
and its otherness. And, if so, then the unsolved 
problem breaks out inside each quality, and sepa- 
rates each into two qualities in relation. In brief, 
diversity without relation seems a word without 
meaning. And it is no answer to urge that plurality 
proper is not in question here. I am convinced of 
the opposite, but by all means, if you will, let us 
confine ourselves to distinctness and difference. I 
rest my argument upon this, that if there are no 
differences, there are no qualities, since all must fall 
into one. But, if there is any difference, then that 
implies a relation. Without a relation it has no 
meaning; it is a mere word, and not a thought ; and 
no one would take it for a thought if he did not, in 
spite of his protests, import relation into it. And 
this is the point on which all seems to turn, Is it 
possible to think of qualities without thinking of 
distinct characters ? Is it possible to think of these 
without some relation between them, either explicit, 
or else unconsciously supplied by the mind that 
tries only to apprehend ? Have qualities without 


relation any meaning for thought ? For myself, I 
am sure that they have none. 

And I find a confirmation in the issue of the most 
thorough attempt to build a system on this' ground. 
There it is not too much to say that all the content 
of the universe becomes something very like an 
impossible illusion. The Reals are secluded and 
simple, simple beyond belief if they never suspect 
that they are not so. But our fruitful life, on the 
other hand, seems due to their persistence in imagin- 
ary recovery from unimaginable perversion. And 
they remain guiltless of all real share in these ambi- 
guous connections, which seem to make the world. 
They are above it, and fixed like stars in the firma- 
ment—if there only were a firmament. 

2. We have found that qualities, taken without 
relations, have no intelligible meaning. Unfortun- 
ately, taken together with them, they are equally 
unintelligible. They cannot, in the first place, be 
wholly resolved into the relations. You may urge, 
indeed, that without distinction no difference is left ; 
but, for all that, the differences will not disappear 
into the distinction. They must come to it, more 
or less, and they cannot wholly be made by it. I 
still insist that for thought what is not relative is 
nothing. But I urge, on the other hand, that 
nothings cannot be related, and that to turn quali- 
ties in relation into mere relations is impossible. 
Since the fact seems constituted by both, you may 
urge, if you please, that either one of them consti- 
tutes it. But if you mean that the other is not 
wanted, and that relations can somehow make the 
terms upon which they seem to stand, then, for my 
mind, your meaning is quite unintelligible. So far 
as I can see, relations must depend upon terms, just 
as much as terms upon relations. And the partial 
failure, now manifest, of the Dialectic Method seems 
connected with some misapprehension on this point. 


Hence the qualities must be, and must also be 
related. But there is hence a diversity which falls 
inside each quality. Each has a double character, as 
both supporting and as being made by the relation. 
It may be taken as at once condition and result, and 
the question is as to how it can combine this variety. 
For it must combine the diversity, and yet it fails to 
do so. A is both made, and is not made, what it is 
by relation ; and these different aspects are not each 
the other, nor again is either A. If we call its 
diverse aspects a and a, then A is partly each of 
these. As a it is the difference on which distinction 
is based, while as a it is the distinctness that results 
from connection. A is really both somehow together 
as A (a — a). But (as we saw in Chapter ii.) without 
the use of a relation it is impossible to predicate this 
variety of A. And, on the other hand, with an in- 
ternal relation As unity disappears, and its contents 
are dissipated in an endless process of distinction. 
A at first becomes a in relation with a, but these 
terms themselves fall hopelessly asunder. We have 
got, against our will, not a mere aspect, but a new 
quality a, which itself stands in a relation ; and 
hence (as we saw before with A) its content must 
be manifold. As going into the relation it itself is 
a*, and as resulting from the relation it itself is a*. 
And it combines, and yet cannot combine, these 
adjectives. We, in brief, are led by a principle of 
fission which conducts us to no end. Every quality 
in relation has, in consequence, a diversity within 
its own nature, and this diversity cannot immedi- 
ately be asserted of the quality. Hence the quality 
must exchange its unity for an internal relation. 
But, thus set free, the diverse aspects, because each 
something in relation, must each be something also 
beyond. This diversity is fatal to the internal unity 
of each ; and it demands a new relation, and so 
on without limit. In short, qualities in a relation 
have turned out as unintelligible as were qualities 


without one. The problem from both sides has 
baffled us. 

3. We may briefly reach the same dilemma from 
the side of relations. They are nothing intelligible, 
either with or without their qualities. In the first 
place, a relation without terms seems mere verbiage ; 
and terms appear, therefore, to be something beyond 
their relation. At least, for myself, a relation which 
somehow precipitates terms which were not there 
before, or a relation which can get on somehow 
without terms, and with no differences beyond the 
mere ends of a line of connection, is really a phrase 
without meaning. It is, to my mind, a false abstrac- 
tion, and a thing which loudly contradicts itself; 
and I fear that I am obliged to leave the matter so. 
As I am left without information, and can discover 
with my own ears no trace of harmony, I am forced 
to conclude to a partial deafness in others. And 
hence a relation, we must say, without qualities is 

But how the relation can stand to the qualities is, 
on the other side, unintelligible. If it is nothing to 
the qualities, then they are not related at all ; and, 
if so, as we saw, they have ceased to be qualities, 
and their relation is a nonentity. But if it is to be 
something to them, then clearly we now shall require 
a new connecting relation. For the relation hardly 
can be the mere adjective of one or both of its 
terms ; or, at least, as such it seems indefensible. 1 
And, being something itself, if it does not itself bear 
a relation to the terms, in what intelligible way will 
it succeed in being anything to them ? But here 

1 The relation is not the adjective of one term, for, if so, it 
does not relate. Nor for the same reason is it the adjective of 
each term taken apart, for then again there is no relation between 
them. Nor is the relation their common property, for then what 
keeps them apart ? They are now not two terms at all, because 
not separate. And within this new whole, in any case, the pro- 
blem of inherence would break out in an aggravated form. But 
it seems unnecessary to work this all out in detail. 


again we are hurried off into the eddy of a hopeless 
process, since we are forced to go on finding new 
relations without end. The links are united by a 
link, and this bond of union is a link which also has 
two ends ; and these require each a fresh link to 
connect them with the old. The problem is to find 
how the relation can stand to its qualities; and this 
problem is insoluble. If you take the connection as 
a solid thing, you have got to show, and you can- 
not show, how the other solids are joined to it. 
And, if you take it as a kind of medium or unsub- 
stantial atmosphere, it is a connection no longer. 
You find, in this case, that the whole question of 
the relation of the qualities (for they certainly in 
some way are related) arises now outside it, in 
precisely the same form as before. The original 
relation, in short, has become a nonentity, but, in 
becoming this, it has removed no element of the 

I will bring this chapter to an end. It would be 
easy, and yet profitless, to spin out its argument 
with ramifications and refinements. And for me 
to attempt to anticipate the reader's objections would 
probably be useless. I have stated the case, and I 
must leave it. The conclusion to which I am 
brought is that a relational way of thought — any one 
that moves by the machinery of terms and relations — 
must give appearance, and not truth. It is a make- 
shift, a device, a mere practical compromise, most 
necessary, but in the end most indefensible. We 
have to take reality as many, and to take it as one, 
and to avoid contradiction. We want to divide it, 
or to take it, when we please, as indivisible ; to go 
as far as we desire in either of these directions, and 
to stop when that suits us. And we succeed, but 
succeed merely by shutting the eye, which if left 
open would condemn us ; or by a perpetual oscilla- 
tion and a shifting of the ground, so as to turn our 
back upon the aspect we desire to ignore. But 

A. R. D 


when these inconsistencies are forced together, as 
in metaphysics they must be, the result is an open 
and staring discrepancy. And we cannot attribute 
this to reality ; while, if we try to take it on our- 
selves, we have changed one evil for two. Our 
intellect, then, has been condemned to confusion 
and bankruptcy, and the reality has been left outside 
uncomprehended. Or rather, what is worse, it has 
been stripped bare of all distinction and quality. 
It is left naked and without a character, and we are 
covered with confusion. 

The reader who has followed and has grasped 
the principle of this chapter, will have little need to 
spend his time upon those which succeed it. He 
will have seen that our experience, where relational, 
is not true ; and he will have condemned, almost 
without a hearing, the great mass of phenomena. I 
feel, however, called on next to deal very briefly 
with Space and Time. 



The object of this chapter is far from being an 
attempt to discuss fully the nature of space or of 
time. It will content itself with stating our main 
justification for regarding them as appearance. It 
will explain why we deny that, in the character 
which they exhibit, they either have or belong to 
reality. I will first show this of space. 

We have nothing to do here with the psychologi- 
cal origin of the perception. Space may be a pro- 
duct developed from non-spatial elements ; and, if 
so, its production may have great bearing on the 
question of its true reality. But it is impossible 
for us to consider this here. For, in the first place, 
every attempt so to explain its origin has turned out 
a clear failure. 1 And, in the second place, its reality 
would not be necessarily affected by the proof of 
its development Nothing can be taken as real 
because, for psychology, it is original ; or, again, as 
unreal, because it is secondary. If it were a legiti- 

1 I do not mean to say that I consider it to be original. On 
the contrary, one may have reason to believe something to be 
secondary, even though one cannot point out its foundation and 
origin. What has been called "extensity" appears to me (as 
onYred) to involve a confusion. When you know what you mean 
by it, it seems to turn out to be either spatial at once and down- 
right, or else not spatial at all. It seems useful, in part, only as 
long as you allow it to be obscure. Docs all j>erception of more \ 
and less (or all which docs not involve degree in the strict sense) 
imply space, or not? Any answer to this question would, I think, 
depose of "extensity" as otfered. But see Mind, iv. pp. 232-5. 


mate construction from elements that were true, then 
it might be derived only for our knowledge, and be 
original in fact. But so long as its attempted deri- 
vation is in part obscure and in part illusory, it is 
better to regard this whole question as irrelevant. 

Let us then, taking space or extension simply as 
it is, enquire whether it contradicts itself. The 
reader will be acquainted with the difficulties that 
have arisen from the continuity and the discrete- 
ness of space. These necessitate the conclusion 
that space is endless, while an end is essential to its 
being. Space cannot come to a final limit, either 
within itself or on the outside. And yet, so long as 
it remains something always passing away, internally 
or beyond itself, it is not space at all. This dilemma 
has been met often by the ignoring of one aspect, 
but it has never been, and it will never be, con- 
fronted and resolved. And naturally, while it 
stands, it is the condemnation of space. 

I am going to state it here in the form which 
exhibits, I think, most plainly the root of the con- 
tradiction, and also its insolubility. Space is a 
relation — which it cannot be ; and it is a quality or 
substance — which again it cannot be. It is a 
peculiar form of the problem which we discussed in 
the last chapter, and is a special attempt to combine 
the irreconcilable. I will set out this puzzle 

i. Space is not a mere relation. For any space 
must consist of extended parts, and these parts 
clearly are spaces. So that, even if we could take 
our space as a collection, it would be a collection of 
solids. The relation would join spaces which would 
not be mere relations. And hence the collection, 
if taken as a mere inter-relation, would not be space. 
We should be brought to the proposilion that space 
is nothing but a relation of spaces. And this pro- 
position contradicts itself. 

Again, from the other side, if any space is taken 


as a whole, it is evidently more than a relation. It 
is a thing, or substance, or quality (call it what you 
please), which is clearly as solid as the parts which 
it unites. From without, or from within, it is quite 
as repulsive and as simple as any of its contents. 
The mere fact that we are driven always to speak 
of its parts should be evidence enough. What 
could be the parts of a relation ? 

2. But space is nothing but a relation. For, in 
the first place, any space must consist of parts ; and, 
if the parts are not spaces, the whole is not space. 
Take then in a space any parts. These, it is 
assumed, must be solid, but they are obviously 
extended. If extended, however, they will them- 
selves consist of parts, and these again of further 
parts, and so on without end. A space, or a part 
of space, that really means to be solid, is a self- 
contradiction. Anything extended is a collection, a 
relation of extendeds, which again are relations 
of extendeds, and so on indefinitely. The terms 
are essential to the relation, and the terms do not 
exist. Searching without end, we never find any- 
thing more than relations ; and we see that we can- 
not. Space is essentially a relation of what vanishes 
into relations, which seek in vain for their 
terms. It is lengths of lengths of— nothing that we 
can find. 

And, from the outside again, a like conclusion is 
forced on us. We have seen that space vanishes 
internally into relations between units which never 
can exist. But, on the other side, when taken it- 
self as a unit, it passes away into the search for an 
illusory whole. It is essentially the reference of 
itself to something else, a process of endless passing 
beyond actuality. As a whole it is, briefly, the 
r l.ition of itself to a non-existent other. For take 
spac ;e and as complete as you possibly can. 

Still, if it has not definite boundaries, it is not 
space ; and to make it end in a cloud, or in nothing, 


is mere blindness and our mere failure to perceive. 
A space limited, and yet without space that is out- 
side, is a self-contradiction. But the outside, un- 
fortunately, is compelled likewise to pass beyond 
itself ; and the end cannot be reached. And it is 
not merely that we fail to perceive, or fail to under- 
stand, how this can be otherwise. We perceive 
and we understand that it cannot be otherwise, at 
least if space is to be space. We either do not know 
what space means ; and, if so, certainly we cannot 
say that it is more than appearance. Or else, know- 
ing what we mean by it, we see inherent in that 
meaning the puzzle we are describing. Space, to 
be space, must have space outside itself. It for 
ever disappears into a whole, which proves never 
to be more than one side of a relation to something 
beyond. And thus space has neither any solid 
parts, nor, when taken as one, is it more than the 
relation of itself to a new self. As it stands, it is 
not space; and, in trying to find space beyond it, 
we can find only that which passes away into a 
relation. Space is a relation between terms, which 
can never be found. 

It would not repay us to dwell further on the 
contradiction which we have exhibited. The reader 
who has once grasped the principle can deal him- 
self with the details. I will refer merely in passing 
to a supplementary difficulty. Empty space — space 
without some quality (visual or muscular) which in it- 
self is more than spatial — is an unreal abstraction. It 
cannot be said to exist, for the reason that it cannot 
by itself have any meaning. When a man realizes 
what he has got in it, he finds that always he has a 
quality which is more than extension (cp. Chapter 
i.). But, if so, how this quality is to stand to the 
extension is an insoluble problem. It is a case of 
" inherence," which we saw (Chapter ii.) was in 
principle unintelligible. And, without further delay, 
I will proceed to consider time. I shall in this 


chapter confine myself almost entirely to the diffi- 
culties caused by the discretion and the continuity 
of time. With regard to change, I will say some- 
thing further in the chapter which follows. 

Efforts have been made to explain time psycho- 
logically — to exhibit, that is to say, its origin from 
what comes to the mind as timeless. But, for the 
same reason which seemed conclusive in the case of 
space, and which here has even greater weight, I 
shall not consider these attempts. I shall inquire 
simply as to time's character, and whether, that 
being as it is, it can belong to reality. 

It is usual to consider time under a spatial form. 
It is taken as a stream, and past and future are re- 
garded as parts of it, which presumably do not co- 
exist, but are often talked of as if they did. Time, 
apprehended in this way, is open to the objection 
we have just urged against space. It is a relation 
— and, on the other side, it is not a relation ; and it 
is, again, incapable of being anything beyond a re- 
lation. And the reader who has followed the 
dilemma which was fatal to space, will not require 
much explanation. If you take time as a relation 
between units without duration, then the whole time 
has no duration, and is not time at all. But, if 
you give duration to the whole time, then at once 
the units themselves are found to possess it ; and 
they thus cease to be units. Time in fact is " be- 
fore " and " after " in one ; and without this diversity 
it is not time. But these differences cannot be 
asserted of the unity ; and, on the other hand and 
failing that, time is helplessly dissolved. Hence 
they are asserted under a relation. " Before in re- 
lation to after " is the character of time ; and here 
the old difficulties about relation and quality recom- 
mence. The relation is not a unity, and yet the 
terms are nonentities, if left apart. Again, to import 
an independent character into the terms is to make 


each somehow in itself both before and after. But 
this brings on a process which dissipates the terms 
into relations, which, in the end, end in nothing. 
And to make the relation of time an unit is, first of 
all, to make it stationary, by destroying within it the 
diversity of before and after. And, in the second 
place, this solid unit, existing only by virtue of 
external relations, is forced to expand. It perishes 
in ceaseless oscillation, between an empty solidity 
and a transition beyond itself towards illusory com- 

And, as with space, the qualitative content — which 
is not merely temporal, and apart from which the 
terms related in time would have no character — 
presents an insoluble problem. How to combine 
this in unity with the time which it fills, and again 
how to establish each aspect apart, are both beyond 
our resources. And time so far, like space, has 
turned out to be appearance. 

But we shall be rightly told that a spatial form is 
not essential to time, and that, to examine it fairly, 
we should not force our errors upon it. Let us then 
attempt to regard time as it stands, and without 
extraneous additions. We shall only convince our- 
selves that the root of the old dilemma is not torn up. 

If we are to keep to time as it comes, and are to 
abstain at first from inference and construction, we 
must confine ourselves, I presume, to time as pre- 
sented. But presented time must be time present, 
and we must agree, at least provisionally, not to go 
beyond the " now." And the question at once be- 
fore us will be as to the " now's " temporal con- 
tents. First, let us ask if they exist. Is the " now" 
simple and indivisible ? We can at once reply in 
the negative. For time implies before and after, 
and by consequence diversity ; and hence the simple 
is not time. We are compelled then, so far, to take 
the present as comprehending diverse aspects. 

How many aspects it contains is an interesting 


question. According to one opinion, in the " now " 
we can observe both past and future ; and, whether 
these are divided by the present, and, if so, pre- 
cisely in what sense, admits of further doubt. In 
another opinion, which I prefer, the future is not 
presented, but is a product of construction ; and the 
" now " contains merely the process of present turn- 
ing into past. But here these differences, if indeed 
they are such, are fortunately irrelevant. All that 
we require is the admission of some process within 
the " now." l 

For any process admitted destroys the " now " 
from within. Before and after are diverse, and their 
incompatibility compels us to use a relation between 
them. Then at once the old wearisome game is 
played again. The aspects become parts, the "now" 
consists of " nows," and in the end these " nows " 
prove undiscoverable. For, as a solid part of time, 
the u now " does not exist. Pieces of duration may 
to us appear not to be composite ; but a very little 
reflection lays bare their inherent fraudulence. If 
they are not duration, they do not contain an after 
and before, and they have, by themselves, no begin 
ning or end, and are by themselves outside of time. 
But, if so, time becomes merely the relation between 
them ; and duration is a number of relations of the 
timeless, themselves also, I suppose, related some- 
how so as to make one duration. But how a rela- 
tion is to be a unity, of which these differences are 
predicable, we Have seen is incomprehensible. And, 
if it fails to be a unity, time is forthwith dissolved. 
But why should I weary the reader by developing 
in detail the impossible consequences of either alter- 
native ? If he has understood the principle, he is 
with us ; and, otherwise, the uncertain argumentum 
ad homincm would too certainly pass into argumcn* 
turn ad nauseam. 

1 On the different meanings of the *prefeni I have said some- 
thing in my Princip cs of Lugie l pp. 51, foil. 


I will, however, instance one result which follows 
from a denial of time's continuity. Time will in 
this case fall somehow between the timeless, as 
A — C — E. But the rate of change is not uniform 
for all events ; and, I presume, no one will assert 
that, when we have arrived at our apparent units, 
that sets a limit to actual and possible velocity. Let 
us suppose then another series of events, which, 
taken as a whole, coincides in time with A — C — E, 
but contains the six units a — b — c — d — e— f. Either 
then these other relations (those, for example, be- 
tween a and b, c and d) will fall between A and C, 
C and E, and what that can mean I do not know ; 
or else the transition a — b will coincide with A, 
which is timeless and contains no possible lapse. 
And that, so far as I can perceive, contradicts itself 
outright. But I feel inclined to add that this whole 
question is less a matter for detailed argument than 
for understanding in its principle. I doubt if there 
is any one who has ever grasped this, and then has 
failed to reach one main result. But there are too 
many respectable writers whom here one can hardly 
criticise. They have simply never got to under- 

Thus, if in the time, which we call presented, 
there exists any lapse, that time is torn by a dilem- 
ma, and is condemned to be appearance. But, if 
the presented is timeless, another destruction awaits 
us. Time will be the relation of the present to a 
future and past ; and the relation, as we have seen, 
is not compatible with diversity or unity. Further, 
the existence, not presented, of future and of past 
seems ambiguous. But, apart from that, time 
perishes in the endless process beyond itself. The 
unit will be for ever its own relation to something 
beyond, something in the end not discoverable. And 
this process is forced on it, both by its temporal 
form, and again by the continuity of its content, 
which transcends what is given. 


Time, like space, has most evidently proved not 
to be real, but to be a contradictory appearance. I 
will, in the next chapter, reinforce and repeat this 
conclusion by some remarks upon change. 



I am sensible that this chapter will repeat much of 
the former discussion. It is not for my own pleasure 
that I write it, but as an attempt to strengthen the 
reader. Whoever is convinced that change is a 
self- contradictory appearance, will do well perhaps 
to pass on towards something which interests him. 

Motion has from an early time been criticised 
severely, and it has never been defended with much 
success. I will briefly point to the principle on which 
these criticisms are founded. Motion implies that 
what is moved is in two places in one time ; and this 
seems not possible. That motion implies two places 
is obvious ; that these places are successive is no less 
obvious. But, on the other hand, it is clear that the 
process must have unity. The thing moved must 
be one ; and, again, the time must be one. If the 
time were only many times, out of relation, and not 
parts of a single temporal whole, then no motion 
would be found. But if the time is one, then, as we 
have seen, it cannot also be many. 

A common " explanation " is to divide both the 
space and the time into discrete corresponding 
units, taken literally ad libitum. The lapse in this 
case is supposed to fall somehow between them. 
But, as a theoretical solution, the device is childish. 
Greater velocity would in this case be quite im- 
possible ; and a lapse, falling between timeless units, 
has really, as we have seen, no meaning. And 
where the unity of these lapses, which makes the 


one duration, is to be situated, we, of course, are 
not, and could not be, informed. And how this 
inconsistent mass is related to the identity of the 
body moved is again unintelligible. What becomes 
dear is merely this, that motion in space gives no 
solution of the problem of change. It adds, in 
space, a further detail which throws no light on the 
principle. But, on the other side, it makes the dis- 
crepancies of change more palpable ; and it forces 
on all but the thoughtless the problem of the identity 
of a thing which has changed. But change in time, 
with all its inconsistencies, lies below motion in 
space ; and, if this cannot be defended, motion at 
once is condemned. 

The problem of change underlies that of motion, 
but the former itself is not fundamental. It points 
back to the dilemma of the one and the many, the 
differences and the identity, the adjectives and the 
thing, the qualities and the relations. How any- 
thing can possibly be anything else was a question 
which defied our efforts. Change is little beyond 
an instance of this dilemma in principle. It either 
adds an irrelevant complication, or confuses itself in 
a blind attempt at compromise. Let us, at the cost 
of repetition, try to get clear on this head. 

Change, it is evident, must be change of some- 
thing, and it is obvious, further, that it contains 
diversity. Hence it asserts two of one, and so falls 
at once under the condemnation of our previous 
chapters. But it tries to defend itself by this dis- 
tinction : "Yes, both are asserted, but not both in 
one ; there is a relation, and so the unity and plur- 
ality are combined." But our criticism of relations 
has destroyed this subterfuge beforehand. We 
have seen that, when a whole has been thus broken 
up into relations and terms, it has become utterly 
self-discrepant. You can truly predicate neither 
one part of the other part, nor any, nor all, of the 
whole. And, in its attempt to contain these ele- 


ments, the whole commits suicide, and destroys 
them in its death. It would serve no purpose to 
repeat these inexorable laws. Let us see merely how 
change condemns itself by entering their sphere. 

Something, A, changes, and therefore it cannot 
be permanent. On the other hand, if A is not 
permanent, what is it that changes ? It will no 
longer be A, but something else. In other words, 
let A be free from change in time, and it does not 
change. But let it contain change, and at once it 
becomes A T , A*> A 3 . Then what becomes of A, 
and of its change, for we are left with something 
else ? Again, we may put the problem thus. The 
diverse states of A must exist within one time ; and 
yet they cannot, because they are successive. 

Let us first take A as timeless, in the sense oi 
out of time. Here the succession of the change 
must belong to it, or not. In the former case, what 
is the relation between the succession and A ? If 
there is none, A does not change. If there is any, 
it forces unintelligibly a diversity onto A, which is 
foreign to its nature and incomprehensible. And 
then this diversity, by itself, will be merely the 
unsolved problem. If we are not to remove change 
altogether, then we have, standing in unintelligible 
relation with the timeless A, a temporal change 
which offers us all our old difficulties unreduced. 

A must be taken as falling within the time-series ; 
and, if so, the question will be whether it has or 
has not got duration. Either alternative is fatal. 
If the one time, necessary for change, means a 
single duration, that is self- contradictory, for no 
duration is single. The would-be unit falls asunder 
into endless plurality, in which it disappears. The 
pieces of duration, each containing a before and an 
after, are divided against themselves, and become 
mere relations of the illusory. And the attempt to 
locate the lapse within relations of the discrete leads 
to hopeless absurdities. Nor, in any case, could we 


unite intelligibly the plurality of these relations so 
as to make one duration. In short, therefore, if the 
one time required for change means one duration, 
that is not one, and there is no change. 

On the other hand, if the change actually took 
place merely in one time, then it could be no change 
at all. A is to have a plurality in succession, and yet 
simultaneously. This is surely a flat contradiction. 
If there is no duration, and the time is simple, it is 
not time at all. And to speak of diversity, and of a 
succession of before and after, in this abstract point, 
is not possible when we think. Indeed, the best 
excuse for such a statement would be the plea that 
it is meaningless. But, if so, change, upon any 
hypothesis, is impossible. It can be no more than 

And we may perceive its main character. It 
contains both the necessity and the impossibility of 
uniting diverse aspects. These differences have 
broken out in the whole which at first was im- 
mediate. But, if they entirely break out of it, they 
are dissipated and destroyed ; and yet, by their 
presence within the whole, that already is broken, 
and they scattered into nothings. The relational 
form in general, and here in particular this form of 
time, is a natural way of compromise. It is no solu- 
tion of the discrepancies, and we might call it rather 
a method of holding them in suspension. It is an 
artifice by which we become blind on either side, to 
suit the occasion ; and the whole secret consists in 
ignoring that aspect which we are unable to use. 
Thus it is required that A should change ; and, for 
this, two characters, not compatible, must be present 
at once. There must be a successive diversity, and 
yet the time must be one. The succession, in other 
words, is not really successive unless it is present 
And our compromise consists in regarding the pro- 
cess mainly from whichever of its aspects answers 
to our need, and in ignoring — that is, in failing or in 


refusing to perceive — the hostility of the other side. 
If you want to take a piece of duration as present 
and as one, you shut your eyes, or in some way are 
blind to the discretion, and, attending merely to the 
content, take that as a unity. And, on the other 
hand, it is as easy to forget every aspect but that of 
discreteness. But change, as a whole, consists in 
the union of these two aspects. It is the holding 
both at once, while laying stress upon the one which 
for the time is prominent, and while the difficulties 
are kept out of sight by rapid shuffling. Thus, in 
asserting that A alters, we mean that the one thing 
is different at different times. We bring this di- 
versity into relation with A's qualitative identity, 
and all seems harmonious. Of course, as we know, 
even so far, there is a mass of inconsistency, but 
that is not the main point here. The main point is 
that, so far, we have not reached a change of A. 
The identity of a content A, in some sort 0/" relation 
with diverse moments and with varying states — if it 
means anything at all — is still not what we under- 
stand by change. That the mere oneness of a 
quality can be the unity of a duration will hardly 
be contended. For change to exist at all, this one- 
ness must be in temporal relation with the diversity. 
In other words, if the process itself \s not one state, 
the moments are not parts of it ; and, if so, they 
cannot be related in time to one another. On the 
one hand, A remains A through a period of any 
length, and is not changed so far as A. Considered 
thus, we may say that its duration is mere presence 
and contains no lapse. But the same duration, if 
regarded as the succession ofy^'s altered states, con- 
sists of many pieces. On the other hand, thirdly, 
this whole succession, regarded as one sequence or 
period, becomes a unity, and is again present. 
" Through the present period," we should boldly 
say, " A's processes have been regular. His rate 
of growth is normal, and his condition is for the 


present identical But, during the lapse of this 
one period, there have been present countless 
successive differences in the state of B ; and the 
coincidence in time, of B*s unchanging excitement 
with the healthy succession of A's changes, 
shows that in the same interval we may have 
present either motion or rest." There is hardly 
exaggeration here ; but the statement exhibits a 
palpable oscillation. We have the dwelling, with 
emphasis and without principle, upon separate 
aspects, and the whole idea consists essentially 
in this oscillation. There is total failure to unite 
the differences by any consistent principle, and the 
one discoverable system is the systematic avoidance 
of consistency. The single fact is viewed alternately 
from either side, but the sides are not combined into 
an intelligible whole. And I trust the reader may 
agree that their consistent union is impossible. The 
problem of change defies solution, so long as change 
is not degraded to the rank of mere appearance. 

I will end this chapter by some remarks on the 
perception of succession, or, rather, one of its main 
features. And I will touch upon this merely in the 
interest of metaphysics, reserving what psychological 
opinions I may have formed for another occasion. 
The best psychologists, so far as I know, are be- 
coming agreed that for this perception some kind of 
unity is wanted. They see that without an identity, 
to which all its members are related, a series is not 
one, and is therefore not a series. In fact, the 
person who denies this unity is able to do so merely 
because he covertly supplies it from his own un- 
reflecting mind. And 1 shall venture to regard this 
general doctrine as established, and shall pass to 
the point where I think metaphysics is further in- 

It being assumed that succession, or rather, here, 
perceived succession, is relative to a unity, a ques- 

A. R. E 


tion arises as to the nature of this unity, generally 
and in each case. The question is both difficult 
and interesting psychologically ; but I must confine 
myself to the brief remarks which seem called for in 
this place. It is not uncommon to meet the view 
that the unity is timeless, or that it has at any rate 
no duration. On the other hand, presumably, it 
has a date, if not a place, in the general series of 
phenomena, and is, in this sense, an event. The 
succession I understand to be apprehended some- 
how in an indivisible moment, — that is, without any 
lapse of time, — and to be so far literally simultaneous. 
Any such doctrine seems to me open to fatal ob- 
jections, some of which I will state. 

i. The first objection holds good only against 
certain persons. If the timeless act contains a re- 
lation, and if the latter must be relative to a real 
unity, the problem of succession appears again to 
break out without limit inside this timeless unit. 

2. But those who would deny, the premises of 
this first objection, may be invited to explain them- 
selves on other points. The act has no duration, 
and yet it is a psychical event. It has, that is, an 
assignable place in history. If it does not possess 
the latter, how is it related to my perception ? But, 
if it is an event with a before and an after in time, 
how can it have no duration ? It occurs in time, 
and yet it occupies no time ; or it does not occur in 
time, though it happens at a given date. This does 
not look like the account of anything real, but it is 
a manufactured abstraction, like length without 
breadth. And if it is a mere way of stating the 
problem in hand — viz., that from one point of view 
succession has no duration — it seems a bad way 
of stating it. But if it means more, its meaning 
seems quite unintelligible. 

3. And it is the more plainly so since its content 
is certainly successive, as possessing the distinction 
of after and before. Wilis' distinction is a fact ; and, 


if so, the psychical lapse is a fact; and, if so, this 
fact is left in flat contradiction with the timeless 
unity. And to urge that the succession, as used, 
is ideal — is merely content, and is not psychical 
fact — would be a futile attempt to misapply a 
great principle. It is not wholly true that "ideas 
are not what they mean." for if their meaning is not 
psychical fact, I should like to know how and where 
it exists. And the question is whether succession 
can, in any sense, come before the mind without 
some actual succession entering into the very ap- 
prehension. If you do not vicau a lapse, then you 
have given up your contention. But, if you do 
mean it, then how, except in the form of some 
actual mental transition, is it to come ideally before 
your mind ? I know of no intelligible answer ; and 
I conclude that, in this perception, what is perceived 
is an actual succession ; and hence the perception 
itself must have some duration. 

4. And, if it has no duration, then I do not see 
how it is related to the before and after of the time 
perceived ; and the succession of this, with all its 
unsolved problems, seems to me to fall outside it 
(cp. No. 1). 

5. And, lastly, if we may have one of these occur- 
rences without duration, apparently we may also 
have many in succession, all again without duration. 
And I do not know how the absurd consequences 
which follow can be avoided or met. 

In short, this creation is a monster. It is not a 
working fiction, entertained for the sake of its work. 
For, like most other monsters, it really is impotent. 
It is both idle and injurious, since it has diverted 
attention from the answer to its problem. 

And that, to the reader who has followed our 
metaphysical discussion, will, I think, be apparent. 
We found that succession required both diversity 
and unity. These could not intelligibly be com- 


bined, and their union was a mere junction, with 
oscillation of emphasis from one aspect to the other. 
And so, psychically also, the timeless unity is a 
piece of duration, not experienced as successive. 
Assuredly everything psychical is an event, and it 
really contains a lapse ; but so far as you do not use, 
or notice, that lapse, it is not there for you and for 
the purpose in hand. In other words, there is a 
permanent in the perception of change, which goes 
right through the succession and holds it together. 
The permanent can do this, on the one hand, be- 
cause it occupies duration and is, in its essence, 
divisible indefinitely. On the other hand, it is one 
and unchanging, so far as it is regarded or felt, and 
is used, from that aspect. And the special concrete 
identities, which thus change, and again do not 
change, are the key to the particular successions that 
are perceived. Presence is not absolute timelessness ; 
it is any piece of duration, so far as that is con- 
sidered from or felt in an identical aspect. And 
this mere relative absence of lapse has been per- 
verted into the absolute timeless monstrosity which 
we have ventured to condemn. 

But it is one thing to see how a certain feature of 
our time-perception is possible. It is quite another 
thing to admit that this feature, as it stands, gives 
the truth about reality. And that, as we have learnt, 
is impossible. We are forced to assert that A is 
both continuous and discrete, both successive and 
present. And our practice of taking it, now as one 
in a certain respect, and now again as many in 
another respect, shows only how we practise. The 
problem calls upon us to answer how these aspects 
and respects are consistently united in the one thing, 
either outside of our minds or inside — that makes 
no difference. And if we fail, as we shall, to bring 
these features together, we have left the problem 
unsolved. And, if it is unsolved, then change and 
motion are incompatible internally, and are set down 


to be appearance. And if, as a last resource, we 
use the phrases " potential " and " actual," and 
attempt by their aid to reach harmony, we shall 
have left the case as it stands. We shall mean by 
these phrases that the thing is, and yet that it is 
not, and that we choose for our own purpose to 
treat these irreconcilables as united. But that is 
only another, though perhaps a more polite, way 0/ 
saying that the problem is insoluble. 

In the chapter which comes next, we must follow 
the same difficulties a little further into other appli- 



The object of this chapter is merely to point out, 
first, the main discrepancy in causation, and, in the 
second place, to exhibit an obstacle coming from 
time's continuity. Some other aspects of the gene- 
ral question will be considered in later chapters. 1 

We may regard cause as an attempt to account 
rationally for change. A becomes B t and this alter- 
ation is felt to be not compatible with A. Mere A 
would still be mere A, and, if it turns to something 
different, then something else is concerned. There 
must, in other words, be a reason for the change. 
But the endeavour to find a satisfactory reason is 

We have seen that A is not B, nor, again, a 
relation to B. " Followed by B," u changing into 
A B,' } are not the same as A ; and we were able to 
discover no way of combining these with A which 
could be more than mere appearance. In causation 
we must now consider a fresh effort at combination, 
and its essence is very simple. If "A becomes B" 
is a self-contradiction, then add something to A 
which will divide the burden. In " A + C becomes 
B" we may perhaps find relief. But this relief, 
considered theoretically, is a mass of contradictions. 

It would be a thankless task to work these out 
into detail, for the root of the matter may be stated 
at once. If the sequence of the effect is different 

1 I have touched on the Law of Causation in Chapter xxiii. 


from the cause, how is the ascription of this differ- 
ence to be rationally defended ? If, on the other 
hand, it is not different, then causation does not 
exist, and its assertion is a farce. There is no 
escape from this fundamental dilemma. 

We have in the cause merely a fresh instance of 
compromise without principle, another case of pure 
makeshift. And it soon exhibits its nature. The 
cause was not mere A ; that would be found too 
intolerable. The cause was^4 + C; but this com- 
bination seems meaningless. It is offered in the 
face of our result as to the nature of relations 
(Chapter iii.); and by that result it has already been 
undermined and ruined. But let us see how it pro- 
poses to go about its business. In " A 4- C followed 
by B" the addition of C makes a difference to A, 
or it makes no difference. Let us suppose, first, that 
it does make a difference to A. But, if so, then A 
has already been altered ; and hence the problem of 
causation breaks out within the very cause. A and 
C become A + C, and the old puzzle begins about 
the way in which A and C become other than they 
are. We are concerned here with A, but, of course, 
with C there is the same difficulty. We are, there- 
fore, driven to correct ourselves, and to say that, 
not A and C merely, but A and C+D become 
A + C, and so B. But here we perceive at once 
that we have fallen into endless regress within the 
cause. If the cause is to be the cause, there is some 
reason for its being thus, and so on indefinitely. 

Or let us accept the other alternative. Let us 
assert boldly that in A + C, which is the cause of B t 
their relation makes no difference either to A or to 
C, and yet accounts for the effect. Although the 
conjunction makes no difference, it justifies appar- 
ently our attribution to the cause of the difference 
expressed by the effect But (to deal first with the 
cause) such a conjunction of elements has been 
shown (Chapter iii.) to be quite unintelligible. And 


to the defence that it is only our own way of going 
on, the answer is twofold. If it is only our way, 
then, either it does not concern the thing at all, or 
else is admitted to be a mere practical makeshift 
If, on the other hand, it is a way of ours with the 
thing which we are prepared to justify, let the justi- 
fication be produced. But it cannot be produced 
in any form but in the proof that our thinking is 
consistent. On the other hand, the only reason for 
our hesitation above to attribute our view to reality 
seemed to lie in the fact that our view was not con- 
sistent. But, if so, it surely should not be our view. 
And, to pass now to the effect, the same reasoning 
there holds good. The sequence of a difference 
still remains entirely irrational. And, if we attempt 
here to take this difference upon ourselves, and to 
urge that it does not attach to the thing, but only to 
our view, the same result follows. For what is 
this but a manner of admitting politely that in real- 
ity there is no difference and is no causation, and 
that, in short, we are all agreed in finding causation 
to be makeshift and merely appearance ? We are 
so far agreed, but we differ in our further conclu- 
sions. For I can discover no merit in an attitude 
which combines every vice of theory. It is forced 
to admit that the real world is left naked and 
empty ; while it cannot pretend itself to support 
and to own the wealth of existence. Each party is 
robbed, and both parties are beggared. 

The only positive result which has appeared from 
our effort to justify causation, seems to be the im- 
possibility of isolating the cause or the effect. In 
endeavouring to make a defensible assertion, we 
have had to go beyond the connection as first we 
stated it. The cause A not only recedes backwards 
in time, but it attempts laterally to take in more and 
more of existence. And we are tending to the 
doctrine that, to find a real cause, we must take the 
complete state of the world at one moment as this 


passes into another state also complete. The several 
threads of causation seem, that is, always to imply 
the action of a background. And this background 
may, if we are judicious, be irrelevant practically. 
It may be practically irrelevant, not because it is 
ever idle, but because often it is identical, and so 
makes no special difference. The separate causes 
are, therefore, legitimate abstractions, and they con- 
tain enough truth to be practically admissible. But 
it will be added that, if we require truth in any 
strict sense, we must confine ourselves to one entire 
state of the world. This will be the cause, and the 
next entire state will be the effect. 

There is much truth in this conclusion, but it 
remains indefensible. This tendency of the separ- 
ate cause to pass beyond itself cannot be satisfied, 
while we retain the relational form essential to 
causation. And we may easily, I think, convince 
ourselves of this. For, in the first place, a complete 
state of existence, as a whole, is at any one moment 
utterly impossible. Any state is forced by its con- 
tent to transcend itself backwards in a regress with- 
out limit. And the relations and qualities of which 
it is composed will refer themselves, even if you 
keep to the moment, for ever away from themselves 
into endless dissipation. Thus the complete state, 
which is necessary, cannot be reached. And, in 
the second place, there is an objection which is 
equally fatal. Even if we could have one self- 
comprised condition of the world preceding another, 
the relation betwen them would still be irrational. 
We assert something of something else ; we have to 
predicate B of A, or else its sequence of A, or else 
the one relation of both. But in these cases, or in 
any other case, can we defend our assertion ? It is 
the old puzzle, how to justify the attributing to a 
subject something other than itself, and which the 
subject is not. If " followed by £" is not the nature 
of A, then justify your predication. If it is essen- 


tial to A y then justify, first, your taking A without 
it ; and in the next place show how, with such an 
incongruous nature, A can succeed in being more 
than unreal appearance. 

And we may perhaps fancy at this point that a 
door of exit is opened. How will it be, since the 
difference is the source of our trouble, if we fall 
back upon the identity of cause and effect ? The 
same essence of the world, persisting in unchanged 
self-conservation from moment to moment, and 
superior to diversity — this is perhaps the solution. 
Perhaps ; but, if so, what has been done with causa- 
tion ? So far as I am able to understand, that con- 
sists in the differences and in their sequence in time. 
Mere identity, however excellent, is emphatically 
not the relation of cause and effect. Either then 
once more you must take up the problem of recon- 
ciling intelligibly the diversity with the unity, and 
this problem so far has shown itself intractable. Or 
you yourself have arrived at the same conclusion 
with ourselves. You have admitted that cause and 
effect is irrational appearance, and cannot be reality. 

I will add here a difficulty, in itself superfluous, 
which comes from the continuity of causal change. 
Its succession, on the one hand, must be absolutely 
without pause ; while, on the other hand, it cannot be 
so. This dilemma is based upon no new principle, 
but is a mere application of the insoluble problem of 
duration. The reader who is not attracted may 
pass on. 

For our perception change is not properly con- 
tinuous. It cannot be so, since there are durations 
which do not come to us as such ; and however our 
faculties were improved, there must always be a 
point at which they would be transcended. On the 
other hand, to speak of our succession as being pro- 
perly discrete seems quite as indefensible. It is in 
fact neither the one nor the other. I presume that 


what we notice is events with time between them, 
whatever that may mean. But, on the other hand, 
when we deal with pieces of duration, as wholes 
containing parts and even a variable diversity of 
parts, the other aspect comes up. And, in the end, 
reflection compels us to perceive that, however else 
it may appear, all change must really be continuous. 
This conclusion cannot imply that no state is ever 
able to endure for a moment. For, without some 
duration of the identical, we should have meaning- 
less chaos, or, rather, should not have even that. 
States may endure, we have seen, so long as we 
abstract. We take some partial state, or aspect of a 
state, which in itself does not alter. We fix one eye 
upon this, while we cast, in fear of no principle, our 
other eye upon the succession that goes with it, and 
so is called simultaneous. And we solve practically 
in this way the problem of duration. We have en- 
during aspects, A, B, C, one after the other. Along- 
side of these there runs on a current of changes 
minutely subdivided. This goes on altering, and 
in a sense it alters A, B, C, while in another sense 
they are unchanged pieces of duration. They do 
not alter in themselves, but in relation to other 
changes they are in constant internal lapse. And, 
when these other changes have reached a certain 
point of alteration, then A passes into B } and so 
later B into C. This is, I presume, the proper way 
of taking causation as continuous. We may perhaps 
use the following figure : — 


/l\ /l\ /l\ 


I i I I I Ml I 

€ £ 1/ I K A fl ¥ 


Here A, B, C, is the causal succession of enduring 
states. The Greek letters represent a flow of other 
events which are really a determining element in 
the succession of A, B, C. And we understand at 
once how A, B, and C both alter and do not alter. 
But the Greek letters represent much more, which 
cannot be depicted. In the first place, at any 
given moment, there are an indefinite number of 
them ; and, in the second place, they themselves are 
pieces of duration, placed in the same difficulty 
as were A, B, C. Coincident with each must be a 
succession of events, which the reader may try to 
represent in any character that he prefers. Only 
let him remember that these events must be divided 
indefinitely by the help of smaller ones. He must 
go on until he reaches parts that have no divisibility. 
And if we may suppose that he could reach them, 
he would find that causation had vanished with his 

The dilemma, I think, can now be made plain. 
(a) Causation must be continuous. For suppose that 
it is not so. You would then be able to take a solid 
section from the flow of events, solid in the sense of 
containing no change. I do not merely mean that 
you could draw a line without breadth across the 
flow, and could find that this abstraction cut no 
alteration. I mean that you could take a slice off, 
and that this slice would have no change in it. But 
any such slice, being divisible, must have duration. 
If so, however, you would have your cause, en- 
during unchanged through a certain number of 
moments, and then suddenly changing. And this 
is clearly impossible, for what could have altered it? 
Not any other thing, for you have taken the whole 
course of events. And, again, not itself, for you 
have got itself already without any change. In 
short, if the cause can endure unchanged for any 
the very smallest piece of duration, then it must 
endure for ever. It cannot pass into the effect, 


and it therefore is not a cause at all. On the 
other hand, (6) Causation cannot be continuous. For 
this would mean that the cause was entirely without 
duration. It would never be itself except in the 
time occupied by a line drawn across the succession. 
And since this time is not a time, but a mere ab- 
straction, the cause itself will be no better. It is 
unreal, a nonentity, and the whole succession of the 
world will consist of these nonentities. But this is 
much the same as to suppose that solid things are 
made of points and lines and surfaces. These may 
be fictions useful for some purposes, but still fictions 
they remain. The cause must be a real event, 
and yet there is no fragment of time in which it 
can be real. Causation is therefore not continuous ; 
and so, unfortunately, it is not causation, but mere 

The reader will understand at once that we have 
repeated here the old puzzle about time. Time, as 
we saw, must be made, and yet cannot be made, 
of pieces. And he perhaps will not be sorry to 
have reached an end of these pages through which I 
have been forced to weary him with continuitv and 
discreteness. In the next chapter we shall arrive at 
somewhat different matter. 



In raising the question if activity is real or is only 
appearance, I may be met by the assertion that it is 
original, ultimate, and simple. I am satisfied my- 
self that this assertion is incorrect, and is even quite 
groundless ; but I prefer to treat it here as merely 
irrelevant. If the meaning of activity will not bear 
examination, and if it fails to exhibit itself intel- 
ligibly, then that meaning cannot, as such, be true of 
reality. There can be no origin, or want of origin, 
which warrants our predicating nonsense. And if I 
am told that, being simple, activity can have no 
meaning, then it seems a quality like one of our 
sensations or pleasures, and we have dealt with it 
already. Or I may possibly be answered, No, it is 
not simple in that sense, nor yet exactly composite. 
It somehow holds a variety, and is given in that 
character. Hence its idea may be indefensible, 
while itself is real. But the business of metaphysics 
is surely to understand; and if anything is such that, 
when thought of and not simply felt, it goes to 
pieces in our hands, we can find but one verdict. 
Either its nature is nonsensical, or we have got 
wrong ideas about it. The assertor of the latter 
alternative should then present us with the right 
ideas — a thing which, I need not add, he is not 
forward to perform. But let us leave these poor 
excuses to take care of themselves, and let us turn 
to the facts. There, if we examine the way in 
which the term activity is employed, the result is 


not doubtful. Force, energy, power, activity, these 
phrases certainly are used too often without clear 
understanding. But no rational man employs them 
except to convey some kind of meaning, which is 
capable of being discovered and subjected to ana- 
lysis. And if it will not bear scrutiny, then it 
clearly does not represent reality. 

There is a sense in which words like power, force, 
or energy, are distinguished from activity. They 
may be used to stand for something that does not 
happen at all, but somehow remains in a state of 
suspended animation, or in a region between non- 
existence and existence. I do not think it worth 
while to discuss this at present, and shall pass at 
once to the signification in which force means force 
in exercise — in other words, activity. 

The element in its meaning, which comes to light 
at once, is succession and change. In all activity 
something clearly becomes something else. Activity 
implies a happening and a sequence in time. And, 
when I spoke of this meaning as coming to the 
light, I might have added that it positively stares us 
in the face, and it is not to be hidden. To deal 
frankly, I do not know how to argue this question. 
I have never seen a use of the term which to my 
mind retained its sense if time-sequence is removed. 
We can, of course, talk of a power sustaining or pro- 
ducing effects, which are subordinate and yet not 
subsequent ; but to talk thus is not to think. And 
unless the sequence of our thought, from the power 
to its manifestation, is transferred to the fact as a 
succession there, the meaning is gone. We are left 
with mere co-existence, and the dependence, either 
of adjective on substantive, or of two adjectives on 
one another and on the substance which owns them. 
And I do not believe that any one, unless influenced 
by, and in the service of, some theory, would attempt 
to view the matter otherwise. And I fear that I 
must so leave it. 


Activity implies the change of something into 
something different. So much, I think, is clear ; 
but activity is not a mere uncaused alteration. And 
in fact, as we have seen, that is really not conceiv- 
able. For Ab to become Ac, something else be- 
side Ab is felt to be necessary ; or else we are left 
with a flat self-contradiction. Thus the transition of 
activity implies always a cause. 

Activity is caused change, but it also must be 
more. For one- thing, altered by another, is not 
usually thought active, but, on the contrary, passive. 
Activity seems rather to be self-caused change. A 
transition that begins with, and comes out of, the 
thing itself is the process where we feel that it is 
active. The issue must, of course, be attributed to 
the thing as its adjective ; it must be regarded, not 
only as belonging to the thing, but as beginning in 
it and coming out of it. If a thing carries out its 
own nature we call the thing active. 

But we are aware, or may become aware, that we 
are here resting on metaphors. These cannot quite 
mean what they say, and what they intimate is still 
doubtful. It appears to be something of this kind: 
the end of the process, the result or the effect, 
seems part of the nature of the thing which we had 
at the beginning. Not only has it not been added 
by something outside, but it is hardly to be taken as 
an addition at all. So far, at least, as the end is 
considered as the thing's activity, it is regarded as 
the thing's character from the first to the last. Thus 
it somehow was before it happened. It did not 
exist, and yet, for all that, in a manner it was there, 
and so it became. We should like to say that the 
nature of the thing, which was ideal, realized itself, 
and that this process is what we mean by activity. 
And the idea need not be an idea in the mind of the 
thing ; for the thing, perhaps, has no mind, and so 
cannot have that which would amount to volition. 
On the other hand, the idea in the thing is not a 


mere idea in our minds which we have merely about 
the thing. We are sure of this, and our meaning 
falls between these extremes. But where precisely 
it falls, and in what exactly it consists, seems at 
present far from clear. Let us, however, try to go 

Passivity seems to imply activity. It is the alter- 
ation of the thing, in which, of course, the thing 
survives, and acquires a fresh adjective. This 
adjective was not possessed by the thing before the 
change. It therefore does not belong to its nature, 
but is a foreign importation. It proceeds from, and 
is the adjective of, another thing which is active 
— at the expense of the first. Thus passivity is 
not possible without activity ; and its meaning is 
obviously still left unexplained. 

It is natural to ask next if activity can exist by 
itself and apart from passivity. And here we begin 
to involve ourselves in further obscurity. We have 
spoken so far as if a thing almost began to be active 
without any reason ; as if it exploded, so to speak, 
and produced its contents entirely on its own motion, 
and quite spontaneously. But this we never really 
meant to say, for this would mean a happening and 
a change without any cause at all ; and this, we 
agreed long ago, is a self-contradiction and im- 
possible. The thing, therefore, is not active without 
an occasion. This, call it what you please, is some- 
thing outside the standing nature of the thing, and is 
accidental in the sense of happening to that essential 
disposition. But if the thing cannot act unless the 
act is occasioned, then the transition, so far, is im- 
ported into it by the act of something outside. But 
this, as we saw, was passivity. Whatever acts then 
must be passive, so far as its change is occasioned. 
If we look at the process as the coming out of its 
nature, the process is its activity. If we regard the 
same process, on the other hand, as due to the 
occasion, and, as we say, coming from that, wc 

A. R. F 


still have activity. But the activity now belongs to 
the occasion, and the thing is passive. We seem to 
have diverse aspects, of which the special existence 
in each case will depend on our own minds. 

We find this ambiguity in the common distinction 
between cause and condition, and it is worth our 
while to examine this more closely. Both of these 
elements are taken to be wanted for the production 
of the effect ; but in any given case we seem able to 
apply the names almost, or quite, at discretion. It 
is not unusual to call the last thing which happens 
the cause of the process which ensues. But this is 
really just as we please. The body fell because the 
support was taken away ; but probably most men 
would prefer to call this " cause " a condition of a 
certain kind. But apparently we may gratify what- 
ever preference we feel. And the well-meant 
attempt to get clear by defining the cause as the 
" sum of the conditions " does not much enlighten 
us. As to the word " sum," it is, I presume, 
intended to carry a meaning, but this meaning is 
not stated, and I doubt if it is known. And, further, 
if the cause is taken as including every single con- 
dition, we are met by a former difficulty. Either 
this cause, not existing through any part of duration, 
is really non-existent ; or else a condition will be 
wanted to account for its change and its passing into 
activity. But if the cause already includes all, then, 
of course, none is available (Chapter vi.). But, to 
pass this point by, what do you mean by these condi- 
tions, that all fall within the cause, so as to leave none 
outside ? Do you mean that what we commonly 
call the " conditions " of an event are really com- 
plete ? In practice certainly we leave out of the 
account the whole background of existence ; we 
isolate a group of elements, and we say that, 
whenever these occur, then something else always 
happens ; and in this group we consider ourselves 
to possess the " sum of the conditions." And this 


assumption may be practically defensible, since the 
rest of existence may, on sufficient ground, be taken 
as irrelevant. We can therefore treat this whole 
mass as if it were inactive. Yes, but that is one 
thing, and it is quite another thing to assert that 
really this mass does nothing. Certainly there is no 
logic which can warrant such a misuse of abstraction. 
The background of the whole world can be elimin- 
ated by no sound process, and the furthest conclusion 
which can be logical is that we need not consider it 
practically. As in a number of diverse cases it 
seems to add nothing special, we may for each 
purpose consider that it adds nothing at all. But 
to give out this working doctrine as theoretically 
true is quite illegitimate. 

The immediate result of this is that the true " sum 
of conditions" must completely include all the 
contents of the world at a given time. And here 
we run against a theoretical obstacle. The nature 
of these contents seems such as to be essentially 
incomplete, and so the " sum " to be nothing attain- 
able. This appears fatal so far, and, having stated 
it, I pass on. Suppose that you have got a complete 
sum of the facts at one moment, are you any nearer 
a result ? This entire mass will be the '• sum of 
conditions," and the cause of each following event. 
For there is no process which will warrant your 
taking the cause as lest. Here there is at once 
another theoretical trouble, for the same cause 
produces a number of different effects ; and how will 
you deal with that consequence ? But, leaving this, 
we are practically in an equal dilemma. For the 
cause, taken so widely, is the cause of everything 
alike, and hence it can tell us nothing about any- 
thing special ; and, taken less widely, it is not the 
sum, and therefore not the cause. And by this 
time it is obvious that our doctrine must be given 
up. If we want to discover a particular cause (and 
nothing else is a discovery), we must make a dis- 


tinction in the "sum." Then, as before, in every 
case we have conditions beside the cause ; and, as 
before, we are asked for a principle by which to 
effect the distinction between them. And, for myself, 
I return to the statement that I know of none which 
is sound. We seem to effect this distinction always 
to suit a certain purpose ; and it appears to consist 
in our mere adoption of a special point of view. 

But let us return to the consideration of passivity 
and activity. It is certain that nothing can be active 
without an occasion, and that what is active, being 
made thus by the occasion, is so far passive. * The 
occasion, again, since it enters into the causal process 
— a thing it never would have (lone \i left to itself — 
suffers a change from the cause ; and it therefore 
itself is passive in its activity. If the cause is A, 
and the occasion B y then each is active or passive, 
according as you view the result as the expression 
of its nature, or as an adjective imported from out- 

And we are naturally brought here to a case 
where both these aspects seem to vanish. For 
suppose, as before, that we have A and Z?, which 
enter into one process, and let us call the result 
A CB. Here A will suffer a change, and so also will 
B ; and each again may be said to produce change 
in the other. But if the nature of A was, before, 
Acb, and the nature of B was, before, Bca y we are 
brought to a pause. The ideas which we are 
applying are now plainly inadequate and likely to 
confuse us. To A and B themselves they might 
even appear to be ridiculous. How do I suffer a 
change, each would answer, if it is nothing else but 
what I will ? We cannot adopt your points of 
view, since they seem at best quite irrelevant. 

To pass to another head, the conclusion, which so 
far we have reached, seems to exclude the possibility 
of one thing by itself being active. Here we must 


make a distinction. If this supposed thing had no 
variety in its nature, or, again, if its variety did not 
change in time within it, then it is impossible that it 
should be active. The idea, indeed, is self-contra- 
dictory. Nor could one thing again be said to be 
active as a whole ; for that part of its nature which, 
changing, served as the occasion could not be in- 
cluded. I do not propose to argue these points, for 
I do not perceive anything on the other side beyond 
confusion or prejudice. And hence it is certain that 
activity implies hnitude, and otherwise possesses no 
meaning. But, on the other hand, naturally where 
there are a variety of elements, changing in time, we 
may have activity. For part of these elements may 
suffer change from, and may produce it in, others. 
Indeed, the question whether this is to go on inside 
one thing by itself, appears totally irrelevant, until 
at least we have some idea of what we mean by one 
thing. And our enquiries, so far, have not tended 
to establish any meaning. It is as if we enquired 
about hermaphroditism, where we do not know what 
we understand by a single animal. Indeed, if we 
returned at this point to our A and B connected in 
one single process, and enquired of them if they both 
were parts of one thing, or were each one thing con- 
taining a whole process of change, we should 
probably get no answer. They would once more 
recommend us to improve our own ideas before we 
went about applying them. 

Our result up to this point appears to be much 
as follows. Activity, under any of the phrases used 
to carry that idea, is a mass of inconsistency. It is, 
in the first place, riddled by the contradictions of the 
preceding chapters, and if it cannot be freed from 
these, it must be condemned as appearance. And 
its own special nature, so far as we have discovered 
that, seems certainly no better. The activity of 
anything seems to consist in the way in which we 
choose to look at that which it is and becomes. For, 


apart trom the inner nature which comes out in the 
result, activity has no meaning. If this nature was 
not there, and was not real in the thing, is the thing 
really active ? But when we press this question 
home, and insist on having something more than 
insincere metaphors, we find either nothing, or else 
the idea which we are pleased to entertain. And 
this, as an idea, we dare not attribute to the thing, 
and we do not know how to attribute it as anything 
else. But a confusion of this kind cannot belong to 

Throughout this chapter I have ignored a certain 
view about activity. This view would admit that 
activity, as we have discussed it, is untenable ; but 
it would add that we have not even touched the real 
fact. And this fact, it would urge, is the activity 
of a self, while outside self the application of the 
term is metaphorical. And, with this question in 
prospect, we may turn to another series of con- 
siderations about reality. 



Before proceeding further we may conveniently 
pause at this point. The reader may be asked to 
reflect whether anything of what is understood by 
a thing is left to us. It is hard to say what, as a 
matter of fact, is generally understood when we use 
the wortl "thing." But, whatever that may be, it 
seems now undermined and ruined. I suppose we 
generally take a thing as possessing some kind of 
independence, and a sort of title to exist in its own 
right, and not as a mere adjective. But our ideas 
are usually not clear. A rainbow probably is not 
a thing, while a waterfall might get the name, and 
a flash of lightning be left in a doubtful position. 
Further, while many of us would assert stoutly that 
a thing must exist, if at all, in space, others would 
question this and fail to perceive its conclusiveness. 
We have seen how the attempt to reconstitute 
our ideas by the help of primary qualities broke 
down. And, since then, the results, which we have 
reached, really seem to have destroyed things from 
without and from within. If the connections of sub- 
stantive and adjective, and of quality and relation, 
have been shown not to be defensible ; if the forms 
of space and of time have turned out to be full of 
contradictions ; if, lastly, causation and activity have 
succeeded merely in adding inconsistency to incon- 
sistency, — if, in a word, nothing of all this can, as 
such, be predicated of reality, — what is it that is 
left? If things are to exist, then where and how ? 


But if these two questions are unanswerable, then 
we seem driven to the conclusion that things are 
but appearances. And I will add a few remarks, 
not so much in support of this conclusion as in order 
to make it possibly more plain. 

I will come to the point at once. For a thing to 
exist it must possess identity ; and identity seems 
a possession with a character at best doubtful. If 
it is merely ideal, the thing itself can hardly be real. 
First, then, let us inquire if a thing can exist without 
identity. To ask this question is at once to answer 
it ; unless, indeed, a thing is to exist, and is to hold 
its diversity combined in an unity, somehow quite 
outside of time. And this seems untenable. A 
thing, if it is to be called such, must occupy some 
duration beyond the present moment, and hence 
succession is essential. The thing, to be at all, must 
be the same after a change, and the change must, 
to some extent, be predicated of the thing. If you 
suppose a case so simple as the movement of an 
atom, that is enough for our purpose. For, if this 
" thing " does not move, there is no motion. But, 
if it moves, then succession is predicated of it, and 
the thing is a bond of identity in differences. And, 
further, this identity is ideal, since it consists in the 
content, or in the " what we are able to say of the 
thing." For raise the doubt at the end of our 
atom's process, if the atom is the same. The ques- 
tion raised cannot be answered without an appeal 
to its character. It is different in one respect — 
namely, the change of place ; but in another respect 
— that of its own character — it remains the same. 
And this respect is obviously identical content. Or, 
if any one objects that an atom has no content, let 
him throughout substitute the word "body," and 
settle with himself how, without any qualitative dif- 
ference (such as right and left), he distinguishes 
atoms. And this identical content is called ideal 
because it transcends given existence. Existence 

iHlNGS. 73 

is given only in presentation; and, on the other hand, 
the thing is a thing only if its existence goes beyond 
the now, and extends into the past. I will not here dis- 
cuss the question as to the identity of a thing during 
a presented lapse, for I doubt if any one would 
wish to except to our conclusion on that ground. 

Now I am not here raising the whole question 
of the Identity of Indiscernibles. I am urging 
rather that the continuity, which is necessary to a 
thing, seems to depend on its keeping an identity 
of character. A thing is a thing, in short, by being 
what it was. And it does not appear how this 
relation of sameness can be real. It is a relation 
connecting the past with the present, and this con- 
nection is evidently vital to the thing. But, if so, 
the thing has become, in more senses than one, the 
relation of passages in its own history. And if we 
assert that the thing is this inclusive relation, which 
transcends any given time, surely we have allowed 
that the thing, though not wholly an idea, is an idea 
essentially. And it is an idea which at no actual 
time is ever real. 

And this problem is no mere abstract invented 
subtlety, but shows itself in practice. It is often 
impossible to reply when we are asked if an object 
is really the same. If a manufactured article has 
been worked upon and partly remade, such a ques- 
tion may have no sense until it has been specified. 
You must go on to mention the point or the par- 
ticular respect of which you are thinking. For 
questions of identity turn always upon sameness 
in character, and the reason why here you cannot 
reply generally, is that you do not know this 
general character which is taken to make the thing's 
essence. It is not always material substance, for 
we might call an organism identical, though its par- 
ticles were all different It is not always shape, or 
size, or colour, or, again, always the purpose which 
the thing fulfils. The general nature, in fact, of a 


thing's identity seems to lie, first, in the avoidance 
of any absolute break in its existence, and, beyond 
that, to consist in some qualitative sameness which 
differs with different things. And with some things 
— because literally we do not know in what charac- 
ter their sameness lies — we are helpless when asked 
if identity has been preserved. If any one wants 
an instance of the value of our ordinary notions, 
he may find it, perhaps, in Sir John Cutlers silk 
stockings. These were darned with worsted until 
no particle of the silk was left in them, and no one 
could agree whether they were the same old stock- 
ings or were new ones. In brief, the identity of 
a thing lies in the view which you take of it. That 
view seems often a mere chance idea, and, where 
it seems necessary, it still remains an idea-. Or, if 
you prefer it, it is a character, which exists outside 
of and beyond any fact which you can take. But 
it is not easy to see how, if so, any thing can be 
real. And things have, so far, turned out to be 
merely appearances. 



Our facts, up to the present, have proved to be 
illusory. We have seen our things go to pieces, 
crumbled away into relations that can find no terms. 
And we have begun, perhaps, to feel some doubt 
whether, since the plague is so deep-rooted, it can 
be stayed at any point. At the close of our seventh 
chapter we were naturally led beyond the inanimate, 
and up to the self. And here, in the opinion of 
many, is the end of our troubles. The self, they 
will assure us, is not apparent, but quite real. And 
it is not only real in itself, but its reality, if I may 
say so, spreads beyond its own limits and rehabili- 
tates the selfless. It provides a fixed nucleus round 
which the facts can group themselves securely. Or 
it, in some way, at least provides us with a type, 
by the aid of which we may go on to comprehend 
the world. And we must now proceed to a serious 
examination of this claim. Is the self real, is it 
anything which we can predicate of reality ? Or 
is it, on the other hand, like all the preceding, a 
mere appearance — something which is given, and, 
in a sense, most certainly exists, but which is too 
full of contradictions to be the genuine fact ? I 
have been forced to embrace the latter conclusion. 

There is a great obstacle in the path of the pro- 
posed inquiry. A man commonly thinks that he 
knows what he means by his self. He may be in 
doubt about other things, but here he seems to be 
at home. He fancies that with the self he at once 


comprehends both that it is and what it is. And 
of course the fact of one's own existence, in some 
sense, is quite beyond doubt. But as to the sense 
in which this existence is so certain, there the case 
is far otherwise. And I should have thought that 
no one who gives his attention to this question 
could fail to come to one preliminary result. We 
are all sure that we exist, but in what sense and 
what character — as to that we are most of us in help- 
less uncertainty and in blind confusion. And so 
far is the self from being clearer than things out- 
side us that, to speak generally, we never know 
what we mean when we talk of it. But the mean- 
ing and the sense is surely for metaphysics the vital 
point. For, if none defensible can be found, such 
a failure, I must insist, ought to end the question. 
Anything the meaning of which is inconsistent and 
unintelligible is appearance, and not reality. 

I must use nearly the whole of this chapter in 
trying to fix some of the meanings in which self is 
used. And I am forced to trespass inside the limits 
of psychology ; as, indeed, I think is quite necessary 
in several parts of metaphysics. I do not mean that 
metaphysics is based upon psychology. I am quite 
convinced that such a foundation is impossible, and 
that, if attempted, it produces a disastrous hybrid 
which possesses the merits of neither science. The 
metaphysics will come in to check a resolute analysis, 
and the psychology will furnish excuses for half- 
hearted metaphysics. And there can be really no 
such science as the theory of cognition. But, on the 
other hand, the metaphysician who is no psycholo- 
gist runs great dangers. For he must take up, and 
must work upon, the facts about the soul ; and, if he 
has not tried to learn what they are, the risk is very 
serious. The psychological monster he may adopt 
is certain also, no doubt, to be monstrous metaphys- 
ically ; and the supposed fact of its existence does 
not prove it less monstrous. But experience shows 


that human beings, even when metaphysical, lack 
courage at some point. And we cannot afford to 
deal with monsters, who in the end may seduce us, and 
who are certain sometimes, at any rate, to be much 
in our way. But I am only too sensible that, with 
all our care, the danger nearest each is least seen. 

I will merely mention that use of self which 
identifies it with the body. As to our perception of 
our own bodies, there, of course, exists some psycho- 
logical error. And this may take a metaphysical 
form if it tries to warrant, through some immediate 
revelation, the existence of the organism as some- 
how the real expression of the self. But I intend 
to pass all this by. For, at the point which we 
have reached, there seems no exit by such a road 
from familiar difficulties. 

1. Let us then, excluding the body as an outward 
thing, go on to inquire into the meanings of self. 
And the first of these is pretty clear. By asking 
what is the self of this or that individual man, I 
may be enquiring as to the present contents of his 
experience. Take a section through the man at 
any given moment. You will then find a mass of 
feelings, and thoughts, and sensations, which come 
to him as the world of things and other persons, 
and again as himself; and this contains, of course, 
his views and his wishes about everything. Every- 
thing, self and not-self, and what is not distinguished 
as either, in short the total filling of the man's 
soul at this or that moment — we may understand 
this when we ask what is the individual at a given 
time. There is no difficulty here in principle, 
though the detail would naturally (as detail) be 
unmanageable. But, for our present purpose, such 
a sense is obviously not promising. 

2. The congeries inside a man at one given 
moment does not satisfy as an answer to the 
question what is self. The self, to go no further, 
must be something beyond present time, and it 


cannot contain a sequence of contradictory varia 
tions. Let us then modify our answer, and say, 
Not the mass of any one moment, but the constant 
average mass, is the meaning of self. Take, as 
before, a section completely through the man, and 
expose his total psychical contents ; only now take 
this section at different times, and remove what 
seems exceptional. The residue will be the normal 
and ordinary matter, which fills his experience ; and 
this is the self of the individual. This self will 
contain, as before, the perceived environment — in 
short, the not-self so far as that is for the self — 
but it will contain now only the usual or average 
not-self. And it must embrace the habits of the 
individual and the laws of his character — whatever 
we mean by these. His self will be the usual 
manner in which he behaves, and the usual matter 
to which he behaves, that is, so far as he behaves 
to it. 

We are tending here towards the distinction of 
the essential self from its accidents, but we have 
not yet reached that point. We have, however, left 
the self as the whole individual of one moment, or 
of succeeding moments, and are trying to find it as 
the individual's normal constituents, What is that 
which makes the man his usual self? We have 
answered, It is his habitual disposition and con- 
tents, and it is not his changes from day to day and 
from hour to hour. These contents are not merely 
the man's internal feelings, or merely that which he 
reflects on as his self. They consist quite as essen- 
tially in the outward environment, so far as relation 
to that makes the man what he is. For, if we try 
to take the man apart from certain places and 
persons, we have altered his life so much that he is 
not his usual self. Again, some of this habitual 
not-self, to use that expression, enters into the 
man's life in its individual form. His wife possibly, 
or his child, or, again, some part or feature of his 


inanimate environment, could not, if destroyed, be 
so made good by anything else that the man's self 
would fail to be seriously modified. Hence we 
may call these the constituents which are indi- 
vidually necessary ; requisite for the man, that is, 
not in their vague, broad character, but in their 
specialty as this or that particular thing. But 
other tracts of his normal self are filled by con- 
stituents necessary, we may say, no more than 
generically. His usual life gets its character, that 
is, from a large number of details which are variable 
within limits. His habits and his environment have 
main outlines which may still remain the same, 
though within these the special features have been 
greatly modified. This portion of the man's life is 
necessary to make him his average self, but, if the 
generic type is preserved, the special details are 

This is, perhaps, a fair account of the man's usual 
self, but it is obviously no solution of theoretical 
difficulties. A man's true self, we should be told, 
cannot depend on his relations to that which fluctu- 
ates. And fluctuation is not the word ; for in the 
lifetime of a man there are irreparable changes. Is 
he literally not the same man if loss, or death, or 
love, or banishment has turned the current of his 
life ? And yet, when we look at the facts, and 
survey the man's self from the cradle to the coffin, 
we may be able to find no one average. The usual 
self of one period is not the usual self of another, 
and it is impossible to unite in one mass these con- 
flicting psychical contents. Either then we accept 
the man's mere history as his self, and, if so, why 
call it one ? Or we confine ourselves to periods, 
and there is no longer any single self. Or, finally, 
we must distinguish the self from the usual con- 
stituents of the man's psychical being. We must 
try to reach the self which is individual by finding 
the self which is essential. 


3. Let us then take, as before, a man's mind, and 
inspect its furniture and contents. We must try to 
find that part of them in which the self really 
consists, and which makes it one and not another. 
And here, so far as I am aware, we can get no 
assistance from popular ideas. There seems, how- 
ever, no doubt that the inner core of feeling, resting 
mainly on what is called Ccenesthesia, is the founda- 
tion of the self. 1 

But this inner nucleus, in the first place, is not 
separated from the average self of the man by any 
line that can be drawn ; and, in the second place, 
its elements come from a variety of sources. In 
some cases it will contain, indivisibly from the rest, 
relation to a not- self of a certain character. Where 
an individual is such that alteration in what comes 
from the environment completely unsettles him, 
where this change may produce a feeling of self- 
estrangement so severe as to cause sickness and 
even death, we must admit that the self is not 
enclosed by a wall. And where the essential self 
is to end, and the accidental self to begin, seems a 
riddle without an answer. 

For an attempt to answer it is baffled by a fatal 
dilemma. If you take an essence which can change, 
it is not an essence at all ; while, if you stand on 
anything more narrow, the self has disappeared. 
What is this essence of the self which never is 
altered ? Infancy and old age, disease and madness, 
bring new features, while others are borne away. 
It is hard indeed to fix any limit to the self's 
mutability. One self, doubtless, can suffer change 
in which another would perish. But, on the other 
hand, there comes a point in each where we should 
agree that the man is no longer himself. This 

1 I may refer here to a few further remarks in Mind, 12, p. 368 
and foil. I am not suggesting that ideas may not form part of the 
innermost self. One thinks here naturally of the strange selves 
suggested in hypnotism. 


creature lost in illusions, bereft of memory, trans- 
formed in mood, with diseased feelings enthroned 
in the very heart of his being — is this still one self 
with what we knew ? Well, be it so ; assert, what 
you are unable to show, that there is still a point 
untouched, a spot which never has been invaded. 
I will not ask you to point this out, for I am sure 
that is impossible. But I urge upon you the 
opposite side of the dilemma. This narrow per- 
sisting element of feeling or idea, this fixed essence 
not " servile to all the skyey influences," this 
wretched fraction and poor atom, too mean to be in 
danger — do you mean to tell me that this bare 
remnant is really the self ? The supposition is pre- 
posterous, and the question wants no answer. If 
the self has been narrowed to a point which does 
not change, that point is less than the real self. 
But anything wider has a " complexion " which 
" shifts to strange effects," and therefore cannot be 
one self. The riddle has proved too hard for 

We have been led up to the problem of 
personal identity, and any one who thinks that he 
knows what he means by his self, may be invited 
to solve this. To my mind it seems insoluble, 
but not because all the questions asked are essen- 
tially such questions as cannot be answered. The 
true cause of failure lies in this — that we will persist 
in asking questions when we do not know what 
they mean, and when their meaning perhaps pre- 
supposes what is false. In inquiries about identity, 
as we saw before in Chapter viii., it is all-important 
to be sure of the aspect about which you ask. A 
thing may be identical or different, according as 
you look at it Hence in personal identity the 
main point is to fix the meaning of person ; and it 
is chiefly because our ideas as to this are confused, 
that we are unable to come to a further result. 
In the popular view a man's identity resides 
A. R G 


mainly in his body. 1 There, before we reflect much, 
lies the crucial point. Is the body the same ? Has 
it existed continuously ? If there is no doubt about 
this, then the man is the same, and presumably he 
has preserved his personal identity, whatever else 
we like to say has invaded or infected it. But, of 
course, as we have seen, this identity of the body 
is itself a doubtful problem (p. 73). And even 
apart from that, the mere oneness of the organism 
must be allowed to be a very crude way of settling 
personal sameness. Few of us would venture to 
maintain that the self is the body. 

Now, if we add the requirement of psychical 
continuity, have we advanced much further ? For 
obviously it is not known, and there seems hardly 
any way of deciding, whether the psychical current 
is without any break. Apparently, during sleep or 
otherwise, such intervals are at least possible ; and, 
if so, continuity, being doubtful, cannot be used to 
prove identity. And further, if our psychical con- 
tents can be more or less transformed, the mere 
absence of an interval will hardly be thought enough 
to guarantee sameness. So far as I can judge, it is 
usual, for personal identity, to require both con- 
tinuity and qualitative sameness. But how much of 
each is wanted, and how the two stand to one 
another, — as to this I can find little else but sheer 
confusion. Let us examine it more closely. 

We should perhaps say that by one self we under- 
stand one experience. And this may either mean 
one for a supposed outside observer, or one for the 
consciousness of the self in question, the latter kind 
of unity being added to or apart from the first kind. 
And the self is not one unless within limits its 
quality is the same. But we have already seen that 
if the individual is simply viewed from outside, it is 
quite impossible to find a limit within which change 

1 In the Fortnightly Review, ccxxviii., p. 820, I have further 
discussed this question. 


may not come, and which yet is wide enough to 
embrace a real self. Hence, if the test is only same- 
ness for an outside observer, it seems clear that 
sometimes a man's life must have a series of selves. 
But at what point of difference, and on what precise 
principle, that succession takes place seems not de- 
finable. The question is important, but the decision, 
if there is one, appears quite arbitrary. But per- 
haps, if we quit the view of the outside observer, we 
may discover some principle. Let us make the 

We may take memory as the criterion. The self, 
we may hold, which remembers itself is so far one ; 
and in this lies personal identity. We perhaps may 
wish also to strengthen our case by regarding memory 
as something entirely by itself, and as, so to speak, 
capable of anything whatever. But this is, of course, 
quite erroneous. Memory, as a special application 
of reproduction, displays no exceptional wonders to a 
sane psychology, nor does it really offer greater diffi- 
culties than we find in several other functions. And 
the point I would emphasize here is its limits and 
defects. Whether you take it across its breadth, or 
down its length, you discover a great want of 
singleness. This one memory of which we talk is 
very weak for many aspects of our varied life, and 
is again disproportionately strong for other aspects. 
Hence it seems more like a bundle of memories run- 
ning side by side and in part unconnected. It is 
certain that at any one time what we can recall is 
most fragmentary. There are whole sides of our life 
which may be wanting altogether, and others which 
will come up only in various degrees of feebleness. 
This is when memory is at its best ; and at other 
times there hardly seems any limit to its failure. 
Not only may some threads of our bundle be want- 
ing or weak, but, out of those that remain, certain 
lengths may be missing. Pieces of our life, when we 
were asleep, or drugged, or otherwise distempered, 


arc not represented. Doubtless the current, for all 
that, comes to us as continuous. But so it does 
when things go further, and when in present disease 
our recollection becomes partial and distorted. Nay, 
when in one single man there are periodic returns 
of two disconnected memories, the faculty still keeps 
its nature and proclaims its identity. And psycho- 
logy explains how this is so. Memory depends on 
reproduction from a basis that is present — a basis 
that may be said to consist in self- feeling. Hence, so 
far as this basis remains the same through life, it 
may, to speak in general, recall anything once as- 
sociated with it. And, as this basis changes, we 
can understand how its connections with past events 
will vary indefinitely, both in fulness and in strength. 
Hence, for the same reason, when self- feeling has 
been altered beyond a limit not in general to be 
defined, the base required for reproduction of our 
past is removed. And, as these different bases 
alternate, our past life will come to us differently, 
not as one self, but as diverse selves alternately. 
And of course these " reproduced " selves may, to a 
very considerable extent, have never existed in the 
past. 1 

Now I would invite the person who takes his 
sameness to consist in bare memory, to confront his 
view with these facts, and to show us how he under- 
stands them. For apparently, though he may not 
admit that personal identity has degrees, he at least 
cannot deny that in one life we are able to have 
more than one self. And, further, he may be com- 
pelled to embrace self-sameness with a past which 
exists, for him only sometimes, and for others not at 
all. And under these conditions it is not easy to 
see what becomes of the self. I will, however, go 
further. It is well known that after an injury fol- 
lowed by unconsciousness which is removed by an 
operation, our mental life may begin again from the 
1 Compare here once again the suggested selves of hypnotism. 


moment of the injury. Now if the self remembers 
because and according as it is now, might not 
another self be made of a quality the same, and 
hence possessing the same past in present recollec- 
tion ? And if one could be made thus, why not also 
two or three ? These might be made distinct at the 
present time, through their differing quality, and 
again through outward relations, and yet be like 
enough for each to remember the same past, and so, 
of course, to be the same. Nor do I see how this 
supposition is to be rejected as theoretically impos- 
sible. And it may help us to perceive, what was 
evident before, that a self is not thought to be the 
same because of bare memory, but only so when 
that memory is considered not to be deceptive. 
But this admits that identity must depend in the end 
upon past existence, and not solely upon mere pre- 
sent thinking. And continuity in some degree, and 
in some unintelligible sense, is by the popular view 
required for personal identity. He who is risen 
from the dead may really be the same, though we 
can say nothing intelligible of his ambiguous eclipse 
or his phase of half- existence. But a man wholly 
like the first, but created fresh after the same lapse 
of time, we might feel was too much to be one, if 
not quite enough to make two. Thus it is evident 
that, for personal identity, some continuity is requi- 
site, but how much no one seems to know. In fact, 
if we are not satisfied with vague phrases and mean- 
ingless generalities, we soon discover that the best 
way is not to ask questions. But if we persist, we 
are likely to be left with this result. Personal iden- 
tity is mainly a matter of degree. The question has 
a meaning, if confined to certain aspects of the self, 
though even here it can be made definite in each 
case only by the arbitrary selection of points of view. 
And in each case there will be a limit fixed in the 
end by no clear principle. But in what the general 
sameness of one self consists is a problem insoluble 


because it is meaningless. This question, I repeat 
it, is sheer nonsense until we have got some clear 
idea as to what the self is to stand for. If you ask 
me whether a man is identical in this or that respect, 
and for one purpose or another purpose, then, if 
we do not understand one another, we are on the 
road to an understanding. In my opinion, even 
then we shall reach our end only by more or less of 
convention and arrangement. But to seek an answer 
in general to the question asked at large is to pur- 
sue a chimera. 

We have seen, so far, that the self has no definite 
meaning. It was hardly one section of the indi- 
vidual's contents ; nor was it even such a section, if 
reduced to what is usual and taken somehow at an 
average. The self appeared to be the essential por- 
tion or function, but in what that essence lies no one 
really seemed to know. We could find nothing but 
opinions inconsistent with each other, not one of 
which would presumably be held by any one man, if 
he were forced to realize its meaning. 

(4) By selecting from the individual's contents, or 
by accepting them in the gross, we have failed to 
find the self. We may hence be induced to locate 
it in some kind of monad, or supposed simple being. 
By this device awkward questions, as to diversity 
and sameness, seem fairly to be shelved. The unity 
exists as a unit, and in some sphere presumably 
secure from chance and from change. I will here 
first recall our result which turned out adverse to 
the possibility of any such being (Chapters iii. 
and v.). And secondly I will point out in a few 
words that its nature is most ambiguous. Is it the 
self at all, and, if so, to what extent and in what 
sense ? 

If we make this unit something moving parallel 
with the life of a man, or, rather, something not mov- 
ing, but literally standing in relation to his successive 


variety, this will not give us much help. It will be 
the man's self about as much as is his star (if he has 
one), which looks down from above and cares not 
when he perishes. And if the unit is brought down 
into the life of the person, and so in any sense suffers 
his fortunes, then in what sense does it remain any 
longer a unit ? And if we will but look at the ques- 
tion, we are forced to this conclusion. If we knew 
already what we meant by the self, and could point 
out its existence, then our monad might be offered 
as a theory to account for that self. It would be an 
indefensible theory, but at least respectable as being 
an attempt to explain something. But, so long as 
we have no clear view as to the limits in actual fact 
of the self s existence, our monad leaves us with all 
our old confusion and obscurity. But it further 
loads us with the problem of its connection with 
these facts about which we are so ignorant. What 
I mean is simply this. Suppose you have accepted 
the view that self consists in recollection, and then 
offer me one monad, or two or three, or as many as 
you think the facts call for, in order to account for 
recollection. I think your theory worthless, but, to 
some extent, I respect it, because at least it has 
taken up some fact, and is trying to account for it. 
But if you offer me a vague mass, and then a unit 
alongside, and tell me that the second is the self of 
the first, I do not think that you are saying any- 
thing. All I see is that you are drifting towards 
this dilemma. If the monad owns the whole diver- 
sity, or any selected part of the diversity, which we 
find in the individual, then, even if you had found 
in this the identity of the self, you would have to 
reconcile it all with the simplicity of the monad. 
But if the monad stands aloof, either with no 
character at all or a private character apart, then it 
may be a fine thing in itself, but it is mere mockery 
to call it the self of a man. And, with so much for 
the present, I will pass away from this point 


(5) It may be suggested that the self is the matter 
in which I take personal interest. The elements 
felt as mine may be regarded as the self, or, at all 
events, as all the self which exists. And interest 
consists mainly, though not wholly, in pain and plea- 
sure. The self will be therefore that group of feel- 
ings which, to a greater or less extent, is constantly 
present, and which is always attended by pleasure 
or pain. And whatever from time to time is united 
with this group, is a personal affair and becomes 
part of self. This general view may serve to lead 
us to a fresh way of taking self ; but it obviously 
promises very little result for metaphysics. For the 
contents of self are most variable from one time to 
another, and are largely conflicting ; and they are 
drawn from many heterogeneous sources. In fact, if 
the self means merely what interests us personally, 
then at any one time it is likely to be too wide, and 
perhaps also to be too narrow ; and at different 
times it seems quite at variance with itself. 

(6) We are now brought naturally to a most im- 
portant way of understanding the self. We have, 
up to the present, ignored the distinction of subject 
and object. We have made a start from the whole 
psychical individual, and have tried to find the self 
there or in connection with that. But this individual, 
we saw, contained both object and subject, both not- 
self and self. At least, the not-self must clearly be 
allowed to be in it, so far as that enters into relation 
with the self and appears as an object. The reader 
may prefer another form of expression, but he must, 
I think, agree as to the fact If you take what in 
che widest sense is inside a man's mind, you will 
find there both subject and object and their relation. 
This will, at all events, be the case both in percep- 
tion and thought, and again in desire and volition. 
And this self, which is opposed to the not-self, will 
most emphatically not coincide with the self, if that 


is taken as the individual or the essential individual. 
The deplorable confusion, which is too prevalent on 
this head, compels me to invite the reader's special 

The psychical division of the soul into subject and 
object has, as is well known, two main forms. The 
relation of the self to the not-self is theoretical and 
practical. In the first we have, generally, perception 
or intelligence ; in the second we have desire and will. 
It is impossible for me here to point out the distinct 
nature of each ; and still less can I say anything on 
their development from one root What seems 
to me certain is that both these forms of relation 
are secondary products. Every soul either exists 
or has existed at a stage where there was no self 
and no not-self, neither Ego nor object in any sense 
whatever. But in what way thought and will have 
emerged from this basis — this whole of feeling given 
without relation — I cannot here discuss. 1 Nor is 
the discussion necessary to an understanding of 
the crucial point here. That point turns upon the 
contents of the self and the not-self; and we may 
consider these apart from the question of origin. 

Now that subject and object have contents and 
are actual psychical groups appears to me evident. 
I am aware that too often writers speak of the Ego 
as of something not essentially qualified by this or 
that psychical matter. And I do not deny that in a 
certain use that language might be defended. But if 
we consider, as we are considering here, what we are 
to understand by that object and subject in relation, 
which at a given time we find existing in a soul, the 
case is quite altered. The Ego that pretends to be 
anything either before or beyond its concrete psychical 
filling, is a gross fiction and mere monster, and for 
no purpose admissible. And the question surely 

1 On this and other kindred points, compare my articles in 
Mind, Nos. 47 and 49. And see below (Chapters xix., xxvi., 



may be settled by observation. Take any case of 
perception, or whatever you please, where this rela- 
tion of object to subject is found as a fact. There, 
I presume, no one will deny that the object, at all 
events, is a concrete phenomenon. It has a char- 
acter which exists as, or in, a mental fact. And, if 
we turn from this to the subject, is there any more 
cause for doubt ? Surely in every case that con- 
tains a mass of feeling, if not also of other psychical 
existence. When I see, or perceive, or understand, 
I (my term of the relation) am palpably, and perhaps 
even painfully, concrete. And when I will or desire, 
it surely is ridiculous to take the self as not qualified 
by particular psychical fact. Evidently any self 
which we can find is some concrete form of unity of 
psychical existence. And whoever wishes to intro- 
duce it as something (now or at any time) apart or 
beyond, clearly does not rest his case upon observa- 
tion. He is importing into the facts a metaphysical 
chimera, which, in no sense existing, can do no work ; 
and which, even if it existed, would be worse than 

The self and not-self, as discoverable, are concrete 
groups, 1 and the question is as to the content of these. 
* What is that content, if any, which is essentially not- 
self or self ? Perhaps the best way of beginning this 
inquiry is to ask whether there is anything which 
may not become an object and, in that sense, a not- 
self. We certainly seem able to set everything over 
against ourselves. We begin from the outside, but 
the distinguishing process becomes more inward, 
until it ends with deliberate and conscious intro- 
spection. Here we attempt to set before, and so 
opposite to, self our most intimate features. We 
cannot do this with all at any one time, but with 
practice and labour one detail after another is de- 
tached from the felt background and brought before 

1 I am not saying that the whole soul is divided into two groups. 
That is really not possible. See more below. 


our view. It is far from certain that at some one 
time every feature of the self has, sooner or later, 
taken its place in the not-self ; but it is quite certain 
that this holds of by far the larger part. And we 
are hence compelled to admit that very little of the 
self can belong to it essentially. Let us now turn 
from the theoretical to the practical relation. Is 
there here anything, let us ask, which is incapable of 
becoming an object to my will or desire ? But what 
becomes such an object is clearly a not-self and 
opposed to the self. Let us go at once to the region 
that seems most internal and inalienable. As intro- 
spection discloses this or that feature in ourselves, 
can we not wish that it were otherwise ? May not 
everything that we find within us be felt as a limit 
and as a not-self, against which we either do, or con- 
ceivably might, react Take, for instance, some 
slight pain. We may have been feeling, in our 
dimmest and most inward recesses, uneasy and dis- 
composed ; and, so soon as this disturbing feature is 
able to be noticed, we at once react against it. The 
disquieting sensation becomes clearly a not-self, which 
we desire to remove. And, I think, we must accept 
the result that, if not everything may become at 
times a practical not-self, it is at least hard to find 

Let us now, passing to the other side of both these 
relations, ask if the not-self contains anything which 
belongs to it exclusively. It will not be easy to dis- 
cover many such elements. In the theoretical rela- 
tion it is quite clear that not everything can be an 
object, all together and at once. At any one moment 
that which is in any sense before me must be limited. 
What are we to say then becomes of that remainder 
of the not- self which clearly has not, even for the 
time, passed wholly from my mind ? I do not mean 
those features of the environment to which I fail to 
attend specially, but which I still go on perceiving 
as something before me. I refer to the features 


which have now sunk below this level. These are 
not even a setting or a fringe to the object of my 
mind. They have passed lower into the general 
background of feeling, from which that distinct ob- 
ject with its indistinct setting is detached. But this 
means that for the time they have passed into the 
self. A constant sound will afford us a very good 
instance. 1 That may be made into the principal 
object of my mind, or it may be an accompaniment 
of that object more or less definite. But there is a 
further stage, where you cannot say that the sensa- 
tion has ceased, and where yet it is no feature in 
what comes as the not-self. It has become now one 
among the many elements of my feeling, and it has 
passed into that self for which the not-self exists. I 
will not ask if with any, or with what, portions of the 
not-self this relapse may be impossible, for it is 
enough that it should be possible with a very great 
deal. Let us go on to look at the same thing from 
the practical side. There it will surely be very 
difficult to fix on elements which essentially must 
confront and limit me. There are some to which in 
fact I seem never to be practically related ; and 
there are others which are the object of my will or 
desire only from occasion to occasion. And if we 
cannot find anything which is essential to the not- 
self, then everything, it would appear, so far as it 
enters my mind, may form part of the felt mass. 
But if so, it would seem for the time to be connected 
with that group against which the object of will 
comes. And thus once again the not-self has be- 
come self. 

The reader may have observed one point on which 
my language has been guarded. That point is the 
extreme limit of this interchange of content between 
the not-self and the self. I do not for one moment 
deny the existence of that limit. In my opinion it 

1 Another instance would be the sensations from my own 


is not only possible, but most probable, that in every 
man there are elements in the internal felt core 
which are never made objects, and which practically 
cannot be. There may well be features in our 
Ccenesthesia which lie so deep that we never succeed 
in detaching them ; and these cannot properly be 
said to be ever our not-self. Even in the past we 
cannot distinguish their speciality. But I presume 
that even here the obstacle may be said to be prac- 
tical, and to consist in the obscurity, and not other- 
wise in the essence, of these sensations. 1 And I will 
barely notice the assertion that pleasure and pain 
are essentially not capable of being objects. This 
assertion seems produced by the straits of theory, 
is devoid of all basis in fact, and may be ignored. 
But our reason for believing in elements which 
never are a not-self is the fact of a felt surplus in 
our undistinguished core. What I .mean is this : 
we are able in our internal mass of feeling to distin- 
guish and to recognise a number of elements ; and 
we are able, on the other side, to decide that our 
feeling contains beyond these an unexhausted mar- 
gin. 3 It contains a margin which, in its general idea 
of margin, can be made an object, but which, in its 
particularity, cannot be. But from time to time this 
margin has been encroached upon ; and we have not 
the smallest reason to suppose that at some point in 
its nature lies a hard and fast limit to the invasion 
of the not-self. 

1 Notice that our emotional moods, where we hardly could 
analyse them, may qualify objects aesthetically. 

* How the existence of this margin is observed is a question I 
cannot discuss here. The main point lies in our ability to feel a 
discrepancy between our felt self and any object before it. This, 
reflected on and made an object — as, of course, in its main vague 
type is always possible with past feeling — gives us the idea of an 
unreduced residue. The same ability to feel discrepancy is the 
ground of our belief as to difference or identity between past and 
present feeling. But the detail of this discussion does not belong 
to metaphysics. 


On the side of the not-self, once more, I would 
not assert that every feature of content may lapse 
into mere feeling, and so fuse itself with the back- 
ground. There may be features which practically 
manage never to do this. And, again, it may be 
urged that there are thought-products not capable of 
existence, save when noticed in such a way as must 
imply opposition to self. I will not controvert this ; 
but will suggest only that it might open a question, 
as to the existence in general of thought-products 
within the feeling self, which might further bewilder 
us. I will come to the conclusion, and content 
myself with urging the general result. Both on the 
side of the self and on the side of the not-self, there 
are, if you please, admitted to be features not capable 
of translocation. But the amount of these will be so 
small as to be incapable of characterizing and con- 
stituting the self or the not-self. The main bulk of 
the elements on each side is interchangeable. 

If at this point we inquire whether the present 
meaning of self will coincide with those we had be- 
fore, the answer is not doubtful. For clearly well- 
nigh everything contained in the psychical individual 
may be at one time part of self and at another time 
part of not-self. Nor would it be possible to find 
an essence of the man which was incapable of being 
opposed to the self, as an object for thought and for 
will. At least, if found, that essence would consist 
in a residue so narrow as assuredly to be insufficient 
for making an individual. And it could gain con- 
creteness only by receiving into its character a 
mortal inconsistency. The mere instance of in- 
ternal volition should by itself be enough to compel 
reflection. There you may take your self as deep- 
lying and as inward as you please, and may narrow 
it to the centre ; yet these contents may be placed 
in opposition to your self, and you may desire their 
alteration. And here surely there is an end of any 
absolute confinement or exclusive location of the self. 


For the self is at one moment the whole individual, 
inside which the opposites and their tension is con- 
tained ; and, again, it is one opposite, limited by and 
stru gg nn g against an opponent. 

And the fact of the matter seems this. The 
whole psychical mass, which fills the soul at any mo- 
ment, is the self so far as this mass is only felt So 
far, that is, as the mass is given together in one 
whole, and not divisible from the group which is 
especially connected with pleasure and pain, this 
entire whole is felt as self. But, on the other side, 
elements of content are distinguished from the mass, 
which therefore is, so far, the background against 
which perception takes place. But this relation of 
not-self to self does not destroy the old entire self. 
This is still the whole mass inside which the dis- 
tinction and the relation falls. And self in these 
two meanings coexists with itself, though it certain- 
ly does not coincide. Further, in the practical 
relation a new feature becomes visible. There we 
have, first of all, self as the whole felt condition. 
We have, next, the not-self which is felt as opposing 
the self. We have, further, the group, which is limi- 
ted and struggles to expand, so causing the tension. 
This is, of course, felt specially as the self, and with- 
in this there falls a new feature worth noticing. In 
desire and volition we have an idea held against 
the existing not-self, the idea being that of a change 
in that not-self. This idea not only is felt to be a 
part of that self which is opposed to the not-self, — 
it is felt also to be the main feature and the pro- 
minent element there. Thus we say of a man that 
his whole self was centred in a certain particular 
end. This means, to speak psychologically, that 
the idea is one whole with the inner group which 
is repressed by the not self, and that the tension is 
felt emphatically in the region of the idea. The 
idea becomes thus the prominent feature in the con- 
tent of self. And hence its expansion against, or 


contraction by, the actual group of the not-self is 
felt as the enlargement or the restraint of myself. 
Here, if the reader will call to mind that the exist- 
ing not-self may be an internal state, whose alteration 
is desired, — and, again, if he will reflect that the idea, 
viewed theoretically, itself is a not-self, — he may 
realize the entire absence of a qualification attached 
to, and indivisible from, one special content. 

We have yet to notice even another meaning 
which is given to " self." But I must first attempt 
at this point to throw further light on the subject of 
our seventh chapter. The perception by the self 
of its own activity is a corner of psychology which 
is dangerous if left in darkness. We shall realize 
this danger in our next chapter ; and I will attempt 
here to cut the ground from beneath some blind 
prejudices. My failure, if I fail, will not logically 
justify their existence. It may doubtless be used in 
their excuse, but I am forced to run that risk for 
the sake of the result. 

The perception of activity comes from the expan- 
sion of the self against the not-self, this expansion 
arising from the self. 1 And by the self is not meant 
the whole contents of the individual, but one term 
of the practical relation described above. We saw 
there how an idea, over against the not-self, was 
the feature with which the self-group was most iden- 
tified. And by the realization of this idea the self 
therefore is expanded ; and the expansion, as such? 
is always a cause of pleasure. The mere expansion, 
of course, would not be felt as activity, and its origi- 

1 I may refer the reader hereto Mind, 43, pp. 319-320; 47, pp. 
371-372 ; and 49, p. 33. I have notanswered Mr. Ward's criticisms 
{Mind 48, pp. 572-575) in detail, because in my opinion they are 
mere misunderstandings, the removal of which is not properly 
my concern. 

3 For a further distinction on this point see Mind, 49, pp. 6 
and foil. 


nation from within the self is of the essence of the 

But there are several points necessary for the 
comprehension of this view. i. The reader must 
understand, first of all, that the expansion is not 
necessarily the enlargement of the self in the sense 
of the whole individual. Nor is it even the enlarge- 
ment of the self as against the not-self, in every 
meaning of those terms. It is the expansion of the 
self so far as that is identified with the idea of the 
change. If, for example, I wished to produce self- 
contraction, then that also would be enlargement, 
because in it the idea, before limited by the fact of 
a greater area, would transcend that limit. Thus 
even self-destruction is relative expansion, so long 
as the activity lasts. And we may say, generally, 
the self here is that in which it feels its chief interest 
For this is both indivisible from and prominent in 
its inmost being. No one who misses this point 
can understand what activity means. 

2. This leads us to a difficulty. For sometimes 
clearly I am active, where there is no idea proper, 
and, it might be added, even no limiting not-self. 
I will take the last point first, (a) Let us, for argu- 
ment's sake, imagine a case where, with no outside 
Other, and noconsciousness of an empty environment, 
the self feels expansion. In what sense can we dis- 
cover any not-self here ? The answer is simple. 
The self, as existing, is that limit to itself which it 
transcends by activity. Let us call the self, as it is 
before the activity, A> and, while active, AB. But 
we have a third feature, the inner nature of A, which 
emerges in AB. This, as we saw, is the idea of 
the change, and we may hence write it b. We 
have, therefore, at the beginning not merely A, but 
in addition A qualified by b ; and these are opposite 
to one another. The unqualified A is the not-self 
of A as identified with b ; and the tension between 
Ab and A is the inner source of the change, 

A. r. 11 


which, of course, expands b to B, and by consequence, 
so far, A. We may, if we like these phrases, call 
activity the ideality of a thing carrying the thing be- 
yond its actual limit. But what is really important 
is the recognition that activity has no meaning, un- 
less in some sense we suppose an idea of the change • 
and that, as against this idea in which the self feels 
its interest, the actual condition of the self is a not- 
self. (6) And this, of course, opens a problem. For 
in some cases where the self apprehends itself as 
active, there seems at first sight to be no idea. But 
the problem is solved by the distinction between an 
idea which is explicit and an idea not explicit. The 
latter is ideal solely in the sense that its content is 
used beyond its existence. 1 It might indeed be ar- 
gued that, when we predicate activity, the end is 
always transferred in idea to the beginning. That 
is doubtless true ; but, when activity is merely felt, 
there will never be there an explicit idea. And, in 
the absence of this, I will try to explain what takes 
place. We have first a self which, as it exists, may 
be called Ac. This self becomes Acd, and is there- 
fore expanded. But bare expandedness is, of course, 
by itself not activity, and could not be so felt. And 
the mere alteration consequently, of Ac to Acd % 
would be felt only as a change, and as an addition 
made to the identical A. When these differences, 
c and d, are connected before the mind by the iden- 
tical A — and for the perception of change they must 
be connected — there is, so far, no action or passiv- 
ity, but a mere change which happens. This is not 
enough for activity, since we require also 8, the idea 
of d, in Ac ; and this idea we do not have in an 
explicit form. But what, I think, suffices is this. 
Ac, which as a fact passes into Acd, and is felt so to 
pass by the perception of a relation of sequence, is 
also previously felt as AcS. That is, in the A, 

1 Mind, 49, p. 23. And see bilow, Chapter xv., p. 163. 


apart from and before its actual change to d, we 
have the qualification AcS wavering and struggling 
against Ac. Ac suggests AcS, which is felt as one 
with it, and not as given to it by anything else. But 
this suggestion AcS, as soon as it arises, is checked 
by the negative, mere Ac, which maintains its posi- 
tion. A is therefore the site of a struggle of AcS 
against Ac. Each is felt in A as belonging to it and 
therefore as one ; and there is no relation yet which 
serves as the solution of this discrepancy. Hence 
comes the feeling that A is, and yet is not, Acd. 
But when the relation of sequence seems to solve 
this contradiction, then the ensuing result is not felt 
as mere addition to Ac. It is felt as the success of 
Acd, which before was kept back by the stronger Ac. 
And thus, without any explicit idea, an idea is ac- 
tually applied ; for there is a content which is used 
beyond and against existence. And this, I think, 
is the explanation of the earliest felt activity. 

This brief account is naturally open to objections, 
but all that are not mere misunderstanding can, I 
believe, be fully met. The subject, however, belongs 
to psychology, and I must not here pursue it. The 
reader will have seen that I assume, for the percep- 
tion of change, the necessity of connecting the end 
with the beginning. This is effected by redintegra- 
tion from the identical A, and it is probably assisted 
at first by the after-sensation of the starting- place, 
persisting together with the result. And this I am 
obliged here to assume. Further, the realization of 
Acd must not be attached as an adjective to any- 
thing outside A, such as E. This would be fatal 
to the appearance of a feeling of activity. A must, 
for our feeling, be Acd\ and, again, that must be 
checked by the more dominant Ac. It must be 
unable to establish itself, and yet must struggle, — 
that is, oscillate and waver. Hence a wavering 
AcS, causing pleasure at each partial success, and re- 
sisted by Ac, which you may take, as you pi 


for its negative or its privation — this is what after- 
wards turns into that strange scandalous hybrid, 
potential existence. And S, as a content that is re- 
jected by existence, is on the highway to become 
an explicit idea. And with these too scanty ex- 
planations I must return from the excursion we 
have made into psychology. 

(7) There is still another meaning of self which 
we can hardly pass by, though we need say very 
little about it at present. 1 I refer to that use in 
which self is the same as the " mere self " or the 
" simply subjective." This meaning is not difficult 
to fix in general. Everything which is part of the 
individual's psychical contents, and which is not re- 
levant to a certain function, is mere self to that 
function. Thus, in thinking, everything in my 
mind — all sensations, feelings, ideas which do not 
subserve the thought in question — is unessential ; 
and, because it is self, it is therefore mere self. So, 
again, in morality or in aesthetic perception, what 
stands outside these processes (if they are what they 
should be) is simply " subjective," because it is not 
concerned in the "object" of the process. Mere 
self is whatever part of the psychical individual is, 
for the purpose in hand, negative. It, at least, is 
irrelevant, and it may be even worse. 

This in general is clearly the meaning, and it 
surely will give us no help in our present difficulties. 
The point which should be noticed is that it has no 
fixed application. For that which is "objective" 
and essential to one kind of purpose, may be irrele- 
vant and " subjective " to every other kind of pur- 
pose. And this distinction holds even among cases 
of the same kind. That feature, for example, which 
is essential to one moral act may be without signifi- 
cance for another, and may therefore be merely 

1 See Chapter xix, 


myself. In brief, there is nothing in a man which 
is not thus " objective " or " subjective," as the end 
which we are considering is from time to time 
changed. The self here stands for that which, for 
a present purpose, is the chance self. And it is 
obvious, if we compare this meaning with those 
which have preceded, that it does not coincide with 
them. It is at once too wide and too narrow. It 
is too wide, because nothing falls essentially outside 
it ; and yet it is too narrow, because anything, so 
soon as you have taken that in reference to any 
kind of system, is at once excluded from the mere 
self. It is not the simply felt ; for it is essentially 
qualified by negation. - It is that which, as against 
anything transcending mere feeling, remains outside 
as a residue. We might, if we pleased, call it what, 
by contrast, is only the felt. But then we must 
include under feeling every psychical fact, if con- 
sidered merely as such and as existing immediately. 
There is, however, here no need to dwell any 
further on this point. 

I will briefly resume the results of this chapter 
We had found that our ideas as to the nature of 
things — as to substance and adjective, relation and 
quality, space and time, motion and activity — were 
in their essence indefensible. But we had heard 
somewhere a rumour that the self was to bring order 
into chaos. And we were curious first to know 
what this term might stand for. The present 
chapter has supplied us with an answer too plentiful. 
Self has turned out to mean so many things, to 
mean them so ambiguously, and to be so wavering 
in its applications, that we do not feel encouraged. 
We found, first, that a man's self might be his total 
present contents, discoverable on making an im- 
aginary cross section. Or it might be the average 
contents we should presume ourselves likely to find, 
together with something else which we call dis- 


positions. From this we drifted into a search for 
the self as the essential point or area within the self; 
and we discovered that we really did not know what 
this was. Then we went on to perceive that, under 
personal identity, we entertained a confused bundle 
of conflicting ideas. Again the self, as merely that 
which for the time being interests, proved not satis- 
factory ; and from this we passed to the distinction 
and the division of self as against the not-self. Here, 
in both the theoretical and again in the practical 
relation, we found that the self had no contents that 
were fixed ; or it had, at least, none sufficient to 
make it a self. And in that connection we per- 
ceived the origin of our perception of activity. 
Finally, we dragged to the light another meaning of 
self, not coinciding with the others ; and we saw 
that this designates any psychical fact which remains 
outside any purpose to which at any time psychical 
fact is being applied. In this sense self is the 
unused residue, defined negatively by want of use, 
and positively by feeling in the sense of mere 
psychical existence. And there was no matter 
which essentially fell, or did not fall, under this 



In the present chapter we must briefly inquire into 
the selfs reality. Naturally the self is a fact, to 
some extent and in some sense ; and this, of course, 
is not the issue. The question is whether the self 
in any of its meanings can, as such, be real. We 
have found above that things seem essentially made 
of inconsistencies. And there is understood now to 
be a claim on the part of the self, not only to main- 
tain and to justify its own proper being, but, in 
addition, to rescue things from the condemnation we 
have passed on them. But the latter part of the 
claim may be left undiscussed. We shall find that 
the self has no power to defend its own reality from 
mortal objections. 

It is the old puzzle as to the connection of diver- 
sity with unity. As the diversity becomes more 
complex and the unity grows more concrete, we 
have, so far, found that our difficulties steadily 
increase. And the expectation of a sudden change 
and a happy solution, when we arrive at the self, 
seems hence little warranted. And if we glance at 
the individual self, as we find it at one time, there 
seems at first sight no clear harmony which orders 
and unites its entangled confusion. At least, 
popular ideas are on this point visibly unavailing. 
The complexity of the phenomena, exhibited by a 
cross section, must be admitted to exist But how 
in any sense they can be one, even apart from 


alteration, is a problem not attempted. And when 
the self changes in time, are we able to justify the 
inconsistency which most palpably appears, or, rather, 
stares us in the face ? You may say that we are each 
assured of our personal identity in a way in which 
we are not assured of the sameness of things. But 
this is, unfortunately, quite irrelevant to the question. 
That selves exist, and are identical in some sense, is 
indubitable. But the doubt is whether their same- 
ness, as we apprehend it, is really intelligible, and 
whether it can be true in the character in which it 
comes to us. Because otherwise, while it will be 
certain that the self and its identity somehow belong 
to reality, it will be equally certain that this fact has 
somehow been essentially misapprehended. And 
our conclusion must be that, since, as such, it con- 
tradicts itself, this fact must, as such, be unreal. 
The self also will in the end be no more than ap- 

This question turns, I presume, on the possibility 
of finding some special experience which will 
furnish a new point of view. It is, of course, ad- 
mitted that the self presents us with fresh matter, 
and with an increased complication. The point in 
debate is whether at the same time it supplies us 
with any key to the whole puzzle about reality. 
Does it give an experience by the help of which we 
can understand the way in which diversity is har- 
monized ? Or, failing that, does it remove all 
necessity for such an understanding ? I am con- 
vinced that both these questions must be answered 
in the negative. 

(a) For mere feeling, to begin the inquiry with 
this, gives no answer to our riddle. It may be said 
truly that in feeling, if you take it low enough 
down, there is plurality with unity and without 
contradiction. There being no relations and no 
terms, and yet, on the other side, more than bare 
simplicity, we experience a concrete whole as 


actual fact. And this fact, it may be alleged, is the 
understanding of our self, or is, at least, that which is 
superior to and over-rides any mere intellectual 
criticism. It must be accepted for what it is, and 
its reality must be admitted by the intelligence as 
a unique revelation. 

But no such claim can be maintained. I will 
begin by pointing out that feeling, if a revelation, is 
not exclusively or even specially a revelation of the 
self. For you must choose one of two things. 
Either you do not descend low enough to get rid of 
relations with all their inconsistency, or else you 
have reached a level where subject and object are 
in no sense distinguished, and where, therefore, 
neither self nor its opposite exists. Feeling, if 
taken as immediate presentation, most obviously 
gives features of what later becomes the environ- 
ment. And these are indivisibly one thing with 
what later becomes the self. Feeling, therefore, 
can be no unique or special revelation of the self, in 
distinction from any other element of the universe. 
Nor, even if feeling be used wrongly as equivalent 
to the aspect of pleasure or pain, 1 need we much 
modify our conclusion. This is a point on which 
naturally I have seen a good many dogmatic asser- 
tions, but no argument that would bear a serious 
examination. Why in the case of a pleasant feeling 
— for example, that of warmth — the side of pleasure 
should belong to the self, and the side of sensation 
to the not-self (psychologically or logically), I really 
do not know. If we keep to facts, it seems clear 
that at the beginning no such distinction exists at 
all ; and it is clear too that at the latest stage there 
are some elements within the not-self which retain 
their original aspect of pleasure or pain. And 
hence we must come to this result. We could 

1 I think this confined use wrong, but it is, of course, legitimate. 
To ignore the existence of other uses is, on the other hand, in* 


make little metaphysical use of the doctrine that 
pleasure and pain belong solely to the self as 
distinct from the not-self. And the doctrine itself 
is quite without foundation. It is not even true 
that at first self and not-self exist. And though 
it is true that pleasure and pain are the main feature 
on which later this distinction is based, yet it is 
even then false that they may not belong to the 

But, if we leave this error and return once more 
to feeling, in the sense of that which comes undif- 
ferentiated, we are forced to see that it cannot give 
the knowledge which we seek. It is an apprehen- 
sion too defective to lay hold on reality. In the 
first place, its content and its form are not in agree- 
ment ; and this is manifest when feeling changes 
from moment to moment. Then the matter, which 
ought to come to us harmoniously and as one whole, 
becomes plainly discrepant within itself. The 
content exhibits its essential relativity. It depends, 
that is to say — in order to be what it is — upon some- 
thing not itself. Feeling ought to be something all 
in one and self-contained, if not simple. Its essence 
ought not to include matter the adjective of, and 
with a reference to, a foreign existence. It should 
be real, and should not be, in this sense, partly ideal. 
And the form of immediacy, in which it offers 
itself, implies this self-subsistent character. But in 
change the content slips away, and becomes some- 
thing else ; while, again, change appears necessary 
and implied in its being. Mutability is a fact in the 
actual feeling which we experience, for that never 
continues at rest. And, if we examine the content 
at any one given moment, we perceive that, though 
it presents itself as self-subsistent, it is infected by 
a deep-seated relativity. And this will force itself 
into view, first in the experience of change, and 
later, for reflection. Again, in the second place, 
apart from this objection, and even if feeling were 


self-consistent, it would not suffice for a knowledge 
of reality. Reality, as it commonly appears, con- 
tains terms and relations, and indeed may be said to 
consist in these mainly. But the form of feeling (on 
the other side) is not above, but is below, the level 
of relations ; and it therefore cannot possibly ex- 
press them or explain them. Hence it is idle to 
suppose, given relational matter as the object to be 
understood, that feeling will supply any way of 
understanding it. And this objection seems quite 
fatal. Thus we are forced beyond feeling, first by 
change, and then further by the relational form 
which remains obstinately outstanding. But, when 
once more we betake ourselves to reflection, we 
seem to have made no advance. For the incom- 
pleteness and relativity in the matter given by feeling 
become, when we reflect on them, open contradic- 
tion. The limitation is seen to be a reference to 
something beyond, and the self-subsistent fact shows 
ideality, and turns round into mere adjectives whose 
support we cannot find. Feeling can be, therefore, no 
solution of the puzzles which, so far, have proved to 
be insoluble. Its content is vitiated throughout by 
the old inconsistencies. It may be said even to 
thrust upon us, in a still more apparent form, the 
discrepancy that lies between identity and diversity, 
immediate oneness and relation. 

(6) Thus mere feeling has no power to justify the 
self s reality, and naturally none to solve the prob- 
lems of the universe at large. But we may perhaps 
be more fortunate with some form of self-conscious- 
ness. That possibly may furnish us with a key to 
the self, and so also to the world ; and let us briefly 
make an attempt. The prospect is certainly at first 
sight not very encouraging. For (i.) if we take the 
actual matter revealed by self-consciousness, that (in 
any sense in which it pleases us to understand self) 
seems quite inconsistent internally. If tin reader 
will recall the discussions of the preceding chapter, 


he may, I think, convince himself on this point. 
Take the self, either at one time or throughout any 
duration, and its contents do not seem to arrange 
themselves as a harmony. Nor have we, so far, 
found a principle by the application of which we are 
enabled to arrange them without contradiction, 
(ii.) But self-consciousness, we may be told, is a 
special way of intuition, or perception, or what you 
will. And this experience of both subject and object 
in one self, or of the identity of the Ego through and 
in the opposition of itself to itself, or generally the 
self-apprehension of the self as one and many, is at 
last the full answer to our whole series of riddles. 
But to my mind such an answer brings no satisfac- 
tion. For it seems liable to the objections which 
proved fatal to mere feeling. Suppose, for argu- 
ment's sake, that the intuition (as you describe it) 
actually exists ; suppose that in this intuition, while 
you keep to it, you possess a diversity without dis- 
crepancy. This is one thing, but it is quite another 
thing to possess a principle which can serve for the 
understanding of reality. For how does this way of 
apprehension suffice to take in a long series of 
events ? How again does it embrace, and transcend, 
and go beyond, the relational form of discursive in- 
telligence ? The world is surely not understood if 
understanding is left out. And in what manner 
can your intuition satisfy the claims of understand- 
ing ? This, to my mind, forms a wholly insuperable 
obstacle. For the contents of the intuition (this 
many in one), if you try to reconstruct them relation- 
ally, fall asunder forthwith. And the attempt to 
find in self-consciousness an apprehension at a level, 
not below, but above relations — a way of apprehen- 
sion superior to discursive thought, and including its 
mere process in a higher harmony — appears to me 
not successful. I am, in short, compelled to this 
conclusion : even if your intuition is a fact, it is not 
an understanding of the self or of the world. It is a 


mere experience, and it furnishes no consistent view 
about itself or about reality in general. An experi- 
ence, I suppose, can override understanding only in 
one way, by including it, that is, as a subordinate 
element somehow within itself. And such an ex- 
perience is a thing which seems not discoverable in 

And (iii.) I am forced to urge this last objection 
against the whole form of self-consciousness, as it 
was described above. There does not really exist 
any perception, either in which the object and the 
subject are quite the same, or in which their same- 
ness amid difference is an object for perception. 
Any such consciousness would seem to be impossible 
psychologically. And, as it is almost useless for me 
to try to anticipate the reader's views on this point, 
I must content myself with a very brief statement. 
Self-consciousness, as distinct from self-feeling, im- 
plies a relation. It is the state where the self has 
become an object that stands before the mind. This 
means that an element is in opposition to the felt 
mass, and is distinguished from it as a not-self. And 
there is no doubt that the self, in its various mean- 
ings, can become such a not-self. But, in whichever 
of its meanings we intend to consider it, the result 
is the same. The object is never wholly identical 
with the subject, and the background of feeling must 
contain a great deal more than what we at any time 
can perceive as the self. And I confess that I 
scarcely know how to argue this point. To me the 
idea that the whole self can be observed in one per- 
ception would be merely chimerical. I find, first, 
that in the felt background there remains an obscure 
residue of internal sensation, which I perhaps at no 
time can distinguish as an object. And this felt 
background at any moment will almost certainly 
contain also elements from outer sensation. On the 
other hand, the self, as an object, will at any one 
time embrace but a poor extent of detail. It is 


palpably and flagrantly much more narrow than the 
background felt as self. And in order to exhaust 
this felt mass (if indeed exhaustion is possible) we 
require a series of patient observations, in none of 
which will the object be as full as the subject. 1 To 
have the felt self in its totality as an object for con- 
sciousness seems out of the question. And I would 
further ask the reader to bear in mind that, where 
the self is observed as in opposition to the not-self, 
this whole relation is included within that felt back- 
ground, against which, on the other hand, the 
distinction takes place. 

And this suggests an objection. How, I may be 
asked, if self-consciousness is no more than you say, 
do we take one object as self and another as not- 
self ? Why is the observed object perceived at all 
in the character of self ? This is a question, I think, 
not difficult to answer, so far at least as is required 
for our purpose here. The all-important point is 
this, that the unity of feeling never disappears. The 
mass, at first undifferentiated, groups itself into 
objects in relation to me ; and then again further 
the " me " becomes explicit, and itself is an object in 
relation to the background of feeling. But, none 
the less, the object not-self is still a part of the indi- 
vidual soul, and the object self likewise keeps its 
place in this felt unity. The distinctions have super- 
vened upon, but they have not divided, the original 
whole ; and, if they had done so, the result would 
have been mere destruction. Hence, in self-con- 
sciousness, those contents perceived as the self 
belong still to the whole individual mass. They, 
in the first place, are features in the felt totality ; 
then again they are elements in that inner group 
from which the not-self is distinguished ; and finally 
they become an object opposed to the internal back- 

1 The possibility of this series rests on the fact that sameness 
and alteration can be felt where they are not perceived. Cp. p. 93. 


ground. And these contents exist thus in several 
forms all at once. And so, just as the not-self is 
felt ;is still psychically my state, the self, when made 
an object, is still felt as individually one with me. 
Nay, we may reflect upon this unity of feeling, and 
may say that the self, as self and as not-self all in one, 
is our object, And this is true if we mean that it is 
an object for reflection. But in that reflection once 
more there is an actual subject ; and that actual sub- 
ject is a mass of feeling much fuller than the object ; 
and it is a subject which in no sense is an object for 
the reflection. The feature, of being not-self and 
self in one self, can indeed be brought before the 
present subject, and can be felt to be its own. The 
unity of feeling can become an object for perception 
and thought, and can also be felt to belong to the 
self which is present, and which is the subject that 
perceives. But, without entering into psychological 
refinements and difficulties, we may be sure of this 
main result The actual subject is never, in any 
state of mind, brought before itself as an object. It 
has that before it which it feels to be itself, so far at 
least as to fall within its own area, and to be one 
thing with its felt unity. But the actual subject 
never feels that it is all out there in its object, that 
there is nothing more left within, and that the differ- 
ence has disappeared. And of this we can surely 
convince ourselves by observation. The subject in 
the end must be felt, and it can never (as it is) be 

But, if so, then self-consciousness will not solve 
our former difficulties. For these distinctions, of 
self and of not-self in one whole, are not presented 
as the reality even of my self. They are. given as 
found within it, but not as exhausting it But even 
if the self did, what it cannot do, and guaranteed 
this arrangement as its proper reality, that would 
still leave us at a loss. For unless we could think 
the arrangement so as to be consistent with itself 


we could not admit it as being the truth about 
reality. It would merely be an experience, unin- 
telligible or deceptive. And it is an experience 
which, we have now seen, has no existence in fact. 

(c) We found the self, as mere feeling, gave us no 
key to our puzzles, and we have not had more suc- 
cess in our attempt with self-consciousness. So far 
as that transcends mere feeling, it is caught in, and 
is dissipated by, the old illusory play of relations 
and qualities. It repeats this illusion, without doubt, 
at a higher level than before ; the endeavour is more 
ambitious, but the result is still the same. For we 
have not been taught how to understand diversity 
in unity. And though, in my judgment, the further 
task should now be superfluous, I will briefly touch 
upon some other claims made for the self. The 
first rests on the consciousness of personal identity. 
This may be supposed to have some bearing on the 
reality of the self, but to my mind it appears to be 
almost irrelevant. Of course the self, within limits 
and up to a certain point, is the same ; and I will 
leave to others the attempt to fix those limits by a 
principle. For, in my opinion, there is none which 
at bottom is not arbitrary. But what I fail to per- 
ceive is the metaphysical conclusion which comes 
from a consciousness of self-sameness. I quite 
understand that this fact disproves any doctrine of 
the selfs mere discreteness. Or, more correctly, 
it is an obvious instance against a doctrine which 
evidently contradicts itself in principle. The self is 
not merely discrete ; and therefore (doubtless by 
some wonderful alternative) we are carried to a 
positive result about its reality. But the facts of 
the case seem merely to be thus. As long as there 
remains in the self a certain basis of content, ideally 
the same, so long may the self recall anything once 
associated with that basis. And this identity of 
content, working by redintegration and so bringing 


up the past as the history of one self — really this is 
all which we have to build upon. Now this, of 
course, shows that self-sameness exists as a fact, 
and that hence somehow an identical self must be 
real. But then the question is how ? The question 
is whether we can state the existence and the con- 
tinuity of a real self in a way which is intelligible, 
and which is not ruined by the difficulties of previous 
discussions. Because, otherwise, we may have found 
an interesting fact, but most assuredly we have not 
found a tenable view about reality. That tenable 
view, if we got sight of it, might show us that our 
fact had been vitally misapprehended. At all 
events, so long as we can offer only a bundle of 
inconsistencies, it is absurd to try to believe that 
these are the true reality. And, if any one likes to 
fall back upon a miraculous faculty which he dis- 
covers in memory, the case is not altered. For the 
issue is as to the truth either of the message con- 
veyed, or of our conclusion from that message. 
And, for myself, I stand on this. Present your 
doctrine (whatever it is) in a form which will bear 
criticism, and which will enable me to understand 
this confused mass of facts which I encounter on all 
sides. Do this, and I will follow you, and I will 
worship the source of such a true revelation. But I 
will not accept nonsense for reality, though it be 
vouched for by miracle, or proceed from the mouth 
of a psychological monster. 

And I am compelled to adopt the same attitude 
towards another supposed fact. I refer to the unity 
in such a function as, for instance, Comparison. 
This has been assumed to be timeless, and to serve 
as a foundation for metaphysical views about the self. 
But I am forced to reject alike both basis and result, 
if that result be offered as a positive view. It is in 
the first place (as we have seen in Chapter v.) 
psychologically untenable to take any mental fact 
as free from duration. And, apart from that, what 

A.R. 1 


works in any function must be something concrete 
and specially relevant to that function. In com- 
parison it must be, for instance, a special basis of 
identity in the terms to be compared. 1 A timeless 
self, acting in a particular way from its general time- 
less nature, is to me, in the first place, a psycho- 
logical monster. And, in the second place, if this 
extraordinary fact did exist, it would indeed serve to 
show that certain views were not true ; but, beyond 
that, it would remain a mere extraordinary fact. At 
least for myself I do not perceive how it supplies 
us with a conclusion about the self or the world, 
which is consistent and defensible. And here once 
again we have the same issue. We have found 
puzzles in reality, besetting every way in which we 
have taken it. Now give me a view not obnoxious 
to these mortal attacks, and combining differences 
in one so as to turn the edge of criticism — and then 
I will thank you. But I cannot be grateful for an 
assertion which seems to serve merely as an object- 
tion to another doctrine, otherwise known to be 
false ; an assertion, which, if we accepted it as we 
cannot, would leave us simply with a very strange 
fact on our hands. Such a fact is certainly no 
principle by which we could solve the riddle of the 

(d) I must next venture a few words on an 
embarrassing topic, the supposed revelation of 
reality within the self as force or will. And the 
difficulty comes, not so much from the nature of the 
subject, as from the manner of its treatment. If we 
could get a clear statement as to the matter revealed, 
we could at this stage of our discussion dispose of it 
in a few words, or rather point out that it has been 
already disposed of. But a clear statement is pre- 
cisely that which (so far as my experience goes) is 
not to be had. 

1 There are some further remarks in Mind, Nos. 41 and 43. 


The reader who recalls our discussions on activity, 
will remember how it literally was riddled by con- 
tradictions. All the puzzles as to adjectives and 
relations and terms, every dilemma as to time and 
causation, seemed to meet in it and there even to 
find an addition. Far from reducing these to 
harmony, activity, when we tried to think it, fell 
helplessly asunder or jarred with itself. And to 
suppose that the self is to bring order into this 
chaos, after our experience hitherto of the self's 
total impotence, seems more sanguine than rational. 

If now we take force or cause, as it is revealed in 
the self, to be the same as volition proper, that 
clearly will not help us. For in volition we have an 
idea, determining change in the self, and so produc- 
ing its own realization. 1 Volition perhaps at first 
sight may seem to promise a solution of our meta- 
physical puzzles. For we seem to find at last some- 
thing like a self-contained cause with an effect within 
itself. But this surely is illusory. The old difficulties 
about the beginning of change and its process in time, 
the old troubles as to diversity in union with same- 
ness — how is any one of these got rid of, or made 
more tractable ? It is bootless to enquire whether 
we have found a principle which is to explain the 
universe. For we have not even found anything 
which can bear its own weight, or can endure for 
one moment the most superficial scrutiny. Volition 
gives us, of course, an intense feeling of reality; and 
we may conclude, if we please, that in this lies the 
heart of the mystery of things. Yes, perhaps ; here 
lies the answer — for those who may have understood ; 
and the whole question turns on whether we have 
reached an understanding. But what you offer me 
appears much more like an experience, not under- 
stood but interpreted into hopeless confusion. It is 
with you as with the man who, transported by his 

1 I have discussed the nature of will psychologically in Mind, 
No. 49. 


passion, feels and knows that only love gives the 
secret of the universe. In each case the result is 
perfectly in order, but one hardly sees why it should 
be called metaphysics. 

And we shall make no advance, if we pass from 
will proper where an idea is realized, and fall back 
on an obscurer revelation of energy. In the ex- 
perience of activity, or resistance, or will, or force 
(or whatever other phrase seems most oracular), we 
are said to come at last down to the rock of reality. 
And I am not so ill-advised as to offer a disproof 
of the message revealed. It is doubtless a mystery, 
and hence those who could inform the outer world 
of its meaning, are for that very reason compelled 
to be silent and to seem even ignorant. What I can 
do is to set down briefly the external remarks of one 
not initiated. 

In the first place, taken psychologically, the revela- 
tion is fraudulent. There is no original experience 
of anything like activity, to say nothing of resistance. 
This is quite a secondary product, the origin of 
which is far from mysterious, and on which I have 
said something in the preceding chapter. 1 You 
may, doubtless, point to an outstanding margin of 
undetermined sensations, but these will not contain 
the essence of the matter. And I do not hesitate 
to say this : Where you meet a psychologist who 
takes this experience as elementary, you will find a 
man who has not ever made a serious attempt to 
decompose it, or ever resolutely faced the question 
as to what it contains. And in the second place, 
taken metaphysically, these tidings, given from 
whatever source, are either meaningless or false. 
And here once again we have the all- important 
point. I do not care what your oracle is, and your 

1 I have touched the question only in its general form. As to 
the special source from which come the elements of this or that 
perception of activity, I have not said anything. This is a matter 
for psychology. 


preposterous psychology may here be gospel if you 
please ; the real question is whether your response 
(so far as it means anything) is not appearance and 
illusion. If it means nothing, that is to say, if it 
is merely a datum, which has no complex content 
that can be taken as a principle — then it will be 
much what we have in, say, pleasure or pain. But 
if you offered me one of these as a theoretical 
account of the universe, you would not be even 
mistaken, but simply nonsensical. And it is the 
same with activity or force, if these also merely are, 
and say nothing. But if, on the other hand, the 
revelation does contain a meaning, I will commit 
myself to this : either the oracle is so confused that 
its signification is not discoverable, or, upon the 
other hand, if it can be pinned down to any definite 
statement, then that statement will be false. When 
we drag it out into the light, and expose it to the 
criticism of our foregoing discussions, it will exhibit 
its helplessness. It will be proved to contain mere 
unsolved discrepancies, and will give us therefore, 
not truth, but in the end appearance. And I intend 
to leave this matter so without further remark. 

(e) I will in conclusion touch briefly on the theory 
of Monads. A tenable view of reality has been 
sought in the doctrine that each self is an indepen- 
dent reality, substantial if not simple. But this 
attempt does not call for a lengthy discussion. In 
the first place, if there is more than one self in the 
universe, we are met by the problem of their rela- 
tion to each other. And the reply, " Why there is 
none," we have already seen in Chapter iii., is no 
sufficient defence. For plurality and separateness 
without a relation of separation seem really to have 
no meaning. And, from the other side, without 
relations these poor monads would have no process 
and would serve no purpose. But relations admin* d, 
again, are fatal to the monads' independence. The 
substances clearly become adjectival, and mere 


elements within an all-comprehending whole. And 
hence there is left remaining for their internal con- 
tents no solid principle of stability. 1 And in the 
second place, even if this remained, it would be no 
solution of our difficulties. For consider : we have 
found, so far, that diversity and unity can not be 
reconciled. Both in the existence of the whole self 
in relation with its contents, and in the various 
special forms which that existence takes, we have 
encountered everywhere the same trouble. We 
have had features which must come together, and 
yet were willing to do so in no way that we could 
find. In the self there is a variety, and in » the self 
there is a unity ; but, in attempting to understand 
how, we fall into inconsistencies which, therefore, can- 
not be truth. And now in what way is the monadic 
character of the self — with whatever precise mean- 
ing (if with any) we take this up — about to assist 
us ? Will it in the least show us how the diversity 
can exist in harmony with the oneness ? If it 
can do this, then I would respectfully suggest that 
it should do it. Because, otherwise, the unity 
seems merely stated and emphasized ; and the 
problem of its diverse content is either wholly 
neglected or hidden under a confusion of fictions 
and metaphors. But if more than an emphasis 
on the unity is meant, that more is even positively 
objectionable. For while the diversity is slurred 
over, instead of being explained, there will be a 
negative assertion as to the limits within which 
the self's true unity falls. And this assertion can- 
not stand criticism. And lastly the relation of 
the self to its contents in time will tend to become 
a new insoluble enigma. Monadism, on the whole, 

1 The attentive reader of Lotze must, I think, have found it 
hard to discover why individual selves with him are more than 
phenomenal adjectives. For myself I discern plainly his resolve 
that somehow they have got to be more. But 1 do not find that 
he is ever willing to face this question fairly. 


will increase and will add to the difficulties which 
already exist, and it will not supply us with a solu- 
tion of any single one of them. It would be strange 
indeed if an explanation of all sides of our puzzle 
were found in mere obstinate emphasis upon one 
of those sides. 

And with this result I will bring the present 
chapter to a close. The reader who has followed our 
discussions up to this point, can, if he pleases, pursue 
the detail of the subject, and can further criticise the 
claims made for the self's reality. But if he will drive 
home the objections which we have come to know 
in principle, the conclusion he will reach is assured 
already. In whatever way the self is taken, it will 
prove to be appearance. It cannot, if finite, main- 
tain itself against external relations. For these will 
enter its essence, and so ruin its independency. 
And, apart from this objection in the case of its 
finitude, the self is in any case unintelligible. For, 
in considering it, we are forced to transcend mere 
feeling, itself not satisfactory ; and yet we can- 
not reach any defensible thought, any intellectual 
principle, by which it is possible to understand how 
diversity can be comprehended in unity. But, if 
we cannot understand this, and if whatever way we 
have of thinking about the self proves full of incon- 
sistency, we should then accept what must follow. 
The self is no doubt the highest form of experience 
which we have, but, for all that, is not a true form. 
It does not give us the facts as they are in reality ; 
and, as it gives them, they are appearance, appear- 
ance and error. 

And one of the reasons why this result is not ad- 
mitted on all sides, seems to lie in that great 
ambiguity of the self which our previous chapter 
detailed. Apparently distinct, this phrase wavers 
from one meaning to another, is applied to various 
objects, and in argument is used too seldom in a 


well-defined sense. But there is a still more funda- 
mental aid to obscurity. The end of metaphysics 
is to understand the universe, to find a way of 
thinking about facts in general which is free from 
contradiction. But how few writers seem to trouble 
themselves much about this vital issue. Of those who 
take their principle of understanding from the self, 
how few subject that principle to an impartial 
scrutiny. But it is easy to argue from a foregone 
alternative, to disprove any theory which loses sight 
of the self, and then to offer what remains as the 
secret of the universe — whether what remains is 
thinkable or is a complex which refuses to be under- 
stood. And it is easy to survey the world which is 
selfless, to find there vanity and illusion, and then 
to return to one's self into congenial darkness and 
the equivocal consolation of some psychological 
monster. But, if the object is to understand, there 
can be only one thing which we have to consider. 
It does not matter from what source our principle is 
derived. It may be the refutation of something 
else — it is no worse for that. Or it may be a re- 
sponse emitted by some kind of internal oracle, and 
it is no worse for that. But for metaphysics a 
principle, if it is to stand at all, must stand absolutely 
by itself. While wide enough to cover the facts, it 
must be able to be thought without jarring internally. 
It is this, to repeat it once more, on which every- 
thing turns. The diversity and the unity must be 
brought to the light, and the principle must be seen 
to comprehend these. It must not carry us away 
into a maze of relations, relations that lead to 
illusory terms, and terms disappearing into endless 
relations. But the self is so far from supplying 
such a principle, that it seems, where not hiding 
itself in obscurity, a mere bundle of discrepancies. 
Our search has conducted us again not to reality but 
mere appearance. 



Our attempts, so far, to reduce the world's diverse 
contents to unity have ended in failure. Any sort 
of group which we could find, whether a thing or a 
self, proved unable to stand criticism. And, since 
it seems that what appears must somewhere certainly 
be one, and since this unity is not to be discovered 
in phenomena, the reality threatens to migrate to 
another world than ours. We have been driven 
near to the separation of appearance and reality ; 
we already perhaps contemplate their localization in 
two different hemispheres — the one unknown to us 
and real, and the other known and mere appearance. 
But, before we take this step, I will say a few words 
on a proposed alternative, stating this entirely in 
my own way and so as to suit my own convenience. 
" Why," it may be said, " should we trouble our- 
selves to seek for a unity ? Why do things not go 
on very well as they are ? We really want no sub- 
stance or activity, or anything else of the kind. For 
phenomena and their laws are all that science 
requires." Such a view may be called Phenomenal- 
ism. It is superficial at its best, and it is held of 
course with varying degrees of intelligence. In its 
most consistent form, I suppose, it takes its pheno- 
mena as feelings or sensations. These with their 
relations are the elements ; and the laws somewhere 
and somehow come into this view. And against its 
opponents Phenomenalism would urge, What else 
exists ? " Show me anything real," it would argue, 


" and I will show you mere presentation ; more is 
not to be discovered, and really more is meaning- 
less. Things and selves are not unities in any sense 
whatever, except as given collections or arrange- 
ments of such presented elements. What appears 
is, as a matter of fact, grouped in such and such 
manners. And then, of course, there are the laws. 
When we have certain things given, then certain 
other things are given too ; or we know that certain 
other occurrences will or may take place. There 
is hence nothing but events, appearances which 
happen, and the ways which these appearances have 
of happening. And how, in the name of science, 
can any one want any more ? " 

The last question suggests a very obvious criti- 
cism. The view either makes a claim to take 
account of all the facts, or it makes no such claim. 
In the latter case there is at once an end of its 
pretensions. But in the former case it has to meet 
this fatal objection. All the ways of thinking which 
introduce an unity into things, into the world or the 
self — and there clearly is a good deal of such 
thinking on hand — are of course illusory. But, none 
the less, they are facts entirely undeniable. And 
Phenomenalism is invited to take some account of 
these facts, and to explain how on its principles 
their existence is possible. How, for example, with 
only such elements and their laws, is the theory of 
Phenomenalism itself a possible fact ? The theory 
seems a unity which, if it were true, would be im- 
possible. And an objection of this sort has a very 
wide range, and applies to a considerable area of 
appearance. But I am not going to ask how 
Phenomenalism is prepared to reply. I will simply 
say that this one objection, to those who understand, 
makes an end of the business. And if there ever 
has been so much as an attempt to meet this fairly, 
it has escaped my notice. We may be sure before- 
hand that such an effort must be wholly futile. 


Thus, without our entering into any criticism on 
the positive doctrine, a mere reference to what it 
must admit, and yet blindly ignores, is a sufficient 
refutation. But I will add a few remarks on the 
inconsistencies of that which it offers us. 

What it states, in the first place, as to its 
elements and their relations, is unintelligible. In 
actual fact, wherever you get it, these distinctions 
appear and seem even to be necessary. At least 
I have no notion of the way in which they could be 
dispensed with. But if so, there is here at once a 
diversity in unity ; we have somehow together, per- 
haps, several elements and some relations ; and 
what is the meaning of " together," when once 
distinctions have been separated ? And then what 
sort of things are relations ? Can you have 
elements which are free from them even internally ? 
And are relations themselves not given elements, 
another kind of phenomena ? But, if so, what is 
the relation between the first kind and the second 
(Cf. Chapter iii.) ? Or, if that question ends in 
sheer nonsense, who is responsible for the nonsense? 
Consider, for instance, any fact of sense, it does 
not matter what ; and let Phenomenalism attempt 
to state clearly what it means by its elements and 
relations ; let it tell us whether these two sides are 
in relation with one another, or, if not that, what 
else is the case. But I will pass to another point. 

An obvious question arises as to events past and 
future. If these, and their relations to the present, 
are not to be real and in some sense to exist — then 
difficulties arise into which I will not enter. But, 
if past and future (or either of them) are in any 
sense real, then, in the first place, the unity of this 
series will be something inexplicable. And, in the 
second place, a reality, not presented and not given 
(and even the past is surely not given), was pre- 
cisely that against which Phenomenalism set its 
face. This is another inconsistency. 


Let us go on to consider the question as to identity. 
This Phenomenalism should deny, because identity 
is a real union of the diverse. But change is not to 
be denied, for obviously it must be there when 
something happens. Now, if there is change, there 
is by consequence something which changes. But 
if it changes, it is the same throughout a diversity. 
It is, in other words, a real unity, a concrete uni- 
versal. Take, for example, the fact of motion ; 
evidently here something alters its place. Hence a 
variety of places, whatever that means — in any case 
a variety — must be predicated of one something. If 
so, we have at once on our hands the One and the 
Many, and otherwise our theory declines to deal 
with ordinary fact. 

In brief, identity — being that which the doctrine 
excluded — is essential to its being. And now how 
far is this to go ? Is the series of phenomena, with 
its differences, one series ? If it is not one, why 
treat it as if it were so ? If it is one, then here 
indeed is a unity which gives us pause. Again, are 
the elements ever permanent and remaining identical 
from one time to another ? But, whether they are 
or are not identical, how are facts to be explained ? 
Suppose, in the first place, that we do have identical 
elements, surviving amid change and the play of 
variety. Here are metaphysical reals, raising the 
old questions we have been discussing through this 
Book. But perhaps nothing is really permanent 
except the laws. The problem of change is given 
up, and we fall back upon our laws, persisting and 
appearing in successions of fleeting elements. If so, 
phenomena seem now to have become temporal 
illustrations of laws. 

And it is perhaps time to ask a question con- 
cerning the nature of these last-mentioned creatures. 
Are they permanent real essences, visible from time 
to time in their fleeting illustrations ? If so, once 
more Phenomenalism has adored blindly what it 


rejected. And, of course, the relations of these 
essences — the one to the other, and each to the 
phenomena which in some way seem its adject- 
ives — take us back to those difficulties which 
proved too hard for us. But I presume that the 
reality of the laws must be denied, or denied, that 
is, not quite, but with a reservation. The laws are 
hypothetical ; they are in themselves but possibilities, 
and actual only when found in real presentation. 
Apart from this, and as mere laws, they are con- 
nections between terms which do not exist ; and, if 
so, as connections, they are not strictly anything 
actual. In short, just as the elements were nothing 
outside of presentation, so again, outside of presen- 
tation, the laws really are nothing. And in pre- 
sentation then — what is either side, the elements or 
the laws, but an unreal and quite indefensible 
thought ? It seems that we can say of them only 
that we do not know what they are ; and all that we 
can be certain of is this, that they are not what we 
know, namely, given phenomena. 

And here we may end. The view has started 
with mere presentation. It, of course, is forced to 
transcend this, and it has done so ignorantly and 
blindly. A little criticism has driven it back, and 
has left it with a universe, which must either 
be distinctions within one presentation, or else 
mere nonsense. And then these distinctions them- 
selves are quite indefensible. If you admit them, 
you have to deal with the metaphysical problem of 
the Many in One ; and you cannot admit them, be- 
cause clearly they are not given and presented, but 
at least more or less made. And what it must come 
to is that Phenomenalism ends in this dilemma. It 
must either keep to the moment's presentation, and 
must leave there the presented entirely as it is 
given — and, if so, then surely there could be no 
more science ; or it must " become transcendent " 
(as the phrase goes), and launch out into a sea of 


more preposterous inconsistencies than are perhaps 
to be found in any other attempt at metaphysics. 
As a working point of view, directed and confined 
to the ascertainment of some special branch of truth, 
Phenomenalism is of course useful and is indeed 
quite necessary. And the metaphysician who 
attacks it when following its own business, is likely 
to fare badly. But when Phenomenalism loses its 
head and, becoming blatant, steps forward as a 
theory of first principles, then it is really not re- 
spectable. The best that can be said of its preten 
sions is that they are ridiculous. 



We have found, so far, that we have not been able 
to arrive at reality. The various ways, in which 
things have been taken up, have all failed to give 
more than mere appearance. Whatever we have 
tried has turned out something which, on investiga- 
tion, has been proved to contradict itself. But that 
which does not attain to internal unity, has clearly 
stopped short of genuine reality. And, on the other 
hand, to sit down contented is impossible, unless, 
that is, we are resolved to put up with mere confu- 
sion. For to transcend what is given is clearly 
obligatory, if we are to think at all and to have 
any views whatever. But, the deliverance of the 
moment once left behind, we have succeeded ip 
meeting with nothing-that holds together. Every 
view has been seen only to furnish appearance, and 
the reality has escaped. It lias baffled us so con- 
stantly, so persistently retreated, that in the end we 
are forced to set it down as unattainable. It seems 
to have been discovered to reside in another world 
than ours. 

We have here reached a familiar way of regard- 
ing the universe, a doctrine held with very different 
degrees of comprehension. The universe, upon 
this view (whether it understands itself or not), falls 
apart into two regions, we may call them two hemi- 
spheres. One of these is the world of experience 
and knowledge — in every sense without reality. 
The other is the kingdom of reality — without either 



knowledge or experience. Or we have on one side 
phenomena, in other words, things as they are to us, 
and ourselves so far as we are anything to our- 
selves ; while on the other side are Things as they 
are in themselves and as they do not appear ; or, if 
we please, we may call this side the Unknowable. 
And our attitude towards such a divided universe 
varies a good deal. We may be thankful to be rid 
of that which is not relative to our affairs, and which 
cannot in any way concern us ; and we may be glad 
that the worthless is thrown over the wall. Or we 
may regret that Reality is too good to be known, 
and from the midst of our own confusion may revere 
the other side in its inaccessible grandeur. We may 
even naively felicitate ourselves on total estrange- 
ment, and rejoice that at last utter ignorance has 
removed every scruple which impeded religion. 
Where we know nothing we can have no possible 
objection to worship. 1 

This view is popular, and to some extent is even 
plausible. It is natural to feel that the best and the 
highest is unknowable, in the sense of being some- 
thing which our knowledge cannot master. And 
this is probably all that for most minds the doctrine 
signifies. But of course this is not what it says, 
nor what it means, when it has any definite meaning. 
For it does not teach that our knowledge of reality 
is imperfect ; it asserts that it does not exist, and 
that we have no knowledge at all, however imper- 
fect There is a hard and fast line, with our ap- 
prehension on the one side and the Thing on the 
other side, and the two hopelessly apart. This 
is the doctrine, and its plausibility vanishes before 

1 I do not wish to be irreverent, but Mr. Spencer's attitude 
towards his Unknowable strikes me as a pleasantry, the point of 
which lies in its unconsciousness. It seems a proposal to take 
something for God simply and solely because we do not know 
what the devil it can be. But I am far from attributing to Mr. 
Spencer any one consistent view. 


Its absurdity may be shown in several ways. 
The Unknowable must, of course, be prepared 
either to deserve its name or not. But, if it actually 
were not knowable, we could not know that such a 
thing even existed. It would be much as if we said, 
" Since all my faculties are totally confined to my 
garden, I cannot tell if the roses next door are in 
flower." And this seems inconsistent. And we 
may push the line of attack which we mentioned in 
the last chapter. If the theory really were true, 
then it must be impossible. There is no reconciling 
our knowledge of its truth" with that general condi- 
tion which exists if it is true. But I propose to 
adopt another way of criticism, which perhaps may 
be plainer. 

I will first make a remark as to the plurality 
involved in Things in themselves. If this is meant, 
then within their secluded world we have a long 
series of problems. Their diversity and their rela- 
tions bring us back to those very difficulties which 
we were endeavouring to avoid. And it seems clear 
that, if we wish to be consistent, the plural must be 
dropped. Hence in future we shall confine our- 
selves to the Thing in itself. 

We have got this reality on one side and our 
appearances on the other, and we are naturally led to 
enquire about their connection. Are they related, 
the one to the other, or not? If they are related, 
and if in any way the appearances are made the 
adjectives of reality, then the Thing has become 
qualified by them. It is qualified, but on what 
principle? That is what we do not know. We 
have in effect every unsolved problem which vexed 
us before ; and we have, besides, this whole confu- 
sion now predicated of the Thing, no longer, there- 
fore, something by itself. But this perplexed 
attribution was precisely that which the doctrine 
intended to avoid. We must therefore deny any 
relation of our appearances to the Thinq> But, if 

A. K K 


so, other troubles vex us. Either our Thing- has 
qualities, or it has not. If it has them, then within 
itself the same puzzles break out which we intended 
to leave behind, — to make a prey of phenomena and 
to rest contented with their ruin. So we must 
correct ourselves and assert that the Thing is 
unqualified. But, if so, we are destroyed with no 
less certainty. For a Thing without qualities is 
clearly not real. It is mere Being, or mere No- 
thing, according as you take it simply for what it is, 
or consider also that which it means to be. Such 
an abstraction is palpably of no use to us. 

And, if we regard the situation from the side of 
phenomena, it is not more encouraging. We must 
take appearances in connection with reality, or not. 
In the former case, they are not rendered one whit 
less confused. They offer precisely the old jungle 
in which no way could be found, and which is not 
cleared by mere attribution to a Thing in itself. 
But, if we deny the connection of phenomena with 
the Real, our condition is not improved. Either 
we possess now two realms of confusion and dis- 
order, existing side by side, or the one above the 
other. And, in this case, the " other world " of the 
Thing in itself only serves to reduplicate all that 
troubles us here. Or, on the other hand, if we 
suppose the Thing to be unqualified, it still gives us 
no assistance. Everything in our concrete world 
remains the same, and the separate existence some- 
where of this wretched abstraction serves us only 
as a poor and irrelevant excuse for neglecting our 
own concerns. 

And I will allow myself to dwell on this last 
feature of the case. The appearances after all, 
being what we experience, must be what matters for 
us. They are surely the one thing which, from the 
nature of the case, can possess human value. 
Surely, the moment we understand what we mean 
by our words, the Thing in itself becomes utterly 


worthless and devoid of all interest. And we dis- 
cover a state of mind which would be ridiculous to 
a degree, if it had not unfortunately a serious side. 
It is contended that contradictions in phenomena 
are something quite in order, so long as the Thing 
in itself is not touched. That is to say that every- 
thing, which we know and can experience, does not 
matter, however distracted its case, and that this 
purely irrelevant ghost is the ark of salvation to be 
preserved at all costs. But how it can be anything 
to us whether something outside our knowledge 
contradicts itself or not — is simply unintelligible. 
What is too visible is our own readiness to sacrifice 
everything which possesses any possible claim on 
us. And what is to be inferred is our confusion, 
and our domination by a theory which lives only in 
the world of misunderstanding. 

We have seen that the doctrine of a Thing in 
itself is absurd. A reality of this sort is assuredly 
not something unverifiable. It has on the contrary 
a nature which is fully transparent, as a false and 
empty abstraction, whose generation is plain. We 
found that reality was not the appearances, and 
that result must hold good ; but, on the other hand, 
reality is certainly not something else which is 
unable to appear. For that is sheer self-contradic- 
tion, which is plausible only so long as we do not 
realize its meaning. The assertion of a reality 
falling outside knowledge, is quite nonsensical. 

And so this attempt to shelve our problems, this 
proposal to take no pains about what are only 
phenomena, has broken down. It was a vain 
notion to set up an idol apart, to dream that facts 
for that reason had ceased to be facts, and had 
somehow become only something else. And this 
false idea is an illusion which we should attempt to 
clear out of our minds once for all. We shall have 
hereafter to enquire into the nature of appearance ; 
but for the present we may keep a fast hold upon 


this, that appearances exist. That is absolutely 
certain, and to deny it is nonsense. And whatever 
exists must belong to reality. That is also quite 
certain, and its denial once more is self-contradic- 
tory. Our appearances no doubt may be a beggarly 
show, and their nature to an unknown extent may be 
something which, as it is, is not true of reality. 
That is one thing, and it is quite another thing to 
speak as if these facts had no actual existence, or 
as if there could be anything but reality to which 
they might belong. And I must venture to repeat 
that such an idea would be sheer nonsense. What 
appears, for that sole reason, most indubitably is ; 
and there is no possibility of conjuring its being 
away from it. And, though we ask no question at 
present as to the exact nature of reality, we may be 
certain that it cannot be less than appearances ; we 
may be sure that the least of these in some way con- 
tributes to make it what it is. And the whole result 
of this Book may be summed up in a few words. 
Everything so far, which we have seen, has turned 
out to be appearance. It is that which, taken as it 
stands, proves inconsistent with itself, and for this 
reason cannot be true of the real. But to deny its 
existence or to divorce it from reality is out of the 
question. For it has a positive character which is 
indubitable fact, and, however much this fact may 
be pronounced appearance, it can have no place in 
which to live except reality. And reality, set on 
one side and apart from all appearance, would 
assuredly be nothing. Hence what is certain is 
that, in some way, these inseparables are joined. 
This is the positive result which has emerged from 
our discussion. Our failure so far lies in this, that 
we have not found the way in which appearances 
can belong to reality. And to this further task we 
must now address ourselves, with however little 
hope of more than partial satisfaction. 





The result of our First Book has been mainly nega- 
tive. We have taken up a number of ways of re- 
garding reality, and we have found that they all 
are vitiated by self-discrepancy. The reality can 
accept not one of these predicates, at least in the 
character in which so far they have come. We cer- 
tainly ended with a reflection which promised some- 
thing positive. Whatever is rejected as appearance 
is, for that very reason, no mere nonentity. It 
cannot bodily be shelved and merely got rid of, and, 
therefore, since it must fall somewhere, it must 
belong to reality. To take it as existing somehow 
and somewhere in the unreal, would surely be quite 
meaningless. For reality must own and cannot be 
less than a ppearance, and that is the one positive 
result which, so far, we have reached. But as to 
the character which, otherwise, the real possesses, 
we at present know nothing ; and a further know- 
ledge is what we must aim at through the remainder 
of our search. The present Book, to some extent, 
falls into two divisions. The first of these deals 
mainly with the general character of reality, and 
with the defence of this against a number of objec- 
tions. Then from this basis, in the second place, 
I shall go on to consider mainly some special fea- 
tures. But I must admit that I have kept to no 
strict principle of division. I have really observed 
no rule of progress, except to get forward in the 
best way that I can. 



At the beginning of our inquiry into the nature 
of the real we encounter, of course, a general doubt 
or denial. 1 To know the truth, we shall be told, 
is impossible, or is, at all events, wholly impractic- 
able. We cannot have positive knowledge about 
first principles ; and, if we could possess it, we should 
not know when actually we had got it. What is 
denied is, in short, the existence of a criterion. I 
shall, later on, in Chapter xxvii., have to deal more 
fully with the objections of a thorough-going scep- 
ticism, and I will here confine myself to what seems 
requisite for the present. 

Is there an absolute criterion ? This question, 
to my mind, is answered by a second question : 
How otherwise should we be able to say anything 
at all about appearance ? For through the last 
Book, the reader will remember, we were for the 
most part criticising. We were judging phenomena 
and were condemning them, and throughout we pro- 
ceeded as if the self-contradictory could not be real. 
But this was surely to have and to apply an ab- 
solute criterion. For consider : you can scarcely 
propose to be quite passive when presented with 
statements about reality. You can hardly take the 
position of admitting any and every nonsense to 
be truth, truth absolute and entire, at least so far 
as you know. For, if you think at all so as to dis- 
criminate between truth and falsehood, you will 
find that you cannot accept open self-contradiction. 
Hence to think is to judge, and to judge is to 
criticise, and to criticise is to use a criterion of 
reality. And surely to doubt this would be mere 
blindness or confused self-deception. But, if so, it 
is clear that, in rejecting the inconsistent as appear- 
ance, we are applying a positive knowledge of the 
. ultimate nature of things. Ultimate reality is such 
I that it does not contradict itself; here is an abso- 
l lute criterion. And it is proved absolute by the 
1 See the Introduction, p. 2. 


fact that, either in endeavouring to deny it, or even] 
in attempting to doubt it, we tacitly assume its 

One of these essays in delusion may be noticed 
briefly in passing. We may be told that our cri- 
terion has been developed by experience, and that 
therefore at least it may not be absolute. But why 
anything should be weaker for having been de- 
veloped is, in the first place, not obvious. And, 
in the second place, the whole doubt, when under- 
stood, destroys itself. For the alleged origin of our 
criterion is delivered to us by knowledge which 
rests throughout on its application as an absolute 
test. And what can be more irrational than to try 
to prove that a principle is doubtful, when the proof 
through every step rests on its unconditional truth ? 
It would, of course, not be irrational to take one's 
stand on this criterion, to use it to produce a con- 
clusion hostile to itself, and to urge that therefore 
our whole knowledge is self-destructive, since it 
essentially drives us to what we cannot accept. But 
this is not the result which our supposed objector 
has in view, or would welcome. He makes no 
attempt to show in general that a psychological 
growth is in any way hostile to metaphysical validity. 
And he is not prepared to give up his own psycho- 
logical knowledge, which knowledge plainly is ruined 
if the criterion is not absolute. The doubt is seen, 
when we reflect, to be founded on that which it 
endeavours to question. And it has but blindly 
borne witness to the absolute certainty of our know- 
ledge about reality. 

Thus we possess a criterion, and our criterion is 
supreme. I do not mean to deny that we might 
have several standards, giving us sundry pieces of 
information about the nature of things. But, be 
that as it may, we still have an over-ruling test of 
truth, and the various standards (if they exist) are 
certainly subordinate. This at once becomes evid- 


ent, for we cannot refuse to bring such standards 
together, and to ask if they agree. Or, at least, if 
a doubt is suggested as to their consistency, each 
with itself and with the rest, we are compelled, so 
to speak, to assume jurisdiction. And if they were 
guilty of self-contradiction, when examined or com- 
pared, we should condemn them as appearance. 
But we could not do that if they were not subject 
all to one tribunal. And hence, as we find nothing 
not subordinate to the test of self-consistency, we 
are forced to set that down as supreme and absol- 

But it may be said that this supplies us with no 
real information. If we think, then certainly we 
are not allowed to be inconsistent, and it is admitted 
that this test is unconditional and absolute. But it 
will be urged that, for knowledge about any matter, 
we require something more than a bare negation. 
The ultimate reality (we are agreed) does not per- 
mit self-contradiction, but a prohibition or an absence 
(we shall be told) by itself does not amount to 
positive knowledge. The denial of inconsistency, 
therefore, does not predicate any positive quality. 
But such an objection is untenable. It may go so 
far as to assert that a bare denial is possible, that 
we may reject a predicate though we stand on no 
positive basis, and though there is nothing special 
which serves to reject. This error has been refuted 
in my Principles of Logic (Book I., Chapter iii.), 1 
and I do not propose to discuss it here. 1 will pass 
to another sense in which the objection may seem 
more plausible. The criterion, it may be urged, in 
itself is doubtless positive ; but, for our knowledge 
and in effect, is merely negative. And it gives us 
therefore no information at all about reality, for, 
although knowledge is there, it cannot be brought 
out. The criterion is a basis, which serves as the 

1 The word "not" here, on p. 120, line 12, is an error, and 
should be struck out. 


foundation of denial ; but, since this basis cannot 
be exposed, we are but able to stand on it and 
unable to see it. And it hence, in effect, tells us 
nothing, though there are assertions which it does 
not allow us to venture on. This objection, when 
stated in such a form, may seem plausible, and there 
is a sense in which I am prepared to admit that it 
is valid. If by the nature of reality we understand 
its full nature, I am not contending that this in a 
complete form is knowable. Hut that is very far 
from being the point here at issue. For the objec- 
tion denies that we have a standard which gives 
any positive knowledge, any information, complete 
or incomplete, about the genuine reality. And this 
denial assuredly is mistaken. 

The objection admits that we know what reality 
does, but it refuses to allow us any understanding 
of what reality is. The standard (it is agreed) both 
exists and possesses a positive character, and it is 
agreed that this character rejects inconsistency. It 
is admitted that we know this, and the point at issue 
is whether such knowledge supplies any positive 
information. And to my mind this question seems 
not hard to answer. For I cannot see how, when 
I observe a thing at work, I am to stand there and 
to insist that I know nothing of its nature. I fail 
to perceive how a function is nothing at all, or how 
it does not positively qualify that to which I attri- 
bute it. To know only so much, I admit, may very 
possibly be useless ; it may leave us without the 
information which we desire most to obtain ; but, 
for all that, it is not total ignorance. 

Our standard denies inconsistency, and therefore 
asserts consistency. If we can be sure that the 
inconsistent is unreal, we must, logically, be just as 
sure that the reality is consistent. The question 
is solely as to the meaning to be given to con- 
sistency. We have now seen that it is not the bare 
exclusion of discord, for that is merely our abstrac- 


tion, and is otherwise nothing. And our result, so 
far, is this, i Reality is known to possess a positive 
! character, but this character is at present determined 
only as that which excludes contradiction. 

But we may make a further advance. We saw 
(in the preceding chapter) that all appearance must 
belong to reality. For what appears is, and what- 
ever is cannot fall outside the real. And we may 
now combine this result with the conclusion just 
reached. We may say that everything, which 
appears, is somehow real in such a way as to be 
self-consistent. The character of the real is to 
possess everything phenomenal in a harmonious 

I will repeat the same truth in other words. 
Reality is one in this sense that it has a positive 
nature exclusive of discord, a nature which must 
hold throughout everything that is to be real. Its 
diversity can be diverse only so far as not to clash, 
and what seems otherwise anywhere cannot be real. 
And, from the other side, everything which appears 
must be real. Appearance must belong to reality, 
and it must therefore be concordant and other than 
it seems. The bewildering mass of phenomenal 
diversity must hence somehow be at unity and self- 
consistent ; for it cannot be elsewhere than in reality, 
and reality excludes discord. Or again we may put 
it so : the real is individual. It is one in the sense 
that its positive character embraces all differences 
in an inclusive harmony. And this knowledge, 
poor as it may be, is certainly more than bare 
negation or simple ignorance. So far as it goes, 
it gives us positive news about absolute reality. 

Let us try to carry this conclusion a step farther 
on. We know that the real is one ; but its oneness, 
so far, is ambiguous. Is it one system, possessing 
diversity as an adjective ; or is its consistency, on 
the other hand, an attribute of independent realities ? 


We have to ask, in short, if a plurality of reals is 
possible, and if these can merely co-exist so as not 
to be discrepant? Such a plurality would mean a 
number of beings not dependent on each other. 
On the one hand they would possess somehow the 
phenomenal diversity, for that possession, we have 
seen, is essential. And, on the other hand, they 
would be free from external disturbance and from 
inner discrepancy. After the enquiries of our First 
Book the possibility of such reals hardly calls for 
discussion. For the internal states of each give 
rise to hopeless difficulties. And, in the second 
place, the plurality of the reals cannot be reconciled 
with their independence. I will briefly resume the 
arguments which force us to this latter result. 

If the Many are supposed to be without internal 
quality, each would forthwith become nothing, and 
we must therefore take each as being internally 
somewhat. And, if they are to be plural, they must 
be a diversity somehow co-existing together. Any 
attempt again to take their togetherness as unessen- 
tial seems to end in the unmeaning. We have no 
knowledge of a plural diversity, nor can we attach 
any sense to it, if we do not have it somehow as 
one. And, if we abstract from this unity, we have 
also therewith abstracted from the plurality, and are 
left with mere being. 

Can we then have a plurality of independent 
reals which merely co-exist ? No, for absolute 
independence and co-existence are incompatible. 
Absolute independence is an idea which consists 
merely in one-sided abstraction. It is made by an 
attempted division of the aspect of several existence 
from the aspect of relatedness ; and these aspects, 
whether in fact or thought, are really indivisible. 

If we take the diversity of our reals to be such 
as we discover in feeling and at a stage where 
relations do not exist, that diversity is never found 
except as one integral character of an undivided 


whole. And if we forcibly abstract from that unity, 
then together with feeling we have destroyed the 
diversity of feeling. We are left not with plurality, 
but with mere being, or, if you prefer it, with 
nothing. Co -existence in feeling is hence an 
instance and a proof not of self-sufficiency, but of 
dependence, and beside this it would add a further 
difficulty. If the nature of our reals is the diversity 
found at a stage below relations, how are we to 
dispose of the mass of relational appearance ? For 
that exists, and existing it must somehow qualify 
the world, a world the reality of which is discovered 
only at a level other than its own. Such a position 
would seem not easy to justify. 

Thus a mode of togetherness such as we can 
verify in feeling destroys the independence of our 
reals. And they will fare no better if we seek to 
find their co-existence elsewhere. For any other 
verifiable way of togetherness must involve relations, 
and they are fatal to self-sufficiency. Relations, we 
saw, are a development of and from the felt totality. 
They inadequately express, and they still imply in 
the background that unity apart from which the 
diversity is nothing. Relations are unmeaning 
except within and on the basis of a substantial 
whole, and related terms, if made absolute, are 
forthwith destroyed. Plurality and relatedness are 
but features and aspects of a unity. 

If the relations in which the reals somehow stand 
are viewed as essential, that, as soon as we under- 
stand it, involves at once the internal relativity of 
the reals. And any attempt to maintain the rela- 
tions as merely external must fail. For if, wrongly 
and for arguments sake, we admit processes and 
arrangements which do not qualify their terms, yet 
such arrangements, if admitted, are at any rate not 
ultimate. The terms would be prior and indepen- 
dent only with regard to these arrangements, and 
they would remain relative otherwise, and vitally 


dependent on some whole. And severed from this 
unity, the terms perish by the very stroke which 
aims to set them up as absolute. 

The reals therefore cannot be self-existent, and, 
if self-existent, yet taken as the world they would 
end in inconsistency. For the relations, because 
they exist, must somehow qualify the world. The 
relations then must externally qualify the sole and 
self-contained reality, and that seems self-contra 
dictory or meaningless. 1 And if it is urged that a 
plurality of independent beings may be unintelligible, 
but that after all some unintelligible facts must be 
affirmed — the answer is obvious. An unintelligible 
fact may be admitted so far as, first, it is a fact, and 
so far as, secondly, it has a meaning which does not 
contradict itself internally or make self-discrepant 
our view of the world. But the alleged indepen- 
dence of the reals is no fact, but a theoretical con- 
struction ; and, so far as it has a meaning, that 
meaning contradicts itself, and issues in chaos. A 
reality of this kind may safely be taken as unreal. 

We cannot therefore maintain a plurality save as 
dependent on the relations in which it stands. Or 
if desiring to avoid relations we fall back on the 
diversity given in feeling, the result is the same. 
The plurality then sinks to become merely an 
integral aspect in a single substantial unity, and 
the reals have vanished. 

* To this brief statement we might add other fatal objections. 
There is the question of the reals' interaction and of the general order 
of the world. Here, whether we affirm or deny, we turn in a maze. 
The fact of knowledge plunges us again in a dilemma. If we do not 
know that the Many are, we cannot affirm them. But the knowledge 
of the Many seems compatible with the self-existence neither of what 
knpws nor of what is known. Finally, if the relations are admitted 
to an existence somehow alongside of the reals, the sole reality of the 
reals is given up. The relations themselves have now become a 
second kind of real thing. But the connection between these new 
reals and the old ones, whether we deny or affirm it, leads to insoluble 



Our result so far is this. Everything phenomenal 
is somehow real ; and the absolute must at least be 
as rich as the relative. And, further, the Absolute 
is not many ; there are no independent reals. The 
universe is one in this sense that its differences exist 
harmoniously within one whole, beyond which there 
is nothing. Hence the Absolute is, so far, an in- 
dividual and a system, but, if we stop here, it 
remains but formal and abstract. Can we then, 
the question is, say anything about the concrete 
nature of the system ? 

Certainly, I think, this is possible. When we 
ask as to the matter which fills up the empty out- 
line, we can reply in one word, that this matter is 
experience. And experience means something much 
the same as given and present fact. We perceive, 
on reflection, that to be real, or even barely to exist 
must be to fall within sentience. Sentient ex- 
perience, in short, is reality, and what 7s not this is 
not real. We may say, in other words, that there 
is no being or fact outside of that which is commonly 
called psychical existence. Feeling, thought, and 
volition (any groups under which we class psychical 
phenomena) are all the material of existence, and 
there is no other material, actual or x even possible. 
This result in its general form seems evident at 
once ; and, however serious a step we now seem to 
have taken, there would be no advantage at this 
point in discussing it at length. For the test in the 
main lies ready to our hand, and the decision rests 


on the manner in which it is applied. I will state 
the case briefly thus. Find any piece of existence, 
take up anything that any one could possibly call a 
fact, or could in any sense assert to have being, and 
then judge if it does not consist in sentient ex- 
perience. Try to discover any sense in which you 
can still continue to speak of it, when all perception 
and feeling have been removed ; or point out any 
fragment of its matter, any aspect of its being, which 
is not derived from and is not still relative to this 
source. When the experiment is made strictly, I 
can myself conceive of nothing else than the ex- 
perienced. Anything, in no sense felt or perceived, 
becomes to me quite unmeaning. And as I cannot 
try to think of it without realizing either that I am 
not thinking at all, or that I am thinking of it against 
my will as being experienced, I am driven to the 
conclusion that for me experience is the same as 
reality. The fact that falls elsewhere seems, in my 
mind, to be a mere word and a failure, or else an 
attempt at self-contradiction. It is a vicious ab- 
straction whose existence is meaningless nonsense, 
and is therefore not possible. 

This conclusion is open, of course, to grave ob- 
jection, and must in its consequences give rise to 
serious difficulties. I will not attempt to anticipate 
the discussion of these, but before passing on, will 
try to obviate a dangerous mistake. For, in asserting 
that the real is nothing but experience, I may be 
understood to endorse a common error. I may be 
taken first to divide the percipient subject from the 
universe ; and then, resting on that subject, as on a 
thing actual by itself, I may be supposed to urge 
that it cannot transcend its own states. l Such an 
argument would lead to impossible results, and 
would stand on a foundation of faulty abstraction. 
To set up the subject as real independently of the 
whole, and to make the whole into experience in 

1 This matter is discussed in Chapter xxi. 
A. R. L 

1 4 6 REALITY. 

the sense of an adjective of that subject, seems to 
me indefensible. And when I contend that reality 
must be sentient, my conclusion almost consists in 
the denial of this fundamental error. For if, seeking 
for reality, we go to experience, what we cei tainly 
do not find is a subject or an object, or indeed any 
other thing whatever, standing separate and on its 
own bottom. What we discover rather is a whole 
fn which distinctions can be made, but in which 
divisions do not exist. And this is the point on 
which I insist, and it is the very ground on which I 
stand, when I urge that reality is sentient experience. \ 
I mean that to be real is to be indissolubly one thing^ 
with sentience. It is to be something which comes 
as a feature and aspect within one whole of feeling, 
something which, except as an integral element of 
such sentience, has no meaning at all. And what I 
repudiate is the separation of feeling from the felt, 
or of the desired from desire, or of what is thought 
from thinking, or the division — I might add — of 
anything from anything else. Nothing is ever so 
presented as real by itself, or can be argued so to 
exist without demonstrable fallacy. And in asserting 
that the reality is experience, I rest throughout on 
this foundation. You cannot find fact unless in 
unity with sentience, and one cannot in the end be 
divided from the other, either actually or in idea. 
But to be utterly indivisible from feeling or percep- 
tion, to be an integral element in a whole which is 
experienced, this surely is itself to be experience. 
Being and reality are, in brief, one thing with 
sentience ; they can neither be opposed to, nor even 
in the end distinguished from it. 

I am well aware that this statement stands in 
need of explanation and defence. This will, I hope, 
be supplied by succeeding chapters, and I think it 
better for the present to attempt to go forward. 
Our conclusion, so far, will be this, that the Absolute 
is one system, and that its contents are nothing but 


sentient experience. It will hence be a single and 
all-inclusive experience, which embraces every 
partial diversity in concord. For it cannot be less 
than appearancei and hence no feeling or thought, 
of any kind, can fall outside its limits. And if it is 
more than any feeling or thought which we know, it 
must still remain more of the same nature. It 
cannot pass into another region beyond what falls 
under the general head of sentience. For to assert 
that possibility would be in the end to use words 
without a meaning. We can entertain no such 
suggestion except as self-contradictory, and as there- 
fore impossible. 

This conclusion will, I trust, at the end of my 
work bring more conviction to the reader ; for we 
shall find that it is the one view which will har- 
monize all facts. And the objections brought 
against it, when it and they are once properly 
defined, will prove untenable. But our general 
result is at present seriously defective ; and we 
must now attempt to indicate and remedy its failure 
in principle. 

What we have secured, up to this point, may be 
called mere theoretical consistency. The Absolute 
holds all possible content in an individual experience 
where no contradiction can remain. And it seems, at 
first sight, as if this theoretical perfection could exist 
together with practical defect and misery. For 
apparently, so far as we have gone, an experience 
might be harmonious, in such a way at least as not 
to contradict itself, and yet might result on the whole 
in a balance of suffering. Now no one can 
genuinely believe that sheer misery, however self- 
consistent, is good and desirable. And the question 
is whether in this way our conclusion is wrecked. 

There may be those possibly who here would join 
issue at once. They might perhaps wish to contend 
that the objection is irrelevant, since pain is no evil. 


I shall discuss the general question of good and 
evil in a subsequent chapter, and will merely say 
here that for myself I cannot stand upon the ground 
that pain is no evil. I admit, or rather I would 
assert, that a result, if it fails to satisfy our whole 
nature, comes short of perfection. And I could not 
rest tranquilly in a truth if I were compelled to 
regard it as hateful. While unable, that is, to deny 
it, I should, rightly or wrongly, insist that the 
enquiry was not yet closed, and that the result was 
but partial. And if metaphysics is to stand, it must, 
I think, take account of all sides of our being. I 
do not mean that every one of our desires must be 
met by a promise of particular satisfaction ; for that 
would be absurd and utterly impossible. But if the 
main tendencies of our nature do not reach consum- 
mation in the Absolute, we cannot believe that we 
have attained to perfection and truth. And we 
shall have to consider later on what desires must be 
taken as radical and fundamental. But here we 
have seen that our conclusion, so far, has a serious 
defect, and the question is whether this defect can 
be directly remedied. We have been resting on the 
theoretical standard which guarantees that Reality 
is a self-consistent system. Have we a practical 
standard which now can assure us that this system 
will satisfy our desire for perfect good ? An affirm- 
ative answer seems plausible, but I do not think it 
would be true. Without any doubt we possess a 
practical standard ; but that does not seem to me to 
yield a conclusion about reality, or it will not give us 
at least directly the result we are seeking. I will 
attempt briefly to explain in what way it comes 

That a practical end and criterion exists I shall 
assume, and I will deal with its nature more fully 
hereafter (Chapter xxv.). I may say for the 
present that, taken in the abstract, the practical 
standard seems to be the same as what is used for 


theory. It is individuality, the harmonious or con- 
sistent existence of our contents ; an existence, 
further, which cannot be limited, because, if so, it 
would contradict itself internally (Chapters xx. and 
xxiv.). Nor need I separate myself at this stage 
from the intelligent Hedonist, since, in my judgment, 
practical perfection will carry a balance of pleasure. 
1 hese points I shall have to discuss, and for the 
present am content to assume them provisionally 
and vaguely. Now taking the practical end as in- 
dividuality, or as clear pleasure, or rather as both in 
one, the question is whether this end is known to be 
realized in the Absolute, and, if so, upon what 
foundation such knowledge can rest. It apparently 
cannot be drawn directly from the theoretical 
criterion, and the question is whether the practical 
standard can supply it. I will explain why I 
believe that this cannot be the case. 

I will first deal briefly with the " ontological " 
argument. The essential nature of this will, I hope, 
be more clear to us hereafter (Chapter xxiv.), 
and I will here merely point out why it fails to give 
us help. This argument might be stated in several 
forms, but the main point is very simple. We have 
the idea of perfection — there is no doubt as to that 
— and the question is whether perfection also actually 
exists. Now the ontological view urges that the fact 
of the idea proves the fact of the reality ; or, to put 
it otherwise, it argues that, unless perfection existed, 
you could not have it in idea, which is agreed to be 
the case. I shall not discuss at present the general 
validity of this argument, but will confine myself to 
denying its applicability. For, if an idea has been 
manufactured and is composed of elements taken up 
from more than one source, then the result of manu- 
facture need not as a whole exist out of my thought, 
however much that is the case with its separate 
el< ments. Thus we might admit that, in one sense, 
perfection or completeness would not be present in 


idea unless also it were real. We might admit this, 
and yet we might deny the same conclusion with 
respect to practical perfection. For the perfection 
that is real might simply be theoretical. It might 
mean system so far as system is mere theoretical 
harmony and does not imply pleasure. And the 
element of pleasure, taken, up from elsewhere, may 
then have been added in our minds to this valid idea. 
But, if so, the addition may be incongruous, incom- 
patible, and really, if we knew it, contradictory. 
Pleasure and system perhaps are in truth a false 
compound, an appearance which exists, as such, only 
in our heads ; just as would be the case if we thought, 
for example, of a perfect finite being. Hence the 
ontological argument cannot prove the existence of 
practical perfection ; 1 and let us go on to enquire if 
any other proof exists. 

It is in some ways natural to suppose that the 
practical end somehow postulates its existence as a 
fact. But a more careful examination tends to dis- 
sipate this idea. The moral end, it is clear, is not 
pronounced by morality to have actual existence. 
This is quite plain, and it would be easier to contend 
that morality even postulates the opposite (Chapter 
xxv.). Certainly, as we shall perceive hereafter, 
the religious consciousness does imply the reality of 
that object, which also is its goal. But a religion 
whose object is perfect will be founded on inconsist- 
ency, even more than is the case with mere morality. 
For such a religion, if it implies the existence of its 
ideal, implies at the same time a feature which is 
quite incompatible. This we shall discuss in a later 
chapter, and all that I will urge here is that the 
religious consciousness cannot prove that perfection 
really exists. For it is not true that in all religions 
the object is perfection ; nor, where it is so, does 

1 The objection that, after all, the compound is there, will be 
met in Chapter xxiv. Notice also that I do not distinguish as yet 
between "existence" and "reality." But see p. 317. 


religion possess any right to dictate to or to dominate 
over thought. It does not follow that a belief must 
be admitted to be true, because, given a certain 
influence, it is practically irresistible. There is a 
tendency in religion to take the ideal as existing ; 
and this tendency sways our minds and, under cer- 
tain conditions, may amount to compulsion. But 
it does not, therefore, and merely for this reason, 
give us truth, and we may recall other experience 
which forces us to doubt. A man, for instance, may 
love a woman whom, when he soberly considers, he 
cannot think true, and yet, in the intoxication of her 
presence, may give up his whole mind to the sugges- 
tions of blind passion. But in all cases, that alone 
is really valid for the intellect, which in a calm 
moment the mere intellect is incapable of doubting. 
It is only that which for thought is compulsory and 
irresistible — only that which thought must assert in 
attempting to deny it — which is a valid foundation 
for metaphysical truth. 

" But how," I may be asked, " can you justify this 
superiority of the intellect, this predominance of 
thought ? On what foundation, if on any, does such 
a despotism rest ? For there seems no special force 
in the intellectual axiom if you regard it impartially. 
Nay, if you consider the question without bias, and 
if you reflect on the nature of axioms in general, you 
may be brought to a wholly different conclusion. 
For all axioms, as a matter of fact, are practical. 
They all depend upon the will. They none of them 
in the end can amount to more than the impulse to 
behave in a certain way. And they cannot express 
more than this impulse, together with the impossi- 
bility of satisfaction unless it is complied with. 
And hence, the intellect, far from possessing a right 
to predominate, is simply one instance and one 
symptom of practical compulsion. Or (to put the 
case more psychologically) the intellect is merely one 
result of the general working of pleasure and pain. 


It is even subordinate, and therefore its attempt at 
despotism is founded on baseless pretensions." 

Now, apart from its dubious psychological setting, 
I can admit the general truth contained in this objec- 
tion. The theoretical axiom is the statement of an 
impulse to act in a certain manner. When that 
impulse is not satisfied there ensues disquiet and 
movement in a certain direction, until such a char- 
acter is given to the result as contents the impulse 
and produces rest. And the expression of this 
fundamental principle of action is what we call an 
axiom. Take, for example, the law of avoiding 
contradiction. When two elements will not remain 
quietly together but collide and struggle, we cannot 
rest satisfied with that state. Our impulse is to 
alter it, and, on the theoretical side, to bring the 
content to a shape where without collision the variety 
is thought as one. And this inability to rest other- 
wise, and this tendency to alter in a certain way 
and direction, is, when reflected on and made ex- 
plicit, our axiom and our intellectual standard. 

" But is not this," I may be asked further, " a sur- 
render of your position ? Does not this admit that 
the criterion used for theory is merely a practical 
impulse, a tendency to movement from one side of 
our being? And, if so, how can the intellectual 
standard be predominant ? " But it is necessary 
here to distinguish. The whole question turns on 
the difference between the several impulses of our 
being. 1 You may call the intellect, if you like, a 
mere tendency to movement, but you must remember 
that it is a movement of a very special kind. I shall 
enter more fully into the nature of thinking hereafter, 
but the crucial point may be stated at once. In 
thought the standard, you may say, amounts merely to 
"act so" ; but then "act so" means "think so," and 
"think so" means " it is." And the psychological 
origin and base of this movement, and of this inability 
1 Compare here Chapter xxvi. 


to act otherwise, may be anything you please ; for 
that is all utterly irrelevant to the metaphysical issue. 
Thinking is the attempt to satisfy a special impulse, 
and the attempt implies an assumption about reality. 
You may avoid the assumption so far as you decline 
to think, but, if you sit down to the game, there is 
only one way of playing. In order to think at all 
you must subject yourself to a standard, a standard 
which implies an absolute knowledge of reality ; and 
while you doubt this, you accept it, and obey while 
you rebel. You may urge that thought, after all, is 
inconsistent, because appearance is not got rid of 
but merely shelved. That is another question which 
will engage us in a future chapter, and here may be 
dismissed. For in any case thinking means the 
acceptance of a certain standard, and that standard, 
in any case, is an assumption as to the character of 

"But why," it may be objected, "is this assump- 
tion better than what holds for practice ? Why is 
the theoretical to be superior to the practical end ? " 
I have never said that this is so. Only here, that is 
in metaphysics, I must be allowed to reply, we are 
acting theoretically. We are occupied specially, and 
are therefore subject to special conditions ; and the 
theoretical standard within theory must surely be 
absolute. We have no right to listen to morality 
when it rushes in blindly. " Act so," urges morality, 
that is "be so or be dissatisfied." But if I am dis- 
satisfied, still apparently I may be none the less real. 
" Act so," replies speculation, that is, " think so or 
be dissatisfied; and if you do not think so, what you 
think is certainly not real." And these two com- 
mands do not seem to be directly connected. If I 
am theoretically not satisfied, then what appears 
must in reality be otherwise ; but, if I am dissatis- 
fied practically, the same conclusion does not hold. 
Thus the two satisfactions are not the same, nor does 
there appear to be a straight way from the one to the 


other. Or consider again the same question from a 
different side. Morality seemed anxious to dictate 
to metaphysics, but is it prepared to accept a corre- 
sponding dictation ? If it were to hear that the real 
world is quite other than its ideal, and if it were 
unable theoretically to shake this result, would 
morality acquiesce ? Would it not, on the other 
hand, regardless of this, still maintain its own ground ? 
Facts may be as you say, but none the less they 
should not be so, and something else ought to be. 
Morality, I think, would take this line, and, if so, it 
should accept a like attitude in theory. It must not 
dictate as to what facts are, while it refuses to admit 
dictation as to what they should be. 

Certainly, to any one who believes in the unity of 
our nature, a one-sided satisfaction will remain in- 
credible. And such a consideration to my mind 
carries very great weight. But to stand on one side 
of our nature, and to argue from that directly to the 
other side, seems illegitimate. I will not here ask 
how far morality is consistent with itself in demand- 
ing complete harmony (Chapter xxv.). What seems 
clear is that, in wishing to dictate to mere theory, it 
is abandoning its own position and is courting 
foreign occupation. And it is misled mainly by a 
failure to observe essential distinctions. "Be so" 
does not mean always " think so," and " think so," 
in its main signification, certainly does not mean "be 
so." Their difference is the difference between " you 
ought " and " it is " — and I can see no direct road 
from the one to the other. If a theory could be made 
by the will, that would have to satisfy the will, and, 
if it did not, it would be false. But since meta- 
physics is mere theory, and since theory from its 
nature must be made by the intellect, it is here the 
intellect alone which has to be satisfied. Doubtless 
a conclusion which fails to content all the sides of 
my nature leaves me dissatisfied. But I see no 
direct way of passing from " this does not satisfy my 


nature " to " therefore it is false." For false is the 
same as theoretically untenable, and we are suppos- 
ing a case where mere theory has been satisfied, and 
where the result has in consequence been taken as 
true. And, so far as I see, we must admit that, if 
the intellect is contented, the question is settled. 
For we may feel as we please about the intellectual 
conclusion, but we cannot, on such external ground, 
protest that it is false. 

Hence if we understand by perfection a state ot 
harmony with pleasure, there is no direct way ot 
showing that reality is perfect. For, so far as the in- 
tellectual standard at present seems to go, we might 
have harmony with pain and with partial dissatisfac- 
tion. But I think the case is much altered when we 
consider it otherwise, and when we ask if on an- 
other ground such harmony is possible. The intel- 
lect is not to be dictated to ; that conclusion is irre- 
fragable. But is it certain, on the other hand, that 
the mere intellect can be self-satisfied, if other ele- 
ments of our nature remain not contented ? Or 
must we not think rather that indirectly any partial 
discontent will bring unrest and imperfection into 
the intellect itself? If this is so, then to suppose 
any imperfection in the Absolute is inadmissible. 
To fail in any way would introduce a discord into 
perception itself. And hence, since we have found 
that, taken perceptively, reality is harmonious, it must 
be harmonious altogether, and must satisfy our 
whole nature. Let us see if on this line we can 
make an advance. 

If the Absolute is to be theoretically harmonious, 
its elements must not collide. Idea must not dis- 
agree with sensation, nor must sensations clash. In 
every case, that is, the struggle must not be a mere 
struggle. There must be a unity which it subserves, 
and a whole, taken in which it is a struggle no 
<:r. How this resolution is possible we may be 


able to see partly in our subsequent chapters, but for 
the present I would insist merely that somehow it 
must exist. Since reality is harmonious, the struggle 
of diverse elements, sensations or ideas, barely to 
qualify the self-same point must be precluded. But, 
if idea must not clash with sensation, then there 
cannot in the Absolute be unsatisfied desire or any 
practical unrest. For in these there is clearly an 
ideal element not concordant with presentation but 
struggling against it, and, if you remove this dis- 
cordance, then with it all unsatisfied desire is gone. 
In order for such a desire, in even its lowest form, 
to persist, there must (so far as I can see) be an 
idea qualifying diversely a sensation and fixed for 
the moment in discord. And any such state is not 
compatible with theoretical harmony. 

But this result perhaps has ignored an outstanding 
possibility. Unsatisfied desires might, as such, not 
exist in the Absolute, and yet seemingly there might 
remain a clear balance of pain. For, in the first 
place, it is not proved that all pain must arise from 
an unresolved struggle ; and it may be contended, 
in the second place, that possibly the discord might 
be resolved, and yet, so far as we know, the pain 
might remain. In a painful struggle it may be urged 
that the pain can be real, though the struggle is 
apparent. For we shall see, when we discuss error 
(Chapter xvi.), how discordant elements may be 
neutralized in a wider complex. We shall find how, 
in that system, they can take on a different arrange- 
ment, and so result in harmony. And the question 
here as to unsatisfied desires will be this. Can they 
not be merged in a whole, so as to lose their charac- 
ter of discordance, and thus cease to be desires, 
while their pain none the less survives in reality ? 
If so, that whole, after all, would be imperfect. For, 
while possessor of harmony, it still might be sunk in 
misery, or might suffer at least with a balance of 
pain. This objection is serious, and it calls for 


some discussion here. I shall have to deal with it 
once more in our concluding chapter. 

I feel at this point our want of knowledge with 
regard to the conditions of pleasure and pain. 1 It 
is a tenable view, one at least which can hardly be 
refuted, that pain is caused, or conditioned, by an 
unresolved collision. Now, if this really is the case, 
then, given harmony, a balance of pain is impos- 
sible. Pain, of course, is a fact, and no fact can be 
conjured away from the universe ; but the question 
here is entirely as to a balance of pain. Now it is 
common experience that in mixed states pain may 
be neutralized by pleasure in such a way that the 
balance is decidedly pleasant. And hence it is 
possible that in the universe as a whole we may 
have a balance of pleasure, and in the total result 
no residue of pain. This is possible, and if an un- 
resolved conflict and discord is essential to pain, it is 
much more than possible. Since the reality is har- 
monious, and since harmony excludes the conditions 
which are requisite for a balance of pain, that bal- 
ance is impossible. I will urge this so far as to 
raise a very grave doubt. I question our right even 
to suppose a state of pain in the Absolute. 

And this doubt becomes more grave when we 


consider another point. When we pass from the 
conditions to the effects of painful feeling, we are 
on surer ground. For in our experience the result 
of pain is disquietude and unrest. Its main action 
is to set up change, and to prevent stability. There 
is authority, I am aware, for a different view, but, 
so far as 1 see, that view cannot be reconciled with 
facts. This effect of pain has here a most impor- 
tant bearing. Assume that in the Absolute there is 
a balance of pleasure, and all is consistent. For 
the pains can condition those processes which, as 
processes, disappear in the life of the whole ; and 
these pains can be neutralized by an overplus of 
l Cf. J//W, xiii. pp. 3-14 (No. 49). 

158 ' REALITY. 

pleasure. But if you suppose, on the other hand, a 
balance of pain, the difficulty becomes at once in- 
superable. We have postulated a state of harmony, 
and, together with that, the very condition of in- 
stability and discord. We have in the Absolute, on 
one side, a state of things where the elements can- 
not jar, and where in particular idea does not con- 
flict with presentation. But with pain on the other 
side we have introduced a main-spring of change 
and unrest, and we thus produce necessarily an idea 
not in harmony with existence. And this idea of 
a better and of a non-existing condition of things 
must directly destroy theoretical rest. But, if so, 
such an idea must be called impossible. There is 
no pain on the whole, and in the Absolute our 
whole nature must find satisfaction. For otherwise 
there is no theoretical harmony, and that harmony 
we saw must certainly exist. I shall ask in our 
last chapter if there is a way of avoiding this con- 
clusion, but for the present we seem bound to accept 
it as true. We must not admit the possibility of an 
Absolute perfect in apprehension yet resting tran- 
quilly in pain. The question as to actual evidence 
of defect in the universe will be discussed in 
Chapter xvii. ; and our position so far is this. 
We cannot argue directly that all sides of our nature 
must be satisfied, but indirectly we are led to the 
same result. For we are forced to assume theo- 
retical satisfaction ; and to suppose that existing 
one-sidedly, and together with practical discomfort, 
appears inadmissible. Such a state is a possibility 
which seems to contradict itself. It is a supposition 
to which, if we cannot find any ground in its favour, 
we have no right. For the present at least it is 
better to set it down as inconceivable. 1 

And hence, for the present at least, we must be- 

1 In our last chapter this conclusion will be slightly modified. 
The supposition will appear there to be barely possible. 


lieve that reality satisfies our whole being. Our 
main wants — for truth and life, and for beauty and 
goodness — must all find satisfaction. And we have 
seen that this consummation must somehow be 
experience, and be individual. Every element of 
the universe, sensation, feeling, thought and will, 
must be included within one comprehensive sen- 
tience. And the question which now occurs is 
whether really we have a positive idea of such sen- 
tience. Do we at all know what we mean when 
we say that it is actual ? 

Fully to realize the existence of the Absolute is 
for finite beings impossible. In order thus to know 
we should have to be, and then we should not exist. 
This result is certain, and all attempts to avoid it 
are illusory. But then the whole question turns on 
the sense in which we are to understand M know- 
ing." What is impossible is to construct absolute 
life in its detail, to have the specific experience in 
which it consists. But to gain an idea of its main 
features — an idea true so far as it goes, though 
abstract and incomplete — is a different endeavour. 
And it is a task, so far as I see, in which we may 
succeed. For these main features, to some extent, 
are within our own experience ; and again the idea 
of their combination is, in the abstract, quite intellig- 
ible. And surely no more than this is wanted for 
a knowledge of the Absolute. It is a knowledge 
which of course differs enormously from the fact. 
But it is true, for all that, while it respects its own 
limits ; and it seems fully attainable by the finite 

I will end this chapter by briefly mentioning the 
sources of such knowledge. First, in mere feeling, 
or immediate presentation, we have the experience 
of a whole (Chapters ix., xix., xxvi., xxvii.). 
This whole contains diversity, and, on the other 
hand, is not parted by relations. Such an experi- 
ence, we must admit, is most imperfect and un- 


stable, and its inconsistencies lead us at once to 
transcend it. Indeed, we hardly possess it as more 
than that which we are in the act of losing. But it 
serves to suggest to us the general idea of a total 
experience, where will and thought and feeling may 
all once more be one. Further, this same unity, 
felt below distinctions, shows itself later in a kind of 
hostility against them. We find it in the efforts 
made both by theory and practice, each to complete 
itself and so to pass into the other. And, again, the 
relational form, as we saw, pointed everywhere to 
a unity. It implies a substantial totality beyond 
relations and above them, a whole endeavouring 
without success to realize itself in their detail. Fur- 
ther, the ideas of goodness, and of the beautiful, 
suggest in different ways the same result. They 
more or less involve the experience of a whole be- 
yond relations though full of diversity. Now, if we 
gather (as we can) such considerations into one, 
they will assuredly supply us with a positive idea. 
We gain from them the knowledge of a unity 
which transcends and yet contains every manifold 
appearance. They supply not an experience but an 
abstract idea, an idea which we make by uniting 
given elements. And the mode of union, once more 
in the abstract, is actually given. Thus we know 
what is meant by an experience, which embraces all 
divisions, and yet somehow possesses the direct 
nature of feeling. We can form the general idea 
of an absolute experience in which phenomenal dis- 
tinctions are merged, a whole become immediate at 
a higher stage without losing any richness. Our 
complete inability to understand this concrete unity 
in detail is no good ground for our declining to 
entertain it. Such a ground would be irrational, 
and its principle could hardly everywhere be ad- 
hered to. But if we can realize at all the general 
features of the Absolute, if we can see that some- 
how they come together in a way known vaguely 


and in the abstract, our result is certain. Our con- 
clusion, so far as it goes, is real knowledge of the 
Absolute, positive knowledge built on experience, 
and inevitable when we try to think consistently. 
We shall realize its nature more clearly when we 
have confronted it with a series of objections and 
difficulties. If our result will hold against them all, 
we shall be able to urge that in reason we are bound 
to think it true. 



There is a natural objection which the reader will 
raise against our account of the Absolute. The 
difficulty lies, he may urge, not in making a state- 
ment which by itself seems defensible, but rather in 
reconciling any view with obvious inconsistencies. 
The real problem is to show how appearance and 
evil, and in general finite existence, are compatible 
with the Absolute. These questions, however, he 
will object, have been so far neglected. And it is 
these which in the next chapter must begin to 
engage our serious attention. Still it is better not 
to proceed at once ; and before we deal with error 
we must gain some notion of what we mean by 
truth. In the present chapter I will try to state 
briefly the main essence of thought, and to justify 
its distinction from actual existence. It is only by 
misunderstanding that we find difficulty in taking 
thought to be something less than reality. 

If we take up anything considered real, no 
matter what it is, we find in it two aspects. There 
are always two things we can say about it ; and, if 
we cannot say both, we have not got reality. There 
is a " what " and a " that," an existence and a con- 
tent, and the two are inseparable. That anything 
should be, and should yet be nothing in particular, 
or that a quality should not qualify and ^ive a 
character to anything, is obviously impossible. If 
we try to get the "that" by itself, we do not get 
it, for either we have it qualified, or else we fail 



utterly. If we try to get the " what " by itself, we 
find at once that it is not all. It points to some- 
thing beyond, and cannot exist by itself and as a 
bare adjective. Neither of these aspects, if you 
isolate it, can be taken as real, or indeed in that 
c?;se is itself any longer. They are distinguishable 
c/ily and are not divisible. 

And yet thought seems essentially to consist in 
their division. For thought is clearly, to some 
extent at least, ideal. Without an idea there is no 
thinking, and an idea implies the separation of con- 
tent from existence. It is a " what" which, so far 
as it is a mere idea, clearly is not, and if it also 
were, could, so far, not be called ideal. For ideality 
lies in the disjoining of quality from being. Hence 
the common view, which identifies image and idea, 
is fundamentally in error. For an image is a fact, 
just as real as any sensation ; it is merely a fact of 
another kind and it is not one whit more ideal. But 
an idea is any part of the content of a fact so far as 
that works out of immediate unity with its existence. 
And an idea's factual existence may consist in a 
sensation or perception, just as well as in an image. 
The main point and the essence is that some feature 
in the " what " of a given fact should be alienated 
from its " that " so far as to work beyond it, or at 
all events loose from it. Such a movement is ideal- 
ity, and, where it is absent, there is nothing ideal. 

We can understand this most clearly if we con- 
sider the nature of judgment, for there we find 
thought in its completed form. In judgment an idea 
is predicated of a reality. Now, in the first place, 
what is predicated is not a mental image. It is not 
a fact inside my head which the judgment wishes to 
attach to another fact outside. The predicate is a 
mere " what," a mere feature of content, which is 
used to qualify further the M that " of the subject. 
And this predicate is divorced from its psychical 
existence in my head, and is used without any 


regard to its being there. When I say " this horse 
is a mammal," it is surely absurd to suppose that I 
am harnessing my mental state to the beast between 
the shafts. Judgment adds an adjective to reality, 
and this adjective is an idea, because it is a quality 
made loose from its own existence, and is working 
free from its implication with that. And, even 
when a fact is merely analysed, — when the predicate 
appears not to go beyond its own subject, or to have 
been imported divorced from another fact outside — 
our account still holds good. For here obviously 
our synthesis is a re-union of the distinguished, and 
it implies a separation, which, though it is over- 
ridden, is never unmade. The predicate is a con- 
tent which has been made loose from its own 
immediate existence and is used in divorce from 
that first unity. And, again, as predicated, it is 
applied without regard to its own being as abstracted 
and in my head. If this were not so, there would be 
no judgment ; for neither distinction nor predication 
would have taken place. But again, if it is so, then 
once more here we discover an idea. 

And in the second place, when we turn to the 
subject of the judgment, we clearly find the other 
aspect, in other words, the "that." Just as in "this 
horse is a mammal " the predicate was not a fact, so 
most assuredly the subject is an actual existence. 
And the same thing holds good with every judg- 
ment. . No one ever means to assert about anything 
but reality, or to do anything but qualify a "that" by 
a "what" And, without dwelling on a point which 
/ I have worked out elsewhere, 1 I will notice a source 
of possible mistake. " The subject, at all events," I 
may be told, " is in no case a mere ' that.' It is 
never bare reality, or existence without character." 
And to this I fully assent. I agree that the subject 
which we mean — even before the judgment is com- 

1 Principles of Logic, Book I. 


plete, and while still we are holding its elements 
apart — is more than a mere " that." But then this 
is not the point. The point is whether with every 
judgment we do not find an aspect of existence, 
absent from the predicate but present in the subject, 
and whether in the synthesis of these aspects we 
have not got the essence of judgment. And for 
myself I see no way of avoiding this conclusion. 
Judgment is essentially the re-union of two sides, 
" what " and " that," provisionally estranged. But 
it is the alienation of these aspects in which 
thought's ideality consists. 

Truth is the object of thinking, and the aim of 
truth is to qualify existence ideally. Its end, that 
is, is to give a character to reality in which it can 
rest. Truth is the predication of such content as, 
when predicated, is harmonious, and removes incon- 
sistency and with it unrest. And because the&ven 
reality is never consistent, thought is compelled to 
take the road of indefinite expansion. If thought 
were successful, it would have a predicate consistent 
in itself and agreeing entirely with the subject. But, 
on the other hand, the predicate must be always 
ideal. It must, that is, be a "what" not in unity 
with its own " that," and tfierefore, in and by itself, 
devoid of existence. HerVce, so far as in thought 
this alienation is not made good, thought can never 
be more than merely ideal. 

I shall very soon proceed to dwell on this last con- 
sideration, but will first of all calr attention to a most 
important point. There exists a notion that ideality 
is something outside of facts, something imported 
into them, or imposed as a sort of layer above them ; 
and we talk as if facts, when let alone, were in no 
sense ideal. But any such notion is illusory. For 
facts which are not ideal, and which show no loose- f 
ness of content from existence, seem hardly actual. 
They would be found, if anywhere, in feelings with- 
out internal lapse, and with a content wholly single. 

1 66 REALITY. 

But if we keep to fact which is given, this changes 
in our hands, and it compels us to perceive incon- 
sistency of content. And then this content cannot 
be referred merely to its given " that," but is forced 
beyond it, and is made to qualify something outside. 
But, if so, in the simplest change we have at once 
ideality — the use of content in separation from its 
actual existence. Indeed, in Chapters ix. and x. we 
have already seen how this is necessary. For the j 
content of the given is for ever relative to something I 
not given, and the nature of its " what " is hence es- j 
sentially to transcend its " that." This we may call 
the ideality of the given finite. It is not manufac- 
tured by thought, but thought itself is its develop- 
ment and product. The essential nature of the finite 
is that everywhere, as it presents itself, its character 
should slide beyond the limits of its existence. 

And truth, as we have seen, is the effort to heal 
this disease, as it were, homceopathically. Thought 
has to accept, without reserve, the ideality of the 
" given," its want of consistency and its self-transcen- 
dence. And by pushing this self-transcendence to 
the uttermost point, thought attempts to find there 
consummation and rest. The subject, on the one 
hand, is expanded until it is no longer what is given. 
It becomes the whole universe, which presents it- 
self and which appears in each given moment with 
but part of its reality. It grows into an all-inclusive 
whole, existing somewhere and somehow, if we only 
could perceive it. But on the other hand, in quali- 
fying this reality, thought consents to a partial ab- 
negation. It has to recognise the division of the « 
" what " from the " that," and it cannot so join 
these aspects as to get rid of mere ideas and arrive 
at actual reality. For it is in and by ideas only that 
thought moves and has life. The content it applies 
to the reality has, as applied, no genuine existence. 
It is an adjective divorced from its " that," and never 
in judgment, even when the judgment is complete, 


restored to solid unity. Thus the truth belongs to 
existence, but it does not as such exist. It is a 
character which indeed reality possesses, but a char- 
acter which, as truth and as ideal, has been set loose 
from existence ; and it is never rejoined to it in such 
a way as to come together singly and make fact. 
Hence, truth shows a dissection and never an actual 
life. Its predicate can never be equivalent to its 
subject. And if it became so, and if its adjectives 
could be at once self-consistent and re-welded to ex- 
istence, it would not be truth any longer. It would 
have then passed into another and a higher reality. 

And I will now deal with the misapprehension to 
which I referred, and the consideration of which may, 
I trust, help us forward. 1 

There is an erroneous idea that, if reality is more 
than thought, thought itself is, at least, quite unable 
to say so. To assert the existence of anything in 
any sense beyond thought suggests, to some minds, 
the doctrine of the Thing- in-itself. And of the 
Thing-in-itself we know (Chapter xii.) that if it ex- 
isted we could not know of it ; and, again, so far as 
we know of it, we know that it does not exist. The 
attempt to apprehend this Other in succeeding would 
be suicide, and in suicide could not reach anything 
beyond total failure. Now, though I have urged 
this result, I wish to keep it within rational limits, 
and I dissent wholly from the corollary that nothing 
more than thought exists. But to think of anything 
which can exist quite outside of thought I agree is im- 
possible. If thought is one element in a whole, you 
cannot argue from this ground that the remainder of 
such a whole must stand apart and independent. 
From this ground, in short, you can make no infer- 
ence to a Thing-in-itself. And there is no impossi- 
bility in thought's existing as an element, and no 

1 The remainder of this chapter has been reprinted, with some 
ons and omissions, from Mind, No. 51. 

1 68 REALITY. 

self-contradiction in its own judgment that it is less 
than the universe. 

We have seen that anything real has two aspects, 
existence and character, and that thought always 
must work within this distinction. Thought, in its 
actual processes and results, cannot transcend the 
dualism of the " that " and the " what." I do not 
mean that in no sense is thought beyond this dualism, 
or that thought is satisfied with it and has no desire 
for something better. But taking judgment to be 
completed thought, I mean that in no judgment are 
the subject and predicate the same. In every 
judgment the genuine subject is reality, which goes 
beyond the predicate and of which the predicate is 
an adjective. And I would urge first that, in desir- 
ing to transcend this distinction, thought is aiming at 
suicide. We have seen that in judgment we find 
always the distinction of fact and truth, of idea and 
reality. Truth and thought are not the thing itself, 
but are of it and about it. Thought predicates an 
ideal content of a subject, which idea is not the same 
as fact, for in it existence and meaning are neces- 
sarily divorced. And the subject, again, is neither 
the mere " what " of the predicate, nor is it any other 
mere " what." Nor, even if it is proposed to take up 
a whole with both its aspects, and to predicate the 
ideal character of its own proper subject, will that 
proposal assist us. For if the subject is the same as 
the predicate, why trouble oneself to judge ? But if 
it is not the same, then what is it, and how is it dif- 
ferent ? Either then there is no judgment at all, and 
but a pretence of thinking without thought, or there 
is a judgment, but its subject is more than the predi- 
cate, and is a "that" beyond a mere "what." The 
subject, I would repeat, is never mere reality, or bare 
existence without character. The subject, doubtless, 
has unspecified content which is not stated in the 
predicate. For judgment is the differentiation of a 
complex whole, and hence always is analysis and 


synthesis in one. It separates an element from, and 
restores it to, the concrete basis ; and this basis of 
necessity is richer than the mere element by itself. 
But then this is not the question which concerns us 
here. That question is whether, in any judgment 
which really says anything, there is not in the sub- 
ject an aspect of existence which is absent from the 
bare predicate. And it seems clear that this ques- 
tion must be answered in the affirmative. And if it 
is urged that the subject itself, being in thought, 
can therefore not fall beyond, I must ask for more 
accuracy ; for M partly beyond " appears compatible 
with " partly within." And, leaving prepositions to 
themselves, I must recall the real issue. For I do 
not deny that reality is an object of thought ; I deny 
that it is barely and merely so. If you rest here on 
a distinction between thought and its object, that 
opens a further question to which I shall return 
(p. 174). But if you admit that in asserting reality 
to fall within thought, you meant that in reality 
there is nothing beyond what is made thought's 
object, your position is untenable. Reflect upon any 
judgment as long as you please, operate upon the 
subject of it to any extent which you desire, but then 
(when you have finished) make an actual judgment. 
And when that is made, see if you do not discover, be- 
yond the content of your thought, a subject of which 
it is true, and which it does not comprehend. You 
will find that the object of thought in the end must 
be ideal, and that there is no idea which, as such, con-| 
tains its own existence. The " that " of the actual 
subject will for ever give a something which is not a 
mere idea, something which is different from any 
truth, something which makes such a difference to 
your thinking, that without it you have not even 
thought completely. 

" But," it may be answered, " the thought you 
speak of is thought that is not perfect. Where 
thought is perfect there is no discrepancy between 

1 70 REALITY. 

subject and predicate. A harmonious system of 
content predicating itself, a subject self-conscious in 
that system of content, this is what thought should 
mean. And here the division of existence and char- 
acter is quite healed up. If such completion is not 
actual, it is possible, and the possibility is enough." 
But it is not even possible, I must persist, if it really 
is unmeaning. And once more I must urge the 
former dilemma. If there is no judgment, there is 
no thought ; and if there is no difference, there is no 
judgment, nor any self-consciousness. But if, on the 
other hand, there is a difference, then the subject is 
beyond the predicated content. 

Still a mere denial, I admit, is not quite satisfac- 
tory. Let us then suppose that the dualism inherent 
in thought has been transcended. Let us assume 
that existence is no longer different from truth, and 
let us see where this takes us. It takes us straight 
to thought's suicide. A system of content is going 
to swallow up our reality ; but in our reality we 
have the fact of sensible experience, immediate pre- 
sentation with its colouring of pleasure and pain. 
Now I presume there is no question of conjuring 
this fact away; but how it is to be exhibited as an^ 
element in a system of thought- content, is a problem 
not soluble. Thought is relational and discursive, 
and, if it ceases to be this, it commits suicide ; and j 
yet, if it remains thus, how does it contain immediate 
presentation ? Let us suppose the impossible ac- 
complished ; let us imagine a harmonious system of 
ideal contents united by relations, and reflecting it- 
self in self-conscious harmony. This is to be reality, 
all reality ; and there is nothing outside it. The 
delights and pains of the flesh, the agonies and rap- 
tures of the soul, these are fragmentary meteors 
fallen from thought's harmonious system. But these 
burning experiences — how in any sense can they be 
mere pieces of thought's heaven ? For, if the fall 


is real, there is a world outside thought's region, 
and, if the fall is apparent, then human error itself is 
not included there. Heaven, in brief, must either 
not be heaven, or else not all reality. Without a 
metaphor, feeling belongs to perfect 'thought, or it 
does not If it does not, there is at once a side of 
existence beyond thought. But if it does belong, 
then thought is different from thought discursive 
and relational. To make it include immediate ex- 
perience, its character must be transformed. It 
must cease to predicate, it must get beyond mere 
relations, it must reach something other than truth. 
Thought, in a word, must have been absorbed into 
a fuller experience. Now such an experience may 
be called thought, if you choose to use that word. 
But if any one else prefers another term, such as 
feeling or will, he would be equally justified. For 
the result is a whole state which both includes and 
goes beyond each element ; and to speak of it as 
simply one of them seems playing with phrases. 
For (I must repeat it) when thought begins to be] 
more than relational, it ceases to be mere thinking.! 
A basis, from which the relation is thrown out and 
into which it returns, is something not exhausted by 
that relation. It will, in short, be an existence 
which is not mere truth. Thus, in reaching a whole 
which can contain every aspect within it, thought 
must absorb what divides it from feeling and will. 
But when these all have come together, then, since 
none of them can perish, they must be merged in a 
whole in which they are harmonious. But that 
whole assuredly is not simply one of its aspects. 
And the question is not whether the universe is in 
any sense intelligible. The question is whether, if | 
you thought it and understood it, there would be no 
difference left between your thought and the thing. ' 
And, supposing that to have happened, the question 
is then whether thought has not changed its nature. 
Let us try to realize more distinctly what this 


supposed consummation would involve. Since both 
truth and fact are to be there, nothing must be lost, 
and in the Absolute we must keep every item of our 
experience. We cannot have less, but, on the other 
hand, we may have much more ; and this more may 
so supplement the elements of our actual experience 
that in the whole they may become transformed. 
But to reach a mode of apprehension, which is quite 
identical with reality, surely predicate and subject, 
and subject and object, and in short the whole rela- 
tional form, must be merged. The Absolute does 
not want, I presume, to make eyes at itself in a 
mirror, or, like a squirrel in a cage, to revolve the 
circle of its perfections. Such processes must be 
dissolved in something not poorer but richer than 
themselves. And feeling and will must also be 
transmuted in this whole, into which thought has 
entered. Such a whole state would possess in a 
superior form that immediacy which we find (more 
or less) in feeling ; and in this whole all divisions 
would be healed up. It would be experience entire, 
containing all elements in harmony. Thought would 
be present as a higher intuition ; will would be there 
where the ideal had become reality ; and beauty and 
pleasure and feeling would live on in this total fulfil- 
ment. Every flame of passion, chaste or carnal, 
would still burn in the Absolute unquenched and 
unabridged, a note absorbed in the harmony of its 
higher bliss. We cannot imagine, I admit, how in 
detail this can be. But if truth and fact are to be 
one, then in some such way thought must reach its 
consummation. But in that consummation thought 
has certainly been so transformed, that to go on 
calling it thought seems indefensible. 

I have tried to show first that, in the proper sense 
of thought, thought and fact are not the same. I 
have urged, in the second place, that, if their iden- 
tity is worked out, thought ends in a reality which 


swallows up its character. I will ask next whether 
thought s advocates can find a barrier to their client's 
happy suicide. 

They might urge, first, that our consummation is 
the Thing-in-itself, and that it makes thought know 
what essentially is not knowable. But this objection 
forgets that our whole is not anything but sentient 
experience. And it forgets that, even when we 
understand by " thought " its strict discursive form, 
our reality does not exist apart from this. Empha- 
tically the Absolute is nothing if taken apart from 
any single one of its elements. But the Thing-in- 
self, on the other hand, must exist apart. 

Let us pass to another objection against our view. 
We may be told that the End, because it is that 
which thought aims at, is therefore itself (mere) 0& 
thought. This assumes that thought cannot desire 
a consummation in which it is lost. But does not 
the river run into the sea, and the self lose itself in 
love ? And further, as good a claim for predomin- 
ance might be made on behalf of will, and again on 
behalf of beauty and sensation and pleasure. Where 
all elements reach their end in the Absolute, that 
end can belong to no one severally. We may illus- 
trate this principle by the case of morality. That 
essentially desires an end which is not merely moral 
because it is super-moral. Nay, even personality 
itself, our whole individual life and striving, tends to 
something beyond mere personality. Of course, 
the Absolute has personality, but it fortunately 1 
possesses so much more, that to call it personal \ 
would be as absurd as to ask if it is moral. 1 

But in self-consciousness, I may be told, we 
actually experience a state where truth and being 
are identical ; and here, at all events, thinking is not 
different from reality. But in our tenth chapter we 
have seen that no such state exists. There is no 

1 Sec further, Chapters xxv. and xxvii. 

1 74 REALITY. 

self-consciousness in which the object is the same as 
the subject, none in which what is perceived ex- 
hausts the whole self. In self-consciousness a part 
or element, or again a general aspect or character, 
becomes distinct from the whole mass and stands over 
against the felt background. But the background is 
never exhausted by this object, and it never could be 
so. An experiment should convince any man that in 
self-consciousness what he feels cannot wholly come 
before him. It can be exhausted, if at all, only by 
a long series of observations, and the summed result 
of these observations cannot be experienced as a 
fact. Such a result cannot ever be verified as quite 
true at any particular given moment. In short con- 
sciousness implies discrimination of an element from 
the felt mass, and a consciousness that should dis- 
criminate every element at once is psychologically 
impossible. And this impossibility, if it became 
actual, would still leave us held in a dilemma. For 
there is either no difference, and therefore no dis- 
tinction, and no consciousness ; or there is a distinc- 
tion, and therefore a difference between object and 
reality. But surely, if self-consciousness is appealed 
to, it is evident that at any moment I am more than 
the self which I can think of. How far everything 
in feeling may be called intelligible, is not the ques- 
tion here. But what is felt cannot be understood so 
that its truth and its existence become the same. 
And, if that were possible, yet such a process would 
certainly not be thinking. 

In thinking the subject which thinks is more than 
thought. And that is why we can imagine that in 
thinking we find all reality. But in the same way 
the whole reality can as well be found in feeling or 
in volition. Each is one element in the whole, or 
the whole in one of its aspects ; and hence, when 
you get an aspect or element, you have the whole 
with it. But because, given one aspect (whichever 
it may be), we find the whole universe, to conclude 


that in the universe there is nothing beyond this 
single aspect, seems quite irrational. 

But the reader may agree that no one really can 
believe that mere thought includes everything. The 
difficulty lies, he may urge, in maintaining the oppo- 
site. Since in philosophy we must think, how is it 
possible to transcend thought without a self-contra- 
diction ? For theory can reflect on, and pronounce 
about, all things, and in reflecting on them it there- 
fore includes them. So that to maintain in thought 
an Other is by the same act to destroy its otherness, 
and to persist is to contradict oneself. While admit- 
ting that thought cannot satisfy us as to reality's 
falling wholly within its limits, we may be told that, 
so long as we think, we must ignore this admission. 
And the question is, therefore, whether philosophy 
does not end in sheer scepticism — in the necessity, 
that is, of asserting what it is no less induced to 
deny. The problem is serious, and I will now at- 
tempt to exhibit its solution. 

We maintain an Other than mere thought. Now 
in what sense do we hold this ? Thought being a 
judgment, we say that the predicate is never the same 
as the subject ; for the subject is reality presented as 
44 this " (we must not say as mere 44 this "). You 
can certainly abstract from presentation its character 
of 44 thisness," or its confused related ness ; and you 
can also abstract the feature of presentation. Of 
these you can make ideas,* for there is nothing 
which you cannot think of. But you find that these 
ideas are not the same as the subject of which you 
must predicate them. You can think of the subject, 
but you cannot get rid of it, or substitute mere 
thought-content for it. In other words, in practice 
thought always is found with, and appears to de- 
mand, an Other. 

1 Principles of Logic, pp. 64-69 


Now the question is whether this leads to self- 
contradiction. If thought asserted the existence of 
any content which was not an actual or possible 
object of thought — certainly that assertion in my 
judgment would contradict itself. But the Other 
which I maintain, is not any such content, nor is it 
another separated " what," nor in any case do I 
suggest that it lies outside intelligence. Everything, 
all will and feeling, is an object for thought, and 
must be called intelligible. 1 This is certain ; but, if 
so, what becomes of the Other ? If we fall back on 
the mere " that," thatness itself seems a distinction 
made by thought. And we have to face this diffi- 
culty : If the Other exists, it must be something ; 
and if it is nothing, it certainly does not exist. 

Let us take an actual judgment and examine the 
subject there with a view to find our Other. In this 
we at once meet with a complication. We always 
have more content in the presented subject than in 
the predicate, and it is hence harder to realize what, 
beside this overplus of content, the subject possesses. 
However, passing this by, we can find in the sub- 
ject two special characters. There is first (a) sensu- 
ous infinitude, and (6) in the second place there is 

(a) The presented subject has a detail which is 
unlimited. By this I do not mean that the actual 
plurality of its features exceeds a finite number. I 
mean that its detail always goes beyond itself, and 
is indefinitely relative to something outside. 2 In its 
given content it has relations which do not terminate 
within that content ; and its existence therefore is 
not exhausted by itself, as we ever can have it. If 
I may use the metaphor, it has always edges which 
are ragged in such a way as to imply another exist- 
ence from which it has been torn, and without which 

1 On this point see below, Chapters xix. and xxvi. 

2 This sensible " infinite" is the same as the finite, which we 
just saw was in its essence " ideal." 


it really does not exist. Thus the content of the 
subject strives, we may say, unsuccessfully towards 
an all-inclusive whole. Now the predicate, on its 
side, is itself not free from endlessness. For its 
content, abstracted and finite, necessarily depends on 
relation to what is beyond. But it lacks the sensible 
and compulsory detail of the subject. It is not 
given as one thing with an actual but indefinite con- 
text. And thus, at least ostensibly, the predicate is 
hostile to endlessness. 

(b) This is one difference, and the second consists 
in immediacy. The subject claims the character of 
a single self-subsistent being. In it the aspects of 
" what" and " that " are not taken as divorced, but 
it is given with its content as forming one integral 
whole. The "what" is not sundered from the 
11 that," and turned from fact into truth. It is not 
predicated as the adjective of another " that," or 
even of its own. And this character of immediacy 
is plainly not consistent with endlessness. They 
are, in truth, each an imperfect appearance of indi- 
viduality. 1 But the subject clearly possesses both 
these discrepant features, while the predicate no less 
clearly should be without them. For the predicate 
seeks also for individuality but by a different road. 

Now, if we take the subject to have these two 
characters which are absent from the predicate, and 
if the desire of thought implies removal of that 
which makes predicate and subject differ — we begin 
to perceive the nature of our Other. And we may 
see at once what is required in order to extinguish 
its otherness. Subject and predicate alike must 
accept reformation. The ideal content of the predi- 
cate must be made consistent with immediate indi- 
viduality ; and, on its side, the subject must be 
changed so as to become consistent with itself. It 
must become a self-subsistent, and that means an 

1 Compare here the doctrine oi Chapters xix. and xxiv. 
A.R. N 

1 78 REALITY, 

all-inclusive, individual. But these reforms are im 
possible. The subject must pass into the judgment, 
and it becomes infected with the relational form. 
The self-dependence and immediacy, which it claims, 
are not possessed by its content. Hence in the 
attempted self-assertion this content drives the sub- 
ject beyond actual limits, and so begets a process 
which is infinite and cannot be exhausted. Thus 
thought's attempt wholly to absorb the subject must 
fail. It fails because it cannot reform the subject 
so as to include and exhaust its content. And, in 
the second place, thought fails because it cannot re- 
form itself. For, if per impossibile the exhausted 
content were comprised within a predicate, that 
predicate still could not bear the character of im- 
mediacy. I will dwell for a little on both points. 

Let us consider first the subject that is presented. 
It is a confused whole that, so far as we make it an 
object, passes into a congeries of qualities and rela- 
tions. And thought desires to transform this con- 
geries into a system. But, to understand the subject, 
we have at once to pass outside it in time, and 
again also in space. On the other hand these 
external relations do not end, and from their own 
nature they cannot end. Exhaustion is not merely 
impracticable, it is essentially impossible. And this 
obstacle would be enough ; but this is not all. In- 
side the qualities, which we took first as solid end- 
points of the relations, an infinite process breaks 
out. In order to understand, we are forced to dis- 
tinguish to the end, and we never get to that which 
is itself apart from distinction. Or we may put 
the difficulty otherwise thus. We can neither take 
the terms with their relations as a whole that is self- 
evident, that stands by itself, and that calls for no 
further account; nor, on the other side, when we 
distinguish, can we avoid the endless search for the 
relation between the relation and its terms. 1 
1 For this see above, Chapter in. 


Thus thought cannot get the content into a har- 
monious system. And in the next place, even if it 
did so, that system would not be the subject It 
would either be a maze of relations, a maze with 
a plan, of which for ever we made the circuit ; or 
otherwise it would wholly lose the relational form. 
Our impossible process, in the first place, would 
assuredly have truth distinguished from its reality. 
For it could avoid this only by coming to us bodily 
and all at once, and, further, by suppressing entirely 
any distinction between subject and predicate. But, 
if in this way thought became immediate, it would 
lose its own character. It would be a system of 
relations no longer, but would have become an 
individual experience. And the Other would cer- 
tainly have been absorbed, but thought itself no less 
would have been swallowed up and resolved into an 

Thought's relational content can never be the 
same as the subject, either as that subject appears 
or as it really is. The reality that is presented is 
taken up by thought in a form not adequate to its 
nature, and beyond which its nature must appear as 
an Other. But, to come at last in full view of the 
solution of our problem, this nature also is the nature 
which thought wants for itself. It is the character 
which even mere thinking desires to possess, and 
which in all its aspects exists within thought already, 
though in an incomplete form. And our main result 
is briefly this. The end, which would satisfy mere 
truth-seeking, would do so just because it had the 
features possessed by reality. It would have to be 
an immediate, self-dependent, all-inclusive individ- 
ual. But, in reaching this perfection, and in the 
act of reaching it, thought would lose its own char- 
acter. Thought does desire such individuality, that 
is precisely what it aims at. But individuality, on 
the other hand, cannot be gained while we are con- 
fined to relations. 


1 80 REALITY. 

Still we may be told that we are far from the solu- 
tion of our problem. The fact of thoughts desiring 
a foreign perfection, we may hear, is precisely the 
old difficulty. If thought desires this, then it is no 
Other, for we desire only what we know. The 
object of thought's desire cannot, hence, be a foreign 
object ; for what is an object is, therefore, not 
foreign. But we reply that we have penetrated 
below the surface of any such dilemma. Thought 
desires for its content the character which makes 
reality. These features, if realized, would destroy 
mere thought ; and hence they are an Other beyond 
thought. But thought, nevertheless, can desire 
them, because its content has them already in an 
incomplete form. And in desire for the completion 
of what one has there is no contradiction. Here is 
the solution of our difficulty. 

The relational form is a compromise on which 
thought stands, and which it developes. It is an 
attempt to unite differences which have broken out 
of the felt totality. 1 Differences forced together by 
an underlying identity, and a compromise between 
the plurality and the unity — this is the essence of 
relation. But the differences remain independent, 
for they cannot be made to resolve themselves into 
their own relation. For, if so, they would perish, 
and their relation would perish with them. Or, 
otherwise, their outstanding plurality would still 
remain unreconciled with their unity, and so within 
the relation would beget the infinite process. The 
relation, on the other side, does not exist beyond the 
terms ; for, in that case, itself would be a new term 
which would aggravate the distraction. But again, 
it cannot lose itself within the terms ; for, if so, 
where is their common unity and their relation ? 
They would in this case not be related, but would 
fall apart. Thus the whole relational perception 

1 On this point see Chapter iil 


joins various characters. It has the feature of im- 
mediacy and self-dependence ; for the terms are 
given to it and not constituted by it. It possesses 
again the character of plurality. And as represent- 
ing the primitive felt whole, it has once more the 
character of a comprehending unity — a unity, how- 
ever, not constituted by the differences, but added 
from without. And, even against its wish, it has 
further a restless infinitude ; for such infinitude is 
the very result of its practical compromise. And 
thought desires, retaining these features, to reduce 
them to harmony. It aims at an all-inclusive whole, 
not in conflict with its elements, and at elements 
subordinate to a self-dependent whole. Hence 
neither the aspect of unity, nor of plurality, nor of 
both these features in one, is really foreign to 
thought. There is nothing foreign that thought 
wants in desiring to be a whole, to comprehend 
everything, and yet to include and be superior to 
discord. But, on the other hand, such a completion, 
as we have seen, would prove destructive ; such an 
end would emphatically make an end of mere 
thought It would bring the ideal content into a 
form which would be reality itself, and where mere 
truth and mere thought would certainly perish. 
Thought seeks to possess in its object that whole 
character of which it already owns the separate 
features. These features it cannot combine satis- 
factorily, though it has the idea, and even the partial 
experience, of their complete combination. And, if 
the object were made perfect, it would forthwith 
become reality, but would cease forthwith to be 
an object. It is this completion of thought be- 
yond thought which remains for ever an Other. 
Thought can form the idea of an apprehension, 
something like feeling in directness, which contains 
all the character sought by its relational efforts. 
Thought can understand that, to reach its goal, it 
must get beyond relations. Yet in its nature it can 

1 82 REALITY. 

find no other working means of progress. Hence it 
perceives that somehow this relational side of its 
nature must be merged and must include somehow 
the other side. Such a fusion would compel thought 
to lose and to transcend its proper self. And the 
nature of this fusion thought can apprehend in 
vague generality, but not in detail ; and it can see 
the reason why a detailed apprehension is impos- 
sible. Such anticipated self-transcendence is an 
Other ; but to assert that Other is not a self-con- 

Hence in our Absolute thought can find its Other 
without inconsistency. The entire reality will be 
merely the object thought out, but thought out in 
such a way that mere thinking is absorbed. This 
same reality will be feeling that is satisfied com- 
pletely. In its direct experience we get restored 
with interest every feature lost by the disruption of 
our primitive felt whole. We possess the immediacy 
and the strength of simple apprehension, no longer 
forced by its own inconsistencies to pass into the 
infinite process. And again volition, if willed out, 
becomes our Absolute. For we reach there the 
identity of idea and reality, not too poor but too rich 
for division of its elements. Feeling, thought, and 
volition have all defects which suggest something 
higher. But in that higher unity no fraction of any- 
thing is lost. For each one-sided aspect, to gain 
itself, blends with that which seemed opposite, and 
the product of this fusion keeps the riches of all. 
The one reality, we may say from our human point 
of view, was present in each aspect in a form which 
does not satisfy. To work out its full nature it has 
sunk itself into these differences. But in each it 
longs for that absolute self-fruition which comes 
only when the self bursts its limits and blends with 
another finite self. This desire of each element for 
a perfection which implies fusion with others, is not 
self-contradictory. It is rather an effort to remove 


a present state of inconsistency, to remain in which 
would indeed be fixed self-contradiction. 

Now, if it is objected that such an Absolute is the 
Thing-in-itself, I must doubt if the objector can 
understand. How a whole which comprehends 
everything can deserve that title is past my conjec- 
ture. And, if I am told that the differences are lost 
in this whole, and yet the differences are, and must 
therefore be left outside — I must reply to this charge 
by a counter-charge of thoughtless confusion. For 
the differences are not lost, but are all contained in 
the whole. The fact that more is included there 
than these several, isolated, differences hardly proves 
that these differences are not there at all. When an 
element is joined to another in a whole of experi- 
ence, then, on the whole, and for the whole, their 
mere specialities need not exist ; but, none the less, 
each element in its own partial experience may re- 
tain its own speciality. "Yes; but these partial 
experiences," I may be told, " will at all events fall 
outside the whole." Surely no such consequence 
follows. The self-consciousness of the part, its con- 
sciousness of itself even in opposition to the whole — 
all will be contained within the one absorbing 
experience. For this will embrace all self-con- 
sciousness harmonized, though, as such, transmuted 
and suppressed. We cannot possibly construe, I 
admit, such an experience to ourselves. We cannot 
imagine how in detail its outline is filled up. But to 
say that it is real, and that it unites certain general 
characters within the living system of one undivided 
apprehension, is within our power. The assertion 
of this Absolute's reality I hope in the sequel to 
justify. Here (if I have not failed) I have shown 
that, at least from the point of view of thinking, it 
is free from self-contradiction. The justification for 
thought of an Other may help both to explain and 
to bury the Thing-in-itself. 



We have so far sketched in outline the Absolute 
which we have been forced to accept, and we have 
pointed out the general way in which thought may 
fall within it. We must address ourselves now to a 
series of formidable objections. If our Absolute is 
possible in itself, it seems hardly possible as things 
are. For there are undeniable facts with which it 
does not seem compatible. Error and evil, space, 
time, chance and mutability, and the unique particu- 
larity of the " this " and the 4< mine " — all these 
appear to fall outside an individual experience. To 
explain them away or to explain them, one of these 
courses seems necessary, and yet both seem impos- 
sible. And this is a point on which I am anxious 
to be clearly understood. I reject the offered 
dilemma, and deny the necessity of a choice be- 
tween these two courses. I fully recognise the 
facts, I do not make the smallest attempt to explain 
their origin, and I emphatically deny the need for 
such an explanation. In the first place to show how 
and why the universe is so that finite existence 
belongs to it, is utterly impossible. That would 
imply an understanding of the whole not practicable 
for a mere part. It would mean a view by the finite 
from the Absolute's point of view, and in that con- 
summation the finite would have been transmuted 
and destroyed. But, in the second place, such an 
understanding is wholly unnecessary. We have 

not to choose between accounting for everything 

i8 4 

ERROR. 185 

on one side and on the other side admitting it as a 
disproof of our doctrine of the Absolute. Such an 
alternative is not logical. If you wish to refute a 
wide theory based on general grounds, it is idle 
merely to produce facts which upon it are not ex- 
plained. For the inability to explain these may be 
simply our failure in particular information, and it 
need imply nothing worse than confirmation lacking 
to the theory. The facts become an objection to the 
doctrine when they are incompatible with some part 
of it ; while, if they merely remain outside, that points 
to incompleteness in detail and not falsity in prin- 
ciple. A general doctrine is not destroyed by what 
we fail to understand. It is destroyed only by that 
which we actually do understand, and can show to 
be inconsistent and discrepant with the theory 

And this is the real issue here. Error and evil 
are no disproof of our absolute experience so long as 
we merely fail to see how in detail it comprehends 
them. They are a disproof when their nature is 
understood in such a way as to collide with the 
Absolute. And the question is whether this under- 
standing of them is correct It is here that I 
confidently join issue. If on this subject there 
exists a false persuasion of knowledge, I urge that 
it lies on the side of the objector. I maintain that 
we know nothing of these various forms of the 
finite which shows them incompatible with that 
Absolute, for the accepting of which we have 
general ground. And I meet the denial of this 
position by pointing out assumed knowledge where 
really there is ignorance. It is the objector who, 
if any one, asserts omniscience. It is he who claims 
to understand both the infinite and the finite, so 
as to be aware and to be assured of their incompati- 
bility. And I think that he much overestimates 
the extent of human power. We cannot know that 
the finite is in collision with the Absolute. And if 

1 86 REALITV. 

we cannot, and if, for all we understand, the two 
are at one and harmonious — then our conclusion is 
proved fully. For we have a general assurance 
that reality, has a certain nature, and, on the other 
side, against that assurance we have to set nothing, 
nothing other than our ignorance. But an assur- 
ance, against which there is nothing to be set, must 
surely be accepted. And I will begin first with Error. 

Error is without any question a dangerous sub- 
ject, and the chief difficulty is as follows. We 
cannot, on the one hand, accept anything between 
non-existence and reality, while, on the other hand, 
error obstinately refuses to be either. It persistently 
attempts to maintain a third position, which appears 
nowhere to exist, and yet somehow is occupied. In 
false appearance there is something attributed to 
the real which does not belong to it. But if the 
appearance is not real, then it is not false appear- 
ance, because it is nothing. On the other hand, if 
it is false, it must therefore be true reality, for it is 
something which is. And this dilemma at first 
sight seems insoluble. Or, to put it otherwise, an 
appearance, which is, must fall somewhere. But 
error, because it is false, cannot belong to the 
Absolute ; and, again, it cannot appertain to the 
finite subject, because that, with all its contents, 
cannot fall outside the Absolute ; at least, if it did, 
it would be nothing. And so error has no home, 
it has no place in existence ; and yet, for all that, it 
exists. And for this reason it has occasioned much 
doubt and difficulty. 

For Psychology and for Logic the problem is 
much easier. Error can be identified with wrong 
inference, and can be compared on one side with a 
typical model ; while, on the other side, we can 
show by what steps it originates. But these en- 
quiries, however interesting, would not much assist 
us, and we must endeavour here to face the problem 

ERROR. 187 

more directly. We must take our stand on the 
distinction between idea and reality. 

Error is the same as false appearance, 1 or (if the 
reader objects to this) it is at any rate one kind of 
false appearance. Now appearance is content not 
atone with its existence, a "what" loosened from 
its " that." And in this sense we have seen that 
every truth is appearance, since in it we have 
divorce of quality from being (p. 163). The idea 
which is true is the adjective of reality so far as its 
content goes. It, so far, is restored, and belongs, 
to existence. But an idea has also another side, 
its own private being as something which is and 
happens. And an idea, as content, is alienated 
from this its own existence as an event. Even 
where you take a presented whole, and predicate 
one or more features, our account still holds good. 
For the content predicated has now become alien 
to its existence. On the one side it has not been 
left in simple unity with the whole, nor again is it 
predicated so far as changed from a mere feature 
into another and separate fact. In " sugar is sweet" 
the sweetness asserted of the sugar is not the 
sweetness so far as divided from it and turned into 
a second thing in our minds. This thing has its 
own being there, and to predicate it, as such, of the 
sugar would clearly be absurd. In respect of its 
own existence the idea is therefore always a mere 
appearance. But this character of divorce from its 
private reality becomes usually still more patent, 
where the idea is not taken from presentation but 
supplied by reproduction. Wherever the predicate 
is seen to be supplied from an image, the existence 
of that image can be seen at once not to be the 
predicate. It is something clearly left outside of 
the judgment and quite disregarded.* 

Appearance then will be the looseness of char- 

* See more, Chapter xxvl 

• Compare p. 164. 

1 88 REALITY. 

acter from being, the distinction of immediate oneness 
into two sides, a " that " and a " what." And this 
looseness tends further to harden into fracture and 
into the separation of two sundered existences. 
Appearance will be truth when a content, made 
alien to its own being, is related to some fact which 
accepts its qualification. The true idea is appear- 
ance in respect of its own being as fact and event, 
but is reality in connection with other being which 
it qualifies. Error, on the other hand, is content 
made loose from its own reality, and related to a 
reality with which it is discrepant. It is the re- 
jection of an idea by existence which is not the 
existence of the idea as made loose. It is the 
repulse by a substantive of a liberated adjective. 1 
Thus it is an appearance which not only appears, 
but is false. It is in other words the collision of a 
mere idea with reality. 

There are serious problems with regard both to 
error and truth, and the distinction between them, 
which challenge our scrutiny. I think it better 
however to defer these to later chapters. I will 
therefore limit here the enquiry, so far as is possible, 
and will consider two main questions. Error is 
content neither at one with its own being, nor 
otherwise allowed to be an adjective of the real. 
If so, we must ask (i) why it cannot be accepted 
by reality, and (2) how it still actually can belong 
to reality ; for we have seen that this last conclusion 
is necessary. 

1. Error is rejected by reality because that is 
harmonious, and is taken necessarily to be so, while 
error, on the other hand, is self-contradictory. I do 
not mean that it is a content merely not at one (if 
that were possible) with its own mere being. 2 I 

1 Whether the adjective has been liberated from this substan- 
tive or from another makes no difference. 

2 Tn the end no finite predicate or subject can possibly be 
harn onious. 

ERROR. 189 

mean that its inner character, as ideal, is itself dis- 
cordant and self-discrepant But I should prefer 
not to call error a predicate which contradicts itself. 
For that might be taken as a statement that the 
contradiction already is present in the mere pre- 
dicate, before judgment is attempted ; and this, if 
defensible, would be misleading. Error is the 
qualification of a reality in such a way that in 
the result it has an inconsistent content, which for 
that reason is rejected. Where existence has a 
44 what " colliding within itself, there the predication 
of this "what" is an erroneous judgment. If a 
reality is self-consistent, and its further determina- 
tion has introduced discord, there the addition is 
the mistake, and the reality is unaffected. It is 
unaffected, however, solely on the assumption that 
its own nature in no way suggested and called in the 
discordant. For otherwise the whole result is in- 
fected with falseness, and the reality could never 
have been pure from discrepancy. 1 

It will perhaps tend to make clearer this general 
view of error if I defend it against some possible 
objections. Error is supposed by some persons to 
be a departure from experience, or from what is 
given merely. It is again taken sometimes as the 
confusion of internal image with outward sensation. 
But any such views are of course most superficial. 
Quite apart from the difficulty of finding anything 
merely given, and the impossibility of always using 
actual present sensation as a test of truth — without 
noticing the strange prejudice that outward sensa- 
tions are never false, and the dull blindness which 
fails to realize that the 4< inward " is a fact just as 
solid as the "outward" — we may dismiss the whole 
objection. For, if the given has a content which is 
not harmonious, then, no matter in what sense we 

1 The doctrine here is stated subject to correction in Chapter 
xxiv. No finite predicate or subject can really be self-consistent 


like to take " given/' that content is not real. And 
any attempt, either to deny this, or to maintain that 
in the given there is never discrepancy, may be 
left to itself. But I will go on to consider the 
same view as it wears a more plausible form. " We 
do not," I may be told, " add or take away predic- 
ates simply at our pleasure. We do not, so long 
as this arbitrary result does not visibly contradict 
itself, consider it true." And I have not said that 
we should do this. 

Outside known truth and error we may, of course, 
have simple ignorance. 1 An assertion, that is, must 
in every case be right or be wrong ; but, for us and 
for the present, it may not yet be either. Still, on 
the other hand, we do know that, if the statement 
is an error, it will be so because its content collides 
internally. " But this " (an objector may reply) 
" is really not the case. Take the statement that 
at a certain time an event did, or did not, happen. 
This would be erroneous because of disagreement 
with fact, and not always because it is inconsistent 
with itself." Still I must insist that we have some 
further reason for condemning this want of corre- 
spondence with fact. For why, apart from such a 
reason, should either we or the fact make an ob- 
jection to this defect ? Suppose that when William 
has been hung, I assert that it was John. My 
assertion will then be false, because the reality does 
not admit of both events, and because William is 
certain. And if so, then after all my error surely 
will consist in giving to the real a self- discrepant 
content. For otherwise, when John is suggested, 
I could not reject the idea. I could only say that 
certainly it was William, and might also, for all that 
I knew, be John too. But in our actual practice we 
proceed thus : since " both John and William " 
forms a discordant content, that statement is in 

1 For further explanation, see Chapter xxvii. 


error — here to the extent of John. 1 In the same 
way, it' where no man is you insist on John's 
presence, then, without discussing here the nature 
of the privative judgment, 2 we can understand the 
mistake. You are trying to force on the reality 
something which would make it inconsistent, and 
which therefore is erroneous. But it would be alike 
easy and idle to pursue the subject further ; and I 
must trust that, to the reader who reflects, our 
main conclusion is already made good. Error is 
qualification by the self-discrepant. We must not, 
if we take the predicate in its usual sense, in all 
cases place the contradiction within that. But where 
discrepancy is found in the result of qualification, it 
is there that we have error. And I will now pass 
to the second main problem of this chapter. 

2. The question is about the relation of error 
to the Absolute. How is it possible for false 
appearance to take its place within reality ? We 
have to some extent perceived in what error consists, 
but we still are confronted by our original problem. 
Qualification by the self-discrepant exists as a fact, 
and yet how can it be real ? The self-contradiction 
in the content both belongs, and is unable to 
belong, to reality. The elements related, and their 
synthesis, and their reference to existence — these 
are things not to be got rid of. You may condemn 
them, but your condemnation cannot act as a spell 
to abolish them wholly. If they were not there, 
you could not judge them, and then you judge them 
not to be; or you pronounce them apparently some- 
how to exist without really existing. What is the 
exit from this puzzle ? 

There is no way but in accepting the whole mass 
of fact, and in then attempting to correct it and 

1 I <lo not here touch the question why John is sacrificed 
rathi-r than William (or both). On this, see Chapter xxiv. 

2 See Chapter xxvii 


make it good. Error is truth, it is partial truth, 
that is false only because partial and left incomplete. 
The Absolute has without subtraction all those 
qualities, and it has every arrangement which we 
seem to confer upon it by our mere mistake. The 
only mistake lies in our failure to give also the 
complement The reality owns the discordance and 
the discrepancy of false appearance ; but it pos- 
sesses also much else in which this jarring character 
is swallowed up and is dissolved in fuller harmony. 
I do not mean that by a mere re-arrangement of 
the matter which is given to us, we could remove 
its contradictions. For, being limited, we cannot 
apprehend all the details of the whole. And we 
must remember that every old arrangement, con- 
demned as erroneous, itself forms part of that 
detail. To know all the elements of the universe, 
with all the conjunctions of those elements, good 
and bad, is impossible for finite minds. And hence 
obviously we are unable throughout to reconstruct 
our discrepancies. But we can comprehend in 
general what we cannot see exhibited in detail. 
We cannot understand how in the Absolute a rich 
harmony embraces every special discord. But, on 
the other hand, we may be sure that this result is 
reached ; and we can even gain an imperfect view 
of the effective principle. I will try to explain this 
latter statement. 

There is only one way to get rid of contradiction, 
and that way is by dissolution. I nstead of one subject 
distracted, we get a larger subject with distinctions, 
and so the tension is removed. We have at first 
A, which possesses the qualities c and b, incon- 
sistent adjectives which collide ; and we go on to 
produce harmony by making a distinction within 
this subject. That was really not mere A, but 
either a complex within A, or (rather here) a wider 
whole in which A is included, The real subject 
is A + D ; and this subject contains the contradic- 

ERROR. 193 

tion made harmless by division, since A is c and D 
is b. This is the general principle, and I will 
attempt here to apply it in particular. Let us 
suppose the reality to be X (a b c d e f g . . . ), 
and that we are able only to get partial views of 
this reality. Let us first take such a view as 
" X (a b) is b." This (rightly or wrongly) we should 
probably call a true view. For the content b does 
plainly belong to the subject ; and, further, the 
appearance also — in other words, the separation of 
b in the predicate — can partly be explained. For. 
answering to this separation, we postulate now 
another adjective in the subject; let us call it /3. 
The " thatness," the psychical existence of the pre- 
dicate, which at first was neglected, has now also 
itself been included in the subject. We may hence 
write the subject as X (a b ft) ; and in this way we 
seem to avoid contradiction. Let us go further on 
the same line, and, having dealt with a truth, pass 
next to an error. Take the subject once more as 
X {a b c d e . . . ), and let us now say " X (a b) 
is d." This is false, because d is not present in the 
subject, and so we have a collision. But the collision 
is resolved if we take the subject, not as mere X 
(a b), but more widely as X (a b c d\ In this case 
the predicate ^becomes applicable. Thus the error 
consisted in the reference of d to a b ; as it might 
have consisted in like manner in the reference of 
a b to c, or again of c to d. All of these exist in 
the subject, and the reality possesses with each both 
its " what " and its " that." But not content with a 
provisional separation of these indissoluble aspects, 
not satisfied (as in true appearance) to have aa, bfi, 
and dS — forms which may typify distinctions that 
bring no discord into the qualities — we have gone 
on further into error. We have not only loosened 
"what" from "that," and so have made appear- 
ance ; but we have in each case then bestowed the 
" what " on a wrong quality within the real subject 
A. R. o 

1 94 REALITY. 

We have crossed the threads of the connection 
between our " whats " and our " thats," and have 
thus caused collision, a collision which disappears 
when things are taken as a whole. 

I confess that I shrink from using metaphors, 
since they never can suit wholly. The writer 
tenders them unsuspiciously as a possible help in a 
common difficulty. And so he subjects himself, 
perhaps, to the captious ill-will or sheer negligence 
of his reader. Still to those who will take it for what 
it is, I will offer a fiction. Suppose a collection of 
beings whose souls in the night walk about without 
their bodies, and so make new relations. On their 
return in the morning we may imagine that the pos- 
sessors feel the benefit of this divorce ; and we may 
therefore call it truth. But, if the wrong soul with 
its experience came back to the wrong body, that 
might typify error. On the other hand, perhaps the 
ruler of this collection of beings may perceive very 
well the nature of the collision. And it may even 
be that he provokes it. For how instructive and 
how amusing to observe in each case the conflict of 
sensation with imported and foreign experience. 
Perhaps no truth after all could be half so rich and 
half so true as the result of this wild discord — to one 
who sees from the centre. And, if so, error will 
come merely from isolation and defect, from the 
limitation of each being to the " this " and the 
" mine." 

But our account, it will fairly be objected, is 
antenable because incomplete. For error is not 
merely negative. The content, isolated and so 
discordant, is after all held together in a positive 
discord. And so the elements may exist, and their 
relations to their subjects may all be there in the 
Absolute, together with the complements which 
make them all true, and yet the problem is not 
solved. For the point of error, when all is said, lies 

ERROR. 195 

in this very insistence on the partial and discrepant, 
and this discordant emphasis will fall outside of 
every possible rearrangement. I admit this objec- 
tion, and I endorse it. The problem of error can- 
not be solved by an enlarged scheme of relations. 
Each misarrangement cannot be taken up wholly 
as an element in the compensations of a harmonious 
mechanism. For there is a positive sense and a 
specific character which marks each appearance, and 
this will still fall outside. Hence, while all that 
appears somehow is, all has not been accounted for 
by any rearrangement. 

But on the other side the Absolute is not, and can 
not be thought as, any scheme of relations. If we 
keep to these, there is no harmonious unity in the 
whole. The Absolute is beyond a mere arrange- 
ment, however well compensated, though an 
arrangement is assuredly one aspect of its being. 
Reality, consists, as we saw, in a higher experience, 
superior to the distinctions which it includes and 
overrides. And, with this, the last objection to the 
transformation of error has lost its basis. The one- 
sided emphasis of error, its isolation as positive and 
as not dissoluble in a wider connection — this again 
will contribute, we know not how, to the harmony 
of the Absolute. It will be another detail, which, 
together with every u what " and " that " and their 
relations, will be absorbed into the whole and will 
subserve its perfection. 

On this view there still are problems as to error 
and truth which we must deal with hereafter. But 
the main dilemma as to false appearance has, I 
think, been solved. That both exists and is, as 
such, not real. Its arrangement becomes true in a 
wider rearrangement of " what " and of M that." 
Error is truth when it is supplemented. And its 
positive isolation also is reducible, and exists as a 
mere element within the whole. Error is, but is not 
barely what it takes itself to be. And its mere 


onesidedness again is but a partial emphasis, a note 
of insistence which contributes, we know not how, 
to greater energy of life. And, if so, the whole 
problem has, so far, been disposed of. 

Now that this solution cannot be verified, in the 
sense of being made out in detail, is not an ad- 
mission on my part It is rather a doctrine which 
I assert and desire to insist on. It is impossible for 
us to show, in the case of every error, how in the 
whole it is made good. It is impossible, even 
apart from detail, to realize how the relational form 
is in general absorbed. But, upon the other hand, 
I deny that our solution is either unintelligible or 
impossible. And possibility here is all that we 
want. For we have seen that the Absolute must be 
a harmonious system. We have first perceived 
this in general, and here specially, in the case of 
error, we have been engaged in a reply to an alleged 
negative instance. Our opponents case has been 
this, that the nature of error makes our harmony 
impossible. And we have shown, on the other 
side, that he possesses no such knowledge. We 
have pointed out that it is at least possible for 
errors to correct themselves, and, as such, to dis- 
appear in a higher experience. But, if so, we must 
affirm that they are thus absorbed and made good. 
For what is possible, and what a general principle 
compels us to say must be, that certainly is. 



We have seen that error is compatible with absolute 
perfection, and we now must try to reach the same 
result in the case of evil. Evil is a problem which 
of course presents serious difficulties, but the worst 
have been imported into it and rest on pure mistake. 
It is here, as it is also with what is called " Free 
Will." The trouble has come from the idea that 
the Absolute is a moral person. If you start from 
that basis, then the relation of evil to the Absolute 
presents at once an irreducible dilemma. The 
problem then becomes insoluble, but not because 
it is obscure or in any way mysterious. To any 
one who has sense and courage to see things as 
they are, and is resolved not to mystify others or 
himself, there is really no question to discuss. The 
dilemma is plainly insoluble because it is based on a 
clear self-contradiction, and the discussion of it here 
would be quite uninstructive. It would concern us 
only if we had reason to suppose that the Absolute 
is (properly) moral. But we have no such reason, 
and hereafter we may hope to convince ourselves 
(Chapter xxv.), that morality cannot (as such) be 
ascribed to the Absolute. And, with this, the 
problem becomes certainly no worse than many 
others. Hence I would invite the reader to dis- 
miss all hesitation and misgiving. If the questions 
we ask prove unanswerable, that will certainly not 
be because they are quite obscure or unintelligible. 
It will be simply because the data we possess are 



insufficient. But let us at all events try to under- 
stand what it is that we seek. 

Evil has, we all know, several meanings. It may 
be taken (I.) as pain, (II.) as failure to realize end, 
and (III.), specially, as immorality. The fuller 
consideration of the last point must be postponed to 
a later chapter, where we can deal better with the 
relation of the finite person to the Absolute. 

I. No one of course can deny that pain actually 
exists, and I at least should not dream of denying 
that it is evil. But we failed to see, on the other 
hand, how pain, as such, can possibly exist in the 
Absolute. 1 Hence, it being admitted that pain has 
actual existence, the question is whether its nature 
can be transmuted. Can its painfulness disappear 
in a higher unity ? If so, it will exist, but will have 
ceased to be pain when considered on the whole. 

We can to some extent verify in our actual ex- 
perience the neutralization of pain. It is quite 
certain that small pains are often wholly swallowed 
up in a larger composite pleasure. And the asser- 
tion that, in all these cases, they have been destroyed 
and not merged, would most certainly be baseless. 
To suppose that my condition is never pleasant on 
the whole while I still have an actual local pain, is 
directly opposed to fact. In a composite state the 
pain doubtless will detract from the pleasure, but 
still we may have a resultant which is pleasurable 
wholly. Such a balance is all that we want in the 
case of absolute perfection. 

We shall certainly so far have done nothing to 
confute the pessimist. " I accept," he will reply, 
" your conclusion in general as to the existence of a 
balance. I quite agree that in the resultant one 

1 Chapter xiv. This conclusion is somewhat modified in 
Chapter xxvii., but, for the sake of clearness, I state it here 
unconditionally. The reader can correct afterwards, so far as is 
required, the results of the present chapter. 

EVIL. I99 

feature is submerged. But, unfortunately for your 
view, that feature really is not pain but pleasure. 
The universe, taken as a whole, suffers therefore 
sheer pain and is hence utterly evil." But I do not 
propose to undertake here an examination of pes- 
simism. That would consist largely in the weighing 
of psychological arguments on either side, and the 
result of these is in my opinion fatal to pessimism. 
In the world, which we observe, an impartial 
scrutiny will discover more pleasure than pain, 
though it is difficult to estimate, and easy to exag- 
gerate, the amount of the balance. Still I must 
confess that, apart from this, I should hold to my 
conclusion. I should still believe that in the 
universe there is preponderance of pleasure. The 
presumption in its favour is based on a principle 
from which I see no escape (Chapter xiv.), while 
the world we see is probably a very small part of 
the reality. Our general principle must therefore 
be allowed to weigh down a great deal of particular 
appearance ; and, if it were necessary, I would with- 
out scruple rest my case on this argument But, on 
the contrary, no such necessity exists. The ob- 
served facts are clearly, on the whole, in favour of 
some balance of pleasure. They, in the main, serve 
to support our conclusion from principle, and pess- 
imism may, without hesitation, be dismissed. 

We have found, so far, that there is a possibility 
of pain ceasing, as such, to exist in the Absolute. 
We have shown that this possibility can to some 
extent be verified in experience. And we have a 
general presumption in favour of an actual balance 
of pleasure. Hence once more here, as before with 
error, possibility is enough. For what may be, if it 
also must be, assuredly is. 

There are readers, perhaps, who will desire to go 
farther. It might be urged that in the Absolute 
pain not merely is lost, but actually serves as a kind 
of stimulus to heighten the pleasure. And doubt- 


less this possibly may be the case ; but I can see no 
good reason for taking it as fact. In the Absolute 
there probably is no pleasure outside of finite souls 
(Chapter xxvii.) ; and we have no reason to sup- 
pose that those we do not see are happier than those 
which we know. Hence, though this is possible, 
we are not justified in asserting it as more. For 
we have no right to go farther than our principle 
requires. But, if there is a balance of clear pleasure, 
that principle is satisfied, for nothing then stands in 
the way of the Absolute's perfection. It is a mistake 
to think that perfection is made more perfect by 
increase of quantity (Chapter xx.). 

II. Let us go on to consider evil as waste, fail- 
ure, and confusion. The whole world seems to a 
large extent the sport of mere accident. Nature 
and our life show a struggle in which one end per- 
haps is realized, and a hundred are frustrated. 
This is an old complaint, but it meets an answer in 
an opposing doubt. Is there really any such thing 
as an end in Nature at all ? For, if not, clearly there 
is no evil, in the sense in which at present we are 
taking the word. But we must postpone the discus- 
sion of this doubt until we have gained some under- 
standing of what Nature is to mean. 1 I will for the 
present admit the point of view which first supposes 
ends in Nature, and then objects that they are fail- 
ures. And I think that this objection is not hard 
to dispose of. The ends which fail, we may reply, 
are ends selected by ourselves and selected more 
or less erroneously. They are too partial, as we 
have taken them, and, if included in a larger end to 
which they are relative, they cease to be failures. 
They, in short, subserve a wider scheme, and in 
that they are realized. It is here with evil as it 
was before with error. That was lost in higher 

1 For the question of ends in Nature see Chapters xxii. and 

EVIL. 20 1 

truth to which it was subordinate, and in which, as 
such, it vanished. And with partial ends, in Nature 
or in human lives, the same principle will hold. Idea 
and existence we find not to agree, and this dis- 
cord we call evil. But, when these two sides are 
enlarged and each taken more widely, both may well 
come together. I do not mean, of course, that every 
finite end, as such, is realized. I mean that it is 
lost, and becomes an element, in a wider idea which 
is one with existence. And, as with error, even our 
onesidedness, our insistence and our disappointment, 
may somehow all subserve a harmony and go to 
perfect it The aspects of idea and of existence 
may be united in one great whole, in which evil, 
and even ends, as such, disappear. To verify this 
consummation, or even to see how in detail it can 
be, is alike impossible. But, for all that, such per- 
fection in its general idea is intelligible and possible. 
And, because the Absolute is perfect, this harmony 
must also exist. For that which is both possible 
and necessary we are bound to think real. 

III. Moral evil presents us with further difficul- 
ties. Here it is not a question simply of defect, and 
of the failure in outward existence of that inner idea 
which we take as the end. We are concerned fur- 
ther with a positive strife and opposition. We have 
an idea in a subject, an end which strives to gain 
reality ; and on the other side, we have the exist- 
ence of the same subject. This existence not merely 
fails to correspond, but struggles adversely, and the 
collision is felt as such. In our moral experience 
we find this whole fact given beyond question. We 
suffer within ourselves a contest of the good and 
bad wills and a certainty of evil. Nay, if we please, 
we may add that this discord is necessary, since 
without it morality must wholly perish. 

And this necessity of discord shows the road 
into the centre of our problem. Moral evil exists 


only in moral experience, and that experience in its 
essence is full of inconsistency. For morality 
desires unconsciously, with the suppression of evil, 
to become wholly non-moral. It certainly would 
shrink from this end, but it thus unknowingly 
desires the existence and perpetuity of evil. I 
shall have to return later to this subject (Chapter 
xxv.), and for the present we need keep hold merely 
of this one point. Morality itself, which makes evil, 
desires in evil to remove a condition of its own 
being. It labours essentially to pass into a super- 
moral and therefore a non-moral sphere. 

But, if we will follow it and will frankly adopt this 
tendency, we may dispose of our difficulty. For the 
content, willed as evil and in opposition to the good, 
can enter as an element into a wider arrangement. 
Evil, as we say (usually without meaning it), is over- 
ruled and subserves. It is enlisted and it plays a 
part in a higher good end, and in this sense, un- 
knowingly is good. Whether and how far it is as 
good as the will which is moral, is a question later 
to be discussed. All that we need understand here 
is that " Heaven's design," if we may speak so, can 
realize itself as effectively in " Catiline or Borgia" 
as in the scrupulous or innocent. For the higher 
end is super-moral, and our moral end here has been 
confined, and is therefore incomplete. As before 
with physical evil, the discord as such disappears, 
if the harmony is made wide enough. 

But it will be said truly that in moral evil we have 
something additional. We have not the mere fact 
of incomplete ends and their isolation, but we have 
in addition a positive felt collision in the self. And 
this cannot be explained away, for it has to fall 
within the Absolute, and it makes there a discord 
which remains unresolved. But our old principle 
may still serve to remove this objection. The col- 
lision and the strife may be an element in some 
fuller realization. Just as in a machine the resist- 



ance and pressure of the parts subserve an end 
beyond any of them, if regarded by itself — so at a 
much higher level it may be with the Absolute. 
Not only the collision but that specific feeling, by 
which it is accompanied and aggravated, can be 
taken up into an all-inclusive perfection. We do 
not know how this is done, and ingenious metaphors 
(if we could find them) would not serve to explain 
it. For the explanation would tend to wear the 
form of qualities in relation, a form necessarily (as 
we have seen) transcended in the Absolute. Such 
a perfect way of existence would, however, reconcile 
our jarring discords ; and I do not see how we can 
deny that such a harmony is possible. But, if pos- 
sible, then, as before, it is indubitably real. For, 
on the one side, we have an overpowering reason 
for maintaining it; while upon the other side, so 
far as I can see, we have nothing. 

I will mention in passing another point, the 
unique sense of personality which is felt strongly in 
evil. But I must defer its consideration until we 
attack the problem of the " mine " and the " this " 
(Chapter xix.). And I will end here with some 
words on another source of danger. There is a 
warning which I may be allowed to impress on the 
reader. We have used several times already with 
diverse subject-matters the same form of argument. 
All differences, we have urged repeatedly, come to- 
gether in the Absolute. In this, how we do not 
know, all distinctions are fused, and all relations 
disappear. And there is an objection which may 
probably at some point have seemed plausible. 
" Yes," I may be told, M it is too true that all differ- 
ence is gone. First with one real existence, and 
then afterwards with another, the old argument is 
brought out and the old formula applied. There is 
no variety in the solution, and hence in each case 
the variety is lost to the Absolute. Along with 


these distinctions all character has wholly disap- 
peared, and the Absolute stands outside, an empty 
residue and bare Thing-in-itself." This would be 
a serious misunderstanding. It is true that we do 
not know how the Absolute overrides the relational 
form. But it does not follow from this that, when 
the relational form is gone, the result is really poorer. 
It is true that with each problem we cannot say 
how its special discords are harmonized. But is 
this to deny the reality of diverse contents in the 
Absolute ? Because in detail we cannot tell in what 
each solution consists, are we therefore driven to 
assert that all the detail is abolished, and that our 
Absolute is a flat monotony of emptiness ? This 
would indeed be illogical. For though we do not 
know in each case what the solution can be, we know 
that in every case it contains the whole of the 
variety. We do not know how all these partial 
unities come together in the Absolute, but we may 
be sure that the content of not one is obliterated. 
The Absolute is the richer for every discord, and 
for all diversity which it embraces ; and it is our 
ignorance only in which consists the poverty of our 
object. Our knowledge must be poor because it is 
abstract. We cannot specify the concrete nature 
of the Absolute's riches, but with every region of 
phenomenal existence we can say that it possesses 
so much more treasure. Objections and problems, 
one after the other, are not shelved merely, but each 
is laid up as a positive increase of character in the 
reality. Thus a man might be ignorant of the exact 
shape in which his goods have been realized, and 
yet he might be rationally assured that, with each 
fresh alienation of visible property, he has somehow 
corresponding wealth in a superior form. 



Both time and space have been shown to be un- 
real as such. We found in both such contradictions 
that to predicate either of the reality was out of 
the question. Time and space are mere appear- 
ance, and that result is quite certain. Both, on the 
other hand, exist ; and both must somehow in some 
way belong to our Absolute. Still a doubt may be 
raised as to this being possible. 

To explain time and space, in the sense of 
showing how such appearances come to be, and 
again how without contradiction they can be real 
in the Absolute, is certainly not my object. Any- 
thing of the kind, I am sure, is impossible. And 
what I wish to insist on is this, that such knowledge 
is not necessary. What we require to know is only 
that these appearances are not incompatible with 
our Absolute. They have been urged as instances 
fatal to any view such as ours ; and this objection, 
we must reply, is founded on mistake. Space and 
time give no ground for the assertion that our 
Absolute is not possible. And, in their case once 
more, we must urge the old argument. Since it is 
possible that these appearances can be resolved into 
a harmony which both contains and transcends 
them ; since again it is necessary, on our main prin- 
ciple, that this should be so — it therefore truly is 
real. But let us examine these appearances more 
closely, and consider time first. 

It is unnecessary to take up the question of time's 


origin. To show it as produced psychologically 
from timeless elements is, I should say, not possible. 
Its perception generally may supervene at some 
stage of our development ; and, at all events in its 
complete form, that perception is clearly a result. 
But, if we take the sense of time in its most simple 
and undeveloped shape, it would be difficult to show 
that it was not there from the first. Still this whole 
question, however answered, has little importance 
for Metaphysics. We might perhaps draw, if we 
could assume that time has been developed, some 
presumption in favour of its losing itself once more 
in a product which is higher. But it is hardly worth 
while to consider this presumption more closely. 

Passing from this point I will reply to an objec- 
tion from fact. If time is not unreal, I admit that 
our Absolute is a delusion ; but, on the other side, 
it will be urged that time cannot be mere appear- 
ance. The change in the finite subject, we are told, 
is a matter of direct experience ; it is a fact, and 
hence it cannot be explained away. And so much 
of course is indubitable. Change is a fact, and, fur- 
ther, this fact, as such, is not reconcilable with the 
Absolute. And, if we could not in any way per- 
ceive how the fact can be unreal, we should be placed, 
I admit, in a hopeless dilemma. For we should 
have a view as to reality which we could not give 
up, and should, on the other hand, have an exist- 
ence in contradiction with that view. But our real 
position is very different from this. For time has 
been shown to contradict itself, and so to be appear- 
ance. With this, its discord, we see at once, may 
pass as an element into a wider harmony. And, 
with this, the appeal to fact at once becomes worth- 

It is mere superstition to suppose that an appeal 
to experience can prove reality. That I find some- 
thing in existence in the world or in my self, shows 
that this something exists, and it cannot show more. 


Any deliverance of consciousness — whether original 
or acquired — is but a deliverance of consciousness. 
It is in no case an oracle and a revelation which we 
have to accept. It is a fact, like other facts, to be 
dealt with ; and there is no presumption anywhere 
that any fact is better than appearance. The 
u given of course is given ; it must be recognised, 
and it cannot be ignored. But between recognising 
a datum and receiving blindly its content as reality 
is a very wide interval. We may put it thus once 
for all — there is nothing given which is sacred. 
Metaphysics can respect no element of experience 
except on compulsion. It can reverence nothing 
but what by criticism and denial the more unmis- 
takably asserts itself. 

Time is so far from enduring the test of criticism, 
that at a touch it falls apart and proclaims itself 
illusory. I do not propose to repeat the detail of 
its self-contradiction ; for that I take as exhibited 
once for all in our First Book. What I must at- 
tempt here first is to show how by its inconsistency 
time directs us beyond itself. It points to some- 
thing higher in which it is included and transcended. 

1. In the first place change, as we saw (Chapter 
v.), must be relative to a permanent. Doubtless 
here was a contradiction which we found was not 
soluble. But, for all that, the fact remains that change 
demands some permanence within which succession 
happens. I do not say that this demand is con- 
sistent, and, on the contrary, I wish to emphasize 
the point that it is not so. It Js-i nconsistent, and 
yetjiig ^none the less essential . And I urge that 
therefore change desires to pass beyond simple 
change. It seeks to become a change which is 
somehow consistent with permanence. Thus, in 
asserting itself, time tries to commit suicide as 
itself, to transcend its own character and to be taken 
up in what is higher. 


2. And we may draw this same conclusion from 
another inconsistency. The relation of the present 
to the future and to the past shows once more 
time's attempt to transcend its own nature. Any 
lapse, that for any purpose you take as one period, 
becomes forthwith a present. And then this lapse 
is treated as if it existed all at once. For how 
otherwise could it be spoken of as one thing at all ? 
Unless it is, I do not see how we have a right to 
regard it as possessing a character. And unless it 
is present, I am quite unable to understand with 
what meaning we can assert that it is. And, I 
think, the common behaviour of science might have 
been enough by itself to provoke reflection on this 
head. We may say that science, recognising on the 
one side, on the other side quite ignores the exist- 
ence of time. For it habitually treats past and 
future as one thing with the present (Chapter viii.). 
The character of an existence is determined by 
what it has been and by what it is (potentially) 
about to be. But if these attributes, on the other 
hand, are not present, how can they be real ? Again 
in establishing a Law, itself without special relation 
to time, science treats facts from various dates as all 
possessing the same value. Yet how, if we seriously 
mean to take time as real, can the past be reality ? 
It would, I trust, be idle to expand here these ob- 
vious considerations. They should suffice to point 
out that for science reality at least tries to be time- 
less, and that succession, as such, can be treated as 
something without rights and as mere appearance. 

3. This same tendency becomes visible in another 
application. The whole movement of our mind 
implies disregard of time. Not only does intellect 
accept what is true once for true always, and thus 
fearlessly take its stand on the Identity of Indiscern- 
ibles — not only is this so, but the whole mass of 
what is called " Association " implies the same prin- 
ciple. For such a connection does not hold except 


between universale 1 The associated elements are 
divorced from their temporal context ; they are set 
free in union, and ready to form fresh unions without 
regard for time's reality. This is in effect to de- 
grade time to the level of appearance. But our 
entire mental life, on the other hand, has its move- 
ment through this law. Our whole being practically 
implies it, and to suppose that we can rebel would 
be mere self-deception. Here again we have found 
the irresistible tendency to transcend time. We are 
forced once more to see in it the false appearance 
of a timeless reality. 

It will be objected perhaps that in this manner 
we do not get rid of time. In those eternal con- 
nections which rule in darkness our lowest psychical 
nature, or are used consciously by science, succes- 
sion may remain. A law is not always a law of 
what merely coexists, but it often gives the relation 
of antecedent and sequent. The remark is true, 
but certainly it could not show that time is self- 
consistent. And it is the inconsistency, and hence 
the self-transcendence of time which here we are 
urging. This temporal succession, which persists 
still in the causal relation, does but secure to the 
end the old discrepancy. It resists, but it cannot 
remove, time's inherent tendency to pass beyond 
itself. Time is an appearance which contradicts 
itself, and endeavours vainly to appear as an attri- 
bute of the timeless. 

It might be insTructive here to mention other 
spheres, where we more visibly treat mere existence 
in time as appearance. But we perhaps have al- 
ready said enough to establish our conclusion ; and 
our result, so far, will be this. Time is not real as \ 
such, and it proclaims its unreality by its inconsistent 
attempt to be an adjective of the timeless. It is an 
appearance which belongs to a higher character in 

1 On these points see my Principles of Logic, and, below, 
Chapter xxiii. 

A. R. P 


which its special quality is merged. Its own tem- 
poral nature does not there cease wholly to exist 
but is thoroughly transmuted. It is counterbalanced 
and, as such, lost within an all-inclusive harmony. 
The Absolute is timeless, but it possesses time as 
an isolated aspect, an aspect which, in ceasing to be 
isolated, loses its special character. It is there, but 
blended into a whole which we cannot realize. 
But that we cannot realize it, and do not know how 
in particular it can exist, does not show it to be 
impossible. It is possible, and, as before, its possi- 
bility is enough. For that which can be, and upon 
a general ground must be — that surely is real. 

And it would be better perhaps if I left the 
matter so. For, if I proceed and do my best to 
bring home to our minds time's unreality, I may 
expect misunderstanding. I shall be charged with 
attempting to explain, or to explain away, the nature 
of our fact ; and no notice will be taken of my pro- 
tests that I regard such an attempt as illusory. 
For (to repeat it) we can know neither how time 
comes to appear, nor in what particular way its 
appearance is transcended. However, for myself 
and for the reader who will accept them as what 
they are, I will add some remarks. There are con- 
siderations which help to weaken our belief in 
time's solidity. It is no mass which stands out 
and declines to be engulfed. It is a loose image 
confusedly thrown together, and that, as we gaze, 
falls asunder. 

i. The first point which will engage us is the 
unity of time. We have no reason, in my opinion, 
to regard time as one succession, and to take all 
phenomena as standing in one temporal connection. 
We have a tendency, of course, to consider all times 
as forming parts of a single series. Phenomena, it 
seems clear, are all alike events which happen ; f 

1 On this point see Chapter xxiii. 


and, since they happen, we go on to a further con 
elusion. We regard them as members in one tem- 
poral whole, and standing therefore throughout to 
one another in relations of M before " and " after " 
or "together." But this conclusion has no warrant. 
For there is no valid objection to the existence of 
any number of independent time-series. In these 
the internal events would be interrelated tempor- 
arily, but each series, as a series and as a whole, 
would have no temporal connection with anything 
outside. I mean that in the universe we might 
have a set of diverse phenomenal successions. The 
events in each of these would, of course, be related 
in time, but the series themselves need not have 
temporal relation to one another. The events, that 
is, in one need not be after, or before, or together 
with, the events in any other. In the Absolute they 
would not have a temporal unity or connection ; 
and, for themselves, they would not possess any 
relations to other series. 

I will illustrate my meaning from our own human 
experience. When we dream, or when our minds 
go wandering uncontrolled, when we pursue imag- 
inary histories, or exercise our thoughts on some 
mere supposed sequence — we give rise to a problem. 
There is a grave question, if we can see it. For 
within these successions the events have temporal 
connection, and yet, if you consider one series with 
another, they have no unity in time. And they are 
not connected in time with what we call the course 
of our "real" events. Suppose that I am asked how 
the occurrences in the tale of Imogen are related 
in time to each adventure of Sindbad the Sailor, 
and how these latter stand to my dream-events both 
of last night and last year — such questions surely 
have no meaning. Apart from the chance of local 
colour we see at once that between these temporal 
occurrences there is no relation of time. You can- 
not say that one comes before, or comes after, the 


other. And again to date these events by their 
appearance in my mental world would be surely 
preposterous. It would be to arrange all events, 
told of by books in a library, according to the various 
dates of publication — the same story repeating itself 
in fact with every edition, and to-day's newspaper 
and history simultaneous throughout. And this 
absurdity perhaps may help us to realize that the 
successive need have no temporal connection. 

11 Yes, but," I may be told, " all these series, 
imaginary as well as real, are surely dated as events 
in my mental history. They have each their place 
there, and so beyond it also in the one real time- 
series. And, however often a story may be repeated 
in my mind, each occasion has its own date and its 
temporal relations." Indubitably so, but such an 
answer is quite insufficient. For observe first that 
it admits a great part of what we urge. It has to 
allow plainly that the times within our " unreal " 
series have no temporal interrelation. Otherwise, 
for instance, the time-succession, when a story is 
repeated, would infect the contents, and would so 
make repetition impossible. I wish first to direct 
notice to this serious and fatal admission. 

But, when we consider it, the objection breaks 
down altogether. It is true that, in a sense and 
more or less, we arrange all phenomena as events 
in one series. But it does not follow that in the 
universe, as a whole, the same tendency holds 
good. It does not follow that all phenomena are 
related in time. What is true of my events need 
not hold good of all other events ; nor again is my 
imperfect way of unity the pattern to which the 
Absolute is confined. 

What, to use common language, I call " real " 
events are the phenomena which I arrange in a 
continuous time series. This has its oneness in the 
identity of my personal existence. What is pre- 
sented is u real," and from this basis I construct a 


time-series, both backwards and forwards ; and I 
use as binding links the identical points in any con- 
tent suggested. 1 This construction I call the "real'* 
series, and whatever content declines to take its 
place in my arrangement, I condemn as unreal. 
And the process is justifiable within limits. If we 
mean only that there is a certain group of pheno- 
mena, and that, for reality within this group, a 
certain time-relation is essential, that doubtless is 
true. But it is another thing to assert that every 
possible phenomenon has a place in this series. 
And it is once more another thing to insist that 
all time -series have a temporal unity in the 

Let us consider the first point. If no phenomenon 
is " real," except that which has a place in my 
temporal arrangement, we have, first, left on our 
hands the whole world of " Imagination." The fact 
of succession there becomes " unreal," but it is not 
got rid of by the application of any mere label. 
And I will mention in passing another difficulty, 
the disruption of my " real " series in mental disease. 
But — to come to the principle — it is denied that 
phenomena can exist unless they are in temporal 
relation with my world. And I am able to find no 
ground for this assumption. When I ask why, and 
for what reaso^LTtHeTe^^nriot be changes of event, 
imperceptible to me and apart from my time-series, 
I can discover no answer. So far as I can see, 
there may be many time-series in the Absolute, not 
related at all for one another, and for the Absolute 
without any unity of time. 

And this brings us to the second point. For 
phenomena to exist without inter-connection and 
unity, I agree is impossible. But I cannot perceive 
that this unity must either be temporal or else 
nothing. That would be to take a way of regard - 

1 For this construction see p. 84, and Principles of LogL\ 
Chapter ii. 

2 14 REALITY. 

ing things which even we find imperfect, and to set 
it down as the one way which is possible for the 
Absolute. But surely the Absolute is not shut 
up within our human limits. Already we have seen 
that its harmony is something beyond relations. 
And, if so, surely a number of temporal series may, 
without any relation in time to one another, find a 
way of union within its all-inclusive perfection. 
But, if so, time will not be one, in the sense of 
forming a single series. There will be many times, 
all of which are at one in the Eternal — the pos- 
sessor of temporal events and yet timeless. We 
have, at all events, found no shred of evidence for 
any other unity of time. 

2. I will pass now to another point, the direction 
of time. Just as we tend to assume that all pheno- 
mena form one series, so we ascribe to every series 
one single direction. But this assumption too is 
baseless. It is natural to set up a point in the 
future towards which all events run, or from which 
they arrive, or which may seem to serve in some 
other way to give direction to the stream. But 
examination soon shows the imperfection of this 
natural view. For the direction, and the distinction 
between past and future, entirely depends upon our 
experience. 1 That side, on which fresh sensations 
come in, is what we mean by the future. In our 
perception of change elements go out, and some- 
thing new comes to us constantly ; and we construct 
the time-series entirely with reference to this ex- 
perience. Thus, whether we regard events as 
running forwards from the past, or as emerging 
from the future, in any case we use one method of 
taking our bearings. Our fixed direction is given 
solely by the advent of new arrivals. 

1 See on this point Mi?id, xii. 579-82. We think forwards, 
one may say, on the same principle on which fis" feed with their 
heads pointing up the stream. 


But, if this is so, then direction is relative to our \ 
world. You may object that it is fixed in the very^ 
nature of things, and so imparts its own order to j 
our special sphere. Yet how tjiis assumption can 
be justified I do not understand. Of course there 
is something not ourselves which makes this differ- 
ence exist in our beings, something too which 
compels us to arrange other lives and all our facts 
in one order. But must this something, therefore, 
in reality and in itself, be direction ? I can find no 
reason for thinking so. No doubt we naturally 
regard the whole world of phenomena as a single 
time-series ; we assume that the successive contents 
of every other finite being are arranged in this con- 
struction, and we take for granted that their streams 
all flow in one direction. But our assumption 
clearly is not defensible. For let us suppose, first, 
that there are beings who can come in contact in 
no way with that world which we experience. Is 
this supposition self-contradictory, or anything but 
possible ? And let us suppose, next, that in the 
Absolute the direction of these lives runs opposite 
to our own. I ask again, is such an idea either 
meaningless or untenable ? Of course, if in any 
way / could experience their world, I should fail to 
understand it. Death would come before birth, the 
blow would follow the wound, and all must seem to 
be irrational. It would seem to me so, but its 
inconsistency would not exist except for my partial 
experience. If I did not experience their order, to 
me it would be nothing. Or, if I could see it from 
a point of view beyond the limits of my life, I might 
find a reality which itself had, as such, no direction. 
And I might there perceive characters, which for 
the several finite beings give direction to their lives, 
which, as such, do not fall within finite experience, 
and which, if apprehended, show both directions 
harmoniously combined in a consistent whole. 

To transcend experience and to reach a world of 


Things-in-themselves, I agree, is impossible. But 
does it follow that the whole universe in every 
sense is a possible object of my experience ? Is 
the collection of things and persons, which makes 
my world, the sum total of existence ? I know no 
ground for an affirmative answer to this question. 
That many material systems should exist, without a 
material central-point, and with no relation in space 
— where is the self-contradiction ? x That various 
worlds of experience should be distinct, and, for 
themselves, fail to enter one into the other — where 
is the impossibility ? That arises only when we 
endorse, and take our stand upon, a prejudice. 
That the unity in the Absolute is merely our kind 
of unity, that spaces there must have a spatial 
centre, and times a temporal point of meeting — 
these assumptions are based on nothing. The 
opposite is possible, and we have seen that it is also 

It is not hard to conceive a variety of time-series 
existing in the Absolute. And the direction of each 
series, one can understand, may be relative to itself, 
and may have, as such, no meaning outside. And 
we might also imagine, if we pleased, that these 
directions run counter, the one to the other. Let 
us take, for example, a scheme like this : 

e d a b 
d c b a 

Here, if you consider the contents, you may suppose 
the whole to be stationary. It contains partial views, 
but, as a whole, it may be regarded as free from 
change and succession. The change will fall in the 
perceptions of the different series. And the diverse 
directions of these series will, as such, not exist for 

* See Chapter xxii 


the whole. The greater or less number of the 
various series, which we may imagine as present, 
the distinct experience which makes each, together 
with the direction in which it runs — this is all 
matter, we may say, of individual feeling. You may 
take, as one series and set of lives, a line going any 
way you please, up or down or transversely. And 
in each case the direction will be given to it by sen- 
sation peculiar to itself. Now without any question 
these perceptions must exist in the whole. They 
must all exist, and in some way they all must qualify 
the Absolute. But, for the Absolute, they can one 
counterbalance another, and so their characters 
be transmuted. They can, with their successions, 
come together in one whole in which their special 
natures are absorbed. 

And, if we chose to be fanciful, we might imagine 
something more. We might suppose that, corre- 
sponding to each of our lives, there is another 
individual. There is a man who traverses the same 
history with ourselves, but in the opposite direction. 
We may thus imagine that the successive contents, 
which make my being, are the lives also of one or 
more other finite souls. 1 The distinctions between 
us would remain, and would consist in an additional 
element, different in each case. And it would be 
these differences which would add to each its own 
way of succession, and make it a special personality. 
The differences, of course, would have existence ; 
but in the Absolute, once more, in some way they 
might lose exclusiveness. And, with this, diversity 
of direction, and all succession itself, would, as such, 
disappear. The believer in second sight and witch- 
craft might find in such a view a wide field for his 
vagaries. But I note this merely in passing, since 
to myself fancies of this sort are not inviting. My 
purpose here has been simple. I have tried to show 

1 On the possibility of this compare Chapter xxiii. 


that neither for the temporal unity of all time-series, 
nor for the community of their direction, is there 
one shred of evidence. However great their variety, 
it may come together and be transformed in the 
Absolute. And here, as before, possibility is all we 
require in order to prove reality. 

The Absolute is above relations, and therefore we 
cannot construct a relational scheme which could 
exhibit its unity. But that eternal unity is made 
sure by our general principle. And time itself, we 
have now seen, can afford no presumption that the 
universe is not timeless. 1 

There is a remaining difficulty on which perhaps 
I may add a few remarks. I may be told that in 
causation a succession is involved with a direction 
not reversible. It will be urged that many of the 
relations, by which the world is understood, involve 
in their essence time sequent or co-existent. And 
it may be added that for this reason time conflicts 
with the Absolute. But, at the point which we have 
reached, this objection has no weight. 

Let us suppose, first, that the relation of cause 
and effect is in itself defensible. Yet we have no 
knowledge of a causal unity in all phenomena. 
Different worlds might very well run on together 
in the universe, side by side and not in one series 
of effects and causes. They would have a unity in 
the Absolute, but a unity not consisting in cause 
and effect. This must be considered possible until 
we find some good argument in favour of causal 
unity. And then, even in our own world, how un- 
satisfactory the succession laid down in causation! 
It is really never true that mere a produces mere b. 
It is true only when we bring in the unspecified 
background, and, apart from that, such a statement 
is made merely upon sufferance (Chapters vi., 

1 I shall make some remarks on Progress in Chapter xx v \ 


xxiii., xxiv.). And the whole succession itself, 
if defensible, may admit of transformation. We 
assert that (X)b is the effect which follows on (X)a, 
but perhaps the two are identical. The succession 
and the difference are perhaps appearances, which 
exist only for a view which is isolated and defective. 
The successive relation may be a truth which, when 
filled out, is transmuted, and which, when supple- 
mented, must lose its character in the Absolute. It 
may thus be the fragment of a higher truth not 
prejudicial to identity. 

Such considerations will turn the edge of any 
objection directed against our Absolute from the 
ground of causation. But we have seen, in addition, 
in our sixth chapter that this ground is indefensible. 
By its own discrepancy causation points beyond 
itself to higher truth ; and I will briefly, here once 
more, attempt to make this plain. Causation im- 
plies change, and it is difficult to know of what we 
may predicate change without contradiction. To 
say "a becomes 6, and there is nothing which 
changes," is really unmeaning. For, if there is 
change, something changes ; and it is able to 
change because something is permanent. But then 
how predicate the change ? "Xa becomes Xb " ; but, 
if X is a and afterwards 6, then, since a has ceased 
to qualify it, a change has happened within X. But, 
if so, then apparently we require a further per- 
manent. But if, on the other side, to avoid this 
danger, we take Xa not to change, we are other- 
wise ruined. For we have somehow to predicate 
of X both elements at once, and where is the suc- 
cession ? The successive elements co-exist unintel- 
ligibly within X y and succession somehow is degraded 
to mere appearance. 

To put it otherwise, we have the statement " X 
is first Xa, an<l later also Xb." But how can " later 
also b" be the truth, if before mere a was true? 
Shall we answer " No, not mere a ; it is not mere 


Xa, but Xa (given c\ which is later also b " ? But 
this reply leaves us still face to face with a like 
obstacle ; for, if Xa (c) is X later b, then how 
separate these terms ? If there is a difference 
between them, or if there is none, our assertion in 
either case is untenable. For we cannot justify the 
difference if it exists, or our making it, if it does not 
exist. Hence we are led to the conclusion that 
subject and predicate are identical, and that the 
separation and the change are only appearance. 
They are a character assuredly to be added to the 
whole, but added in a way beyond our compre- 
hension. They somehow are lost except as 
elements in a higher identity. 

Or, again, say that the present state of the world 
is the cause of that total state which follows next 
on it. Here, again, is the same self-contradiction. 
For how can one state a become a different state b ? 
It must either do this without a reason, and that 
seems absurd ; or else the reason, being additional, 
forthwith constitutes a new a, and so on for ever. 
We have the differences of cause and effect, with 
their relation of time, and we have no way in which 
it is possible to hold these together. Thus we are 
drawn to the view that causation is but partial, and 
that we have but changes of mere elements within 
a complex whole. But this view gives no help until 
we carry it still further, and deny that the whole 
state of the world can change at all. So we glide 
into the doctrine that partial changes are no change, 
but counterbalance one another within a whole 
which persists unaltered. And here certainly the 
succession remains as an appearance, the special 
value of which we are unable to explain. But the 
causal sequence has drifted beyond itself and into 
a reality which essentially is timeless. And hence, 
n /in attempting an objection to the eternity of the 
t [Absolute, causation would deny a principle implied 
in its own nature 


At the end of this chapter, I trust, we may have 
reached a conviction. We may be convinced, not 
merely as before, that time is unreal, but that its 
appearance also is compatible with a timeless uni- 
verse. It is only when misunderstood that change 
precludes a belief in eternity. Rightly apprehended 
it affords no presumption against our doctrine. 
Our Absolute must be ; and now, in another respect, 
again, it has turned out possible. Surely therefore 
it is real. 

I shall conclude this chapter with a few remarks 
on the nature of space. 1 In passing to this from 
time, we meet with no difficulties that are new, and 
a very few words seem all that is wanted. I am 
not attempting here to explain the origin of space ; 
and indeed to show how it comes to exist seems to 
me not possible. And we need not yet ask how, 
on our main view, we are to understand the physical 
world. That necessary question is one which it is 
better to defer. The point here at issue is this, 
Does the form of space make our reality impossible? 
Is its existence a thing incompatible with the Abso- 
lute ? Such a question, in my judgment, requires 
little discussion. 

If we could prove that the spatial form were a 
development, and so secondary, that would give us 
little help. The proof could in no degree lessen the 
reality of a thing which, in any case, does exist. It 
would at most serve as an indication that a further 
growth in development might merge the space- form 
in a higher mode of perception. But it is better 
not to found arguments upon that which, at most, is 
hardly certain. 

What I would stand upon is the essential nature 
of space. For that, as we saw in our First Book, 
is entirely inconsistent It attempts throughout to 

1 I must here refer back to Chapter iv. 


reach something which transcends its powers. It 
made an effort to find and to maintain a solid self- 
existence, but that effort led it away into the infinite 
process both on the inside and externally. And its 
evident inability to rest within itself points to the 
solution of its discords. Space seeks to lose itself 
in a higher perception, where individuality is gained 
without forfeit of variety. 1 

And against the possibility of space being in this 
way absorbed in a non-spatial consummation, I 
know of nothing to set. Of course how in particular 
this can be, we are unable to lay down. But our 
ignorance in detail is no objection against the 
general possibility. And this possible absorption, 
we have seen, is also necessary. 

1 The question as to whether, and in what sense, space 
possesses a unity, may be deferred to Chapter xxii. A dis- 
cussion on this point was required in the case of time. But 
an objection to our Absolute would hardly be based on the unity 
of space. 



We have seen that the forms of space and time 
supply no good objection to the individuality of the 
Absolute. But we have not yet faced a difficulty 
which perhaps may prove more serious. There is 
the fact which is denoted by the title of the present 
chapter. The particularity of feeling, it may be 
contended, is an obstacle which declines to be en- 
gulfed. The " this " and the " mine " are undeni- 
able ; and upon our theory, it may be said, they are 
both inexplicable. 

The " this " and the " mine " are names which 
stand for the immediacy of feeling, and each serves 
to call attention to one side of that fact. There 
is no " mine " which is not " this," nor any " this " 
which fails, in a sense, to be " mine." The immed- 
iate fact must always come as something felt in an 
experience, and an experience always must be 
particular, and, in a sense, must be " unique." But 
I shall not enter on all the problems implied in 
the last word. I am not going to inquire here how 
we are able to transcend the " this-mine," for that 
question will engage us hereafter (Chapter xxi.), 
and the problem now before us is confined to a single 
point. We are to assume that there does exist an 
indefinite number of " this-mines," of immediate ex- 
periences of the felt. And, assuming this fact, we 
are to ask if it is compatible with our general view. 

The difficulty of this inquiry arises in great part 
from vagueness. The "this" and "mine" are 


2 24 REALITY. 

taken as both positive and negative. They are to 
possess a singular reality, and they are to own in 
some sense an exclusive character. And from this 
shifting basis a rash conclusion is hastily drawn. 
But the singular reality, after all, may not be single 
and self-existent. And the exclusive character, 
perhaps, may be included and taken up in the 
Whole. And it is these questions which we must 
endeavour to clear up and discuss. I will begin 
with what we have called the positive aspect. 

The " this " and the " mine " express the immed- 
iate character of feeling, and the appearance of this 
character in a finite centre. Feeling may stand for 
a psychical stage before relations have been devel- 
oped, or it may be used generally for an experience 
which is not indirect (Chapters ix., xxvi., and 
xxvii.). At any time all that we suffer, do, and 
are, forms one psychical totality. It is experienced 
all together as a co-existing mass, not perceived as 
parted and joined by relations even of co-existence. 
It contains all relations, and distinctions, and every 
ideal object that at the moment exists in the soul. 
It contains them, not specially as such and with 
exclusive stress on their content as predicated, but 
directly as they are and as they qualify the psychical 
" that." And again any part of this co-existence, 
to which we attend, can be viewed integrally as one 

Now whatever is thus directly experienced — so 
far as it is not taken otherwise — is " this " and 
11 mine." And all such presentation without doubt 
has peculiar reality. One might even contend that 
logically to transcend it is impossible, and that there 
is no rational way to a plurality of " this-mines." 
But such a plurality we have agreed for the present 
to assume. The " this," it is however clear, brings 
a sense of superior reality, a sense which is far from 
being wholly deceptive and untrue. For all our 
knowledge, in the first place, arises from the " this." 


It is the one source of our experience, and every 
element of the world must submit to pass through 
it. And the " this," secondly, has a genuine feature 
of ultimate reality. With however great imper- 
fection and inconsistency it owns an individual 
character. The " this " is real for us in a sense in 
which nothing else is real. 

Reality is being in which there is no division of 
content from existence, no loosening of " what " from 
"that." Reality, in short, means what it stands for, 
and stands for what it means. And the "this" 
possesses to some extent the same wholeness of 
character. Both the "this" and reality, we may 
say, are immediate. But reality is immediate be- 
cause it includes and is superior to mediation. It 
developes, and it brings to unity, the distinctions it 
contains. The " this " is immediate, on the other 
side, because it is at a level below distinctions. Its 
elements are but conjoined, and are not connected. 
And its content, hence, is unstable, and essentially 
tends to disruption, and by its own nature must pass 
beyond the being of the " this." But every " this " 
still shows a passing aspect of undivided singleness. 
In the mental background specially such a fused 
unity remains a constant factor, and can never be 
dissipated (Chapters ix., x., xxvii.). And it is 
such an unbroken wholeness which gives the sense 
of individual reality. When we turn from mere 
ideas to sensation, we experience in the " this " a 
revelation of freshness and life. And that revela- 
tion, if misleading, is never quite untrue. 1 

We may, for the present, take " this " as the 
positive feeling of direct experience. In that sense 
it will be either general or special. It will be the 

1 It is mere thoughtlessness that finds in Resistance the one 
manifestation of reality. For resistance, in the first place, is full 
of unsolved contradictions, and is also fixed and consists in that 
very character. And in the second place, what experience can 
come as more actual than sensuous pain or pleasure ? 

A. R. 9 


character which we feel always, or again in union 
with some particular content. And we have to ask 
if, so understood, the " this " is incompatible with 
our Absolute. 

The question, thus asked, seems to call for but 
little discussion. Since for us the Absolute is a 
whole, the sense of immediate reality, we must sup- 
pose, may certainly qualify it. And, again, I find 
no difficulty when we pass to the special meaning of 
" this." With every presentation, with each chance 
mixture of psychical elements, we have the feeling 
of one particular datum. We have the felt exist- 
ence of a peculiar sensible whole. And here we 
find beyond question a positive content, and a fresh 
element which has to be included within our Abso- 
lute. But in such a content there is, so far, nothing 
which could repel or exclude. There is no feature 
there which could resist embracement and absorp- 
tion by the whole. 

The fact of actual fragmentariness, I admit, we 
cannot explain. That experience should take place 
in finite centres, and should wear the form of finite 
" thisness," is in the end inexplicable (Chapter 
xxvi.). But to be inexplicable, and to be incom- 
patible, are not the same thing. And in such frag- 
mentariness, viewed as positive, I see no objection 
to our view. The plurality of presentations is a 
fact, and it, therefore, makes a difference to our 
Absolute. It exists in, and it, therefore, must qualify 
the whole. And the universe is richer, we may be 
sure, for all dividedness and variety. Certainly in 
detail we do not know how the separation is over- 
come, and we cannot point to the product which is 
gained, in each case, by that resolution. But our 
ignorance here is no ground for rational opposition. 
Our principle assures us that the Absolute is superior 
to partition, and in some way is perfected by it. 
And we have found, as yet, no reason even to 


doubt if this result is possible. We have dis- 
covered, as yet, nothing which seems able from any 
side to stand out There is no element such as 
could hesitate to blend with the rest and to be dis- 
solved in a higher unity. 

If the whole could be an arrangement of mere 
ideas, if it were a system barely intellectual, the case 
would be altered. We might combine such ideas, it 
would not matter how ingeniously ; but we could 
not frame, and we should not possess, a product con- 
taining what we feel to be imparted directly by the 
" this." I admit that inability, and I urge it, as yet 
another confirmation and support of our doctrine. 
For our Absolute was not a mere intellectual system. 
It was an experience overriding every species of 
one-sidedness, and throughout it was at once intui- 
tion and feeling and will. But, if so, the opposition 
of the " this " becomes at once unmeaning. For feel- 
ings, each possessing a nature of its own, may surely 
come together, and be fused in the Absolute. And, 
so far is such- a resolution from appearing impossible, 
that I confess to me it seems most natural and easy. 
That partial experiences should run together, and 
should unite their deliverances to produce one richer 
whole — is there anything here incredible ? It would 
indeed be strange if bare positive feelings proved 
recalcitrant and solid, and stood out against absorp- 
tion. For their nature clearly is otherwise, and 
they must be blended in the one experience of the 
Absolute. This consummation evidently is real, 
because on our principle it is necessary, and because 
again we have no reason to doubt that it is possible. 
And with so much, we may pass from the positive 
aspect of the " this." 

For the " this " and " mine," it is clear, are taken 
also as negative. They are set up as in some way 
opposed to the Absolute, and they are considered, in 
some sense, to own an exclusive character. And 


that their character, in part, is exclusive cannot be 
denied ; but the question is in what sense, and how 
far, they possess it. For, if the repulsion is relative 
and holds merely within the one whole, it is compat- 
ible at once with our view of the universe. 

An immediate experience, viewed as positive, is 
so far not exclusive. It is, so far, what it is, and it 
does not repel anything. But the " this " certainly 
is used also with a negative bearing. It may mean 
11 this one," in distinction from that one and the 
other one. And here it shows obviously an exclu- 
sive aspect, and it implies an external and negative 
relation. But every such relation, we have found, 
is inconsistent with itself (Chapter hi.). For it 
exists within, and by virtue of an embracing unity, 
and apart from that totality both itself and its terms 
would be nothing. And the relation also must 
penetrate the inner being of its terms. " This," in 
other words, would not exclude "that," unless in 
the exclusion " this," so far, passed out of itself. 
Its repulsion of others is thus incompatible with self- 
contained singleness, and involves subordination to 
an including whole. But to the ultimate whole 
nothing can be opposed, or even related. 

And the self-transcendent character of the " this " 
is, on all sides, open and plain. Appearing as im- 
mediate, it, on the other side, has contents which 
are not consistent with themselves, and which refer 
themselves beyond. Hence the inner nature of the 
" this " leads it to pass outside itself towards a 
higher totality. And its negative aspect is but one 
appearance of this general tendency. Its very ex- 
clusiveness involves the reference of itself beyond 
itself, and is but a proof of its necessary absorption 
in the Absolute. 1 

1 The above conclusion applies emphatically to the " this " as 
signifying the point in which I am said to encounter reality. All 
contact necessarily implies a unity, in and through which it takes 
place, and my self and the reality are, here, but partial appear- 


And if the "this" is asserted to be all-exclusive 
because it is " unique," the discussion of that point 
need not long detain us. The term may imply that 
nothing else but the " this-mine " is real, and, in that 
case, the question has been deferred to Chapter 
xxi. And, if "unique" means that what is felt 
once can never be felt again, such an assertion, 
taken broadly, seems even untrue. For if feelings, 
the same in character, do in fact not recur, we at 
least hardly can deny that their recurrence is pos- 
sible. The " this " is unique really so far as it is a 
member in a series, and so far as that series is taken 
as distinct from all others. 1 And only in this sense 
can we call its recurrence impossible. But here 
with uniqueness once more we have negative rela- 
tions, and these relations involve an inclusive unity. 
Uniqueness, in this sense, does not resist assimila- 
tion by the Absolute. It is, on the other hand, itself 
incompatible with exclusive singleness. 

Into the nature of self-will I shall at present not 
enter. This is opposition attempted by a finite 
subject against its proper whole. And we may see 
at once that such discord and negation can subserve 
unity, and can contribute towards the perfection of 
the universe. It is connection with the central fire 
which produces in the element this burning sense 
of selfness. And the collision is resolved within 
that harmony where centre and circumference are 
one. But I shall return in another place to the dis- 
cussion of this matter (Chapter xxv.). 

We have found that the "this," taken as exclu- 
sive, proclaims itself relative, and in that relation 
forfeits its independence. And we have seen that, 

ances. And the " mine " never, we may say, could strike me as 
"not-mine," unless, precisely so far as it does so, it is a mere 
factor in my experience. I have spoken above on the true 
meaning of that sense of reality which is given by the " this." 
1 On this point compare Principles of Logic, Chapter ii. 


as positive, the u this " is not exclusive at all. The 
" this " is inconsistent always, but, so far as it 
excludes, so far already has it begun internally to 
suffer dissipation. We may now, with advantage 
perhaps, view the matter in a somewhat different 
way. There is, I think, a vague notion that some 
content sticks irremovably within the "this," or 
that in the " this," again, there is something which 
is not content at all. In either case an element is 
offered, which, it is alleged, cannot be absorbed by 
the Whole. And an examination of these prejudices 
may throw some light on our general view. 

In the " this," it may appear first, there is some- 
thing more than content. For by combining quali- 
ties indefinitely we seem unable to arrive at the 
" this." The same difficulty may be stated perhaps 
in a way which points to its solution. The " this " 
on one hand, we may say, is nothing at all beside 
content, and, on the other hand, the " this " is not 
content at all. For in the term " content " there 
lies an ambiguity. It may mean a " what " that is, 
or again, is not, distinct from its " that." And the 
" this," we have already seen, has inconsistent 
aspects. It offers, from one aspect, an immediate 
undivided experience, a whole in which " that " and 
" what " are felt as one. And here content, as imply- 
ing distinction, will be absent from the "this." But 
such an undivided feeling, we have also seen, is a 
positive experience. It does not even attempt to 
resist assimilation by our Absolute. 

If, on the other hand, we use content generally, 
and if we employ it in the sense of " what " without 
distinction from "that" — if we take it to mean some- 
thing which is experienced, and which is nothing 
but experience — then, most emphatically, the " this " 
is not anything but content. For there is nothing 
in it or about it which can be more than experience. 
And in it there is further no feature which cannot 
be made a quality. Its various aspects can all be 


separated by distinction and analysis, and, one after 
another, can thus be brought forward as ideal pre- 
dicates. This assertion holds of that immediate 
sense of a special reality, which we found above in 
the character of each felt complex. There is, in 
brief, no fragment of the " this " such that it cannot 
form the object of a distinction. And hence the 
" this," in the first place, is mere experience through- 
out ; and, in the second place, throughout it may be 
called intelligible. It owns no aspect which refuses 
to become a quality, and in its turn to play the part 
of an ideal predicate. 1 

But it is easy here to deceive ourselves and to fall 
into error. For taking a given whole, or more prob- 
ably selecting one portion, we begin to distinguish 
and to break up its confused co-existence. And, 
having thus possessed ourselves of definite contents 
and of qualities in relation, we call on our " this " to 
identify itself with our discrete product. And, on 
the refusal of the " this," we charge it with stub- 
born exclusiveness. It is held to possess either in 
its nature a repellent content, or something else, at 
all events, which is intractable. But the whole con- 
clusion is fallacious. For, if we have not mutilated 
our subject, we have at least added a feature which 
originally was not there — a feature, which, if intro- 
duced, must of necessity burst the " this," and de- 
stroy it from within. The " this," we have seen, is 
a unity below relations and ideas ; and a unity, able 
to develope and to harmonize all distinctions, is not 
found till we arrive at ultimate Reality. Hence the 
" this " repels our offered predicates, not because its 
nature goes beyond, but rather because that nature 
comes short. It is not more, we may say, but less 
than our distinctions. 

And to our mistake in principle we add probably 
an error in practice. For we have failed probably 

1 Compare here p. 175, and Principles of Logic, chapter ii. 


to exhaust the full deliverance of our " this," and the 
residue, left there by our mere failure, is then as- 
sumed blindly to stand out as an irreducible aspect. 
For, if we have confined our " this " to but one por- 
tion of the felt totality, we have omitted from our 
analysis, perhaps, the positive aspect of its special 
unity. But our analysis, if so, is evidently incom- 
plete and misleading. And then, perhaps again, 
qualifying our limited " this " by exclusive relations, 
we do not see that in these we have added a factor 
to its original content. And what we have added, 
and have also overlooked, is then charged to the 
native repellence of the " this." But if again, on 
the other hand, our "this" is not taken as limited, 
if it is to be the entire complex of one present, 
viewed without relation even to its own future and 
past — other errors await us. For the detail here is 
so great that complete exhaustion is hardly possible. 
And so, setting down as performed that which is in 
fact impracticable, we once more stumble against a 
residue which is due wholly to our weakness. And 
we are helped, perhaps, further into mistake by an- 
other source of fallacy. We may confuse the feeling 
which we study with the feeling which we are. At- 
tempting, so far as we can, to make an object of 
some (past) psychical whole, we may unawares seek 
there every feature which we now are and feel. 
And we may attribute our ill success to the positive 
obstinacy of the resisting object. 1 

The total subject of all predicates, which we feel 
in the background, can be exhausted, we may say in 
general, by no predicate or predicates. For the 

1 Success here is impossible because, apart from the difficulty 
of analysis and exhaustion, our present observing attitude forms a 
new and incompatible feature. It is an element in our state now, 
which (ex hyp.) was absent from our state then. In this connec- 
tion I may remark that to observe a feeling is, to some extent, 
always to alter it. For the purpose in hand that alteration may 
not be material, but it will in all cases be there. I have touched 
on this subject in Principles of Logic, p. 65, note. 


subject holds all in one, while predication involves 
severance, and so inflicts on its subject a partial loss 
of unity. And hence neither ultimate Reality, nor 
any " this," can consist of qualities. That is one 
side of the truth, but the truth also has another side. 
Reality owns no feature or aspect which cannot in 
its turn be distinguished, none which cannot in this 
way become a mere adjective and predicate. The 
same conclusion holds of the " this," in whatever 
sense you take it. There is nothing there which 
could form an intractable crudity, nothing which can 
refuse to qualify and to be merged in the ultimate 

We have found that, in a sense, the " this " is not, 
and does not own, content But, in another sense, 
we have seen that it contains, and is, nothing else. 
We may now pass to the examination of a second 
prejudice. Is there any content which is owned by 
and sticks in the " this," and which thus remains 
outstanding, and declines union with a higher system? 
We have perceived, on the contrary, that by its 
essence the " this " is self-transcendent But it may 
repay us once more to dwell and to enlarge on this 
topic. And I shall not hesitate in part to repeat 
results which we have gained already. 

If we are asked what content is appropriated by 
the " this," we may reply that there is none. There 
is no inalienable content which belongs to the " this " 
or the " mine." My immediate feeling, when I say 
" this," has a complex character, and it presents a 
confused detail which, we have seen, is content 
But it has no "what" which belongs to it as a separ- 
ate possession. It has no feature identified with 
its own private exclusivity. That is first a negative 
relation which, in principle, must qualify the internal 
from outside. And in practice we find that each 
element contained can refer itself elsewhere. Each 
tends naturally towards a wider whole outside of th*» 


H this." Its content, we may say, has no rest till it 
has wandered to a home elsewhere. The mere 
" this " can appropriate nothing. 

The " this " appears to retain content solely 
through our failure. I may express this otherwise 
by calling it the region of chance; for chance is 
something given and for us not yet comprehended. 1 
So far as any element falls outside of some ideal 
whole, then, in relation with that whole, this element 
is chance. Contingent matter is matter regarded as 
that which, as yet, we cannot connect and include. 
It has not been taken up, as we know that it must be, 
within some ideal whole or system. Thus one and 
the same matter both is, and is not, contingent. It 
is chance for one system or end, while in relation 
with another it is necessary. All chance is relative ; 
and the content which falls in the mere " this " is 
relative chance. So far as it remains there, that is 
through our failure to refer it elsewhere. It is 
merely " this " so far as it is not yet comprehended ; 
and, so far as it is taken as a feature in any whole 
beyond itself, it has to change its character. It is, 
in that respect at least, forthwith not of the " this," 
but only in it, and appearing there. And such ap- 
pearance, of course, is not always presentation to 
outer sense. All that in any way we experience, 
we must experience within one moment of presenta- 
tion. However ideal anything may be, it still must 
appear in a " now." And everything present there, 
so far as in any respect it is not subordinated to an 
ideal whole — no matter what that whole is — in rela- 
tion to that defect is but part of the given. It may 
be as ideal otherwise as you please, but to that ex- 
tent it fails to pass beyond immediate fact. Such an 
element so far is still immersed in the " now," " mine," 
and " this." It remains there, but, as we have seen, 

1 For a further discussion of the meaning of Chance see Chapter 


it is not owned and appropriated. .It lingers, we 
may say, precariously and provisionally. 

But at this point we may seem to have encoun- 
tered an obstacle. For in the given fact there is 
always a co-existence of elements ; and with this 
co-existence we may seem to ascribe positive content 
to the " this." Property, we asserted, was lacking to 
it, and that assertion now seems questionable. For 
co-existence supplies us with actual knowledge, and 
none the less it seems given in the content of the 
" this." The objection, however, would rest on mis- 
understanding. It is positive knowledge when I 
judge that in a certain space or time certain features 
co-exist. But such knowledge, on the other hand, is 
never the content of the mere " this." It is already 
a synthesis, imperfect no doubt, but still plainly 
ideal. And, at the cost of repetition, I will point 
this out briefly. 

(a) The place or time, first, may be characterised 
by inclusion within a series. We may mean that, in 
some sense, the place or time is " this one," and not 
another. But, if so, we have forthwith transcended 
the given. We are using a character which implies 
inclusion of an element within a whole, with a refer- 
ence beyond itself to other like elements. And this 
of course goes far beyond immediate experience. 
To suppose that position in a series can belong to 
the mere u this," is a misunderstanding. 1 

(6) And more probably the objection had some- 
thing else in view. It was not conjunction in one 
moment, as distinct from another moment, which it 
urged was positive and yet belonged to the " this." 
It meant mere coincidence within some " here " or 
some "now," a co- presentation immediately given 
without regard to any " there " or " then." Such a 
bare conjunction seems to be something possessed 
by the " this," and yet offering on the other side a 

1 See above, and compare also Chapter xxL 


positive character. But again, and in this form, the 
objection would rest on a mistake. 

The bare coincidence of the content, if you take 
it as merely given within a presentation, and if you 
consider it entirely without any further reference 
beyond, is not a co-existence of elements. I do not 
mean, of course, that a whole of feeling is not posi- 
tive at all. I mean that, as soon as you have made 
assertions about what it contains, as soon as you 
have begun to treat its content as content, you have 
transcended its felt unity. For consider a " here " 
or " now," and observe anything of what is in it, 
and you have instantly acquired an ideal synthesis 
(Chapter xv.). You have a relation which, however 
impure, is at once set free from time. You have 
gained an universal which, so far as it goes, is true 
always, and not merely at the present moment ; and 
this universal is forthwith used to qualify reality be- 
yond that moment. And thus the co-existence of a 
and b, we may say, does not belong to the mere 
" this," but it is ideal, and appears there. Within 
mere feeling it has doubtless a positive character, 
but, excluding distinctions, it is not, in one sense, 
coincidence at all. In observing, we are compelled 
to observe in the form of relations. But these in- 
ternal relations properly do not belong to the " this" 
itself. For its character does not admit of separa- 
tion and distinction. Hence to distinguish elements 
within this whole, and to predicate a relation of co- 
existence, is self-contradictory. Our operation, in 
its result, has destroyed what it acted on ; and the 
product which has come out, was, as such, never 
there. Thus, in claiming to own a relation of co- 
existence and a distinction of content, the mere 
"this " commits suicide. 

From another point of view, doubtless, the ob- 
served is a mere coincidence, when compared, that 
is, with a purer way of understanding. The rela- 
tion is true, subject to the condition of a confused 


context, which is not comprehended. And hence 
the connection observed is, to this extent, bare con- 
junction and mere co-existence. Or it is chance, 
when you measure it by a higher necessity. It is a 
truth conditioned by our ignorance, and so contin- 
gent and belonging to the " this." But, upon the 
other side, we have seen that the " this " can hold 
nothing. As soon as a relation is made out, that is 
universal knowledge, and has at once transcended 
presentation. For within the merely " this " no 
relation, taken as such, is possible. The content, if 
you distinguish it, is to that extent set free from felt 
unity. And there is no " what " which essentially 
adheres to the bare moment So far as any element 
remains involved in the confusion of feeling, that is 
but due to our defect and ignorance. Hence, to 
repeat, the " this," considered as mere feeling, is 
certainly positive. As the absence of universal 
relations, the " this " again is negative. But, as an 
attempt to make and to retain distinctions of content, 
the "this " is suicidal. 

It is so too with the " mere mine." We hear in 
discussions on morality, or logic, or aesthetics, that 
a certain detail is u subjective," and hence irrelevant. 
Such a detail, in other words, belongs to the " mere 
mine." And a mistake may be made, and we may 
imagine that there is matter which, in itself, is 
contingent 1 It may be supposed that an element, 
such perhaps as pleasure, is a fixed part of some- 
thing called the " this-me." But there is no content 
which, as such, can belong to the " mine." The 
" mine " is my existence taken as immediate fact, as 
an integral whole of psychical elements which simply 
are. It is my content, so far as not freed from the 
feeling moment And it is merely my content, 
because it is not subordinate to this or that ideal 
whole. If I regard a mental fact, say, from the side 

1 Or again, having no clear ideas, we may try to help ourselves 
with such phrases as " the individuality of the individuals." 


of its morality, then whatever is, here and now, not 
relevant to this purpose, becomes bare existence. 
It is something which is not the appearance of the 
ideal matter in hand. And yet, because it exists 
somehow, it exists as a fact in the mere "mine." 
The same thing happens also, of course, with 
aesthetics, or science, or religion. The same detail 
which, in one respect, was essential and necessary, 
may, from another point of view, become immaterial. 
And then at once, so far, it falls back into the 
merely felt or given. It exists, but, for the end we 
are regarding, it is nothing. 

This is still more evident, perhaps, from the side 
of psychology. No particle of my existence, on 
the one hand, falls outside that science ; and yet, 
on the other hand, for psychology the mere " mine " 
remains. When I study my events so as to trace a 
particular connection, no matter of what kind, then 
at any moment the psychical "given" contains 
features which are irrelevant. They have no bear- 
ing on the point which I am endeavouring to make 
good. Hence the fact of their co-existence is con- 
tingent, and it is by chance that they accompany 
what is essential. They exist, in other words, for 
my present aim, in that self which is merely given, 
and which is not transcended. On the other 
hand, obviously, these same particulars are essential 
and necessary, since (at the least) somehow they 
are links in the causal sequence of my history. 
Every particular in the same way has some end 
beyond the moment. Each can be referred to 
an ideal whole whose appearance it is ; and nothing 
whatever is left to belong merely to the " this- 
mine." The simplest observation of what co-exists 
removes it from that region, and chance has no 
positive content, except in relation to our failure 
and ignorance. 

And any psychology, which is not blind or else 
biassed by false doctrine, forces on our notice this 


alienation of content. Our whole mental life moves 
by a transcendence of the " this," by sheer disregard 
of its claim to possess any property. The looseness 
of some feature of the u what " from its fusion with 
the " that " — its self- reference to, and its operation 
on, something beyond — if you leave out this, you 
have lost the mainspring of psychical movement 
But this is the ideality of the given, its non-possession 
of that character with which it appears, but which 
only appears in it. And Association — who could use 
it as mere co-existence within the "this" ? But, if 
anything more, it is at once the union of the ideal, 
the synthesis of the eternal. Thus the " mine " 
has no detail which is not the property of connections 
beyond. The merest coincidence, when you observe 
it, is a distinction which couples universal ideas. 
And, in brief, the "mine" has no content except 
that which is left there by our impotence. Its 
character in this respect is, in other words, merely 

Hence to urge such a character against our 
Absolute would be unmeaning. It would be to turn 
our ignorance of system into a positive objection, to 
make our failure a ground for the denial of possi- 
bility. We have no basis on which to doubt that all 
content comes together harmoniously in the Absolute. 
We have no reason to think that any feature adheres 
to the " this," and is unable to transcend it. What 
is true is that, for us, the incomplete diversity of 
various systems, the perplexing references of each 
same feature to many ideal wholes, and again that 
positive special feeling, which we have dealt with 
above — all this detail is not made one in any way 
which we can verify. That it all is reconciled we 
know, but how, in particular, is hid from us. But 
because this result must be, and because there is 
nothing against it, we believe that it is. 

We have seen that in the " this," on one side, there 


is no element but content, and we have found that 
no content, on the other side, is the possession of 
the "this." There is none that sticks within its 
precincts, but all tends to refer itself beyond. What 
remains there is chance, if chance is used in the sense 
of our sheer ignorance. It is not opposition, but 
blank failure in regard to the claim of an idea. 1 And 
opposition and exclusiveness, in any sense, must 
transcend the bare "this." For their essence 
always implies relation to a something beyond self ; 
and that relation makes an end of all attempt at 
solid singleness. Thus, if chance is taken as involv- 
ing an actual relation to an idea, the " this " already 
has, so far, transcended itself. The refusal of some- 
thing given to connect itself with an idea is a 
positive fact. But that refusal, as a relation, is 
evidently not included and contained in the " this." 
On the other hand, entering into that relation, the 
internal content has, so far, set itself free. It has 
already transcended the " this " and become univer- 
sal. And the exclusiveness of the " this " every- 
where in the same way proves self-contradictory. 

And we had agreed before that the mere " this " 
in a sense is positive. It has a felt self-affirmation 
peculiar and especial, and into the nature of that 
positive being we entered at length. But we found 
no reason why such feelings, considered in any 
feature or aspect, should persist self-centred and 
aloof. It seemed possible, to say the least, that 
they all might blend with one another, and be 
merged in the experience of the one Reality. And 
with that possibility, given on all sides, we arrive at 
our conclusion. The " this " and " mine " are now 
absorbed as elements within our Absolute. For 
their resolution must be, and it may be, and so 
certainly it is. 

1 Chance, in this sense of mere unperceived failure and pri- 
vation, can hardly, except by a licence, be called chance. It can- 
not, at all events, be taken as qualifying the " this." 



It may be well at this point perhaps to look back on 
the ground which we have traversed. In our First 
Book we examined some ways of regarding reality, 
and we found that each of them contained fatal 
inconsistency. Upon this we forthwith denied that, 
as such, they could be real. But upon reflection we 
perceived that our denial must rest upon positive 
knowledge. It can only be because we know, that 
we venture to condemn. Reality therefore, we are 
sure, has a positive character, which rejects mere 
appearance and is incompatible with discord. On 
the other hand it cannot be a something apart, a 
position qualified in no way save as negative of 
phenomena. For that leaves phenomena still contra- 
dictory, while it contains in its essence the contradic- 
tion of a something which actually is nothing. The 
Reality, therefore, must be One, not as excluding 
diversity, but as somehow including it in such a way 
as to transform its character. There is plainly not 
anything which can fall outside of the Real. That 
must be qualified by every part of every predicate 
which it rejects ; but it has such qualities as counter- 
balance one another's failings. It has a super- 
abundance in which all partial discrepancies are re- 
solved and remain as higher concord. 

And we found that this Absolute is experience, 
because that is really what we mean when we pre- 
dicate or speak of anything. It is not one-sided 
experience, as mere volition or mere thought ; but it 

A. R. ■«• R 


is a whole superior to and embracing all incomplete 
forms of life. This whole must be immediate like 
feeling, but not, like feeling, immediate at a level 
below distinction and relation. The Absolute is 
immediate as holding and transcending these differ- 
ences. And because it cannot contradict itself, and 
does not suffer a division of idea from existence, it 
has therefore a balance of pleasure over pain. In 
every sense it is perfect. 

Then we went on to enquire if various forms of 
the finite would take a place within this Absolute. 
We insisted that nothing can be lost, and yet that 
everything must be made good, so as to minister to 
harmony. And we laid stress on the fact that the 
how was inexplicable. To perceive the solution in 
detail is not possible for our knowledge. But, on 
the other hand, we urged that such an explanation 
is not necessary. We have a general principle 
which seems certain. The only question is whether 
any form of the finite is a negative instance which 
serves to overthrow this principle. Is there any- 
thing which tends to show that our Absolute is not 
possible ? And, so far as we have gone, we have 
discovered as yet nothing. We have at present 
not any right to a doubt about the Absolute. We 
have got no shred of reason for denying that it is 
possible. But, if it is possible, that is all we need 
seek for. For already we have a principle upon 
which it is necessary ; and therefore it is certain. 

In the following chapters I shall still pursue the 
same line of argument. I shall enquire if there is 
anything which declines to take its place within the 
system of our universe. And, if there is nothing 
that is found to stand out and to conflict, or to im- 
port discord when admitted, our conclusion will be 
attained. But I will first add a few remarks on the 
ideas of Individuality and Perfection. 

We have seen that these characters imply a 


negation of the discordant and discrepant, and a 
doubt, perhaps, may have arisen about their positive 
aspect. Are they positive at all ? When we pre- 
dicate them, do we assert or do we only deny ? Can 
it be maintained that these ideas are negative simply ? 
It might be urged against us that reality means 
barely non-appearance, and that unity is the naked 
denial of plurality. And in the same way individu- 
ality might be taken as the barren absence of discord 
and of dissipation. Perfection, again, would but 
deny that we are compelled to go further, or might 
signify merely the failure of unrest and of pain. 
Such a doubt has received, I think, a solution be- 
forehand, but I will point out once more its cardinal 

In the first place a mere negation is unmean- 
ing (p. 1 38). To deny, except from a basis of posit- 
ive assumption, is quite impossible. And a bare 
negative idea, if we could have it, would be a relation 
without a term. Hence some positive basis must 
underlie these negations which we have mentioned. 
And, in the second place, we must remember that 
what is denied is, none the less, somehow predicated 
of our Absolute. It is indeed because of this that we 
have called it individual and perfect. 

1. It is, first, plain that at least the idea of affir- 
mative being supports the denial of discrepancy 
and unrest. Being, if we use the term in a re- 
stricted sense, is not positively definable. It will be 
the same as the most general sense of experience. 
It is different from reality, if that, again, is strictly 
used. Reality (proper) implies a foregone distinc- 
tion of content from existence, a separation which 
is overcome. Being (proper), on the other hand, 
is immediate, and at a level below distinctions l ; 
though I have not thought it necessary always to 

1 Compare here p. 225, and for the stricter meaning of some 
other phrases see p. 317. 


employ these terms in a confined meaning. How- 
ever, in its general sense of experience, being under- 
lies the ideas of individuality and perfection. And 
these, at least so far, must be positive. 

2. And, in the second place, each of them is 
positively determined by what it excludes. The 
aspect of diversity belongs to the essence of the in- 
dividual, and is affirmatively contained in it. The 
unity excludes what is diverse, so far only as that 
attempts to be anything by itself, and to maintain 
isolation. And the individual is the return of this 
apparent opposite with all its wealth into a richer 
whole. How in detail this is accomplished I repeat 
that we do not know ; but we are capable, notwith- 
standing, of forming the idea of such a positive union 
(Chapters xiv. and xxvii.). Feeling supplies us 
with a low and imperfect example of an immediate 
whole. And, taking this together with the idea of 
qualification by the rejected, and together with the 
idea of unknown qualities which come in to help — 
we arrive at individuality. And, though depending 
on negation, such a synthesis is positive. 

And, in a different way, the same account is valid 
of the Perfect. That does not mean a being which, 
in regard to unrest and painful struggle, is a simple 
blank. It means the identity of idea and existence, 
attended also by pleasure. Now, so far as pleasure 
goes, that certainly is not negative. But pleasure is 
far from being the only positive element in perfec- 
tion. The unrest and striving, the opposition of fact 
to idea, and the movement towards an end — these 
features are not left outside of that Whole which is 
consummate. For all the content, which the struggle 
has generated, is brought home and is laid to rest un- 
diminished in the perfect. The idea of a being quali- 
fied somehow, without any alienation of its "what" 
from its "that" — a being at the same time fully 
possessed of all hostile distinctions, and the richer 
for their strife — this is a positive idea. And it can 


be realised in its outline, though certainly not in 

I will advert in conclusion to an objection drawn 
from a common mistake. Quantity is often intro- 
duced into the idea of perfection. For the perfect 
seems to be that beyond which we cannot go, and this 
tends naturally to take the form of an infinite num- 
ber. But, since any real number must be finite, 
we are at once involved here in a hopeless contra- 
diction. And I think it necessary to say no more 
on this evident illusion ; but will pass on to the 
objection which may be urged against our view of 
the perfect. If the perfect is the concordant, then 
no growth of its area or increase of its pleasantness 
could make it more complete. We thus, apparently, 
might have the smallest being as perfect as the 
largest ; and this seems paradoxical. But the para- 
dox really, I should say, exists only through mis- 
understanding. For we are accustomed to beings 
whose nature is always and essentially defective. 
And so we suppose in our smaller perfect a condition 
of want, or at least of defect ; and this condition is 
diminished by alteration in quantity. But, where a 
being is really perfect, our supposition would be 
absurd. Or, again, we imagine first a creature com- 
plete in itself, and by the side of it we place a larger 
completion. Then unconsciously we take the greater 
to be, in some way, apprehended by the smaller ; 
and, with this, naturally the lesser being becomes by 
contrast defective. But what we fail to observe is 
that such a being can no longer be perfect. For an 
idea which is not fact has been placed by us within 
it ; and that idea at once involves a collision of ele- 
ments, and by consequence also a loss of perfection. 
And thus a paradox has been made by our misun- 
derstanding. We assumed completion, and then 
surreptitiously added a condition which destroyed it. 
And this, so far, was a mere error. 


But the error may direct our attention to a truth. 
It leads us to ask if two perfections, great and small, 
can possibly exist side by side. And we must 
answer in the negative. If we take perfection in its 
full sense, we cannot suppose two such perfect exist- 
ences. And this is not because one surpasses the 
other in size ; for that is wholly irrelevant. It is 
because finite existence and perfection are incom- 
patible. A being, short of the Whole, but existing 
within it, is essentially related to that which is not- 
itself. Its inmost being is, and must be, infected 
by the external. Within its content there are rela- 
tions which do not terminate inside. And it is clear 
at once that, in such a case, the ideal and the real 
can never be at one. But their disunion is precisely 
what we mean by imperfection. And thus incom- 
pleteness, and unrest, and unsatisfied ideality, are 
the lot of the finite. There is nothing which, to 
speak properly, is individual or perfect, except only 
the Absolute. 



In our First Book we examined various ways of 
taking facts, and we found that they all gave no more 
than appearance. In the present Book we have 
been engaged with the nature of Reality. We have 
been attempting, so far, to form a general idea of its 
character, and to defend it against more or less 
plausible objections. Through the remainder of our 
work we must pursue the same task. We must 
endeavour to perceive how the main aspects of the 
world are all able to take a place within our Absolute. 
And, if we find that none refuses to accept a posi- 
tion there, we may consider our result secure against 
attack. I will now enter on the question which 
gives its title to this chapter. 

Have we any reason to believe in the existence of 
anything beyond our private selves ? Have we the 
smallest right to such a belief, and is it more than 
literally a self-delusion ? We, I think, may fairly 
say that some metaphysicians have shown unwilling- 
ness to look this problem in the face. And yet it 
cannot be avoided. Since we all believe in a world 
beyond us, and are not prepared to give this up, it 
would be a scandal if that were something which 
upon our theory was illusive. Any view which will 
not explain, and also justify, an attitude essential to 
human nature, must surely be condemned. But we 
shall soon see, upon the other hand, how the supposed 
difficulties of the question have been created by false 



doctrine. Upon our general theory they lose their 
foundation and vanish. 

The argument in favour of Solipsism, put most 
simply, is as follows. " I cannot transcend experi- 
ence, and experience must be my experience. From 
this it follows that nothing beyond my self exists ; 
for what is experience is its states." 

The argument derives its strength, in part, from 
false theory, but to a greater extent perhaps from 
thoughtless obscurity. I will begin by pointing out 
the ambiguity which lends some colour to this appeal 
to experience. Experience may mean experience 
only direct, or indirect also. Direct experience I 
understand to be confined to the given simply, to 
the merely felt or presented. But indirect experi- 
ence includes all fact that is constructed from the 
basis of the " this " and the " mine." It is all that 
is taken to exist beyond the felt moment. This is 
a distinction the fatal result of which Solipsism has 
hardly realized ; for upon neither interpretation of 
experience can its argument be defended. 

I. Let us first suppose that the experience, to which 
it appeals, is direct. Then, we saw in our ninth 
chapter, the mere "given" fails doubly to support that 
appeal. It supplies, on the one hand, not enough, 
and, on the other hand, too much. It offers us 
a not-self with the self, and so ruins Solipsism by 
that excess. But, upon the other side, it does not 
supply us with any self at all, if we mean by self a 
substantive the possessor of an object or even its own 
states. And Solipsism is, on this side, destroyed by 
defect. But, before I develope this, I will state an 
objection which by itself might suffice. 

My self, as an existence to which phenomena 
belong as its adjectives, is supposed to be given by 
a direct experience. But this gift plainly is an illu- 
sion. Such an experience can supply us with no 
reality beyond that of the moment. There is no 
faculty which can deliver the immediate revelation 


of a self beyond the present (Chapter x.). And so, 
if Solipsism finds its one real thing in experience, 
that thing is confined to the limits of the mere M this." 
But with such a reflection we have already, so far, 
destroyed Solipsism as positive, and as anything 
more than a sufficient reason for total scepticism. 
Let us pass from this objection to other points. 

Direct experience is unable to transcend the mere 
" this." But even in what that gives we are, even 
so far, not supplied with the self upon which Solip- 
sism is founded. We have always instead either too 
much or too little. For the distinction and separa- 
tion of subject and object is not original at all, and 
is, in that sense, not a datum. And hence the self 
cannot, without qualification, be said to be given 
(ibid.). I will but mention this point, and will goon 
to another. Whatever we may think generally of 
our original mode of feeling, we have now verifiably 
some states in which there is no reference to a sub- 
ject at all (ibid.). And if such feelings are the mere 
adjectives of a subject-reality, that character must 
be inferred, and is certainly not given. But it is not 
necessary to take our stand on this disputable 
ground. Let us admit that the distinction of object 
and subject is directly presented — and we have still 
hardly made a step in the direction of Solipsism. 
For the subject and the object will now appear in 
correlation ; they will be either two aspects of one 
fact, or (if you prefer it) two things with a relation 
between them. And it hardly follows straight from 
this that only one of these two things is real, and that 
all the rest of the given total is merely its attribute. 
That is the result of reflection and of inference, a 
process which first sets up one half of the fact as 
absolute, and then turns the other half into an adjec- 
tive of this fragment And whether the half is 
object or is subject, and whether we are led to 
Materialism, or to what is called sometimes" Idealism," 
the process essentially is the same. It equally con- 


sists, in each case, in a vicious inference. And the 
result is emphatically not something which experience 
presents. I will, in conclusion, perhaps needlessly, 
remark on another point. We found (Chapter ix.) 
that there prevailed great confusion as to the boun- 
daries of self and not-self. There seemed to be 
features not exclusively assignable to either. And, 
if this is so, surely that is one more reason for reject- 
ing an experience such as Solipsism would suppose. 
If the self is given as a reality, with all else as its 
adjectives, we can hardly then account for the super- 
vening uncertainty about its limits, and explain our 
constant hesitation between too little and too 

What we have seen so far is briefly this. We 
have no direct experience of reality as my self with 
its states. If we are to arrive at that conclusion, 
we must do so indirectly and through a process of 
inference. Experience gives the " this-mine." It 
gives neither the " mine " as an adjective of the 
" this," nor the " this " as dependent on and belong- 
ing to the "mine." Even if it did so for the moment, 
that would still not be enough as a support for Solip- 
sism. But experience supplies the character re- 
quired, not even as existing within one presentation, 
and, if not thus, then much less so as existing 
beyond. And the position, in which we now stand, 
may be stated as follows. If Solipsism is to be 
proved, it must transcend direct experience. Let us 
then ask, (a) first, if transcendence of this kind is 
possible, and, (6) next, if it is able to give assistance 
to Solipsism. The conclusion, which we shall reach, 
may be stated at once. It is both possible and 
necessary to transcend what is given. But this same 
transcendence at once carries us into the universe at 
large. Our private self is not a resting-place which 
logic can justify. 

II. (a) We are to enquire, first, if it is possible 


to remain within the limits of direct experience. 
Now it would not be easy to point out what is given 
to us immediately. It would be hard to show what is 
not imported into the "this," or, at least, modified 
there by transcendence. To fix with regard to the 
past the precise limit of presentation, might at times 
be very difficult. And to discount within the 
present the result of ideal processes would, at least 
often, be impossible. But I do not desire to base 
any objection on this ground. I am content here to 
admit the distinction between direct and indirect 
experience. And the question is whether reality 
can go beyond the former? Has a man a right to 
say that something exists, beside that which at this 
moment he actually feels? And is it possible, 
on the other side, to identify reality with the im- 
mediate present ? 

This identification, we have seen, is impossible ; 
and the attempt to remain within the boundary 
of the mere " this " is hopeless. The self-dis- 
crepancy of the content, and its continuity with a 
" what " beyond its own limits, at once settle the 
question. We need not fall back for conviction 
upon the hard shock of change. The whole move- 
ment of the mind implies disengagement from the 
mere " this " ; and to assert the content of the latter 
as reality at once involves us in contradictions. But 
it would not be profitable further to dwell on this 
point. To remain within the presented is neither 
defensible nor possible. We are compelled alike by 
necessity and by logic to transcend it (Chapters xv. 
and xix). 

But, before proceeding to ask whither this tran- 
scendence must take us, I will deal with a question 
we noticed before (Chapter xix.). An objection may 
be based on the uniqueness of the felt ; and it may 
be urged that the reality which appears in the " this- 
mine" is unique and exclusive. Whatever, therefore, 
its predicates may seem to demand, it is not possible 


to extend the boundaries of the subject. That will, 
in short, stick hopelessly for ever within the confines 
of the presented. Let us examine this contention. 

It will be more convenient, in the first place, to 
dismiss the word " unique." For that seems (as we 
saw) to introduce the idea of existence in a series, 
together with a negative relation towards other 
elements. And, if such a relation is placed within 
the essence of the " this," then the " this " has be- 
come part of a larger unity. 

The objection may be stated better thus. 1 " All 
reality must fall within the limits of the given. For, 
however much the content may desire to go beyond, 
yet, when you come to make that content a predicate 
of the real, you are forced back to the ' this-mine,' 
or the ' now-felt,' for your subject. Reality appears 
to lie solely in what is presented, and seems not dis- 
coverable elsewhere. But the presented, on the 
other hand, must be the felt ' this.' And other 
cases of ' this,' if you mean to take them as real, 
seem also to fall within the ' now-mine.' If they 
are not indirect predicates of that, and so extend it 
adjectivally, then they directly will fall within its 
datum. But, if so, they themselves become distinc- 
tions and features there. Hence we have the ' this- 
mine' as before, but with an increase of special 
internal particulars. And so we still remain within 
the confines of one presentation, and to have two at 
once seems impossible." 

Now in answer, I admit that, to find reality, we 
must betake ourselves to feeling. It is the real, 
which there appears, which is the subject of all pre- 
dicates. And to make our way to another fact, 
quite outside of and away from the " this " which is 
l( mine," seems out of the question. But, while 
admitting so much, I reject the further consequence. 
I deny that the felt reality is shut up and confined 

1 On this whole matter compare my Principles of Logic % 
Chapter ii. 


within my feeling. For the latter may, by addition, 
be extended beyond its own proper limits. It may 
remain positively itself, and yet be absorbed in what is 
larger. Just as in change we have a " now," which 
contains also a "then"; just as, again, in what is 
mine there may be diverse features, so, from the 
opposite side, it may be with my direct experience. 
There is no opposition between that and a wider 
whole of presentation. The " mine " does not ex- 
clude inclusion in a fuller totality. There may be a 
further experience immediate and direct, something 
that is my private feeling, and also much more. 
Now the Reality, to which all content in the end 
must belong, is, we have seen, a direct all-embracing 
experience. This Reality is present in, and is my 
feeling ; and hence, to that extent, what I feel is the 
all-inclusive universe. But, when I go on to deny 
that this universe is more, I turn truth into error. 
There is a " more " of feeling, the extension of that 
which is " now mine " ; and this whole is both the 
assertion and negation of my "this." That extension 
maintains it together with additions, which merge 
and override it as exclusive. My " mine " becomes 
a feature in the great M mine," which includes all 

Now, if within the " this " there were found any- 
thing which could stand out against absorption — 
anything which could refuse to be so lost by such 
support and maintenance — an objection might be 
tenable. But we saw, in our nineteenth chapter, 
that a character of this kind does not exist. My in- 
capacity to extend the boundary of my " this," my 
inability to gain an immediate experience of that 
in which it is subordinated and reduced — is my mere 
imperfection. Because I cannot spread out my 
window until all is transparent, and all windows dis- 
appear, this does not justify me in insisting on my 
window-frame's rigidity. For that frame has, as 
such, no existence in reality, but only in our impo- 


tence (Chapter xix.). I am aware of the miserable 
inaccuracy of the metaphor, and of the thoughtless 
objection which it may call up ; but I will still 
put the matter so. The one Reality is what comes 
directly to my feeling through this window of a 
moment ; and this, also and again, is the only 
Reality. But we must not turn the first " is " into 
" is nothing at all but," and the second " is " into " is 
all of." There is no objection against the disappear- 
ance of limited transparencies in an all-embracing 
clearness. We are not compelled merely, but we 
are justified, when we follow the irresistible lead of 
our content. 

(b) We have seen, so far, that experience, if you 
take that as direct, does not testify to the sole reality 
of my self. Direct experience would be confined to 
a " this," which is not even pre-eminently a " mine," 
and still less is the same as what we mean by a 
"self." And, in the second place, we perceived that 
reality extends beyond such experience. And here, 
once more, Solipsism may suppose that it finds its 
opportunity. It may urge that the reality, which 
goes beyond the moment, stops short at the self. 
The process of transcendence, it may admit, con- 
ducts us to a " me " which embraces all immediate 
experiences. But, Solipsism may argue, this pro- 
cess can not take us on further. By this road, 
it will object, there is no way to a plurality of selves, 
or to any reality beyond my private personality. 
We shall, however, find that this contention is both 
dogmatic and absurd. For, if you have a right to 
believe in a self beyond the present, you have the 
same right to maintain also the existence of other 

I will not enquire how, precisely, we come by 
the idea of other animates* existence. Metaphysics 
has no direct interest in the origin of ideas, and its 
business is solely to examine their claim to be true. 


But, if I am asked to justify my belief that other 
selves, beside my own, are in the world, the answer 
must be this. I arrive at other souls by means of 
other bodies, and the argument starts from the 
ground of my own body. My own body is one of 
the groups which are formed in my experience. 
And it is connected, immediately and specially, with 
pleasure and pain, and again with sensations and 
volitions, as no other group can be. 1 But, since 
there are other groups like my body, these must 
also be qualified by similar attendants. 2 With my 
feelings and my volitions these groups cannot 
correspond. For they are usually irrelevant and 
indifferent, and often even hostile ; and they enter 
into collision with one another and with my body. 
Therefore these foreign bodies have, each of them, 
a foreign self of its own. This is briefly the argu- 
ment, and it seems to me to be practically valid. It 
falls short, indeed, of demonstration in the following 
way. The identity in the bodies is, in the first place, 
not exact, but in various degrees fails to reach com- 
pleteness. And further, even so far as the identity 
is perfect, its consequence might be modified by 
additional conditions. And hence the other soul 
might so materially differ from my own, that I should 
hesitate, perhaps, to give it the name of soul. 3 But 
still the argument, though not strict proof, seems 
sufficiently good. 

It is by the same kind of argument that we reach 
our own past and future. And here Solipsism, in 
objecting to the existence of other selves, is unawares 
attempting to commit suicide. For my past self, 
also, is arrived at only by a process of inference, and 
by a process which also itself is fallible. 

1 Compare Mind, XII. 370 foil. (No. 47)- Tt is hardl y 
necessary for present purposes to elaborate this argument. 

* This step rests entirely on the principle of the Identity of 

» Cf. Chapter xxvii. 


We are so accustomed each to consider his past 
self as his own, that it is worth while to reflect how 
very largely it may be foreign. My own past is, in 
the first place, incompatible with my own present, 
quite as much as my present can be with another 
man's. Their difference in time could not permit 
them both to be wholly the same, even if their two 
characters are taken as otherwise identical. But 
this agreement in character is at least not always 
found. And my past not only may differ so as to 
be almost indifferent, but I may regard it even with 
a feeling of hostility and hatred. It may be mine 
mainly in the sense of a persisting incumbrance, a 
compulsory appendage, joined in continuity and 
fastened by an inference. And that inference, not 
being abstract, falls short of demonstration. 

My past of yesterday is constructed by a redin- 
tegration from the present. Let us call the present 
X (B-C), with an ideal association x (a-b). The re- 
production of this association, and its synthesis with 
the present, so as to form X [a- B-C), is what we 
call memory. And the justification of the process 
consists in the identity of x with X. 1 But it is a 
serious step not simply to qualify my present self, 
but actually to set up another self at the distance of 
an interval. I so insist on the identity that I ride 
upon it to a difference, just as, before, the identity of 
our bodies carried me to the soul of a different man. 
And it is obvious, once more here, that the identity 
is incomplete. The association does not contain all 
that now qualifies X ; x is different from X, and b is 
different from B. And again, the passage, through 
this defective identity to another concrete fact, may 
to some extent be vitiated by unknown interfering 
conditions. Hence I cannot prove that the yester- 

1 For the sake of simplicity I have omitted the process of cor- 
recting memory. This is of course effected by the attempt to get 
a coherent view of the past, and by the rejection of everything 
which cannot be included. 


day's self, which I construct, did, as such, have an 
actual existence in the past. The concrete condi- 
tions, into which my ideal construction must be 
launched, may alter its character. They may, in 
fact, unite with it so that, if I knew this unknown 
fact, I should no longer care to call it my self. Thus 
my past self, assuredly, is not demonstrated. We 
can but say of it that, like other selves, it is practic- 
ally certain. And in each case the result, and our 
way to it, is in principle the same. Both other 
selves and my own self are intellectual constructions, 
each as secure as we can expect special facts to be. 
But, if any one stands out for demonstration, then 
neither is demonstrated. And, if this demand is 
pressed, you must remain with a feeling about which 
you can say nothing, and which is, emphatically, 
not the self of any one at all. On the other hand, 
if you are willing to accept a result which is not 
strictly proved, both results must be accepted. For 
the process, which conducts you to other selves, 
is not weaker sensibly, if at all, than the con- 
struction by which your own self is gained. On 
either alternative the conclusion of Solipsism is 

And if memory, or some other faculty, is appealed 
to, and is invoked to secure the pre-eminent reality of 
my self, 1 must decline to be persuaded. For I am 
convinced that such convenient wonders do not 
exist, and that no one has any sufficient excuse for 
accepting them. Memory is plainly a construction 
from the ground of the present. It is throughout 
inferential, and is certainly fallible ; and its gross 
mistakes as to past personal existence should be very 
well known (pp. 84, 213). I prefer, in passing, to 
notice that confusion as to the present limits of self, 
which is so familiar a feature in hypnotic experi- 
ments. The assumption of a suggested foreign 
personality is, I think, strong evidence for the 
secondary nature of our own. Both, in short, are 

a. k. s 


results of manufacture ; and to account otherwise 
for the facts seems clearly impossible. 1 

We have seen, so far, that direct experience is 
jio foundation for Solipsism. We have seen further 
that, if at all we may transcend that experience, 
we are no nearer Solipsism. For we can go to 
foreign selves by a process no worse than the 
construction which establishes our own self. And, 
before passing on, I will call attention to a minor 
point Even if I had secured a right to the posses- 
sion of my past self, and no right to the acceptance 
of other selves as real, yet, even with this, Solipsism 
is not grounded. It would not follow from this that 
the not-myself is nothing, and that all the world is 
merely a state of my self. The only consequence, 
so far, would be that the not-myself must be in- 
animate. But between that result and Solipsism 
is an impassable gulf. You can not, starting from 
the given, construct a self which will swallow up and 
own every element from which it is distinguished. 

I will briefly touch on another source of mis- 
understanding. It is the old mistake in a form 
which is slightly different. All I know, I may be 
told, is what I experience, and I can experience 
nothing beyond my own states. And it is argued 
that hence my own self is the one knowable reality. 
But the truth in this objection, once more, has been 
pressed into falsehood. It is true that all I ex- 
perience is my state — so far as I experience it. 
Even the Absolute, as my reality, is my state of 
mind. But this hardly shows that my experience 
possesses no other aspect. It hardly proves that 
what is my state of mind is no more, and must be 
taken as real barely from that one point of view. 

1 It is of course the intervention of the foreign body which 
prevents my usually confusing foreign selves with my own. 
Another's body is, in the first place, not immediately connected 
throughout with my pleasure and pain. And, in the second 
place, its states are often positively incompatible with mine. 



The Reality certainly must appear within my 
psychical existence ; but it is quite another thing to 
limit its whole nature to that field. 

My thought, feeling, and will, are, of course, all 
phenomena ; they all are events which happen. 
From time to time, as they happen, they exist in 
the felt "this," and they are elements within its 
chance congeries. And they can be taken, further, 
as states of that self- thing which I construct by an 
inference. But, if you look at them merely so, then, 
unconsciously or consciously, you mutilate their 
character. You use a point of view which is 
necessary, but still is partial and one-sided. And 
we shall see more clearly, hereafter, the nature of 
this view (Chapters xxiii. and xxvii.). I will here 
simply state that the import and content of these 
processes does not consist in their appearance 
in the pyschical series. In thought the important 
feature is not our mental state, as such ; and the 
same truth, if less palpable, is as certain with vo- 
lition. My will is mine, but, none the less, it is also 
much more. The content of the idea willed (to 
put the matter only on that ground) may be some- 
thing beyond me ; and, since this content is effective, 
the activity of the process cannot simply be my 
state. But I will not try to anticipate a point which 
will engage us later on. It is sufficient here to lay 
down generally, that, if experience is mine, that is 
no argument for what I experience being nothing 
but my state. And this whole objection rests 
entirely on false preconceptions. My private self 
is first set up, as a substantive which is real in- 
dependent of the Whole ; and then its palpable 
community with the universe, which in experience 
is forced on us, is degraded into the adjective of 
our miserable abstraction. Bur, when these pre- 
conceptions are exposed, Solipsism disappears. 

Considered as the apotheosis of an abstraction, 

26o REALIT1. 

Solipsism is quite false. But from its errors we may 
collect aspects of truth, to which we sometimes are 
blind. And, in the first place, though my experience 
is not the whole world, yet that world appears in my 
experience, and, so far as it exists there, it is my 
state of mind. That the real Absolute, or God 
himself, is also my state, is a truth often forgotten 
and to which later we shall return. And there is 
a second truth to which Solipsism has blindly borne 
witness. My way of contact with Reality is through 
a limited aperture. For I cannot get at it directly 
except through the felt "this," and our immediate 
interchange and transfluence takes place through 
one small opening. Everything beyond, though not 
less real, is an expansion of the common essence 
which we feel burningly in this one focus. And so, 
in the end, to know the Universe, we must fall back 
upon our personal experience and sensation. 

But beside these two truths there is yet another 
truth worth noticing. My self is certainly not the 
Absolute, but, without it, the Absolute would not be 
itself. You cannot anywhere abstract wholly from 
my personal feelings ; you cannot say that, apart 
even from the meanest of these, anything else in the 
universe would be what it is. And in asserting 
this relation, this essential connection, of all reality 
with my self, Solipsism has emphasized what should 
not be forgotten. But the consequences, which 
properly follow from this truth, will be discussed 
hereafter. 1 

1 I shall deal in Chapter xxvii. with the question whether, 
in refuting Solipsism, we have removed any ground for our con- 
clusion that the Absolute is experience. 



The word Nature has of course more meanings than 
one. I am going to use it here in the sense of the 
bare physical world, that region which forms the 
object of purely physical science, and appears to fall 
outside of all mind. Abstract from everything 
psychical, and then the remainder of existence will be 
Nature It will be mere body or the extended, so 
far as that is not psychical, together with the pro- 
perties immediately connected with or following from 
this extension. And we sometimes forget that this 
world, in the mental history of each of us, once had 
no existence. Whatever view we take with regard 
to the psychological origin of extension, the result 
will be the same. There was a time when the 
separation of the outer world, as a thing real apart 
from our feeling, had not even been begun. The 
physical world, whether it exists independently or 
not, is, for each of us, an abstraction from the en- 
tire reality. And the development of this reality, 
and of the division which we make in it, requires 
naturally some time. But I do not propose to 
discuss the subject further here. 1 

Then there comes a period when we all gain the 
idea of mere body. I do not mean that we always, 
or even habitually, regard the outer world as stand- 
ing and persisting in divorce from all feeling. But, 
still, at least for certain purposes, we get the notion 
of such a world, consisting both of primary and also 

1 For some further remarks see Mind % No. 47 (Vol- XI1 )- 


of secondary qualities. This world strikes us as not 
dependent on the inner life of any one. We view it 
as standing there, the same for every soul with 
which it comes into relation. Our bodies with their 
organs are taken as the instruments and media, 
which should convey it as it is, and as it exists apart 
from them. And we find no difficulty in the idea 
of a bodily reality remaining still and holding firm 
when every self has been removed. Such a sup- 
position to the average man appears obviously 
possible, however much, for other reasons, he might 
decline to entertain it. And the assurance that his 
supposition is meaningless nonsense he rejects as 
contrary to what he calls common sense. 

And then, to the person who reflects, comes in the 
old series of doubts and objections, and the useless 
attempts at solution or compromise. For Nature to 
the common man is not the Nature of the physicist ; 
and the physicist himself, outside his science, still 
habitually views the world as what he must believe 
it cannot be. But there should be no need to recall 
the discussion of our First Book with regard to 
secondary and primary qualities. We endeavoured 
to show there that it is difficult to take both on a 
level, and impossible to make reality consist of one 
class in separation from the other. And the un- 
fortunate upholder of a mere physical nature escapes 
only by blindness from hopeless bewilderment. He 
is forced to the conclusion that all I know is an 
affection of my organism, and then my organism 
itself turns out to be nothing else but such an 
affection. There is in short no physical thing but 
that which is a mere state of a physical thing, and 
perhaps in the end even (it might be contended) 
a mere state of itself. It will be instructive to con- 
sider Nature from this point of view. 

We may here use the form of what has been called 
an Antinomy, (a) Nature is only for my body; but, 
on the other hand, (b) My body is only for Nature. 

NATURE. 263 

(a) I need say no more on the thesis that the 
outer world is known only as a state of my organism. 
Its proper consequence (according to the view 
generally received) appears to be that everything 
else is a state of my brain. For that (apparently) 
is all which can possibly be experienced. Into the 
further refinements, which would arise from the 
question of cerebral localization, I do not think it 
necessary to enter. 

(6) And yet most emphatically, as we have seen 
at the beginning of this work, my organism is 
nothing but appearance to a body. It itself is only 
the bare state of a natural object. For my organism, 
like all else, is but what is experienced, and I can 
only experience my organism in relation to its own 
organs. Hence the whole body is a mere state of 
these ; and they are states of one another in in- 
definite regress. 

How can we deny this ? If we appeal to an 
immediate experience, which presents me with my 
body as a something extended and solid, we are 
taking refuge in a world of exploded illusions. No 
such peculiar intuition can bear the light of a serious 
psychology. The internal feelings which I ex- 
perience certainly give nothing of the sort ; and 
again, even if they did, yet for natural science they 
are no direct reality, but themselves the states of a 
material nervous system. And to fall back on a 
supposed wholesale revelation of Resistance would 
be surely to seek aid from that which cannot help. 
For the revelation in the first place (as we have 
already perceived in Chapter x.), is a fiction. And, 
in the second place, Resistance could not present us 
with a body independently real. It could supply 
only the relation of one thing to another, where 
neither thing, as what resists, is a separate body, 
either apart from, or .again in relation to, the other. 
Resistance could not conceivably tell us what any- 
thing is in itself. It gives us one thing as qualified 


by the state of another thing, each within that known 
relation being only for the other, and, apart from it, 
being unknown and, so far, a nonentity. 

And that is the general conclusion with regard to 
Nature to which we are driven. The physical world 
is the relation between physical things. And the 
relation, on the one side, presupposes them as 
physical, while apart from it, on the other side, they 
certainly are not so. Nature is the phenomenal 
relation of the unknown to the unknown ; and the 
terms cannot, because unknown, even be said to be 
related, since they cannot themselves be said to be 
anything at all. Let us develope this further. 

That the outer world is only for my organs ap- 
pears inevitable. But what is an organ except so 
far as it is known ? And how can it be known but 
as itself the state of an organ ? If then you are 
asked to find an organ which is a physical object, 
you can no more find it than a body which itself is a 
body. Each is a state of something else, which is 
never more than a state — and the something escapes 
us. The same consequence, again, is palpable if we 
take refuge in the brain. If the world is my brain- 
state, then what is my own brain ? That is nothing 
but the state of some brain, I need not proceed to 
ask whose. 1 It is, in any case, not real as a physical 
thing, unless you reduce it to the adjective of a 
physical thing. And this illusive quest goes on for 
ever. It can never lead you to what is more than 
either an adjective of, or a relation between, — what 
you cannot find. 

There is no escaping from this circle. Let us take 
the instance of a double perception of touch, a and 5. 
Then a is only a state of the organ C, and b is only 
a state of the organ D. And if you wish to say that 
either C or D is itself real as a body, you can only 
do so on the witness of another organ E or F. You 

1 For me my own brain in the end must be a state of my own 
brain, p. 263. 

NATURE. 265 

can in no case arrive at a something material ex- 
isting as a substantive ; you are compelled to 
wander without end from one adjective to another 
adjective. And in double perception the twofold 
evidence does not show that each side is body. It 
leads to the conclusion that neither side is more than 
a dependant, on we do not know what. 

And if we consult common experience, we gain no 
support for one side of our antinomy. It is clear 
that, for the existence of our organism, we find there 
the same evidence as for the existence of outer 
objects. We have a witness which, with our body, 
gives us the environment as equally real. For we 
never, under any circumstances, are without some 
external sensation. If you receive, in the ordinary 
sense, the testimony of our organs, then, if the outer 
world is not real, our organs are not real. You have 
both sides given as on a level, or you have neither 
side at all. And to say that one side is the sub- 
stantive, to which the other belongs, as an appendage 
or appurtenance, seems quite against reason. We 
are, in brief, confirmed in the conclusion we had 
reached. Both Nature and my body exist neces- 
sarily with and for one another. And both, on 
examination, turn out to be nothing apart from their 
relation. We find in each no essence which is not 
infected by appearance to the other. 

And with this we are brought to an unavoidable 
result 1 The physical world is an appearance ; it is 
phenomenal throughout. It is the relation of two 
unknowns, which, because they are unknown, we 
cannot have any right to regard as really two, or 
as related at all. It is an imperfect way of appre- 
hension, which gives us qualities and relations, each 
the condition of and yet presupposing the* other. 

1 This result (the reader must remember) rests, not merely on 
the above, but on the discussions of our First Book. The titles 
of some chapters there should be a sulii* tent reference. 


And we have no means of knowing how this confu- 
sion and perplexity is resolved in the Absolute. 
The material world is an incorrect, a one-sided, and 
self-contradictory appearance of the Real. It is the 
reaction of two unknown things, things, which, to 
be related, must each be something by itself, and 
yet, apart from their relation, are nothing at all. In 
other words it is a diversity which, as we regard 
it, is not real, but which somehow, in all its fulness, 
enters into and perfects the life of the Universe. 
But, as to the manner in which it is included, we 
are unable to say anything. 

But is this circular connexion, this baseless inter- 
relation between the organism and Nature, a mis- 
take to be set aside ? Most emphatically not so, 
for it seems a vital scheme, and a necessary way of 
happening among our appearances. It is an ar- 
rangement among phenomena by which the ex- 
tended only comes to us in relation with another 
extended which we call an organism. You cannot 
have certain qualities, of touch, or sight, or hearing, 
unless there is with them a certain connection of 
other qualities. Nature has phenomenal reality as a 
grouping and as laws of sequence and co-existence, 
holding good within a certain section of that which 
appears to us. But, if you attempt to make it 
more, you will re-enter those mazes from which we 
found no exit. You are led to take the physical 
world as a mere adjective of my body, and you find 
that my body, on the other hand, is not one whit 
more substantival. It is itself for ever the state of 
something further and beyond. And, as we per- 
ceived in our First Book, you can neither take the 
qualities, that are called primary, as real without 
the secondary, nor again the latter as existing apart 
from my feeling. These are all distinctions which, 
as we saw, are reduced, and which come together 
in the one great totality of absolute experience. 
They are lost there for our vision, but survive most 

NATURE. 267 

assuredly in that which absorbs them. Nature is 
but one part of the feeling whole, which we have 
separated by our abstraction, and enlarged by theo- 
retical necessity and contrivance. And then we set 
up this fragment as self-existing ; and what is some- 
times called " science " goes out of its way to make 
a gross mistake. It takes an intellectual construc- 
tion of the conditions of mere appearance for inde- 
pendent reality. And it would thrust this fiction 
on us as the one thing which has solid being. But 
thus it turns into sheer error a relative truth. It 
discredits that which, as a working point of view, is 
fully justified by success, and stands high above 

We have seen, so far, that mere Nature is not 
real. Nature is but an appearance within the re- 
ality ; it is a partial and imperfect manifestation of 
the Absolute. The physical world is an abstraction, 
which, for certain purposes is properly considered by 
itself, but which, if taken as standing in its own 
right, becomes at once self-contradictory. We must 
now develope this general view in some part of its 

But, before proceeding, I will deal with a point 
of some interest We, so far, have treated the 
physical world as extended, and a doubt may be 
raised whether such an assumption can be justified. 
Extension, I may be told, is not essential to Nature; 
for the extended need not always be physical, nor 
again the physical always extended. And it is bet- 
ter at once to attempt to get clear on this point. It 
is, in the first place, quite true that not all of the ex- 
tended forms part of Nature. For I may think of, 
and may imagine, things extended at my pleasure, 
and it is impossible to suppose that all these psych- 
ical facts take a place within our physical system. 
Yet, upon the other hand, I do not see how we can 
deny their extension. That which for my mind is 


extended, must be so as a fact, whether it does, or 
does not, belong to what we call Nature. Take, for 
example, some common illusion of sense. In that 
we actually may have a perception of extension, and 
to call this false does not show that it is not some- 
how spatial. But, if so, Nature and extension will 
not coincide. Hence we are forced to seek the dis- 
tinctive essence of Nature elsewhere, and in some 
non-spatial character. 

In its bare principle I am able to accept this con- 
clusion. The essence of Nature is to appear as a 
region standing outside the psychical, and as (in 
some part) suffering and causing change independent 
of that. Or, at the very least, Nature must not be 
always directly dependent on soul. Nature presup- 
poses the distinction of the not-self from the self. It 
is that part of the world which is not inseparably 
one thing in experience with those internal groups 
which feel pleasure and pain. It is the attendant 
medium by which selves are made manifest to one 
another. But it shows an existence and laws not be- 
longing to these selves ; and, to some extent at least, 
it appears indifferent to their feelings, and thoughts, 
and volitions. It is this independence which would 
seem to be the distinctive mark of Nature. 

And, if so, it may be urged that Nature is per- 
haps not extended, and I think we must admit that 
such a Nature is possible. We may imagine groups 
of qualities, for example sounds or smells, arranged 
in such a way as to appear independent of the psych- 
ical. These qualities might seem to go their own 
ways without any, or much, regard to our ideas or 
likings; and they might maintain such an order as to 
form a stable and permanent not-self. These groups, 
again, might serve as the means of communication 
between souls, and, in short, might answer every 
known purpose for which Nature exists. Even as 
things are, when these secondary qualities are local- 
ized in outer space, we regard them as physical ; 

NATURE. 269 

and there is a doubt, therefore, whether any such 
localization is necessary. And, for myself, I am 
unable to perceive that it is so. Certainly, if I try 
to imagine an unextended world of this kind, I ad- 
mit that, against my will, I give it a spatial character. 
But, so far as I see, this may arise from mere in- 
firmity ; and the idea of an unextended Nature 
seems, for my knowledge at least, not self-contra- 

But, having gone as far as this, I am unable to go 
farther. A Nature without extension I admit to be 
possible, but I can discover no good reason for tak- 
ing it as actual. For the physical world, which we 
encounter, is certainly spatial ; and we have no in- 
terest in trying to seek out any other. If Nature 
on our view were reality, the case would be altered; 
and we should then be forced to entertain every 
doubt about its essence. But for us Nature is ap- 
pearance, inconsistent and untrue ; and hence the 
supposition of another Nature, free from extension, 
could furnish no help. This supposition does not 
remove the contradictions - from actual extension, 
which in any case is still a fact. And, again, even 
within itself, the supposition cannot be made con- 
sistent with itself. We may, therefore, pass on with- 
out troubling ourselves with such a mere possibility. 
We cannot conclude that all Nature essentially must 
have extension. But, since at any rate our physical 
world is extended, and since the hypothesis of 
another kind of Nature has no interest, that idea 
may be dismissed. I shall henceforth take Nature 
as appearing always in the form of space. 1 

Let us return from this digression. We are to 

1 I may perhaps add that " resistance " is no sufficient answer 
to the question " What is Nature ? " A persisting idea may in the 
fullest sense u resist " ; but can we find in that the essence of 
what we mean by the physical world? The claims of "resist 
ance " have, however, been disposed of already, pp. 1 16, 225, 263. 


consider Nature as possessed of extension, and we 
have seen that mere Nature has no reality. We 
may now proceed to a series of subordinate ques- 
tions, and the first of these is about the world which 
is called inorganic. Is there in fact such a thing as 
inorganic Nature ? Now, if by this we meant a 
region or division of existence, not subserving and 
entering into the one experience of the Whole, the 
question already would have been settled. There 
cannot exist an arrangement which fails to perfect, 
and to minister directly to, the feeling of the Abso- 
lute. Nor again, since in the Absolute all comes 
together, could there be anything inorganic in the 
sense of standing apart from some essential relation 
to finite organisms. Any such mutilations as these 
have long ago been condemned, and it is in another 
sense that we must inquire about the inorganic. 

By an organism we are to understand a more or 
less permanent arrangement of qualities and rela- 
tions, such as at once falls outside of, and yet imme- 
diately subserves, a distinct unity of feeling. We 
are to mean a phenomenal group with which a felt 
particularity is connected in a way to be discussed 
in the next chapter. At least this is the sense in 
which, however incorrectly, I am about to use the 
word. The question, therefore, here will be whether 
there are elements in Nature, which fail to make a 
part of some such finite arrangement. The inquiry 
is intelligible, but for metaphysics it seems to have 
no importance. 

The question in the first place, I think, cannot be 
answered. For, if we consider it in the abstract, I 
find no good ground for either affirmation or denial. 
I know no reason why in the Absolute there should 
not be qualities, which fail to be connected, as a 
body, with some finite soul. And, upon the other 
hand, I see no special cause for supposing that these 
exist. And when, leaving the abstract point of 
view, we regard this problem from the side of con- 

NATURE. 271 

crete iacts, then, so far as I perceive, we are able to 
make no advance. For as to that which can, and 
that which cannot, play the part of an organism, we 
know very little. A sameness greater or less with 
our own bodies is the basis from which we conclude 
to other bodies and souls. And what this inference 
loses in exactitude (Chapter xxi.), it gains on the 
other hand in extent, by acquiring a greater range 
of application. And it would seem almost impos- 
sible, from this ground, to produce a satisfactory 
negative result. A certain likeness of outward form, 
and again some amount of similarity in action, are 
what we stand on when we argue to psychical life. 
But our failure, on the other side, to discover these 
symptoms is no sufficient warrant for positive de- 
nial. 1 There may surely beyond our knowledge be 
strange arrangements of qualities, which serve as 
the condition of unknown personal unities. Given 
a certain degree of difference in the outward form, 
and a certain divergence in the way of manifestation, 
and we should fail at once to perceive the presence 
of an organism. But would it, therefore, always not 
exist ? Or can we assume, because we have found 
out the nature of some organisms, that we have 
exhausted that of all ? Have we an ascertained 
essence, outside of which no variation is possible ? 
Any such contention would seem to be indefensible. 
Every fragment of visible Nature might, so far as is 
known, serve as part in some organism not like our 
bodies. And, if we consider further how much of 
Nature may be hid from our view, we shall surely 
be still less inclined to dogmatism. For that which 
we see may be combined in an organic unity with 
the invisible ; and, again, one and the same element 
might have a position and function in any number 
of organisms. But there is no advantage in trying 
to fill the unknown with our fancies. It should be 

1 It is natural in this connection to refer to Fechner's vigorous 


clear, when we reflect, that we are in no condition 
on this point to fix a limit to the possible. 1 Ar- 
rangements, apparently quite different from our own, 
and expressing themselves in what seems a wholly 
unlike way, might be directly connected with finite 
centres of feeling. And our result here must be 
this, that, except in relation to our ignorance, we can- 
not call the least portion of Nature inorganic. For 
Some practical purposes, of course, the case is radi- 
cally altered. We of course there have a perfect 
right to act upon ignorance. We not only may, but 
even must, often treat the unseen as non-existent. 
But in metaphysics such an attitude cannot be 
justified. 2 We, on one side, have positive know- 
ledge that some parts of Nature are organisms ; but 
whether, upon the other side, anything inorganic 
exists or not, we have no means of judging. Hence 
to give an answer to our question is impossible. 

But this inability seems a matter of no importance. 
For finite organisms, as we have seen, are but pheno- 
menal appearance, and both their division and their 
unity is transcended in the Absolute. And assured- 
ly the inorganic, if it exists, will be still more unreal. 
It will, in any case, not merely be bound in relation 
with organisms, but will, together with them, be in- 
cluded in a single and all-absorbing experience, It 
will become a feature and an element in that Whole 
where no diversity is lost, but where the oneness is 
something much more than organic. And with this 
I will pass on to a further inquiry. 

We have seen that beyond experience nothing 
can exist, and hence no part of Nature can fall out- 
side of the Absolute's perfection. But the question 
as to the necessity of experience may still be raised 

1 If we consider further the possibility of diverse material systems, 
and of the compenetrability of bodies within each system, we shall 
be even less disposed to dogmatize. See below, pp. 287, 289. 

2 On the main principle see Chapter xxvii. 

NATURE. 273 

in a modified sense. Is there any Nature not ex- 
perienced by a finite subject ? Can we suppose in 
the Absolute a margin of physical qualities, which, 
so to speak, do not pass through some finite perci- 
pient ? Of course, if this is so, we cannot perceive 
them. But the question is whether, notwithstanding, 
we may, or even must, suppose that such a margin 
exists, (a) Is a physical fact, which is not /or some 
finite sentient being, a thing which is possible ? And 
(6), in the next place, have we sufficient ground to 
take it also as real ? 

(a) In defence, first, of its possibility there is 
something to be said. " Admitted," we shall be 
told, " that relation to a finite soul is the condition 
under which Nature appears to us, it does not follow 
that this condition is indispensable. To assert that 
those very qualities, which we meet under certain 
conditions, can exist apart from them, is perhaps 
going too far. But, on the other side, some quali- 
ties of the sort we call sensible might not require (so 
to speak) to be developed on or filtered through a 
particular soul. These qualities in the end, like all 
the rest, would certainly, as such, be absorbed in the 
Absolute ; but they (so to speak) might find their 
way to this end by themselves, and might not re- 
quire the mediation of a finite sentience." But this 
defence, it seems to me, is insufficient. We can 
think, in a manner, of sensible quality apart from a 
soul, but the doubt is whether such a manner is 
really legitimate. The question is, when we have 
abstracted from finite centres of feeling, whether we 
have not removed all meaning from sensible quality 
And again, if we admit that in the Absolute there 
may be matter not contained in finite experience, 
can we go on to make this matter a part of Nature, 
and call it physical ? These two questions appear 
to be vitally distinct. 

A margin of experience, not the experience of any 
finite centre, we shall find (Chapter xxvii.) can- 

a. r. T 


not be called impossible. But it seems another 
thing to place such matter in Nature. For Nature 
is constituted and upheld by a division in experience. 
It is, in its essence, a product of distinction and op- 
position. And to take this product as existing out- 
side finite centres seems indefensible. The Nature 
that falls outside, we must insist, may perhaps not 
be nothing, but it is not Nature. If it is fact, it is 
fact which we must not call physical. 

But this whole enquiry, on the other hand, seems 
unimportant and almost idle. For, though unper- 
ceived by finite souls, all Nature would enter into 
one experience with the contents of these souls. 
And hence the want of apprehension by, and pas- 
sage through, a particular focus would lose in the 
end its significance. Thus, even if we admit fact, 
not included in finite centres of sentience, our view 
of the Absolute, after all, will not be altered. But 
such fact, we have seen, could not be properly phys- 

(6) A part of Nature, not apprehended by finite 
mind, we have found in some sense is barely possible. 
But we may be told now, on the other hand, that it 
is necessary to assume it. There are such difficul- 
ties in the way of any other conclusion that we may 
seem to have no choice. Nature is too wide, we 
may hear, to be taken in by any number of sentient 
beings. And again Nature is in part not perceptible 
at all. My own brain, while I am alive, is an ob- 
vious instance of this. And we may think further 
of the objects known only by the microscope, and of 
the bodies, intangible and invisible, assured to us by 
science. And the mountains, that endure always, 
must be more than the sensations of short-lived 
mortals, and indeed were there in the time before 
organic life was developed. In the face of these 
objections, it may be said, we are unable to persist. 
The necessity of finite souls for the existence of 
Nature cannot possibly be maintained. And 

NATURE. 275 

hence a physical world, not apprehended by these 
perceiving centres, must somehow be postulated. 

The objections at first may seem weighty, but I 
will endeavour to show that they cannot stand 
criticism. And I will begin by laying down a neces- 
sary distinction. The physical world exists, of 
course, independent of me, and does not depend on 
the accident of my sensations. A mountain is, 
whether I happen to perceive it or not This truth 
is certain ; but, on the other hand, its meaning is 
ambiguous, and it may be taken in two very different 
senses. We may call these senses, if we please, 
categorical and hypothetical. You may either assert 
that the mountain always actually is, as it is when it 
is perceived. Or you may mean only that it is al- 
ways something apart from sensible perception ; and 
that whenever it is perceived, it then developes its 
familiar character. And a confusion between the 
mountain, as it is in itself, and as it becomes for an 
observer, is perhaps our most usual state of mind. 
But such an obscurity would be fatal to the present 

(i.) I will take the objections, first, as applying to 
what we have called the categorical sense. Nature 
must be in itself, as we perceive it to be ; and, if so, 
Nature must fall partly beyond finite minds — this is, 
so far, the argument urged against our view. But 
this argument surely would be based upon our mere 
ignorance. For we have seen that organisms unlike 
our own, arrangements pervading and absorbing the 
whole extent of Nature, may very well exist. And 
as to the modes of perception which are possible 
with these organisms, we can lay down no limit. 
But if so, there is no reason why all Nature should 
not be always in relation to finite sentience. Every 
part of it may be now actually, for some other mind, 
precisely what it would be for us, if we happened to 
perceive it And objects invisible like my brain, or 
found only by the microscope, need not cause us to 


hesitate. For we cannot deny that there may be 
some faculty of sense to which at all times they are 
obvious. And the mountains that endure may, for 
all that we know, have been visible always. They 
may have been perceived through their past as we 
perceive them to-day. If we can set no bounds to 
the existence and the powers of sentient beings, the 
objection, so far, has been based on a false assump- 
tion of knowledge. 1 

(ii.) But this line of reply, perhaps, may be carried 
too far. It cannot be refuted, and yet we feel that 
it tends to become extravagant. It may be possible 
that Nature throughout is perceived always, and 
thus always is, as we should perceive it ; but we 
need not rest our whole weight on this assumption. 
Our conclusion will be borne out by something less. 
For beyond the things perceived by sense there ex- 
tends the world of thought. Nature will not merely 
be the region that is presented and also thought of, 
but it will, in addition, include matter which is 
only thought of. Nature will hence be limited solely 
by the range of our intellects. It will be the phy- 
sical universe apprehended in any way whatever by 
finite souls. 

Outside of this boundary there is no Nature. 
We may employ the idea of a pre-organic time, or 
of a physical world from which all sentience has dis- 
appeared. But, with the knowledge that we possess, 
we cannot, even in a relative sense, take this result 
as universal. It could hold only with respect to 
those organisms which we know, and, if carried fur- 
ther, it obviously becomes invalid. And again, such 
a truth, where it is true, can be merely phenomenal. 
For, in any case, there is no history or progress in 
the Absolute (Chapter xxvi). A Nature without 
sentience is, in short, a mere construction for science, 

1 " Tis ignorance that makes a barren waste 
' Of all beyond itself." 

NATURE. 277 

and it possesses a very partial reality. 1 Nor are the 
imperceptibles of physics in any better case. Apart 
from the plain contradictions which prove them to 
be barely phenomenal, their nature clearly exists but 
in relation to thought. For, not being perceived by 
any finite, they are not, as such, perceived at all ; 
and what reality they possess is not sensible, but 
merely abstract. 

Our conclusion then, so far, will be this. Nature 
may extend beyond the region actually perceived by 
the finite, but certainly not beyond the limits of finite 
thought In the Absolute possibly there is a mar- 
gin not contained in finite experiences (Chapter 
xxvii.), but this possible margin cannot properly 
be taken as physical. For, included in Nature, it 
would be qualified by a relation to finite mind. But 
the existence of Nature, as mere thought, at once 
leads to a difficulty. For a physical world, to be 
real, must clearly be sensible. And to exist other- 
wise than for sense is but to exist hypothetically. 
If so, Nature, at least in part, is not actually Nature, 
but merely is what becomes so under certain con- 
ditions. It seems another fact, a something else, 
which indeed we think of, but which, merely in itself 
and merely as we think of it, is not physical reality. 
Thus, on our view, Nature to this extent seems not 
to be fact ; and we shall have been driven, in the 
end, to deny part of its physical existence. 

This conclusion urged against us, I admit, is in 
one sense inevitable. The Nature that is thought 
of, and that we assume not to be perceived by any 
mind, is, in the strict sense, not Nature. 2 Yet 
such a result, rightly interpreted, need cause us no 
trouble. We shall understand it better when we 
have discussed the meaning of conditional existence 
(Chapter xxiv.) ; I will however attempt to deal 

1 See more below, p. 283. 

1 That is, of course, so long as Nature is confined to actual 
physical fact 

2 78 REALITY. 

here with the present difficulty. And what that 
comes to is briefly this. Nature on the one side 
must be actual, and if so, must be sensible ; but, 
upon the other hand, it seems in part to be merely 
intelligible. This is the problem, and the solution 
is that what for us is intelligible only, is more for 
the Absolute. There somehow, we do not know 
how, what we think is perceived. Everything there 
is merged and re-absorbed in an experience intuitive, 
at once and in itself, of both ideas and facts. 

What we merely think is not real, because in 
thinking there is a division of the " what " from the 
" that." But, none the less, every thought gives us 
actual content ; and the presence of that content is 
fact, quite as hard as any possible perception. And 
so the Nature, that is thought of, to that extent does 
exist, and does possess a certain amount of positive 
character. Hence in the Absolute, where all con- 
tent is re- blended with existence, the Nature thought 
of will gain once more an intuitional form. It will 
come together with itself and with other sides of the 
Universe, and will make its special contribution to 
the riches of the Whole. It is not as we think of it, 
it is not as it becomes when in our experience 
thought is succeeded by perception. It is something 
which, only under certain conditions, turns to phy- 
sical fact revealed to our senses. But because in 
the Absolute it is an element of reality, though not 
known, as there experienced, to any finite mind, — 
because, again, we rightly judge it to be physical 
fact, if it became perceived by sense — therefore al- 
ready it is fact, hypothetical but still independent. 
Nature in this sense is not dependent on the fancies 
of the individual, and yet it has no content but what 
is relative to particular minds. We may assume that 
without any addition there is enough matter in these 
centres to furnish a harmonious experience in the 
Absolute. There is no element in that unknown 
unity, which cannot be supplied by the fragmentary 

NATURE. 279 

life of its members. Outside of finite experience 
there is neither a natural world nor any other world 
at all. 1 

But it may be objected that we have now been 
brought into collision with common sense. The 
whole of nature, for common sense, is ; and it is 
what it is, whether any finite being apprehends it or 
not On our view, on the other hand, part of 
the physical world does not, as such, exist. This 
objection is well founded, but I would reply, first, 
that common sense is hardly consistent with itself. 
It would perhaps hesitate, for instance, to place 
sweet and bitter tastes, as such, in the world outside 
of sense. But only the man who will go thus far, 
who believes in colours in the darkness, and sounds 
without an ear, can stand upon this ground. If 
there is any one who holds that flowers blush when 
utterly unseen, and smell delightfully when no one 
delights in their odour — he may object to our 
doctrine and may be invited to state his own. But 
I venture to think that, metaphysically, his view 
would turn out not worth notice. Any serious 
theory must in some points collide with common 
sense ; and, if we are to look at the matter from 
this side, our view surely is, in this way, superior to 
others. For us Nature, through a great part, cer- 
tainly is as it is perceived. Secondary qualities are 
an actual part of the physical world, and the exist- 
ing thing sugar we take to be, itself, actually sweet 
and pleasant Nay the very beauty of Nature, we 
shall find hereafter (Chapter xxvi.), is, for us, fact as 
good as the hardest of primary qualities. Every- 
thing physical, which is seen or felt, or in any way 
experienced or enjoyed, is, on our view, an existing 
part of the region of Nature ; and it is in Nature as 
we experience it. It is only that portion which is 

1 The question whether any part of the contents of the Uni- 
is not contained in finite centres, is discussed in Chapf.. 


but thought of, only that, of which we assume that 
no creature perceives it — which, as such, is not fact. 
Thus, while admitting our collision with common 
sense, I would lay stress upon its narrow extent and 

We have now seen that inorganic Nature perhaps 
does not exist. Though it is possible, we are 
unable to say if it is real. But with regard to 
Nature falling outside all finite subjects our con- 
clusion is different. We failed to discover any 
ground for taking that as real, and, if strictly under- 
stood, we found no right to call it even possible. 
The importance of these questions, on the other 
hand we urged, is overrated. For they all de- 
pend on distinctions which, though not lost, are 
transcended in the Absolute. Whether all percep- 
tion and feeling must pass through finite souls, 
whether any physical qualities stand out and are 
not worked up into organisms — into arrangements 
which directly condition such souls — these enquiries 
are not vital. In part we cannot answer them, 
and in part our reply gives us little that possesses a 
positive value. The interrelation between organ- 
isms, and their division from the inorganic, and, 
again, the separation of finite experiences, from 
each other and from the whole — these are not any- 
thing which, as such, can hold good in the Absolute. 
That one reality, the richer for every variety, 
absorbs and dissolves these phenomenal limita- 
tions. Whether there is a margin of quality not 
directly making part of some particular experience, 
whether, again, there is any physical extension out- 
side the arrangements which immediately subserve 
feeling centres — in the end these questions are but 
our questions. The answers must be given in a 
language without meaning for the Absolute, until 
translated into a way of expression beyond our 
powers. But, if so expressed, we can perceive, 

NATURE. 28l 

they would lose that importance our hard distinc- 
tions confer on them. And, from our own point of 
view, these problems have proved partly to be in- 
soluble. The value of our answers consists mainly 
in their denial of partial and one-sided doctrines. 

There is an objection which, before we proceed, 
may be dealt with. " Upon your view," I may be 
told, " there is really after all no Nature. For 
Nature is one solid body, the images of which are 
many, and which itself remains single. But upon 
your theory we have a number of similar reflec- 
tions ; and, though these may agree among them- 
selves, no real thing comes to light in them. Such 
an appearance will not account for Nature." But 
this objection rests on what must be called a 
thoughtless prejudice. It is founded on the idea 
that identity in the contents of various souls is 
impossible. Separation into distinct centres of feel- 
ing and thought is assumed to preclude all same- 
ness between what falls within such diverse centres. 
But, we shall see more fully hereafter (Chapter 
xxiii.), this assumption is groundless. It is merely 
part of that blind prejudice against identity in 
general which disappears before criticism. That 
which is identical in quality must always, so far, be 
one ; and its division, in time or space or in several 
souls, does not take away its unity. The variety of 
course does make a difference to the identity, and, 
without that difference and these modifications, the 
sameness is nothing. But, on the other hand, to 
take sameness as destroyed by diversity, makes 
impossible all thought and existence alike. It is a 
doctrine, which, if carried out, quite abolishes the 
Universe. Certainly, in the end, to know how the 
one and many are united is beyond our powers. 
But in the Absolute somehow, we are convinced, the 
problem is solved. 

This apparent parcelling out of Nature is but appar- 


ent. On the one side a collection of what falls within 
distinct souls, on the other side it possesses unity in 
the Absolute. Where the contents of the several 
centres all come together, there the appearances of 
Nature of course will be one. And, if we consider 
the question from the side of each separate soul, we 
still can find no difficulty. Nature for each per- 
cipient mainly is what to the percipient it seems to 
be, and it mainly is so without regard to that special 
percipient. And, if this is so, I find it hard to see 
what more is wanted. 1 Of course, so far as any one 
soul has peculiar sensations, the qualities it finds 
will not exist unless in its experience. But I do 
not know why they should do so. And there re- 
mains, I admit, that uncertain extent, through which 
Nature is perhaps not sensibly perceived by any 
soul. This part of Nature exists beyond me, but it 
does not exist as I should perceive it. And we 
saw clearly that, so far, common sense cannot be 
satisfied. But, if this were a valid objection, I do 
not know in whose mouth it would hold good. 2 
And if any one, again, goes on to urge that Nature 
works and acts on us, and that this aspect of force 
is ignored by our theory, we need not answer at 
length. For if ultimate reality is claimed for any 
thing like force, we have disposed, in our First Book, 
of that claim already. But, if all that is meant is a 
certain behaviour ot Nature, with certain conse- 
quences in souls, there is nothing here but a 

1 If Nature' were more in itself, could it be more to us? And 
is it for our sake, or for the sake of Nature, that the objector asks 
for more? Clearness on these points is desirable. 

* It is possible that some follower of Berkeley may urge that 
the whole of Nature, precisely as it is perceived (and felt?), exists 
actually in God. But this by itself is not a metaphysical view. 
It is merely a delusive attempt to do without one. The un- 
rationalized heaping up of such a congeries within the Deity, with 
its (partial ?) reduplication inside finite centres, and then the 
relation between these aspects (or divisions ?) of the whole — this 
is an effort surely not to solve a problem but simply to shelve it. 

NATURE. 283 

phenomenal co-existence and sequence. It is an 
order and way in which events happen, and in our 
view of Nature I see nothing inconsistent with this 
arrangement From the fact of such an orderly 
appearance you cannot infer the existence of some- 
thing not contained in finite experiences. 1 

We may now consider a question which several 
times we have touched on. We have seen that in 
reality there can be no mere physical Nature. The 
world of physical science is not something indepen- 
dent, but is a mere element in one total experience. 
And, apart from finite souls, this physical world, in 
the proper sense, does not exist. But, if so, we are 
led to ask, what becomes of natural science ? 
Nature there is treated as a thing without soul and 
standing by its own strength. And we thus have 
been apparently forced into collision with something 
beyond criticism. But the collision is illusive, and 
exists only through misunderstanding. For the 
object of natural science is not at all the ascertain- 
ment of ultimate truth, and its province does not 
fall outside phenomena. The ideas, with which it 
works, are not intended to set out the true character 
of reality. And, therefore, to subject these ideas to 
metaphysical criticism, or, from the other side, to 
oppose them to metaphysics, is to mistake their end 
and bearing. The question is not whether the 
principles of physical science possess an absolute 
truth to which they make no claim. The question 
is whether the abstraction, employed by that science, 
is legitimate and useful And with regard to that 
question there surely can be no doubt In order to 
understand the co-existence and sequence of phe- 
nomena, natural science makes an intellectual con- 

1 I admit that I cannot explain how Nature comes to us as an 
order (Chapters xxiii. and xxvi.), but then I deny that any other 
view is in any better case. The subject of Ends in Nature will 
be considered later. 


struction of their conditions. Its matter, motion, 
and force are but working ideas, used to understand 
the occurrence of certain events. To find and 
systematize the ways in which spatial phenomena 
are connected and happen — this is all the mark 
which these conceptions aim at. And for the 
metaphysician to urge that these ideas contradict 
themselves, is irrelevant and unfair. To object that 
in the end they are not true, is to mistake their 

And thus when matter is treated of as a thing 
standing in its own right, continuous and identical, 
metaphysics is not concerned. For, in order to 
study the laws of a class of phenomena, these phe- 
nomena are simply regarded by themselves. The 
implication of Nature, as a subordinate element, 
within souls has not been denied, but in practice, 
and for practice, ignored. And, when we hear of a 
time before organisms existed, that, in the first place, 
should mean organisms of the kind that we know ; 
and it should be said merely with regard to one 
part of the Universe. Or, at all events, it is not a 
statement of the actual history of the ultimate Reality, 
but is a convenient method of considering certain 
facts apart from others. And thus, while metaphys- 
ics and natural science keep each to its own busi- 
ness, a collision is impossible. Neither needs 
defence against the other, except through misunder- 

But that misunderstandings on both sides have 

been too often provoked I think no one can deny. 

Too often the science of mere Nature, forgetting its 

own limits and false to its true aims, attempts to 

speak about first principles. It becomes trans- 

scendant, and offers us a dogmatic and uncritical 

. . . 

metaphysics. Thus to assert that, in the history of 

the Universe at large, matter came before mind, is 

to place development and succession within the 

Absolute (Chapter xxvi.), and is to make real outside 

NATURE. 285 

the Whole a mere element in its being. And such a 
doctrine not only is not natural science, but, even 
if we suppose it otherwise to have any value, for 
that science, at least, it is worthless. For assume 
that force matter and motion are more than mere 
working ideas, inconsistent but useful — will they, on 
that assumption, work better ? If you, after all, are 
going to use them solely for the interpretation of 
spatial events, then, if they are absolute truth, that 
is nothing to you. This absolute truth you must in 
any case apply as a mere system of the conditions 
of the occurrence of phenomena ; and for that pur- 
pose anything, which you apply, is the same, if it 
does the same work. But I think the failure of 
natural science (so far as it does fail) to maintain its 
own position, is not hard to understand. It seems 
produced by more than one cause. There is first a 
vague notion that absolute truth must be pursued 
by every kind of special science. There is inability 
to perceive that, in such a science, something less is 
all that we can use, and therefore all that we should 
want. But this unfortunately is not all. For 
metaphysics itself, by its interference with physical 
science, has induced that to act, as it thinks, in self- 
defence, and has led it, in so doing, to become 
metaphysical. And this interference of metaphysics I 
would admit and deplore, as the result and the parent 
of most injurious misunderstanding. Not only have 
there been efforts at construction which have led to 
no positive result, but there have been attacks on 
the sciences which have pushed into abuse a legiti- 
mate function. For, as against natural science, the 
duty of metaphysics is limited. So long as that 
science keeps merely to the sphere of phenomena 
and the laws of their occurrence, metaphysics has 
no right to a single word of criticism. Criticism 
begins when what is relative — mere ways of appear- 
ance — is, unconsciously or consciously, offered as 
more. And I do not doubt that there are doctrines, 


now made use of in science, which on this ground 
invite metaphysical correction, and on which it 
might here be instructive to dwell. But for want 
of competence and want of space, and, more than 
all perhaps from the fear of being misunderstood, I 
think it better to pass on. There are further ques- 
tions about Nature more important by far for our 
general enquiry. 

Is the extended world one, and, if so, in what 
sense? We discussed, in Chapter xviii., the unity 
of time, and it is needful to recall the conclu- 
sion we reached. We agreed that all times have 
a unity in the Absolute, but, when we asked if that 
unity itself must be temporal, our answer was negat- 
ive. We found that the many time-series are not 
related in time. They do not make parts of one 
series and whole of succession ; but, on the contrary, 
their interrelation and unity falls outside of time. 
And, in the case of extension, the like considerations 
produce a like result. The physical world is not 
one in the sense of possessing a physical unity. 
There may be any number of material worlds, not 
related in space, and by consequence not exclusive 
of, and repellent to, each other. 

It appears, at first, as if all the extended was part 
of one space. For all spaces, and, if so, all material 
objects, seem spatially related. And such an inter- 
relation would, of course, make them members in 
one extended whole. But this belief, when we re- 
flect, begins instantly to vanish. Nature in my 
dreams (for example) possesses extension, and yet 
spatially it is not one with my physical world. And 
in imagination and in thought we have countless 
existences, material and extended, which stand in no 
spatial connection with each other or with the world 
which I perceive. And it is idle to reply that these 
bodies and their arrangements are unreal, unless we 
are sure of the sense which we give to reality. For 

NATURE. 287 

that these all exist is quite clear ; and, if they have 
not got extension, they are all able, at least, to 
appear with it and to show it. Their extension and 
their materiality is, in short, a palpable fact, while, 
on the other hand, their several arrangements are 
not inter-related in space. And, since in the Abso- 
lute these, of course, possess a unity, we must 
conclude that the unity is not material. In coming 
together their extensional character is transmuted. 
There are a variety of spatial systems, independent 
of each other, and each changed beyond itself, when 
absorbed in the one non-spatial system. Thus, with 
regard to their unity, Space and Time have similar 
characters (pp. 210-214). 

That which for ordinary purposes I call "real" 
Nature, is the extended world so far as related to 
my body. What forms a spatial system with that 
body has " real " extension. But even V my body " 
is ambiguous, for the body, which I imagine, may 
have no spatial relation to the body which I per- 
ceive. And perception too can be illusive, for my own 
body in dreams is not the same thing with my true 
" real " body, nor does it enter with it into any one 
spatial arrangement. And what in the end I mean 
by my "real" body, seems to be this. I make a 
spatial construction from my body, as it comes to 
me when awake. This and the extended which 
will form a single system of spatial relations together 
with this, I consider as real. 1 And whatever exten- 
sion falls outside of this one system of interrelation, 

1 With regard to the past and future of my " real ■ body and 
us "real" world, it is hard to say whether, and in what sense, 
these are supposed to have spatial connection with the present 
What we commonly think on this subject is, I should say, a mere 
of inconsistency. There is another point, on which it would 
be interesting to develope the doctrine of the text, by asking how 
we distinguish our waking state. But an answer to this question 
is, I think, not called for here. I have also not referred to in- 
sanity and other abnormal states. But their bearing here is 


I set down as "imaginary." And, as a mere 
subordinate point of view, this may do very well. 
But it is quite another thing on such a ground to 
deny existence in the Absolute to every other spatial 
system. For we have the " imaginary " extension 
on our hands as a fact which remains, and which 
should cause us to hesitate. And, when we reflect, 
we see clearly that a variety of physical arrange- 
ments may exist without anything like spatial inter- 
relation. They will have their unity in the Whole, 
but no connections in space each outside its own 
proper system of matter. And Nature therefore 
cannot properly be called a single world, in the 
sense of possessing a spatial unity. 

Thus we might have any number of physical 
systems, standing independent of spatial relations 
with each other. And we may go on from this to 
consider another point of interest. Such diverse 
worlds of matter might to any extent still act on 
and influence one another. But, to speak strictly, 
they could not inter-penetrate at any point. Their 
interaction, however intimate, could not be called 
penetration ; though, in itself and in its effects, it 
might involve a closer unity. Their spaces always 
would remain apart, and spatial contact would be 
impossible. But inside each world the case, as to 
penetration, might be different. The penetration of 
1/*f ^ one thing by another might there even be usual ; 
and I will try to show briefly that this presents no 

The idea of a Nature made up of solid matter, 
interspaced with an absolute void, has been inherited, 
I presume, from Greek metaphysics. And, I think, 
for the most part we hardly realize how entirely this 
view lies at the mercy of criticism. I am speaking, 
not of physics and the principles employed by 
physics, but of what may be called the metaphysics 
of the literary market-place. And the notion com- 

NATURE. 289 

mon there, that one extended thing cannot penetrate 
another, rests mainly on prejudice. For whether 
matter, conceivably and possibly, can enter into 
matter or not, depends entirely on the sense in 
which matter is taken. Penetration means the abol- 
ition of spatial distinction, and we may hence define 
matter in such a way that, with loss of spatial dis- 
tinction, itself would be abolished. If, that is to 
say, pieces of matter are so one thing with their 
extensions as, apart from these, to keep no indi- 
vidual difference — then these pieces obviously can- 
not penetrate; but, otherwise, they may. This 
seems to me clear, and I will go on to explain it 

It is certain first of all that two parts of one 
space cannot penetrate each other. For, though 
these two parts must have some qualities beside 
their mere extension (Chapter iii.), such bare qualities 
are not enough. Even if you suppose that a change 
has forced both sets of qualities to belong to one 
single extension, you will after all have not got two 
extended things in one. For you will not have 
two extended things, since one will have vanished. 
And, hence, penetration, implying the existence of 
both, has become a word without meaning. But 
the case is altered, if we consider two pieces of some 
element more concrete than space. Let us assume 
with these, first, that their other qualities, which 
serve to divide and distinguish them, still depend 
on extension — then, so far, these things still cannot 
penetrate each other. For, as before, in the one 
space you would not have two things, since (by the 
assumption) one thing has lost separate existence. 
But now the whole question is whether with matter 
this assumption is true, whether in Nature, that is, 
qualities are actually so to be identified with exten- 
sion. And, for myself, I find no reason to think 
that this is so. If in two parts of one extended 
there are distinctions sufficient to individualize, and 

a. r. u 


to keep these two things still two, when their separate 
spaces are gone — then clearly these two things may 
be compenetrable. For penetration is the survival 
of distinct existence notwithstanding identification 
in space. And thus the whole question really turns 
on the possibility of such a survival. Cannot, in 
other words, two things still be two, though their 
extensions have become one ? 

We have no right then (until this possibility is 

Aw' & ot r ^ °0 to ta ^ e tne P arts °f eacn physical world 
*> as essentially exclusive. We may without contra- 
^4|* f diction consider bodies as not resisting other bodies. 
We may take them as standing towards one another, 
under certain conditions, as relative vacua, and as 
freely compenetrable. And, if in this way we gain 
no positive advantage, we at least escape from the 
absurdity, and even the scandal, of an absolute 
vacuum. 1 

We have seen that, except in the Absolute in 
which Nature is merged, we have no right to assert 
that all Nature has unity. I will now add a few 
words on some other points which may call for ex- 
planation. We may be asked, for example, whether 
Nature is finite or infinite ; and we may first en- 
deavour to clear our ideas on this subject. There 
is of course, as we know, a great difficulty on either 
side. If Nature is infinite, we have the absurdity 
of a something which exists, and still does not exist. 
For actual existence is, obviously, all finite. But, 

1 I would repeat that in the above remarks I am not trying to 
say anything against the ideas used in physics, and against the 
apparent attempt there to compromise between something and 
nothing. In a phenomenal science it is obvious that no more 
than a relative vacuum is wanted. More could not possibly be 
used, supposing that in fact more existed. In any case for meta- 
physics an absolute vacuum is nonsense. Like a mere piece of 
empty Time, it is a sheer self-contradiction ; for it presupposes 
certain internal distin< lions, and then in the same breath denies 

NATURE. 291 

on the other hand, if Nature is finite, then Nature 
must have an end ; and this again is impossible. 
For a limit of extension must be relative to exten- 
sion beyond. And to fall back on empty space, will 
not help us at all. For this (itself a mere absurdity) 
repeats the dilemma in an aggravated form. It is 
itself both something and nothing, is essentially 
limited and yet, on the other side, without end. 

But we cannot escape the conclusion that Nature 
is infinite. And this will be true not of our physical 
system alone, but of every other extended world 
which can possibly exist. None is limited but by 
an end over which it is constantly in the act of pass- 
ing. Nor does this hold only with regard to present 
existence, for the past and future of these worlds has 
also no fixed boundary in space. Nor, once again, is 
this a character peculiar to the extended. Any finite 
whole, with its incomplete conjunction of qualities 
and relations, entails a process of indefinite tran- 
sition beyond its limits as a consequence. But with 
the extended, more than anything, this self-trans- 
cendence is obvious. Every physical world is, 
essentially and necessarily, infinite. 

But, in saying this, we do not mean that, at any 
given moment, such worlds possess more than a 
given amount of existence. Such an assertion once 
again would have no meaning. It would be once 
more the endeavour to be something and yet nothing, 
and to find an existence which does not exist. And 
thus we are forced to maintain that every Nature 
must be finite. The dilemma stares us in the face, 
and brings home to us the fact that all Nature, as 
such, is an untrue appearance. It is the way in 
which a mere part of the Reality shows itself, a way 
essential and true when taken up into and trans- 
muted by a fuller totality, but, considered by itself, 
inconsistent and lapsing beyond its own being. The 
essence of the relative is to have and to come to an 
end, but, at the same time, to end always in a self- 


contradiction. Again the infinity of Nature, its 
extension beyond all limits, we might call Nature's 
effort to end itself as Nature. It shows in this its 
ideality, its instability and transitoriness, and its 
constant passage of itself into that which trans- 
cends it. In its isolation as a phenomenon Nature 
is both finite and infinite, and so proclaims itself 
untrue. And, when this contradiction is solved, 
both its characters disappear into something beyond 
both. And it is perhaps not necessary to dwell 
further on the infinity of Nature. 

And, passing next to the question of what is 
called Uniformity, I shall dismiss this almost at 
once. For there is, in part, no necessity for meta- 
physics to deal with it, and, in part, we must return 
to it in the following chapter. But, however uni- 
formity is understood, in the main we must be 
sceptical, and stand aloof. I do not see how it can 
be shown that the amount of matter and motion, 
whether in any one world or in all, remains always 
the same. Nor do I understand how we can know 
that any world remains the same in its sensible 
qualities. As long as, on the one side, the Absolute 
preserves its identity, and, on the other side, the 
realms of phenomena remain in order, all our postul- 
ates are satisfied. This order in the world need 
not mean that, in each Nature, the same characters 
remain. It implies, in the first place, that all changes 
are subject to the identity of the one Reality. But 
that by itself seems consistent with almost indefinite 
variation in the several worlds. And, in the second 
place, order must involve the possibility of experience 
in finite subjects. Order, therefore, excludes all 
change which would make each world unintelligible 
through want of stability. But this stability, in the 
end, does not seem to require more than a limited 
amount of identity, existing from time to time in 
the sensations which happen. And, thirdly, in 

NATURE. 293 

phenomenal sequence the law of Causation must 
remain unbroken. But this, again, comes to very 
little. For the law of Causation does not assert 
that in existence we have always the same causes 
and effects. It insists only that, given one, we must 
inevitably have the other. And thus the Uniformity 
of Nature cannot warrant the assumption that the 
world of sense is uniform. Its guarantee is in that 
respect partly non-existent, and partly hypothetical. 1 

There are other questions as to Nature which will 
engage us later on, and we may here bring the 
present chapter to a close. We have found that 
Nature by itself has no reality. It exists only as a 
form of appearance within the Absolute. In its 
isolation from that whole of feeling and experience 
it is an untrue abstraction ; and in life this narrow 
view of Nature (as we saw) is not consistently 
maintained. But, for physical science, the separa- 
tion of one element from the whole is both justifi- 
able and necessary. In order to understand the co- 
existence and sequence of phenomena in space, the 
conditions of these are made objects of independent 
study. But to take such conditions for hard reali- 
ties standing by themselves, is to deviate into 
uncritical and barbarous metaphysics. 

Nature apart from and outside of the Absolute is 
nothing. It has its being in that process of intestine 
division, through which the whole world of appear- 
ance consists. And in this realm, where aspects fall 
asunder, where being is distinguished from thought, 
and the self from the not- self, Nature marks one 
extreme. It is the aspect most opposed to self- 
dependence and unity. It is the world of those 
particulars which stand furthest from possessing 
individuality, and we may call it the region of 
externality and chance. Compulsion from the out- 

1 For a further consideration of these points see Chapter x\in. 


side, and a movement not their own, is the law of 
its elements ; and its events seem devoid of an in- 
ternal meaning. To exist and to happen, and yet 
not to realize an end, or as a member to subserve 
some ideal whole, we saw (Chapter xix.) was to be 
contingent. And in the mere physical world the 
nearest approach to this character can be found. 
But we can deal better with such questions in a 
later context. We shall have hereafter to discuss 
the connection of soul with body, and the existence 
:>f a system of ends in Nature. The work of this 
chapter has been done, if we have been able to show 
the subordination of Nature as one element within 
the Whole. 



With the subject of this chapter we seem to have 
arrived at a hopeless difficulty. The relation of 
body to soul presents a problem which experience 
seems to show is really not soluble. And I may say 
at once that I accept and endorse this result. It 
seems to me impossible to explain how precisely, in 
the end, these two forms of existence stand one to 
the other. But in this inability I find a confirmation 
of our general doctrine as to the nature of Reality. 
For body and soul are mere appearances, distinc- 
tions set up and held apart in the Whole. And 
fully to understand the relation between them would 
be, in the end, to grasp how they came together into 
one. And, since this is impossible for our know- 
ledge, any view about their connection remains im- 

But this failure to comprehend gives no ground 
for an objection against our Absolute. It is no dis- 
proof of a theory (I must repeat this) that, before 
some questions as to " How," it is forced to remain 
dumb. For you do not throw doubt on a view till 
you find inconsistency. If the general account is 
such that it is bound to solve this or that problem, 
then such a problem, left outside, is a serious objec- 
tion. And things are still worse where there are 
aspects which positively collide with the main con- 
clusion. But neither of these grounds of objection 
holds good against ourselves. Upon the view 
which we have found to be true of the Absolute, we 


can see how and why some questions cannot possibly 
be answered. And in particular this relation of 
body and soul offers nothing inconsistent with our 
general doctrine. My principal object here will be 
to make this last point good. And we shall find 
that neither body nor soul, nor the connection 
between them, can furnish any ground of objection 
against our Absolute. 

The difficulties, which have arisen, are due mainly 
to one cause. Body and soul have been set up as 
independent realities. They have been taken to be 
things, whose kinds are different, and which have 
existence each by itself, and each in its own right. 
And then, of course, their connection becomes in- 
comprehensible, and we strive in vain to see how 
one can influence the other. And at last, disgusted 
by our failure, we perhaps resolve to deny wholly 
the existence of this influence. We may take refuge 
in two series of indifferent events, which seem to 
affect one another while, in fact, merely running 
side by side. And, because their conjunction can 
scarcely be bare coincidence, we are driven, after 
all, to admit some kind of connection. The connec- 
tion is now viewed as indirect, and as dependent on 
something else to which both series belong. But, 
Wx.ile each side retains its reality and self-subsist- 
ence, they, of course, cannot come together ; and, 
on the other hand, if they come together, it is be- 
cause they have been transformed, and are not 
things, but appearances. Still this last is a con- 
clusion for which many of us are not prepared. If 
soul and body are not two " things," the mistake, 
we fancy, has lain wholly on the side of the soul. 
For the body at all events seems a thing, while the 
soul is unsubstantial. And so, dropping influence 
altogether, we make the soul a kind of adjective 
supported by the body. Or, since, after all, adjec- 
tives must qualify their substantives, we turn the 
soul into a kind of immaterial secretion, ejected and, 


because "out," making no difference to the organ. 
Nor do we always desert this view when u matter " 
has itself been discovered to be merely phenomenal. 
It is common first to admit that body is mere 
sensation and idea, and still to treat it as wholly 
independent of the soul, while the soul remains its 
non-physical and irrelevant secretion. 

But I shall make no attempt to state the various 
theories as to the nature and relations of body and 
soul, and I shall not criticise in detail views, from 
most of which we could learn nothing. It will be 
clear at once, from the results of preceding chapters, 
that neither body nor soul can be more than appear- 
ance. And I will attempt forthwith to point out 
the peculiar nature of each, and the manner in which 
they are connected with, and influence, each other. 
It would be useless to touch the second question, 
until we have endeavoured to get our minds clear 
on the first 

What is a body ? In our last cnapter we have 
anticipated the answer. A body is a part of the 
physical world, and we have seen that Nature by 
itself is wholly unreal. It was an aspect of the 
Whole, set apart by abstraction, and, for some pur- 
poses, taken as independent reality. So that, in 
saying that a body is one piece of Nature, we have 
at once pointed out that it is no more than appear- 
ance. It is an intellectual construction out of 
material which is not self-subsistont. This is its 
general character as physical ; but, as to the special 
position given to the organic by natural science, I 
prefer to say nothing. It is, for us, an (undefined) 
arrangement possessing temporal continuity, 1 and a 
certain amount of identity in quality, the degree 
and nature of which last I cannot attempt to fix. 

1 I shall have to say something more on this point lower down. 
The bodies which wc know have also continuity in space. Whether 
this is essential will be discussed hereafter. 


And I think, for metaphysics, it is better also to 
make relation to a soul essential for a body (Chapter 
xxii.). But what concerns us at this moment is, 
rather, to insist on its phenomenal character. The 
materials, of which it is made, are inseparably 
implicated with sensation and feeling. They are 
divorced from this given whole by a process, 
which is necessary, but yet is full of contradictions. 
The physical world, taken as separate, involves the 
relation of unknown to unknown, and of these make- 
shift materials the particular body is built. It is a 
construction riddled by inconsistencies, a working 
point of view, which is of course quite indispensable, 
but which cannot justify a claim to be more than 

And the soul is clearly no more self-subsistent 
than the body. It is, on its side also, a purely 
phenomenal existence, an appearance incomplete 
and inconsistent, and with no power to maintain 
itself as an independent " thing." The criticism of 
our First Book has destroyed every claim of the 
self to be, or to correspond to, true reality. And 
the only task here before us is, accepting this result, 
to attempt to fix clearly the meaning of a soul. I 
will first make a brief statement, and then endeavour 
to explain it and to defend it against objections. 
The soul 1 is a finite centre of immediate experience, 
possessed of a certain temporal continuity of exist- 
ence, and again of a certain identity in character. 
And the word " immediate " is emphatic. The 
soul is a particular group of psychical events, so far 
as these events are taken merely as happening in 
time. It excludes consideration of their content, so 
far as this content (whether in thought or volition or 
feeling) qualifies something beyond the serial exist- 
ence of these events. Take the whole experience of 

1 Cp. Mind, XII. 355 (No. 47). 


any moment, one entire " this- now," as it comes, 
regard that experience as changed and as continued 
in time, consider its character solely as happening, 
and, again, as further influencing the course of its 
own changes — this is perhaps the readiest way of 
defining a soul. 1 But I must endeavour to draw 
this out, and briefly to explain it. 

It is not enough to be clear that the soul is pheno- 
menal, in the sense of being something which, as 
such, fails to reach true reality. For, unless we 
perceive to some extent how it stands towards other 
sides of the Universe, we are likely to end in com- 
plete bewilderment. And a frequent error is to 
define what is " psychical " so widely as to exclude 
any chance of a rational result For all objects and 
aims, which come before me, are in one sense the 
states of my soul. Hence, if this sense is not ex- 
cluded, my body and the whole world become 
" psychical " phenomena ; and amid this confusion 
my soul itself seeks an unintelligible place as one 
state of itself. What is most important is to dis- 
tinguish the soul's existence from what fills it, and 
yet there are few points, perhaps, on which neglect 
is more common. And we may bring the question 
home thus. If we were to assume (Chapter xxvii.) 
that in the Universe there is nothing beyond souls, 
still within these souls the same problem would call 
for solution. We should still have to find a place 
for the existence of soul, as distinct both from body 
and from other aspects of the world. 

It may assist us in perceiving both what the soul 
is, and again what it is not, if we view the question 
from two sides. Let us look at it, first, from the 
experience of an individual person, and then, after- 
wards, let us consider the same thing from outside, 

1 I have for the moment excluded relation to a body. It is 
better not to define the soul as "the farts immediately experi- 
enced within one organism " for several reasons. I shall return 
to this point. 


and from the ground of an admitted plurality of 

If then, beginning from within, I take my whole 
given experience at any one moment, and if I regard 
a single "this-now," as it comes in feeling and is 
" mine," — may I suppose that in this I have found 
my true soul ? Clearly not so, for (to go no farther) 
such existence is too fleeting. My soul (I should 
reply) is not merely the something of one moment, 
but it must endure for a time and must preserve its 
self-sameness. I do not mean that it must itself be 
self-conscious of identity, for that assertion would 
carry us too far on the other side. And as to the 
amount of continuity and of self-same character 
which is wanted, I am saying nothing here. I shall 
touch later on both these questions, so far as is 
necessary, and for the present will confine myself to 
the general result. The existence of a soul must 
endure through more than one presentation ; and 
hence experience, if immediate and given and not 
transcending the moment, is less than my soul. 

But if, still keeping to " experience," we take it 
in another sense, we none the less are thwarted. 
For experience now is as much too wide as before it 
was too narrow. The whole contents of my ex- 
perience — it makes no difference here whether I 
myself or another person considers them — cannot 
possibly be my soul, unless my soul is to be as large 
as the total Universe. For other bodies and souls, 
and God himself, are (so far as I know them) all 
states of my mind, and in this sense make part of 
my particular being. And we are led at once to 
the distinction, which we noticed before (Chapter 
xxi.), between the diverse aspects of content and 
of psychical existence. Our experience in short is, 
essentially and very largely, ideal. It shows an ideal 
process which, beginning from the unity of feeling, 
produces the differences of self and not-self, and 
separates the divisions of the world from themselves 


and from me. 1 All this wealth, that is, subsists 
through a divorce between the sides of existence 
and character. What is meant by any one of the 
portions of my world is emphatically not a mere fact 
of experience. If you take it there, as it exists 
there, it always is something, but this something can 
never be the object in question. We may use 
as an example (if you please) my horse or my own 
body. Both of these must, for me at least, be 
nothing but " experience " ; for, what I do not " ex- 
perience," to me must be nothing. And, if you push 
home the question as to their given existence, you can 
find it nowhere except in a state of my soul. When 
I perceive them, or think of them, there is, so far, no 
discoverable "fact" outside of my psychical condition. 
But such a " fact " is for me not the " fact " of my 
horse or, again, of my body. Their true existence 
is not that which is present in my mind, but rather, 
as perhaps we should say, present to it. Their ex- 
istence is a content which works apart from, and is 
irreconcilable with, its own psychical being ; it is a 
"what" discrepant with, and transcending its "that." 
We may put it shortly by saying that the true fact 
is fact, only so far as it is ideal. Hence the Universe 
and its objects must not be called states of my soul. 
Indeed it would be better to affirm that these objects 
exist, so far as the psychical states do not exist. For 
such experience of objects is possible, only so far 
as the meaning breaks loose from the given existence, 
and has, so regarded, broken this existence in pieces. 
And we may state the conclusion thus. If my 
psychical state does not exist, then the object is 
destroyed ; but, again, unless my state could, as 
such, perish, no object would exist. The two sides 
of fact, and of content working loose from that fact, 
are essential to each other. But the essence of the 
second is disruption of a "what" from a " that," 

1 I have tried to sketch the main development in Afittd, 
as referred to above. 


while in the union of these aspects the former has its 

The soul is not the contents which appear in its 
states, but, on the other hand, without them it would 
not be itself. For it is qualified essentially by the 
presence of these contents. Thus a man, we may say, 
is not what he thinks of; and yet he is the man he 
is, because of what he thinks of. And the ideal 
processes of the content have necessarily an aspect 
of psychical change. Those connections, which have 
nothing which is personal to myself, cause a sequence 
of my states when they happen within me. Thus a 
principle, of logic or morality, works in my mind. 
This principle is most certainly not a part of my 
soul, and yet it makes a great difference to the 
sequence of my states. I shall hereafter return to 
this point, but it would belong to psychology to 
develope the subject in detail. We should have 
there to point out, and to classify, the causes which 
affect the succession of psychical phenomena. 1 It is 
enough here to have laid stress on an essential 
distinction. Ideal contents appear in, and affect, 
my existence, but still, for all that, we cannot call 
them my soul. 

We have now been led to two results. The soul is 
certainly not all that which is present in experience, 
nor, on the other hand, can it consist in mere expe- 
rience itself, It cannot be actual feeling, or that im- 
mediate unity of quality and being which comes in the 
"this" (Chapter xix.). The soul is not these things, 
and we must now try to say what it is. It is one of 
these same personal centres, not taken at an instant, 
but regarded as a " thing." It is a feeling whole 
which is considered to continue in time, and to 
maintain a certain sameness. And the soul is, 
therefore, not presented fact, but is an ideal con- 
struction which transcends what is given. It is 

1 I have said something on this in Mind, XII. 362-3. 


emphatically the result of an ideal process ; but this 
process, on the other hand, has been arbitrarily 
arrested at a very low point. Take a fleeting 
moment of your " given," and then, from the basis 
of a personal identity of feeling, enlarge this moment 
by other moments and build up a M thing/' Idealize 
"experience," so as to make its past one reality 
with its present, and so as to give its history a place 
in the fixed temporal order. Resolve its contingency 
enough to view it as a series of events, which have 
causal connections both without and within. But, 
having gone so far, pause, and call a halt to your 
process, or, having got to a soul, you will be hurried 
beyond it. And, to keep your soul, you must 
remain fixed in a posture of inconsistency. For, 
like every other " thing " in time, the soul is essen- 
tially ideal. It has transcended the given moment, 
and has spread out its existence beyond that which 
is " actual" or could ever be experienced. And by 
its relations and connections of coexistence and 
sequence, and by its subjection to " laws," it has 
raised itself into the world of eternal verity. But 
to persist in this process of life would be suicide. 
Its advance would force you to lose hold altogether 
on " existence," and, with that loss, to forfeit indi- 
vidual selfness. And hence, on the other side, the 
soul clings to its being in time, and still reaches 
after the unbroken unity of content with reality. 
Its contents, therefore, are allowed only to qualify 
the series of temporal events. And this result is a 
mere compromise. Hence the soul persists through 
a contrivance, and through the application of matter 
to a particular purpose. And, because this applica- 
tion is founded on and limited by no principle, the 
soul in the end must be judged to be rooted in 
artifice. It is a series, which depends on i 
transcendence, and yet desires to be taken as sensible 
fact. And its inconsistency is now made man 
in its use of its contents. These (we have seen) are 


as wide as tne Universe itself, and, on this account, 
they are unable to qualify the soul. And yet, on 
the other hand, they must do so, if the soul is to 
have the quality which makes it itself. Hence these 
contents must be taken from one side of their being, 
and the other side, for a particular end, is struck 
out. In order for the soul to exist, "experience" 
must be mutilated. It must be regarded so far as it 
makes a difference to that series of events which is 
taken as a soul; it must be considered yxsX. to that ex- 
tent to which it serves as the adjective of a temporal 
series — serves to make the " thisness " of the series 
of. a certain kind, and to modify its past and its future 
" thisness." But, beyond this, experience is taken 
merely to be present to the soul and operative within 
it. And the soul exists precisely so far as the ab- 
straction is maintained. Its life endures only so long 
as a particular purpose holds. And thus it consists 
in a convenient but one-sided representation of facts, 
and has no claim to be more than a useful appear- 

In brief, because the existence of the soul is not 
experienced and not given, because it is made by, 
and consists in, transcendence of the " present," 
and because its content is obviously never one 
with its being, its "what" always in flagrant dis- 
crepancy with its " that " — therefore its whole posi- 
tion is throughout inconsistent and untenable. It is 
an arrangement natural and necessary, but for all 
that phenomenal and illusive, a makeshift, valuable 
but still not genuine reality. And, looked at by 
itself, the soul is an abstraction and mutilation. It 
is the arbitrary use of material for a particular pur- 
pose. And it persists only by refusing to see more 
in itself than subserves its own existence. 

It may be instructive, before we go on, to regard 
the same question from the side of the Absolute. 
Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that in 


the Whole there is no material which is not a state 
of some soul (Chapter xxvii). From this we 
might be tempted to conclude that these souls are 
the Reality, or at least must be real. But that 
conclusion would be false, for the souls would fall 
within the realm of appearance and error. They 
would be, but, as such, they would not have reality. 
They would require a resolution and a re-composi- 
tion, in which their individualities would be trans- 
muted and absorbed (Chapter xvi.). For we have 
seen that the Absolute is the union of content and 
existence. It stands at a level above, and com- 
prehending, those distinctions and relations in which 
the imperfect unity of feeling is dissipated. Let us 
then take the indefinite plurality of the " this-nows," 
or immediate experiences, as the basis and starting- 
point, and, on the other side, let us take the Absolute 
as the end, and let us view the region between as a 
process from the first to the second. It will be a 
field of struggle in which content is divorced from, 
and strives once more towards, unity with being. 
Our assumption in part will be false, since (as we 
have seen) the immediately given is already incon- 
sistent. 1 But, in order to instruct ourselves, let us 
suppose here that the u fact " of experience is real, 
and that, above it once more, the Absolute gains 
higher reality — still where is the soul ? The soul is 
not immediate experience, for that comes given at 
one moment ; and the soul still less can be the 
perfected union of all being and content. This is 
obvious, and, if so, the soul must fall in the middle- 
space of error and appearance. It is the ideal 
manufacture of one extreme with a view to reach 
the other, a manufacture suspended at a very low 
stage, and suspended on no defensible ground. 
The plurality of souls in the Absolute is, therefore, 
appearance, and their existence is not genuine. But 

1 Compare Chapters xv., xix., xxi. 
A. R. X 


because the upward struggle of the content to ideal 
perfection, having made these souls, still rises both 
in them and above them, they, in themselves, are 
nearer the level of the lower reality. The first and 
transitory union of existence and content is, with 
souls, less profoundly broken up and destroyed. 
And hence souls, taken as things with a place in 
the time-series, are said to be facts and actually to 
exist. Nay on their existence, in a sense, all reality 
depends. For the higher process is carried on in a 
special relation with these lower results ; and thus, 
while moving in its way, it affects the souls in their 
way ; and thus everything happens in souls, and 
everything is their states. And this arrangement 
seems necessary ; but on the other hand, if we view 
it from the side of the Absolute, it is plainly self- 
inconsistent. To gain consistency and truth it must 
be merged, and recomposed in a result in which 
its specialty must vanish. Souls, like their bodies, 
are, as such, nothing more than appearance. 

And, that we may realize this more clearly, we find 
ourselves turning in a circular maze. Just as the 
body was for Nature, and upon the other hand 
Nature merely through relation to a body, so in a 
different fashion it is with the soul. For thought is 
a state of souls, and therefore is made by them, 
while, upon its side, the soul is a product of thought. 
The "thing," existing in time and possessor of 
11 states," is made what it is by ideal construction. 
But this construction itself appears to depend on a 
psychical centre, and to exist merely as its " state." 
And such a circle seems vicious. Again, the body 
is dependent on the soul, for the whole of its 
material comes by way of sensation, and its identity 
is built up by ideal construction. And yet this 
manufacture takes place as an event in a soul, a soul 
which, further, exists only in relation to a body. 1 

1 I am not denying here the possibility of soul without body. 
See below, p. 340. 


But, where we move in circles like these, and where, 
pushing home our enquiries, we can find nothing but 
the relation of unknown to unknown — the conclusion 
is certain. We are in the realm of appearance, of 
phenomena made by disruption of content from 
being, arrangements which may represent, but which 
are not, reality. Such ways of understanding are 
forced on us by the nature of the Universe, and 
assuredly they possess their own worth for the 
Absolute (Chapter xxiv.). But, as themselves and 
as they come to us, they are no less certainly 
appearance. So far as we know them, they are but 
inconsistent constructions ; and, beyond our know- 
ledge, they are forthwith beyond themselves. The 
underlying and superior reality in each case we have 
no right to call either a body or a soul. For, in be- 
coming more, each loses its title to that name. 
The body and soul are, in brief, phenomenal arrange- 
ments, which take their proper place in the con- 
structed series of events ; and, in that character, they 
are both alike defensible and necessary. But neither 
is real in the end, each is merely phenomenal, and 
one has no title to fact which is not owned by the 

We have seen, so far, that soul and body are, 
each alike, phenomenal constructions, and we must 
next go on to point out the connection between 
them. But, in order to clear the ground, I will first 
attempt to dispose of several objections, (i) It will 
be urged against the phenomenal view of the soul 
that, upon this, the soul loses independent existence. 
If it is no more than a series of psychical events, it 
becomes an appendage to the permanent body. For 
a psychical series, we shall be told, has no inherent 
bond of continuity ; nor is it, even as a matter of fact, 
continuous ; nor, again, does it offer anything of 
which we can predicate "dispositions/ 1 Hence, if 
phenomenal, the soul sinks to be an adjective of the 


body. (2) And, from another side, we shall hear it 
argued that the psychical series demands, as its 
condition, a transcendent soul or Ego, and indeed 
without this is unintelligible. (3) And, in the third 
place, we may be assured that some psychical fact 
is given which contains more than phenomena, and 
that hence the soul has by us been defined erron- 
eously. I must endeavour to say something on 
these objections in their order. 

1. I shall have to show lower down that it is 
impossible to treat soul as the bare adjective of body, 
and I shall therefore say nothing on that point at 
present. " But why," I may be asked, " not at least 
assist yourself with the body ? Why strain your- 
self to define the soul in mere psychical terms ? 
Would it not be better to call a soul those psychical 
facts from time to time experienced within one 
organism ? " I am forced to reply in the negative. 
Such a definition would, in psychology, perhaps not 
take us wrong, but, for all that, it remains incorrect 
and indefensible. For, with lower organisms es- 
pecially, it is not so easy to fix the limits of a 
single organism. And, again further, we might 
perhaps wish to define the organism by its relation 
to a single soul ; and, if so, we should have fallen 
into a vicious circle. Nor is it, once more, even 
certain that the identities of soul and of body coin- 
cide. We, I presume, are not sure that one soul 
might not have a succession of bodies. And, in any 
case, we certainly do not know that one organism can 
be organic to no more than one soul. There might 
be more than one psychical centre at one time 
within the same body, and several bodies might be 
organs to a higher unknown soul. And, even if we 
disregard these possibilities as merely theoretical, we 
have still to deal with the facts of mental disease. 
It seems at best doubtful if in some cases the soul 
can be said to have continuous unity, or if it ought 
strictly to be called single. And then, finally, there 


remains the question, to which we shall return, 
whether an organism is necessary in all cases for 
the existence of a soul. We have perhaps with 
this justified our refusal to introduce body into our 
definition of soul. 1 

But without this introduction what becomes of the 
soul ? " What," we shall be asked, " at any time can 
you say that the soul is, more especially at those times 
when nothing psychical exists ? And where will you 
place the dispositions and acquired tendencies of 
the soul ? For, in the first place, the psychical series 
is not unbroken, and, in the second place, dispositions 
are not psychical events. Are you then not forced 
back to the body as the one continuous substrate ? " 
This is a serious objection, and, though our answer 
to it may prove sufficient, I think no answer can 
quite satisfy. 

I must begin by denying a principle, or, as it 
seems to me, a prejudice with regard to continuity. 
Real existence (we must allow) either is or is not ; 
and hence I agree also that, if in time, it cannot 
cease and reappear, and that it must, therefore, be 
continuous. But, on the other hand, we have proved 
that reality does not exist in time, but only appears 
there. What we find in time is mere appearance ; 
and with regard to appearance I know no reason 
why it should not cease and reappear without for 

1 I may be allowed to say here why I think such phrases as 
11 individual," or " individualistic point of view," cannot serve to 
fix the definition of " soul." To regard a centre of experience 
from an individualistic point of view may mean to view it as a 
series of psychical events. But if so, the meaning is only meant, 
and is certainly not stated. And the term "individual" sins by 
excess as well as by defect. For it may stand for " Monad " or 
11 Ego " ; and in this case the soul is at once more than pheno- 
menal, and we have on our hands the relation of its plurality to 
the one Monad — a difficulty which, as we have seen, is insuper- 
able. On the other hand " individualistic" might imply that the 
soul's contents do not, in any sense, transcend its private exist- 
ence. The term, in short, requires definition, quite as much as 
does the object which it is used to define. 


feiting identity. A phenomenon A is produced by 
certain conditions, which then are modified. Upon 
this, A, wholly or partially, retires from existence, 
but, on another change, shows itself partly or in full. 
A disappears into conditions which, even as such, 
need not persist ; but, when the proper circumstances 
are re-created, A exists once again. Shall we assert 
that, if so, A's identity is gone ? I do not know on 
what principle. Or shall we insist that, at least in 
the meantime, A cannot be said to be ? But it 
seems not clear on what ground. If we take such 
common examples as a rainbow, or a waterfall, or 
the change of water into ice, we seek in vain for 
any principle but that of working convenience. We 
feel sure that material atoms and their motion 
continue unaltered, and that their existence, if 
broken, would be utterly destroyed. But, unless we 
falsely take these atoms and their motion for ultim- 
ate reality, we are resting here on no basis beyond 
practical utility. And even here some of us are too 
inclined to lapse into an easy-going belief in the 
" potential." But, as soon as these atoms are left 
behind, can we even pretend to have any principle ? 
We call an organism identical, though we do not 
suppose that its atoms have persisted. It is identi- 
cal because its quality is (more or less) the same, and 
because that quality has been (more or less) all the 
time there. But why an interval must be fatal, is 
surely far from evident. And, in fact, we are driven 
to the conclusion that we are arguing without any 
rational ground. As soon as an existence in time is 
perceived to be appearance, we can find no reason 
why it should not lapse, and again be created. And 
with an organism, where even the matter is not sup- 
posed to persist, we seem to have deserted every 
show of principle. 1 

There is a further point which, before proceeding, 

1 On the subject of Identity see more below. And compare 
Chapter ix. 


we may do well to notice. We saw in the last chapter 
that part of Nature could hardly be said to have 
actual existence (p. 277). Some of it seemed (at least 
at some times) to be only hypothetical or barely 
potential ; and I would urge this consideration here 
with regard to the organism. My body is to be 
real because it exists continuously ; but, if, on the 
other hand, that existence must be actual, can we 
call it continuous ? The essential qualities of my 
body (whatever these are) are certainly not, so far as 
we know, perceived always. But, if so, and if they 
exist sometimes not for perception but for thought, 
then most assuredly sometimes they do not exist as 
such, and hence their continuity is broken. Thus 
we have been forced to another very serious 
admission. We not only are ignorant why con- 
tinuity in time should be essential, but, so far as the 
organism goes, we do not know that it possesses 
such continuity. It seems rather to exist at times 
potentially and merely in its conditions. This is a 
sort of existence which we shall discuss in the follow- 
ing chapter, but it is at all events not existence 
actual and proper. 

After these more general remarks we may proceed 
to the difficulties urged against our view of the soul. 
We have defined the soul as a series of psychical 
events, and it has been objected that, if so, we can- 
not say what the soul is at any one time. But at 
any one time, I reply, the soul is the present datum 
of psychical fact, plus its actual past and its con- 
ditional future. Or, until the last phrase has been 
explained, we may content ourselves with saying 
that the soul is those psychical events, which it both 
is now and has been. And this account, I admit, 
qualifies something by adjectives which are not, and 
to offer it as an expression of ultimate truth would 
be wholly indefensible. But then the soul, I must 
repeat, is itself not ultimate fact It is appearance, 


and any description of it must contain inconsistency. 
And, if any one objects, he may be invited to define, 
for example, a body moving at a certain rate, and to 
define it without predicating of the present what is 
either past or future. And, if he will attempt this, 
he will, I think, perhaps tend to lose confidence. 

But we have, so far, not said what we mean by 
44 dispositions." A soul after all, we shall be reminded, 
possesses a character, if not original, at least acquired. 
And we certainly say that it is, because of that which 
we expect of it. The soul's habits and tendencies 
are essential to its nature, and, on the other hand, 
they cannot be psychical events. Hence (the objec- 
tion goes on to urge) they are not psychical at all, but 
merely physical facts. Now to this I reply first 
that a disposition may be 44 physical," and may, for 
all that, be still not an actual fact. Until I see it 
defined so as to exclude reference to any past or 
future, and freed from every sort of implication with 
the conditional and potential, I shall not allow that 
it has been translated into physical fact. But, even in 
that case, I should not accept the translation, for I 
consider that we have a right everywhere for the 
sake of convenience to use the 44 conditional." Into 
the proper meaning of this term I shall enquire in the 
next chapter, but I will try to state briefly here how 
we apply it to the soul. In saying that the soul has 
a disposition of a certain kind, we take the present 
and past psychical facts as the subject, and we pre- 
dicate of this subject other psychical facts, which we 
think it may become. The soul at present is such 
that it is part of those conditions which, given the 
rest, would produce certain psychical events. And 
hence the soul is the real possibility of these events, 
just as objects in the dark are the possibility of 
colour. Now this way of speaking is, of course, in 
the end incorrect, and is defensible only on the 
ground of convenience. It is convenient, when facts 
are and have been such and such, to have a short 


way of saying what we infer that in the future they 
may be. But we have no right to speak of disposi- 
tions at all, if we turn them into actual qualities of 
the soul. The attempt to do this would force us to 
go on enlarging the subject by taking in more condi- 
tions, and in the end we should be asserting of the 
Universe at large. 1 I admit that it is arbitrary and 
inconsistent to predicate what you cannot say the 
soul is, but what you only judge about it. But 
everywhere, in dealing with phenomena, we can find 
no escape from inconsistency and arbitrariness. We 
should not lessen these evils, but should greatly 
increase them, if we took a disposition as meaning 
more than the probable course of psychical events. 

But the soul, I shall be reminded, is not contin- 
uous in time, since there are intervals and breaks in 
the psychical series. I shall not attempt to deny 
this. We might certainly fall back upon unconscious 
sensations, and insist that these, in any case and 
always, are to some extent there. And such an as- 
sumption could hardly be shown to be untrue. But 
I do not see that we could justify it on any sufficient 
ground, and I will admit that the psychical series 
either is, or at all events may be broken. 2 

But, on the other side, this admitted breach seems 
quite unimportant. I can find no reason why a 
soul's existence, if interrupted and resumed, should 
not be identical. Even apart from memory, if these 
divided existences showed the same quality, we 
should call them the same, or, if we declined, we 
should find no reason that would justify our re- 
fusal. We might insist that, at any rate, in the 
interval the soul has lived elsewhere, or that this 

1 I shall endeavour to explain this in the following chapter. 

* Unconscious states could also be used to explain " disposi- 
tions," in my opinion quite indefensibly. I may add that, within 
proper limits, I think psychology must make use of unconscious 
psychical facts. 


interval must, at all events, not be too long ; but, so 
far as I see, in both cases we should be asserting 
without a ground. On the other hand, the amount 
of qualitative sameness, wanted for psychical identity, 
seems fixed on no principle (Chapter ix.). And 
the sole conclusion we can draw is this, that breaks 
in the temporal series are no argument against our 
regarding it as a single soul. 

"What then in the interim," I may be asked, 
" do you say that the soul is ? " For myself, I 
reply, I should not say it is at all, when it does not 
appear. All that in strictness I could assert would 
be that actually the soul is not, though it has been, 
and again may be. And I have urged above, that 
we can find no valid objection to intervals of non- 
existence. But speaking not strictly, but with a 
view to practical convenience, we might affirm that 
in these intervals the soul still persists. We might 
say it is the conditions, into which it has disappeared, 
and which probably will reproduce it. And, since 
the body is a principal part of these conditions, we 
may find it convenient to identify the " potential " 
soul with the body. This may be convenient, but 
we must remember that really it is incorrect. For, 
firstly, conditions are one thing, and actual fact 
another thing. And, in the second place, the body 
(upon any hypothesis) is not all the conditions re- 
quired for the soul. It is impossible wholly to ex- 
clude the action of the environment. And there is 
again, thirdly, a consideration on which I must 
lay emphasis. If the soul is resolved and disappears 
into that which may restore it, does not the same 
thing hold precisely with regard to the body ? Is 
it not conceivable that, in that interval when the 
soul is " conditional," the body also should itself be 
dissolved into conditions which afterwards re-create 
it ? But, if so, these ulterior conditions which now, 
I presume we are to say, the soul is, are assuredly 
in strictness not the body at all. As a matter of 


fact, doubtless, this event does not happen within 
our knowledge. We do not find that bodies dis- 
appear and once more are re-made ; but, merely on 
that ground, we are not entitled to deny that it is 
possible. And, if it is possible, then I would urge 
at once the following conclusions. You cannot, 
except as a matter of convenience, identify the con- 
ditions of the soul with the body. And you cannot 
assert that the continuous existence of the body is 
essentially necessary for the sameness and unity of 
the soul. 1 

We have now dealt with the subject of the soul's 
continuity, and have also said something on its 
'* dispositions." And, before passing on to objec- 
tions of another kind, I will here try to obviate a 
misunderstanding. The soul is an ideal construc- 
tion, but a construction by whom ? Could we 
maintain that the soul exists only for itself? This 
would be certainly an error, for we can say that 
a soul is before memory exists, or when it does 
not remember. The soul exists always for a 
soul, but not always for itself. And it is an 
ideal construction, not because it is psychical, but 
because (like my body) it is a series appearing 
in time. The same difficulty attaches to all pheno- 
menal existence. Past and future, and the Nature 
which no one perceives (Chapter xxii.) exist, as 
such, only for some subject which thinks them. 
But this neither means that their ultimate reality 
consists in being thought, nor does it mean that 
they exist outside of finite souls. And it does not 
mean that the Real is made by merely adding 
thought to our actual presentations. Immediate 
experience in time, and thought, are each alike but 
false appearance, and, in coming together, each must 
forego its own distinctive character. In the Absol- 
ute there is neither mere existence at one moment 

1 I low far the soul can be said to result from merely physical 
conditions I shall enquire lower down. 


nor any ideal construction. Each is merged in a 
higher and all-containing Reality (Chapter xxiv.). 

2. We have seen, so far, that our phenomenal 
view of the soul does not degrade it to an adjective 
depending on the body. Can we reply to objections 
based on other grounds ? The psychical series, we 
may be told, demands as its condition a something 
transcendent, a soul or Ego which stands above, 
and gives unity to, the series. But such a soul, I 
reply, merely adds further difficulties to those we 
had before. No doubt the series, being pheno- 
menal, is the appearance of Reality, but it hardly 
follows from this that its reality is an Ego or soul. 
We have seen (Chapter x.) that such a being, be- 
cause finite, is infected with its own relations to 
other finites. And it is so far from giving unity to 
the series of events, that their plurality refuses to 
come together with its singleness. Hence the one- 
ness remains standing outside the many, as a further 
finite unit. You cannot show how the series be- 
comes a system in the soul ; and, if you could, you 
cannot free that soul from its perplexed position as 
one finite related to other finites. In short, meta- 
physically your soul or Ego is a mass of confusion, 
and we have now long ago disposed of it. And if 
it is offered us merely as a working conception, 
which does not claim truth, then this conception, as 
we have seen, will not work in metaphysics. Its 
alleged function must be confined to psychology, an 
empirical science, and the further consideration of it 
here would be, therefore, irrelevant 1 

3. But our account of the soul, as a series of 

1 In another place I should be ready to enter on this question. 
It would, I think, not be difficult to show in psychology that the 
idea of a soul, or an Ego, or a Will, or an activity beyond events 
explains nothing at all. It serves only to produce false appear- 
ances of explanation, and to throw a mist over what is really left 
quite unexplained. 


events, may be attacked perhaps from the ground of 
psychology itself. There are psychical facts, it may 
be urged, which are more than events, and these 
facts, it may be argued, refute our definition. I 
must briefly deal with this objection, and my reply 
may be summed up thus. There are psychical 
facts, which are more than events ; but, if they are 
not also events, they are not facts at all. I will take 
these two propositions in their order. 1 

(a) We have seen that my psychical states, and 
my private experience, can be at the same time 
what they are, and yet something much more.* 
Every distinction that is made in the fact of presen- 
tation, every content, or " what," that is loosened 
from its " that," is at once more than a mere event. 
Nay an event itself, as one member in a temporal 
series, is only itself by transcending its own pre- 

1 There are some distinctions which we must keep in mind. 
By existence (taken strictly)! mean a temporal series of events or 
facts. And this series is not throughout directly experienced. It 
is an ideal construction from the basis of what is presented. But, 
though partly ideal, such a series is not wholly so. For it leaves 
its contents in the form of particulars, and the immediate conjunc- 
tion of being and quality is not throughout broken up. Thisness, 
or the irrelevant context, is retained, in short, except so far as is 
required to make a series of events. And, though the events of 
the whole series are not actually perceived, they must be taken as 
what is in its character perceptible. 

Any part of a temporal series, no matter how long, can be 
called an event or fact. For it is taken as a piece, or quantity, 
made up of perceptible duration. 

By fact 1 mean either an event, or else what is directly ex- 
perienced. Any aspect of direct experience, or again of an event, 
can itself be loosely styled a fact or event, so far as you consider 
it as a qualifying adjective of one. 

I may notice, last, that an immediate experience, i.g. of suc- 
cession, can contain that which, when distinguished, is more than 
one event, and it can contain also an aspect which, as distin- 
guished, is beyond events. But I should add that I have not 
tried to use any of the above words everywhere strictly. 

* See above, p. 300, and compare Chapters xix. and xxi. And 
for the relation of existence to thought see, further, Chapter 

3 1 8 REALITY. 

sent existence. And this transcendence becomes 
more obvious, when an identical quality persists 
unaltered through a succession of changes. There 
is, to my mind, no question as to our being con- 
cerned here with more than mere events. And, far 
from contesting this, I have endeavoured to insist 
on the conclusion that everything in time has a 
quality which passes beyond itself. 

(6) But then, if so, have we allowed the force of 
the objection 2 Have we admitted that there are 
facts which are not events in time ? This would 
be a grave misunderstanding, and against it we 
must urge our second proposition. A fact, or event, 
is always more than itself ; but, if less than itself, it 
is no longer properly a fact. It has now been taken 
as a content working loose from the "this," and 
has, so far, become a mere aspect and abstraction. 
And yet this abstraction, on the other hand, must 
have its existence. It must appear, somehow, as, or 
in a particular event, with a given place and dura- 
tion in the temporal series. There are, in brief, 
aspects which, taken apart, are not events ; and yet 
these aspects must appear in psychical existence. 

The objection has failed to perceive this double 
nature of things, and it has hence fallen blindly into 
a vicious dilemma. Because in our life there is 
more than events, it has rashly argued that this 
" more " must be psychical fact. But, if it is 
psychical fact, and not able to be experienced, I do 
not know what it could mean, or in what wonderful 
way we could be supposed to get at it. And, on 
the other side, to be experienced without happening 
in the psychical series, or to occur there without 
taking place as an event among events, seem phrases 
without meaning. What we experience is a content, 
which is one with, and which occurs as, a particular 
mental state. The same content, again, as ideal, is 
used away from its state, and only appears there. 
By itself it is not a fact ; and, if it were one, it would, 


so far, cease to be ideal, and would therefore become 
a mere event among events. 

If you take the identity of a series, whether 
physical or psychical, this identity, considered as 
such, is not an event which happens. 1 But, on the 
other hand, can we call it a fact of experience ? To 
speak strictly, we cannot, since all identity is ideal. 
It, as such, is not directly experienced, even as occur- 
ring in the facts, and, still less, as something which 
happens alongside of or between them. It is an 
adjective which, as separate, could not exist, and its 
essence, we may say, consists in distinction. But, on 
the other side, this distinction, and, again the con- 
struction of a series, is an event. And it must 
happen in a soul 2 ; for where else could it exist ? 
As a mental state, more than its mere content, it also 
must have a place, and duration, in the psychical 
series. And, otherwise, it could not be a part of 
experience. But the identity itself is but an aspect 
of the events, or event, and is certainly ideal. 

11 No," I shall be told, " the identity and continuity 
of the soul must be more than this. It cannot fall 
in what is given, for all the given is discrete. And 
it cannot consist in ideal content, for, in that case, 
it would not be real. It must therefore come some- 
how along with phenomena, in such a way that it 
does not happen as an event within the psychical 
series." But, as soon as we consider this claim, its 
inconsistency is obvious. If anything is experienced, 
now or always, along with what is given, then this 
(whatever it is) is surely a psychical event, with a 
place, or places, in the series. But, if, on the other 
hand, it has not, in any sense, position or duration 
in my history, you will hardly persuade me that it 

1 The whole scries itself will, in a sense, be one event since it 
has a place and duration. But it will not be throughout an ex- 
perienced fact. 

* That the identity of a soul should be only so far as it exists 
for some soul, is one of the circles we have pointed out already. 


makes part of my experience at all. I do not see, 
in short, how anything can come there, unless it is 
prepared, from some side, to enter and to take its 
place there. And, if it is not to be an element in 
experience, it will be nothing. And I doubt if any 
one would urge a claim so suicidal and so absurd, 
unless for the sake of, and in order to defend, a pre- 
conceived doctrine. Because phenomena in time 
are not real, there must be something more than 
temporal. But because we wrongly assume that 
nothing is real, unless it exists as a thincr therefore 
the element, which transcends time, must be some- 
how and somewhere beside it. This element is a 
world, or a soul, or an Ego, which never descends 
into our series. It never comes down there itself, 
though we are forced, I presume, to say that it works, 
and that it makes itself felt. But this irrational in- 
fluence and position results merely from our false 
assumption. We are attempting to pass beyond the 
series, while we, in effect, deny that anything is real, 
unless it is a member there. For our other world, 
and our soul, and our Ego, which exist beside 
temporal events, have been taken themselves as but 
finite things. They merely reduplicate phenomena, 
they do but double the world of appearance. They 
leave on our hands unsolved the problem that vexed 
us before, and they load us beside with an additional 
puzzle. We have now, not only another existence 
no better than the first, but we have to explain also 
how one of these stands to, or works on, the other. 
And the result is open self-contradiction or thought- 
less obscurity. But the remedy is to purge our- 
selves of our groundless prejudice, and to seek 
reality elsewhere than in the existence of things. 
Continuity and identity, the other world and the 
Ego, do not, as such, exist. They are ideal, and, as 
such, they are not facts. But none the less they 
have reality, at least not inferior to that of temporal 
events. We must admit that, in the full sense, 


neither ideality nor existence is real. But you can- 
not pass, from the one-sided denial of one, to the 
one-sided assertion of the other. The attempt is 
based on a false alternative, and, in either case, must 
result in self-contradiction. 

It is perhaps necessary, though wearisome, to add 
some remarks on the Ego. The failure to see that 
continuity and identity are ideal, has produced efforts 
to find the Ego existing, as such, as an actual fact. 
This Ego is, on the one hand, to be somehow ex- 
perienced as a fact, and, on the other hand, it must 
not exist either as one or as a number of events. 
And the attempt naturally is futile. For most 
assuredly, as we find it, the self is determinate. It 
is always qualified by a content. 1 The Ego and 
Non-ego are at any time experienced, not in general, 
but with a particular character. But such an appear- 
ance is obviously a psychical event, with a given 
place in the series. And upon this I urge the follow- 
ing dilemma. If your Ego has no content, it is 
nothing, and it therefore is not experienced ; but, if 
on the other hand it is anything, it is a phenomenon 
in time. But " not at all," may be the answer, 4< since 
the Ego is outside the series, and is merely related 
to it, and perhaps acting on it" I do not see that 
this helps us. If, I repeat, your Ego has no content, 
then anywhere it is nothing; and the relation of 
something to this nothing, and again its action upon 
anything, are utterly unmeaning. But, if upon the 
other hand this Ego has a content, then, for the sake 
of argument, you may say, if you please, that it 
exists. But, in any case, it stands outside, and it 
does not come into, experience at all. " No, it does 
not come there itself ; it never, so to speak, appears 
in person ; but its relation to phenomena, or its 
action on them, is certainly somehow experienced, 

1 I should add that I am convinced that the Ego is a derivative 
product (Mindy No. 47). But the argument above is quite inde- 
pendent of this conclusion. 

A. K. y 


or at least known." In this answer the position 
seems changed, but it is really the same, and it does 
but lead back to our old dilemma. You cannot, in 
any sense, know, or perceive, or experience, a term 
as in relation, unless you have also the other term 
to which it is related. And, if we will but ponder 
this, surely it becomes self-evident. Well then, 
either you have not got any relation of phenomena 
to anything at all ; or else the other term, your 
thing the Ego, takes its place among the rest. It 
becomes another event among psychical events. 1 

It would be useless to pursue into its ramifica- 
tions a view false at the root, and based (as we have 
seen) on a vicious alternative. That which is more 
than an event must also, from another side, exist, 
and must thus appear in, or as, one member of the 
temporal series. But, so far as it transcends time, 
it is ideal, and, as such, is not fact. The attempt to 
take it as existing somehow and somewhere along- 
side, thrusts it back into the sphere of finite parti- 
culars. In this way, with all our struggles, we never 
rise beyond some world of mere events, and we 
revolve vainly in a circle which brings us round to 
our starting-place. If it were possible for us to 
apprehend the whole series at once, and to take in its 
detail as one undivided totality, certainly then the 
timeless would have been experienced as a fact 
But in that case ideality on the one side, and events 
on the other, would have each come to an end in a 
higher mode of being. 

The objections, which we have discussed, have all 
shown themselves ill-founded. There is certainly 
nothing experienced which is not an event, though 

1 If action is attributed to the Ego things are made even worse, 
for activity has been shown to imply a sequence in time (Chapter 
vii.). I may perhaps remind the reader here that to speak of a 
relation between phenomena and the Reality is quite incorrect. 
There are no relations, properly, except between things finite. If 
we speak otherwise, it should be by a licence. 


we have seen that in events there is that which 
transcends them. All continuity is ideal, and the 
arguments brought against the oneness of a psychic- 
al series, we saw, were not valid. Nor could we 
find that our phenomenal view of the soul brought it 
down to be an adjective depending on the organism. 
For the organism itself is also phenomenal. Soul 
and body are alike in being only appearance, and 
their connection is merely the relation of phenomena. 
It is the special nature of this relation that we have 
next to discuss. 

I will begin by pointing out a view from which 
we must dissent. The soul and body may be re- 
garded as two sides of one reality, or as the same 
thing taken twice and from two aspects of its being. 
I intend to say nothing here on the reasons which 
may lead to this conclusion, nor to discuss the various 
objections which might be brought against them. I 
will briefly state the ground on which I am forced 
to reject the proposed identity. In the first place, 
even if we confine our attention to phenomena, I do 
not see that we are justified in thus separating each 
soul with its body from the rest of the world (p. 358). 
And there is a fatal objection to this doctrine, if 
carried further. If in the end soul and body are to 
be one thing, then, with whatever justification, you 
have concluded to a plurality of finite reals within 
the Absolute. But we have seen that such a con- 
clusion is wholly indefensible. When soul and body 
come together in Reality, I utterly fail to perceive 
any reason why the special nature of each is, as such, 
to be preserved. It is one thing to be convinced that 
no element, or aspect of phenomena, can be lost in the 
Absolute. But it is quite another thing to maintain 
that every appearance, when there, continues to keep 
its distinctive character. To be resolved rather and 
to be merged, each as a factor in what is higher, is 
the nature of such things as the body and the soul. 


And with this we are brought to a well-known 
and much-debated question. Is there a causal con- 
nection between the physical and the psychical, and 
are we to say that one series influences the other ? 
I will begin by stating the view which prima facie 
suggests itself, I will then briefly discuss some 
erroneous doctrines, and will end by trying to set 
out a defensible conclusion. And, first, the belief 
which occurs to the unbiassed observer is that soul 
acts upon body and body on soul. I do not mean 
by this that bare soul seems to work on bare body, for 
such a distinction is made only by a further reflection. 
I mean that, if without any theory you look at the 
facts, you will find that changes in one series (which- 
ever it is) are often concerned in bringing on changes 
in the other. Psychical and physical, each alike, 
make a difference to one another. It is obvious that 
alterations of the soul come from movements in the 
organism, and it is no less obvious that the latter 
may be consequent on the former. We may be sure 
that no one, except to save a theory, would deny 
that in volition mind influences matter. And with 
pain and pleasure such a denial would be even less 
natural. To hold that now in the individual pleasure 
and pain do not move, but are mere idle accompani- 
ments, to maintain that never in past development 
have they ever made a difference to anything — 
surely this strikes the common observer as a wilful 
paradox. And, for myself, I doubt if most of those, 
who have accepted the doctrine in general, have fully 
realized its meaning. 

This natural view, that body and soul have influ- 
ence on each other, we shall find in the end to be 
proof against attack. But we must pass on now to 
consider some opposing conclusions. The man who 
denies the inter-action in any sense of body and 
soul, must choose from amongst the possibilities 
which remain. He may take the two series as 
going on independently and side by side, or may 


make one the subordinate and adjective of the 
other. And I will begin by making some remarks 
on the parallel series. But I must ignore the 
historical development of this view, and must treat 
it barely as if it were an idea which is offered us 

I would observe, first, that an assertion or a denial 
of causation can hardly be proved if you insist on 
demonstration. You may show that every detail 
we know points towards one result, and that we can 
find no special reason for taking this result as false. 
And, having done so much, you certainly have 
proved your conclusion. But, even after this, a 
doubt remains with regard to what is possible. 
And, unless all other possibilities can be disposed of, 
you have failed to demonstrate. In the particular 
doctrine before us we have, I think, a case in point. 
The mere coincidence of soul and body cannot be 
shown to be impossible ; but this bare possibility is, 
on the other hand, no good reason for supposing the 
coincidence to be fact 

Appearance points to a causal connection between 
the physical and psychical series. And yet this 
appearance might possibly be a show, produced in 
the following way. There might on each side be 
other conditions, escaping our view, which would be 
enough to account for the changes in each series. 
And we may even carry our supposition a step 
further on. There might on doth sides be, within 
each series, no causal connection between its events. 
A play of unknown conditions might, on either side, 
present the appearance of a series. The successive 
facts would in that case show a regular sequence, 
but they would not actually be members and links 
of any one connected series. I do not see how such 
a suggestion can be proved to be impossible ; but 
that is surely no reason for regarding it as fact. 
And to this same result we are led, when we return 
to consider the idea of two coinciding series. The 


idea seems baseless, and I do not think it necessary 
to dwell further on this point. 1 

We seem, therefore, driven to regard soul and 
body as causally connected, and the question will be 
as to the nature of their connection. Can this be 
all, so to speak, on one side ? Is the soul merely 
an adjective depending on the body, and never more 
than an effect? Or is, again, the body a mere accom- 
paniment resulting from the soul ? Both these ques- 
tions must be met by an emphatic negative. The 
suggested relation is, in each case, inconsistent and 
impossible. And, since there is no plausibility in 
the idea of physical changes always coming from, 
and never reacting on, the soul, I will not stop to con- 
sider it. I will pass to the opposite one-sidedness, 
a doctrine equally absurd, though, at first sight, 
seeming more plausible. 

Psychical changes, upon this view, are never 
causes at all, but are solely effects. They are 
adjectives depending upon the body, but which 
at the same time make absolutely no difference to 
it. They do not quite fall outside causation, for 
they are events which certainly are produced by 
physical changes. But they enter the causal series 
in one character only. They are themselves pro- 
duced, but on the other hand nothing ever results 
from them. And this does not merely mean that, 
for certain purposes, you may take primary qualities 
as unaffected by secondary, and may consider second- 

1 Of course, even on these hypotheses, one link of a series will 
be a cause of what follows, if you take that link in connection 
with the rest of the universe. Hence with regard to " occa- 
sionalism " we may say that, since every cause must be limited 
more or less artificially, every cause therefore is able to be called 
an "occasion." You may take in further and further conditions, 
until your partial cause seems an item unimportant, and even 
therefore ineffective. And here we are on the confines of absolute 
error. If the " occasion " is divided from the whole entire cause, 
and so held to be without an influence on the effect, that is at 
once quite indefensible. 


ary qualities as idle adjectives which issue from 
primary. It means that all psychical changes are 
effects, brought about by what is physical, while 
themselves absolutely without any influence on the 
succession of phenomena. I have been forced to 
state this view in my own terms as, though widely 
held, I do not find it anywhere precisely expressed. 
Its adherents satisfy themselves with metaphors, 
and rest on half worked out comparisons. And all 
that their exposition, to me, makes clear, is the con- 
fusion which it springs from. 

The falseness of this doctrine can be exhibited 
from two points of view. It involves the contra- 
diction of an adjective which makes no difference to 
its substantive, 1 and the contradiction of an event in 
time, which is an effect but not a cause. For the 
sake of brevity I shall here confine myself to the 
second line of criticism. I must first endeavour, in 
my own way, to give to the materialistic doctrine a 
reasonable form ; and I will then point out that its 
inconsistency is inherent and not removable. 

If we agree to bring psychical events under the 
head of what is " secondary," we may state the 
proposed way of connection as follows : 


I I I 

a p y. 

A, /?, C is the succession of primary qualities, 
and it is taken to be a true causal series. Between 
the secondary products, a, /3, y, is no causal con- 
nection, nor do they make any difference to the 
sequence of C from B and of B from A, They are, 
each of them, adjectives which happen, but which 

1 The same false principle, which is employed in the material- 
istic view of the soul, appears in the equally materialistic doctrine 
of the Real Presence. 


produce no consequence. But, though their succes- 
sion is not really causal, it must none the less appear 
so, because it is regular. And it must be regular, 
since it depends on a series which is unalterably 
fixed by causation. And in this way (it may be 
urged) the alleged inconsistency is avoided, and all 
is made harmonious. We are not forced into the 
conclusion that the self-same cause can produce two 
different effects. A is not first followed by mere B, 

and then again by | , since a is, in fact, irremov- 

able from A. Nor is it necessary to suppose that 
the sequence A — B must ever occur by itself. For 
a will, in fact, accompany A, and /8 will always occur 
with B. Still this inseparability will in no way 
affect our result, which is the outcome and expres- 
sion of a general principle. A — B — C is the actual 
and sole thread of causation, while a, /3, y are the 
adjectives which idly adorn it. And hence these 
latter must seem to be that which really they are 
not. They are in fact decorative, but either always 
or usually so as to appear constructional. 

This is the best statement that I can make in 
defence of my unwilling clients, and I have now to 
show that this statement will not bear criticism. 
But there is one point on wnich I, probably, have 
exceeded my instructions. To admit that the 
sequence A — B — C does not exist by itself, would 
seem contrary to that view which is more generally 
held. Yet, without this admission, the inconsistency 
can be exhibited more easily. 

The Law of Causation is the principle of Identity, 
applied to the successive. Make a statement 
involving succession, and you have necessarily made 
a statement which, if true, is true always. Now, if 
it is true universally that B follows A, then that 
sequence is what we mean by a causal law. If, on 
the other hand, the sequence is not universally true, 


then it is not true at all. For 2?, in that case, must 
have followed something more or less than A ; and 
hence the judgment A — B was certainly false. 
Thus a stated fact of succession is untrue, till it has 
been taken as a fact of causation. And a fact of 
causation is truth which is, and must be, universal. 1 
It is an abstracted relation, which is either false 
always, or always true. And hence, if we are able 
to say ever that B follows mere A, then this proposi- 
tion A — B is eternal verity. But, further, a truth 
cannot be itself and at the same time something 
different. And therefore once affirm A — B, and 
you can not affirm also and as well A — Bfi, if (that 
is to say) in both cases you are keeping to the same 
A. For if the event ft follows, while arising from no 
difference, you must assert of mere A both " — B " 
and " — BP." But these two assertions are incom- 
patible. In the same way, if A a has, as a conse- 
quence, mere B t it is impossible that bare A should 
possess the same consequence. If it seems other- 
wise, then certainly A was not bare, or else a was 
not relevant. And any other conclusion would imply 
two incompatible assertions with regard to B. 1 

Hence we may come to a first conclusion about 
the view which makes an idle adjective of the soul. 
If it asserts that these adjectives both happen, and 
do not happen, for no reason at all, if it will say that 
the physical sequence is precisely the same, both 
without them and with them, then such a view flatly 
contradicts itself. For it not only supposes differ- 
ences, which do not make any difference — a 

1 The addition of " unconditional " would be surplusage. Cp. 
Principles of Logic ', p. 485. 

* The judgments, " B follows from A " and " B follows from 
Aa," are, if pure, not reconcilable. The same effect cannot have 
two causes, unless "cause " is taken loosely. See Mr. Botaiiqtiefi 
Logic % Book I, Chapter vi. I have remarked further on this 
subject below in Chapter xxiv. 


supposition which is absurd ; but it also believes in 
a decoration, which at one time goes with, and at 
another time stays away from its construction, and 
which is an event which, equally in either case, is 
without any reason. 1 And, with this, perhaps we 
may pass on. 

Let us return to that statement of the case which 
appeared to us more plausible. There is a succes- 


I I I 
a 8 7, 

and in this the secondary qualities are inseparable 
from the primary. A — B — Cis, in fact, never found 
by itself, but it is, for all that, the true and the only 
causal sequence. We shall, however, find that this 
way of statement does but hide the same mistake 
which before was apparent. In the succession 
above, unless there really is more than we are sup- 
posed to take in, and unless a, /3, 7 are connected 
with something outside, we have still the old incon- 
sistency. If A — B — C is the truth, then the succes- 
sion, which we had, is in fact impossible ; and, if 
the sequence is modified, then A — B — C can not 
possibly be true. I will not urge that, if it were 
true, it would at least be undiscoverable, since, by 
the hypothesis, a is inseparable from A. I admit 
that we may postulate sometimes where we cannot 
prove or observe ; and I prefer to show that such 
a postulate is here self-contradictory. It is assumed 
that a is an adjective indivisible from A, but is an 
adjective which at the same time makes no differ- 
ence to its being. Or a, at any rate, makes no 
difference to the action of A, but is perfectly inert. 
But, if so, then, as before, A possesses two predi- 
cates incompatible with each other. We cannot 

1 If there were a reason, then mere A would no longer be the 
cause of both B and B(3. I shall return to this lower down. 


indeed say, as before, that in fact it is followed first 
by mere B, and then again by Bfi. But we, none 
the less, are committed to assertions which clash. 
We hold that A produces B, and that A produces 
Bfi; and one of these judgments must be false. 
For, if A produces mere B, then it does not produce 
Bfi. Hence fi is either an event which is a gratui- 
tous accident, or else a must have somehow (indi- 
rectly or directly) made this difference in B. But, 
if so, a is not inert, but is a part-cause of B ; and 
therefore the sequence of B from mere A is false. 1 
The plausibility of our statement has proved illu- 

I am loath to perplex the question by subtleties, 
which would really carry us no further ; but I will 
notice a possible evasion of the issue. The secon- 
dary qualities, I may be told, do not depend each on 
one primary, but are rather the adjectives of rela- 
tions between these. They attend on certain 
relations, yet make no difference to what follows. 
But here the old and unresolved contradiction re- 
mains. It cannot be true that any relation (say of 
A to E\ which produces another relation (say of B 
to F), should both produce this latter naked, and also 
attended by an adjective, ft. One of these asser- 
tions must be false, and, with it, your conclusion. 
It is in short impossible to have differences which 
come without a difference, or which make no differ- 
ence to what follows them. The attempt involves 
a contradiction, explicit or veiled, but in either case 
ruinous to the theory which adopts it. 

We have now finished our discussion of erroneous 
views. 1 We have seen that to deny the active 

1 The reader will remember that ft (by the hypothesis) cannot 
follow directly from a. It is taken as dependent solely on B. 

* I may perhaps, in this connection, be expected to say some- 
thing on the Conservation of Energy. I am most unwilling to do 
this. One who, like myself, stands outside the scierx 1 win. h 

33 2 REALITY. 

connection of body and soul is either dangerous or 
impossible. It is impossible, unless we are pre- 

use this idea, can hardly hope to succeed in apprehending it 
rightly. He constantly fails to distinguish between a mere 
working conception and a statement of fact. Thus, for example, 
" energy of position " and " potential energy " are phrases which 
in their actual employment, doubtless, are useful and accurate. 
But, to speak strictly, they are nonsense. If a thing disappears 
into conditions, which will hereafter produce it, then most 
assuredly in the interim it does not exist ; and it is surely only by 
a licence that you can call the non-existent " in a state of con- 
servation." And hence, passing on, I will next take the Conser- 
vation of Energy to mean that at any moment actual matter and 
actual motion are an unaltered quantity. And this constancy 
may hold good either in each of several physical systems, or again 
in Nature as a whole (Chapter xxii). Now, if the idea is put 
forward as a hypothesis for working use only, I offer no criticism 
of that which is altogether beyond me. But, if it is presented, 
on the other hand, as a statement of fact, I will say at once that 
I see no reason to accept it as true ; and I am quite sure that it 
is not provable. If, for the sake of argument however, we accept 
the quantitative constancy of matter and motion, I do not find 
that this tells us anything as to the position of the soul. For, 
although mind influences body and body alters mind, the quantity 
may throughout remain precisely the same. The loss and gain, 
on the psychical and physical side, may each, upon the whole, 
exactly balance the other ; and thus the physical energy of the 
system may be thoroughly preserved. If, however, any one 
insists that motion always must be taken as resulting from motion, 
even then he may avoid the conclusion that psychical events are 
not causes. He may fall back on some form of the two parallel 
series which only seem to be connected. Or he may betake 
himself to a hypothesis which still maintains their causal con- 
nection. An arrangement is possible, by which soul and body 
make a difference to each other, while the succession on each 
side appears, and may be treated, as independent. The losses 
and gains upon each side amongst the different threads of causal 
sequence might counterbalance one another. They might 
hinder and help each other, so that in the end all would look 
as if they really did nothing, and as if each series was left alone 
to pursue its own private course. Such an arrangement seems 
undeniably possible, but I am far from suggesting that it is fact. 
For I reject the principle which would force us, without any 
reason, to entertain such subtleties. 

I may be allowed to remark in conclusion that those who hold 
to the doctrine of " Conservation," and who use this in any way 


pared to contradict ourselves, to treat the soul as a 
mere adjective not influencing the body. And to 
accept, on the other hand, two coinciding and 
parallel series is to adopt a conclusion opposed to 
the main bulk of appearance. Nor for such a deser- 
tion of probability can I find any warrant. The 
common view, that soul and body make a difference 
to one another, is in the end proof against objection. 
And I will endeavour now to set it out in a defensi- 
ble form. 

Let me say at once that, by a causal connection 
of mind with matter, I do not mean that one influ- 
ences the other when bare. I do not mean that soul 
by itself ever acts upon body, or that mere bodily 
states have an action on bare soul. Whether any- 
thing of the kind is possible, I shall enquire lower 
down ; but I certainly see no reason to regard it as 
actual. I understand that, normally, we have an 
event with two sides, and that these two sides, taken 
together, are the inseparable cause of the event which 
succeeds. What is the effect ? It is a state of soul 
going along with a state of body, or rather with a 
state of those parts of our organism which are con- 
sidered to be in immediate relation with mind. And 
what are we to say is the cause ? It is a double 
event of the same kind, and the two sides of it, both 
in union, produce the effect. The alteration of 
mind, which results, is not the effect of mind or 
body, acting singly or alone, but of both working 
at once. And the state of body, which accompanies 
it, is again the product of two influences. It is 
brought about neither by bare body, nor yet again 

as bearing on our views about the soul, may fairly be expected 
to make some effort. It seems incumbent on them to try to 
reconcile the succession of psychical events with the law of 
Causation. No one is bound to be intelligible outside his own 
science, I am quite convinced as to that But such a plea is good 
only in the mouths of those who are willing to remain inside. 
And I must venture, respectfully but firmly, to insist on this 


by bare soul. Hence a difference, made in one side, 
must make a difference to the other side, and it 
makes a difference also to both sides of what follows. 
And, though this statement will receive later some 
qualification (p. 337), the causal connection of the 
soul's events, in general, is inseparably double. 

In physiology and in psychology we, in practice, 
disregard this complication. We for convenience 
sake regard as the cause, or as the effect, what is in 
reality but a prominent condition or consequence. 
And such a mutilation of phenomena is essential to 
progress. We speak of an intellectual sequence, in 
which the conclusion, as a psychical event, is the 
effect of the premises. We talk as if the antecedent 
mental state were truly the cause, and were not 
merely one part of it. Where, in short, we find that 
on either side the succession is regular, we regard it 
as independent. And it is only where irregularity 
is forced on our attention, that we perceive body 
and mind to interfere with one another. But, at 
this point, practical convenience has unawares led 
us into difficulty. We are puzzled now to compre- 
hend how that which was independent has been 
induced to leave its path. We begin to seek the 
cause which forces it to exert and to suffer influence ; 
and, with this, we are well on the road to false 
theory and ruinous error. 

But the truth is that no mere psychical sequence 
is a fact, or in any way exists. With each of its 
members is conjoined always a physical event, and 
these physical events enter into every link of causa- 
tion. The state of mind, or body, is here never more 
than part-cause, or again more than part- effect. We 
may attend to either of the sides, which for our 
purpose is prominent ; we may ignore the action of 
the other side, where it is constant and regular ; but 
we cannot deny that both really contribute to the 
effect. Thus we speak of feelings and of ideas as 
influencing the body. And so they do, since they 


make a difference to the physical result, and since 
this result is not the consequence from a mere 
physical cause. But feelings and ideas, on the 
other hand, neither act nor exist independent of 
body. The altered physical state is the effect of 
conditions, which are, at once, both psychical and 
physical. We find the same duplicity when we 
consider alterations of the soul. An incoming sen- 
sation may be regarded as caused by the body ; but 
this view is, taken generally, onesided and incorrect. 
The prominent condition has been singled out, and 
the residue ignored. And, if we deny the influence 
of the antecedent psychical state, we have pushed 
allowable, licence once more into mistake. 

The soul and its organism are each a phenomenal 
series. Each, to speak in general, is implicated in 
the changes of the other. Their supposed independ- 
ence is therefore imaginary, and to overcome it by 
invoking a faculty such as Will — is the effort to heal 
a delusion by means of a fiction. In every psy- 
chical state we have to do with two sides, though 
we disregard one. Thus in the " Association of 
Ideas " we have no right to forget that there is a 
physical sequence essentially concerned. And the 
law of Association must itself be extended, to take 
in connections formed between physical and psych- 
ical elements. The one of these phenomena, on 
its re-occurrence, may bring back the other. In this 
way a psychical state, once conjoined with a physical, 
may normally restore it ; and hence this psychical 
state can be treated as the cause. It is not properly 
the cause, since it is not the whole cause ; but it is 
most certainly an effective and differential condition. 
The physical event is not the result from a mere 
physical state. And if the idea or feeling had been 
absent, or if again it had not acted, this physical 
event would not have happened. 

I am aware that such a statement is not an ex- 
planation, but I insist that in the end no explanation 


is possible. There are many enquiries which are 
legitimate. To ask about the " seat " of the soul, 
and about the ultimate modes of sequence and co- 
existence, both physical and psychical, is proper and 
necessary. We may remain incapable, in part, of 
resolving these problems ; but at all events the 
questions they put are essentially answerable, how- 
ever little we are called upon to deal with them 
here. But the connection of body and soul is in its 
essence inexplicable, and the further enquiry as to the 
" how " is irrational and hopeless. For soul and 
body are not realities. Each is a series, artificially 
abstracted from the whole, and each, as we have 
seen, is self-contradictory. We cannot in the end 
understand how either comes to exist, and we know 
that both, if understood, would, as such, have been 
transmuted. To comprehend them, while each is 
fixed in its own untrue character, is utterly impos- 
sible. But, if so, their way of connection must 
remain unintelligible. 

And the same conclusion may be reached by con- 
sidering the causal series. In this normally the 
two sides are inseparable from each other, and it 
was by a licence only that we were permitted ever to 
disregard one side. But, with this result, still we 
have not reached the true causal connection. It is 
only by a licence that in the end both sides taken 
together can be abstracted from the universe. The 
cause is not the true cause unless it is the whole 
cause ; and it is not the whole cause unless in it you 
include the environment, the entire mass of un- 
specified conditions in the background. Apart from 
this you have regularities, but you have not attained 
to intelligible necessity. But the entire mass of 
conditions is not merely inexhaustible, but also it is 
infinite ; and thus a complete knowledge of causation 
is theoretically impossible. 1 Our known causes and 

1 Cf. Chapter vi f 



effects are held always by a licence and partly on 
sufferance. To observe regularities, to bring one 
under the other as far as possible, to remove every- 
where what can be taken as in practice irrelevant, 
and thus to reduce the number of general facts — 
we cannot hope for more than this in explaining 
concrete phenomena. And to seek for more in the 
connection of body and soul is to pursue a chimera. 

But, before we proceed, there are points which 
require consideration. A state of soul seems not 
always to follow, even in part, from a preceding 
state. And an arrangement of mere physical con- 
ditions seems to supply the whole origin of a psy- 
chical life. And again, when the soul is suspended 
and once more reappears, the sole cause of the 
reappearance seems to lie in the body. I will begin 
by dealing with the question about the soul's origin. 
We must remember, in the first place, that mere 
body is an artificial abstraction, and that its separa- 
tion from mind disappears in the Whole. And, when 
the abstraction is admitted and when we are stand- 
ing on this basis, it is not certain, even then, that 
any matter exists unconnected with soul (Chapter 
xxii.). Now, if we bear in mind these considera- 
tions, we need not seek to deny that physical con- 
ditions can be the origin of a psychical life. We 
might have at one moment a material arrangement 
and at the next moment we might find that this 
arrangement was modified, and was accompanied 
by a certain degree of soul. Even if this as a fact 
does hot happen, I can find absolutely no reason to 
doubt that it is possible, nor does it seem to me to 
clash with our preceding view. But we must be- 
ware of misunderstandings. We can hardly believe, 
in the first place, that a soul, highly developed, 
arises thus all at once. And we must remember, in 
the second place, that a soul which is the result of 
mere matter, on the other hand at once qualifies and 

A.R. z 


reacts on that matter. Mere body will, even here, 
never act upon bare mind. The event is single at 
one moment, and is double at the next ; but in this 
twofold result the sides will imply, and will make a 
difference to one another. They are a joint-effect, 
and in what follows, whether as passive or active, 
each is nothing by itself. The soul is never mere 
soul, and the body, as soon as ever the soul has 
emerged, is no longer bare body. And, when this 
is understood, we may assent to the physical origin 
of mind. But we must remember that the material 
cause of the soul will be never the whole cause. 
Matter is a phenomenal isolation of one aspect of 
reality. And the event which results from any 
material arrangement, really pre- supposes and de- 
pends on the entire background of conditions. It 
is only through a selection, and by a licence, that a 
mere physical cause can anywhere be supposed to 
exist. 1 

And the same conclusion holds when we consider 
the suspension of a soul. The psychical life of an 
organism seems more or less to disappear, and 
again to be restored, and we have to ask whether 
this restoration is effected by mere matter. We 
may distinguish here two questions, one of which 
concerns fact, and the other possibility. It is first, 
I think, impossible to be sure that anywhere psych- 
ical functions have ceased wholly. You certainly 
cannot conclude from the absence of familiar phen- 
omena to the absence of everything, however differ- 
ent in degree or in kind. And whether, as a fact, 
anywhere in an organism its soul is quite suspended, I 
do not pretend to know. But assume for argument's 
sake that this is so, it does not lead to a new diffi- 
culty. We have a case once more here, where 
physical conditions are the origin of a psychical 
result, and there seems no need to add anything to 

1 Whether mere soul can act on or produce matter, I shall 
enquire lower down. 


our discussion of this point And what we are to 
say the soul is in the interval, during which it has 
ceased to exist, we have already enquired. 

And under this head of suspension may fall all 
those cases, where a psychical association seems to 
have become merely physical. In psychology we 
have connections, which once certainly or possibly 
were conscious, but now, in part or altogether, and 
either always or at times, appear to happen without 
any psychical links. But, however interesting for 
psychology, 1 these cases have little metaphysical 
importance. And I will content myself here with 
repeating our former warnings. It is, in the first 
place, not easy to be sure of our ground, when we 
wholly exclude an unconscious process in the soul. 
But, even when this has been excluded, and we are 
left with bare body, the body will be no more than 
relatively bare. We shall have reached something 
where the soul in question is absent, but where we 
cannot say that soul is absent altogether. For there 
is no part of Nature, which we can say (Chapter 
xxii.) is not directly organic to a soul or souls. 
And the merely physical, we saw, is in any case a 
mere abstraction. It is set apart from, and still de- 
pends on, the whole of experience. 

I will briefly notice another point It may be 
objected that our view implies interference with, or 
suspension of, the laws of matter or of mind. And 
it will be urged that such interference is wholly un- 
tenable. This objection would rest on a misunder- 
standing. Every law which is true is true always 
and for ever ; but, upon the other hand, every law 
is emphatically an abstraction. And hence obviously 
all laws are true only in the abstract. Modify the 
conditions, add some elements to make the connec- 
tion more concrete, and the law is transcended. It 

1 Psychology, I should say, has a right to take the soul as sus- 
pended, or generally as absent so far as is convenient I doubt 
if there is any other limit. 


is npt interfered with, and it holds, but it does not 
hold of this case. It remains perfectly true, but is 
inapplicable where the conditions which it supposes 
are absent. 

I have dwelt at length on the connection of body 
and soul, but it presents a series of questions which 
we have, even yet, not discussed. I must endeavour 
to dispose of these briefly. Can we say that bare 
soul ever acts upon body, and can soul exist at all 
without matter, and if so, in what sense ? In our 
experience assuredly bare soul is not found. Its 
existence there, and its action, are inseparable from 
matter ; but a question obviously can be asked with 
regard to what is possible. As to this, I would 
begin by observing that, if bare soul exists, I hardly 
see how we could prove its existence. We have 
seen (Chapter xxii.) that we can set no bounds to 
the variety of bodies. An extended organism 
might, none the less, be widely scattered and dis- 
continuous ; and again organisms might be shared 
wholly or partially between souls. Further, of what- 
ever extended material a body is composed, there 
remains the question of its possible functions and 
properties. I cannot see how, on the one hand, we 
can fix the limits of these. But upon the other 
hand, if we fail to do so, I do not understand by 
what process we even begin to infer the existence of 
bare soul. 1 And our result so far must be this. We 
may agree that soul, acting or existing in separation 
from body, is a thing which is possible ; but we are 
still without the smallest reason, further, for regard- 
ing it as real. 

But is such a soul indeed possible ? Or let us 
rather ask, first, what such a soul would mean. For, 
if disconnected from all extension, it might even 
then not be naked. One can imagine an arrange- 

1 See further The Evidences of Spiritualism, Fortnightly 
Review, No. ccxxviii. 


ment of secondary qualities, not extended but 
constant ; and this might accompany psychical life 
and serve as a body (p. 268). We have no reason 
for seriously entertaining this idea, but, on the other 
hand, is there any argument which would prove it 
impossible ? And we may come to the same con- 
clusion with regard to bare soul. This would 
mean a psychical series devoid of every quality 
that could serve as an organism. Of course if it 
were a "spirit," immaterial and at the same time 
localized and extended, it would be inconsistent 
with itself. But there is no necessity for our falling 
into such self-contradiction. A psychical series 
without extension or locality in space, I presume, is 
conceivable. And this bare series might, for all we 
know, normally, or on occasion, even influence 
body. Nay, for all that I can perceive, such a 
naked soul might do more. Just as we saw that 
soul can follow from material conditions, so, in the 
course of events, some matter might itself result 
from soul. All these things are " possible " in this 
sense, that, within our knowledge, they cannot any 
of them be proved to be unreal. But they are 
mere idle possibilities. We can find no further 
ground for entertaining them, and in an estimate of 
probability we could not give them an appreciable 
value. But surely that which we have no more 
reason for taking as true, is nothing which we need 
trouble ourselves to consider. We have in fact no 
choice but to treat it as wholly non-existent. 1 

We have now discussed the general connection of 
soul with body. We have seen that neither is 
reality. Each is a phenomenal series, and their 
members, as events in time, are causally related. 
The changes on one side in their sequence are in- 

1 These worthless fancies really j>ossess no kind of interest at 
all. The continuance of the soul after death will be touched on 
hereafter. On the general nature of the Possible, see, further, 
Chapters xxiv. and xxvil 

34 2 REALITY. 

separable from, and affected by, the changes on the 
other side. This, so far as body and soul are con- 
nected at all, is the normal course of things. But 
when we went on to investigate, we found a differ- 
ence. The existence and action of bare soul is a 
mere possibility. We have no further reason to 
believe in it ; nor, if it were fact, do I see how we 
should be able to discover it. But the existence of 
mere body, and the appearance of soul as its con- 
sequence, and again the partial absence or abeyance 
of psychical links, we found much more than pos- 
sible. When properly interpreted, though we cannot 
prove that these are facts, they have very great 
probability. Still there is not, after all, the smallest 
ground to suppose that mere matter directly acts 
upon psychical states. To gain an accurate view 
of this connection in all its features is exceedingly 
difficult. But what is important for metaphysics, is 
to realize clearly that the interest of such details is 
secondary. Since the phenomenal series, in any 
case, come together in the Absolute, since their 
special characters must be lost there and be dis- 
solved in what transcends them — the existence by 
itself of either body or soul is illusory. Their 
separation may be used for particular purposes, but 
it is, in the end, an untrue or a provisional abstrac- 

It is necessary, before ending this chapter, to say 
something on the relation of soul to soul. The way 
of communication between souls, and again their 
sameness and difference, are points on which we 
must be careful to guard against error. It is cer- 
tain, in the first place, that experiences are all 
separate from each other. However much their 
contents are identical, they are on the other hand 
made different by appearing as elements in distinct 
centres of feeling. The immediate experiences of 
finite beings cannot, as such, come together; and to 


be possessed directly of what is personal to the 
mind of another, would in the end be unmeaning. 
Thus souls, in a sense at least, are separate ; but, 
upon the other hand, they are able to act on one 
other. And I will begin by enquiring how, in fact, 
they exercise this influence. 

The direct action of soul on soul is, for all we 
know, possible ; but we have, at the same time, no 
reason for regarding it as more. That which 
influences, and that which acts, is, so far as we 
know, always the outside of our bodies. Nor, even 
if we admit abnormal perception and influence at a 
distance, need we modify this result. For here the 
natural inference would be to a medium extended in 
space, and of course, like " ether," quite material. 
And in this way the abnormal connection, if it 
exists, does not differ in kind from what is familiar. 
Again the inside of one organism might, I presume, 
act directly on the inside of another. But, if this is 
possible, we need not therefore consider it as actual. 
Nor do such enquiries possess genuine metaphysical 
interest. For the influence of the internal, whether 
body or soul, is not less effective because it operates 
through, and with, the outside ; nor would it gain in 
reality by becoming direct. And with this we may 
dismiss an idea, misemployed by superstition, but 
from which no conclusion of the smallest importance 
could follow. A direct connection between souls we 
cannot say is impossible, but, on the other hand, we 
find no good reason for supposing it to exist. The 
possibility seems, in addition, to be devoid of all 

We may assume then that souls do not influence 
each other, except through their bodies. And hence 
it is only by thus way that they are able to communi- 
cate. Alterations of the phenomenal group which 
I call my body, produce further changes in the 
physical environment. And thus, indirectly or 


directly, other organisms are altered, with conse- 
quent effects on the course of their accompanying 
souls. This account, which is true of my soul, 
holds good also with others. The world is such 
that we can make the same intellectual construction. 
We can, more or less, set up a scheme, in which 
every one has a place, a system constant and orderly, 
and in which the relations apprehended by each 
percipient coincide. Why and how this comes 
about we in the end cannot understand ; but it is 
such a Uniformity of Nature which makes com- 
munication possible. 1 

But this may suggest to us a doubt. If such 
alterations of bodies are the sole means which we 
possess for conveying what is in us, can we be sure 
in the end that we really have conveyed it ? For 
suppose that the contents of our various souls 
differed radically, might we not still, on the same 
ground, be assured of their sameness ? The objec- 
tion is serious, and must be admitted in part to hold 
good. I do not think we can be sure that the 
sensible qualities we perceive are for every one the 
same. We infer from the apparent identity of our 
structure that this is so ; and our conclusion, though 
not proved, possesses high probability. And, 
again, it may be impossible in fact that, while the 
relations are constant, the qualities should vary ; but 
to assert this would be to pass beyond the limits of 
our knowledge. What, however, we are convinced 
of, is briefly this, that we understand and, again, are 
ourselves understood. There is, indeed, a theoretic- 
al possibility that these other bodies are without 
any souls, 2 or that, while behaving as if they under- 

1 Cf. Chapter xxii. There may, so far as I see, be many 
systems of souls, each system without a way of communication 
with the others. On this point we seem to be without any 
means of judging. 

2 I do not mean that it is possible that my soul should contain 
all the experience which exists. 


stood us, their souls really remain apart in worlds 
shut up from ours. But, when this bare possibility 
is excluded, the question stands thus. A common 
understanding being admitted, how much does that 
imply ? What is the minimum of sameness that we 
need suppose to be involved in it ? 

It might be interesting elsewhere to pursue this 
question at length, but I must content myself here 
with an attempt briefly to indicate the answer. The 
fact is that, in the main, we behave as if our internal 
worlds were the same. But this fact means that, 
for each one, the inner systems coincide. Through 
all their detail these several orders must lead to the 
same result. But, if so, we may go further, and 
may conclude that each comes to the same thing. 
What is the amount of variety then which such 
coinciding orders will admit ? We must, I presume, 
answer that, for all we know, the details may be 
different, but that the principles cannot vary. 
There seems to be a point beyond which, if laws 
and systems come to the same thing, they must be 
actually the same. And the higher we mount from 
facts of sense, and the wider our principles have 
become, the more nearly we have approached to 
this point of identity. Thus sensible qualities, we 
may suppose, at one end are largely divergent ; 
while, if we rise high enough at the other end, we 
must postulate sameness. And, between these two 
extremes, as we advance, the probability increases 
that coincidence results from identical character. It 
is, for example, more likely that we share our 
general morality with another man, than that we 
both have the same tastes or odours in common. 
And with this I will pass from a subject which 
seems both difficult and interesting, but which for 
metaphysics possesses but secondary importance. 
Whatever variety there may be, cannot extend to 
first principles ; and all variety comes together, and 
is transformed, in the Absolute. 


But there is a natural mistake which, perhaps, I 
should briefly notice. Our inner worlds, I may be 
told, are divided from each other, but the outer 
world of experience is common to all ; and it is by 
standing on this basis that we are able to communi- 
cate. Such a statement would be incorrect. My 
external sensations are no less private to myself 
than are my thoughts or my feelings. In either 
case my experience falls within my own circle, a 
circle closed on the outside ; and, with all its ele- 
ments alike, every sphere is opaque to the others 
which surround it. With regard to communica- 
bility, there is in fact not any difference of kind, but 
only of degree. In every case the communication 
must be made indirectly, and through the medium 
of our outsides. What is true is that, with certain 
elements, the ways of expression may be shorter 
and less mistakeable ; and again the conditions, 
which secure a community of perception, are, with 
certain elements, more constant and more subject to 
our control. So much seems clear, but it is not 
true that our physical experiences have unity, in 
any sense which is inapplicable to the worlds we 
call internal. Nor again, even in practice, is it 
always more easy to communicate an outer than an 
inner experience. In brief, regarded as an exis- 
tence which appears in a soul, the whole world for 
each is peculiar and private to that soul. But, if on 
the other hand, you are considering identity of 
content, and, on that basis, are transcending such 
particular existences, then there is at once, in prin- 
ciple, no difference between the inner and the 
outer. 1 No experience can lie open to inspection 
from outside; no direct guarantee of identity is 
possible. Both our knowledge of sameness, and 

1 It is of course true that outer experience to be properly 
outer, must already have passed beyond the stage of mere feeling, 
and that what is called inner experience, need not have done so. 
But this is, only in part, relevant to the issue. 


our way of communication, are indirect and in- 
ferential. They must make the circuit, and must 
use the symbol, of bodily change. If a common 
ruler of souls could give to any one a message from 
the inside, such a message could never be handed 
on but by alterations of bodies. That real identity 
of ideal content, by which all souls live and move, 
cannot work in common save by the path of ex- 
ternal appearance. 

And, with this, we are led to the question of the 
identity between souls. We have just seen that 
immediate experiences are separate, and there is 
probably no one who would desire to advocate 
a contrary opinion. But there are those, I presume, 
who will deny the possibility of two souls being, in 
any respect, really the same. And we must en- 
deavour very briefly to clear our ideas on this 

It would be, of course, absurd to argue that two 
persons are not two but only one, or that, in general, 
differences are not different, but simply the same ; 
and any such contention would be, doubtless, a 
wilful paradox. But the principle of what we may 
call the Identity of Indiscernibles, has quite another 
meaning. It implies that sameness can exist to- 
gether with difference, or that what is the same is 
still the same, however much in other ways it differs. 
I shall soon attempt to define this principle more 
clearly, but what I would insist on, first, is that to 
deny it is to affront common sense. It is, in fact, to 
use words which could have no meaning. For every 
process of psychical Association is based on this 
ground ; and, to come to what is plainer, every 
movement of our intellect rests wholly upon it If 
you will not assume that identity holds throughout 
different contexts, you cannot advance one single 
step in apprehending the world. There will be 
neither change nor endurance, and still less, motion 


through space of an identical body ; there will neither 
be selves nor things, nor, in brief, any intelligible 
fact, unless on the assumption that sameness in 
differents is real. Apart from this main principle 
of construction, we should be confined to the feeling 
of a single moment 

And to appeal to Similarity or Resemblance would 
be a futile attempt to escape in the darkness. For 
Similarity itself, when we view it in the daylight, is 
nothing in the world but more or less unspecified 
sameness. I will not dwell here on a point which 
elsewhere I have possibly pursued ad nauseam} 
No one, perhaps, would ever have betaken himself 
to mere Resemblance, unless he had sought in it a 
refuge from the dangers of Identity. And these 
dangers are the product of misunderstanding. 

There is a notion that sameness implies the denial 
of difference, while difference is, of course, a palpable 
fact. But really sameness, while in one respect exclu- 
sive of difference, in another respect most essentially 
implies it. And these two " respects " are indivisible, 
even in idea. There would be no meaning in same- 
ness, unless it were the identity of differences, the 
unity of elements which it holds together, but must 
not confound. And in the same way difference, 
while it denies, presupposes identity. For difference 
must depend on a relation, and a relation is possible 
only on a basis of sameness. It is not common 

1 Principles of Logic, pp. 261-2. Cp. Ethical Studies, p. 151. 
I do not understand that there is any material difference on this 
head between myself and Mr, Bosanquet, Knowledge and Reality, 
pp. 97-108. I would add that in psychology the alternative, 
between Association by general resemblance and by (explicit) 
partial identity, is a false one. The feeling that two things are 
similar need not imply the perception of the identical point, but 
none the less this feeling is based always on partial sameness. 
For a confusion on this head see Stumpf, Tonpsychologie, I., 
112-114. And now (while revising these words for the press) 
I regret to have to add to Stumpf s name that of Professor James. 
I have examined the above confusion, more in detail, in Mind, 
No. 5, N.S. For Professor James' reply, see No. 6. 


sense that has any desire to reject such truths, and 
blindly to stand upon difference to the exclusion of 
identity. In ordinary science no one would question 
the reality of motion, because it makes one thing the 
same throughout diverse times and spaces. That 
things to be the same must always be different, and 
to be different must be, therefore, the same — this is 
not a paradox, until it is paradoxically stated. It 
does not seem absurd, unless, wrongly, it is taken to 
imply that difference and sameness themselves are 
actually not different. 1 And, apart from such mis- 
understanding, the ground and reason of the 
antagonism to identity is furnished merely by one- 
sided and uncritical metaphysics. 

This mistaken opposition is based upon a truth, a 
truth that has been misapprehended and perverted 
into error. What has been perceived, or dimly felt, 
is in fact a principle that, throughout this work, has 
so often come before us. The Real in the end is 
self-subsistent, and contained wholly in itself ; and 
its being is therefore not relative, nor does it admit 
a division of content from existence. In short relat- 
ivity and self-transcendence, or, as we may call it, 
ideality, cannot as such be the character of ultimate 
Reality. And, so far as this goes, we are at one 
with the objectors to identity. But the question 
really is about the conclusion which follows from this 
premise. Our conclusion is that finite existence 
must, in the end, not be real ; it is an appearance 
which, as such, is transformed in the Absolute. But 
such a result obviously does not imply that, within 
the world of phenomena, identity is unreal. And 
hence the conclusion, which more or less explicitly 
is drawn by our opponents, differs widely from ours. 
From the self-subsistent nature of the Real they have 

1 So long as wc avoid this mistake, we may, and even must, 
affirm that things are different, so far as they are the same, and 
the same, so far as they are different To get difference, or 
sameness, bare would be to destroy its character. 


inferred the reality of diverse existences, beings in 
any case several and finite, and without community 
of essence. 1 But this conclusion, as we have seen, 
is wholly untenable. For plurality and separateness 
themselves exist only by means of relations (Chapter 
iii.). To be different from another is to have 
already transcended one's own being ; and all finite 
existence is thus incurably relative and ideal. Its 
quality falls, more or less, outside its particular 
44 thatness " ; and, whether as the same or again as 
diverse, it is equally made what it is by community 
with others. Finite elements are joined by what 
divides, and are divided by what joins them, and 
their division and their junction alike are ideal. 
But, if so, and unless some answer is found to this 
contention, it is impossible to deny that identity is a 
fact. 3 It is not real ultimately, we are agreed, but 
then facts themselves are not ultimate, and the ques- 
tion is confined to the realm of phenomenal existence. 
For difference itself is but phenomenal, and is itself 
assuredly not ultimate. And we may end, I think, 
with this reply. Show us (we may urge) a region 
of facts which are neither different nor yet the same ; 
show us how quality without relation, or how mere 
being, can differentiate ; point out how difference is 
to keep any meaning, as soon" as sameness is wholly 
banished ; tell us the way in which sameness and 
difference can exist, if they may not be ideal ; ex- 
plain how, if identity is not real, the world of experi- 
ence in any part holds together — at least attempt 
this, or else admit that identity is ideal and is, at 
the same time, a fact, and that your objection, in 

1 The English writers who have objected to identity have left 
their principle of atomism and their principle of relativity simply 
standing side by side. Not one has (so far as I know) made the 
smallest attempt seriously to explain the position given to relations. 
Cp. Principles of Logic, p. 96. 

2 Fact in the sense of unseparated adjective of fact. See 
above, p. 317. 


short, had no basis but confusion and traditional 

But the principle that sameness is real and is not 
destroyed by differences, demands, as we have seen, 
some explanation. It would be absurd, for instance, 
to suppose that two souls really are but one soul, 
since identity always implies and depends upon 
difference ; and we may now treat this point as 
sufficiently discussed. Sameness is real amid dif- 
ferences ; but we must neither deny that these 
differences, in one sense, affect it, nor may we assert 
that sameness is always a working connection. I 
will take these points in their order. 

We may say that what is once true remains true 
always, or that what is the same in any one context, 
is still the same in any other context. But, in 
affirming this, we must be on our guard against a 
serious mistake. For a difference of conditions, 
it is obvious, will make a difference to sameness, 
and it is certain that contexts can modify their 
identical element If, that is, rushing to the oppo- 
site extreme, you go on to immerse wholly your 
truths in their conditions, if you refuse in any respect 
to abstract from this total diversity, then the principle 
of identity becomes inapplicable. You then would 
not have the same thing under different circumstances, 
because you would have declined to see anything 
whatever but difference. But, if we avoid these 
errors on each side, the principle soon becomes 
clear. Identity obviously by its essence must be 
more or less abstract ; and, when we predicate it, 
we are disregarding other sides of the whole. We 
are asserting that, notwithstanding other aspects, 
this one aspect of sameness persists and is real. We 
do not say how far it extends, or what proj)ortion 
it bears to the accompanying diversity ; but same- 
ness, so far as it goes, is actually and genuinely the 
same. Given a fresh instance of a law, and the law 
still holds good, though in the whole result this one 

35 2 REALITY. 

factor may seem overborne. The other conditions 
here have joined to modify the general consequence, 
but the law itself has worked fully, and has main- 
tained its selfsame character. And, given two indi- 
viduals with any part of their content indiscernible, 
then, while that is so, we are bound, so far, to con- 
sider them the same. However much their diversity 
may preponderate, however different may be the 
whole effect of each separate compound, yet, for all 
that, what is the same in them is one and identical. 
And our principle, thus understood, is surely irrefrag- 
able, and wears the air, perhaps, more of triviality 
than of paradox. Its results indeed often would be 
trivial, most empty and frivolous. Its significance 
varies with varying conditions. To know that two 
souls have an element of their contents in common, 
may thus be quite unimportant. Such knowledge 
may, again, assure us of the very gravest and most 
fundamental truths. But of all this the principle 
itself, being abstract, tells us nothing. 

And as to any working connection our principle 
is silent. Whether an identical point in two things 
affects them otherwise, so as to cause other changes 
to happen, we are unable to learn from it. For how 
a thing works must depend on its special relations, 
while the principle, as we have seen, remains per- 
fectly general. Two souls, for example, which live 
together, may by their identity be drawn into active 
community. If the same were sundered in time, 
this, for our knowledge, would be impossible. But, 
in the latter case, the identity exists actually as 
much as it exists in the former. The amount of 
sameness, and the kind of sameness, and what the 
sameness will bring forth — these points all fall out- 
side of our abstract principle. But if any one bases 
an objection on this ground, he would seem to be 
arguing in effect that, because, in fact, diverse iden- 
tities exist, therefore identity, as a fact, has no actual 
existence. And such a position seems irrational. 



Our result, so far, is that the sameness between 
souls is a fact. The identity of their content is just 
as real as is their separate existence. But this 
identity, on the other hand, need not imply a 
further relation between them. It need not, so far 
as we can see, act in any way ; and its action, where 
it acts, appears to be always indirect Souls seem 
to influence one another only by means of their 

But this limited view of identity, as a working 
force, must be modified when we consider the indi- 
vidual soul. In the course of its internal history 
we must admit that the sameness of its states is an 
actual mover. In other words the mechanical in- 
terpretation, if throughout applicable to Nature, must 
in dealing with souls be in part given up. And I 
will end the chapter by pointing out this important 

I mean by Nature here the physical world, con- 
sidered merely as physical and in abstraction from 
soul (Chapter xxii.). And in Nature sameness and 
difference may be said everywhere to exist, but 
never anywhere to work. This would, at least, 
appear to be the ideal of natural science, however 
incompletely that ideal has been carried into practice. 
No element, according to this principle, can be any- 
thing to any other, merely because it is the same, or 
because it is different For these are but internal 
characters, while that which works is in every case 
an outward relation. 1 But then, if so, sameness and 
difference may appear at first sight to have no 

1 I have not thought it necessary in the text to say anything on 
the view which finds a solution of all puzzles in impact For why, 
in the first place, the working of impact should be self-evident, 
seems, except by the influence of mere habit, not easy to perceive. 
And, in the second place, it is sheer thoughtlessness if we imagine 
that by impact we get rid of the universal. Complete relativity, 
and an ideal unity which transcends the particulars, are just as 
essential to impart as to everything else. 

A. R. A A 


meaning at all. They may look like idle ornaments 
of which science, if consistent, should strip itself. 
Such a conclusion, however, would be premature, 
since, if these two characters are removed, science 
bodily disappears. It would be impossible without 
them ever to ask Why, or any longer to say Because. 
And the function of sameness and difference, if we 
consider it, is obvious. For the external relations, 
which work, are summed up in the laws ; and, on the 
other hand, the internal characters of the separate 
elements serve to connect them with these universal 
strings or hinges. And thus, while inoperative, 
sameness and difference are still effective indirectly, 
and in fact are indispensable. This would appear 
to be the essence of the mechanical view. But I am 
unable to state how far at present, through the higher 
regions of Nature, it has been in practice applied ; 
and again I do not know how properly to interpret, 
for example, the (apparent) effect of identity in the 
case of continued motion through space. To speak 
generally, the mechanical view is in principle non- 
sense, because the position of the laws is quite incon- 
sistent and unintelligible. This is indeed a defect 
which belongs necessarily to every special science 
(Chapter xi.), but in the sphere of Nature it reaches 
its lowest extreme. The identity of physical ele- 
ments may thus be said to fall outside their own 
being, their universality seems driven into banish- 
ment and forced to reside solely in laws. And, since 
these laws on the one hand are not physical, and 
since on the other hand they seem essential to 
Nature, the essence of Nature seems, therefore, made 
alien to itself, and to be on either side unnaturally 
sundered. However, compulsion from outside is the 
one working principle which is taken to hold in the 
physical world. And, at least if we are true to our 
ideal, neither identity nor difference can act in Nature. 
When we come to psychology this is altered. I 
do not mean that there the mechanical view ceases 


wholly, nor do I mean that, where it is superseded, 
as in the working of pleasure and pain, that which 
operates must be ideal. 1 But, to a greater or less 
extent, all psychology, in its practice, is compelled to 
admit the working power of Identity. A psycholo- 
gist may employ this force unwillingly, or may deny 
that he employs it ; but without it he would be quite 
unable to make his way through the subject. I do 
not propose here to touch upon Coalescence or 
Blending, a principle much neglected by English 
psychologists. I will come at once to Redintegra- 
tion, or what is more familiar to us as Association 
by Contiguity. Here we are forced to affirm that 
what happens now in the soul happens because of 
something else which took place there before. And 
it happens, further, because of a point of identity con- 
necting the present with the past. 3 That is to say, 
the past conjunction in the soul has become a law of 
its being. It actually exists there again because it 
happened there once, and because, in the present 
and in the past, an element of content is identical. 
And thus in the soul we can have habits, while 
habits that are but physical exist, perhaps, only 
through a doubtful metaphor. Where present and 
past functions have not an inner basis of identity, 
the word habit, if used, has no longer its meaning. 8 
Hence we may say that to a large extent the soul is 
itself its own laws, consists, itself, in the identity be- 
tween its present and its past, and (unlike Nature] 
has its own ideal essence not quite external to itself. 
This seems, at all events, the view which, however 
erroneous, must be employed by every working 

1 On this point, and on what follows, compare Mind, xii., pp. 
360 and foil. 

* I have shown, in my Principles of Logic, that Contiguity can- 
not be explained by mere Similarity. See the chapter there on 
the Association of Ideas. 

5 The question seems to turn on the amount of inward identity 
which we are prepared to attribute to a physical thing. 


But I must hasten to add that this view remains 
gravely imperfect. It is in the end impossible to 
maintain that anything is because it has been. And 
with regard to the soul, such an objection can be 
pressed from two sides. Suppose, in the first place, 
that another body like my own were manufactured, 
can I deny that with this body would go everything 
that I call my self ? So long as the soul is not 
placed in the position of an idle appendage, I have 
already, in principle, accepted this result. I think 
that in such a case there would be the same associa- 
tions and of course the same memory. But we could 
no longer repeat here that the soul is, because it 
has been. We should be compelled rather to assert 
that (in a sense) the soul has been, because it now 
is. This imaginary case has led us back, in fact, to 
that problem of " dispositions," which we found be- 
fore was insoluble. Its solution (so far as we could 
perceive) would dissolve each of the constructions 
called body and soul. 

And, in the second place, regarded from the in- 
side, the psychological view of identity is no less a 
compromise. We may perhaps apprehend this by 
considering the double aspect of Memory. We re- 
member, on the one hand, because of prior events in 
our existence. But, on the other hand, memory is 
most obviously a construction from the present, and 
it depends absolutely upon that which at the moment 
we are. And this latter movement, when developed, 
carries us wholly outside the psychological view, and 
altogether beyond memory. For the main object 
of thought may be called the attempt to get rid of 
mere conjunctions in the soul. A true connection, 
in the end, we see cannot be true because once upon 
a time its elements happened together. Mere as- 
sociations, themselves always universal from the 
first, 1 are hence by thought deliberately purified. 

1 I have endeavoured to prove this point in Principles of Logic, 
pp. 36 and foil. ; 284 and foil.; cp. 460-1. I venture to think that 


Starting from mere " facts " — from those relations 
which are perceived in confused union with an 
irrelevant context — thought endeavours to transform 
them. Its advance would end in an ideal world 
where nothing stands by itself, where, in other 
words, nothing is forced to stand in relation with what 
is foreign, but where, on the contrary, truth consists 
in an absolute relativity. Every element here would 
be because of something other which supports it, in 
which other, and in the whole, it finds its own iden- 
tity. I certainly admit that this ideal can not be fully 
realized (Chapter xv.) ; but it furnishes the test by 
which we must judge whatever offers itself as truth. 
And, measured by this test, the psychological view 
is condemned. 

The entire phenomenal world, as a connected 
series, and, in this world, the two constructions known 
as body and soul, are, all alike, imperfect ways of 
regarding Reality. And these ways at every point 
have proved unstable. They are arbitrary fixtures 
which tend throughout to transcend their limits, the 
limits which, for the sake of practice, we are forced 
to impose. And the result is everywhere inconsist- 
ency. We found that body, attempting to work 
without identity, became unintelligible. And we saw 
that the soul, admitting identity as a function in its 
life, ended also in mere compromise. These things 
are both appearances, and both are untrue ; but still 
untruth has got degrees. And, compared with the 
physical world, the soul is, by far, less unreal. It 
shows to a larger extent that self-dependence in 
which Reality consists. 

But the discussion of degrees in Reality will en- 
gage us hereafter. We may now briefly recall the 
main results of this chapter. We have seen that 
body and soul are phenomenal constructions. They 

psychology is suffering seriously from want of clearness on this 


are each inconsistent abstractions, held apart for the 
sake of theoretical convenience. And the superior 
reality of the body we found was a superstition. 
Passing thence to the relation which seems to couple 
these two makeshifts, we endeavoured to define it. 1 
We rejected both the idea of mere concomitance, 
and of the one-sided dependence of the soul ; and 
we urged that an adjective which makes no differ- 
ence to anything, is nonsense. We then discussed 
briefly the possibilities of bare soul and bare body, 
and we went from this to the relations which actually 
exist between souls. We concluded that souls affect 
each other, in fact, only through their bodies, but we 
insisted that, none the less, ideal identity between 
souls is a genuine fact. We found, last of all, that, 
in the psychical life of the individual, we had to re- 
cognise the active working of sameness. And we 
ended this chapter with the reflection which through- 
out has been near us. We have here been handling 
problems, the complete solution of which would in- 
volve the destruction of both body and soul. We 
have found ourselves naturally carried forward to 
the consideration of that which is beyond them. 

1 I would append a few words to explain further my attitude 
towards the view which takes the soul as the ideality of its body. 
If that view made soul and body together an ultimate reality, I 
should reject it on this ground. Otherwise certainly I hold that 
individuality is ideal, and that soul in general realizes individuality 
at a stage beyond body. But I hesitate to assert that the par- 
ticular soul and body correspond, so that the first is throughout 
the fulfilment and inner reality of the second. And I doubt our 
right generally to take soul and body together as always making 
or belonging to but one finite individual. Further I cannot admit 
that the connection of soul and body is really either intelligible 
or explicable. My attitude towards ihis whole doctrine is thus 
in the main sympathetically neutral. 



In our last chapter we reached the question of 
degrees in Truth and Reality, and we must now 
endeavour to make clear what is contained in that 
idea. 1 An attempt to do this, thoroughly and in 
detail, would carry us too far. To show how the 
world, physical and spiritual, realizes by various 
stages and degrees the one absolute principle, would 
involve a system of metaphysics. And such a sys- 
tem I am not undertaking to construct. I am en- 
deavouring merely to get a sound general view of 
Reality, and to defend it against a number of diffi- 
culties and objections. But, for this, it is essential 
to explain and to justify the predicates of higher 
and lower. While dealing with this point, I shall 
devclope further the position which we have already 
assigned to Thought (Chapters xv. and xvi.). 

The Absolute, considered as such, has of course 
no degrees ; for it is perfect, and there can be no 
more or less in perfection (Chapter xx.). Such 
predicates belong to, and have a meaning only in 
the world of appearance. We may be reminded, 
indeed, that the same absoluteness seems also pos- 
sessed by existence in time. For a thing either may 
have a place there, or may have none, but it cannot 
inhabit any interval between presence and absence. 
This view would assume that existence in time is 
Reality ; and in practice, andfor some purposes, 

1 I may mention that in this chapter I am, perhaps even more 
than elsewhere, indebted to Hegel. 


that is admissible. But, besides being false, the 
assumption tends naturally to pass beyond itself. 
For, if a thing may not exist less or more, it must 
certainly more or less occupy existence. It may 
usurp ground by its direct presence, but again, 
further, by its influence and relative importance. 
Thus we should find it difficult, in the end, to say 
exactly what we understand by " having " existence. 
We should even find a paradox in the assertion, that 
everything alike has existence to precisely the same 

But here, in metaphysics, we have long ago 
passed beyond this one-sided point of view. On 
one hand the series of temporal facts has been per- 
ceived to consist in ideal construction. It is ideal, 
not indeed wholly (Chapter xxiii.), but still essen- 
tially. And such a series is but appearance; it is 
not absolute, but relative ; and, like all other appear- 
ance, it admits the distinction of more and less. On 
the other hand, we have seen that truth, which again 
itself is appearance, both unconsciously and deliber- 
ately diverges from this rude essay. And, without 
considering further the exploded claim set up by 
temporal fact, we may deal generally with the ques- 
tion of degrees in reality and truth. 

We have already perceived the main nature of 
the process of thinking. 1 Thought essentially con- 
sists in the separation of the " what " from the 
" that." It may be said to accept this dissolution 
as its effective principle. Thus it renounces all 
attempt to make fact, and it confines itself to con- 
sent. But by embracing this separation, and by 
urging this independent development to its extreme, 
thought indirectly endeavours to restore the broken 
whole. It seeks to find an arrangement of ideas, 
self-consistent and complete ; and by this predicate 

1 Chapters xv. and xvi. Cp. Mind, No. 47. 


it has to qualify and make good the Reality. And, 
as we have seen, its attempt would in the end be 
suicidal. Truth should mean what it stands for, and 
should stand for what it means ; but these two 
aspects in the end prove incompatible. There is 
still a difference, unremoved, between the subject 
and the predicate, a difference which, while it per- 
sists, shows a failure in thought, but which, if re- 
moved, would wholly destroy the special essence of 

We may put this otherwise by laying down that 
any categorical judgment must be false. The sub- 
ject and the predicate, in the end, cannot either be 
the other. If however we stop short of this goal, 
our judgment has failed to reach truth ; while, if we 
attained it, the terms and their relation would have 
ceased. And hence all our judgments, to be true, 
must become conditional. The predicate, that is, 
does not hold unless by the help of something else. 
And this " something else " cannot be stated, so as 
to fall inside even a new and conditional predicate. 1 

It is however better, I am now persuaded, not to 
say that every judgment is hypothetical. 8 The 
word, it is clear, may introduce irrelevant ideas. 
Judgments are conditional in this sense, that what 
they affirm is incomplete. It cannot be attributed 
to Reality, as such, and before its necessary comple- 
ment is added. And, in addition, this complement 
in the end remains unknown. But, while it remains 
unknown, we obviously cannot tell how, if present, 
it would act upon and alter our predicate. For to 
suppose that its presence would make no difference 
is plainly absurd, while the precise nature of the 

1 I may, perhaps, refer here to my Principles of Logic. Even 
1 hysical statements about the Absolute, I would add, are not 

stricUy categorical. See below Chapter xxvii. 

* This term often implies the reality of temporal existence, and 
is also, apart from that, objectionable. See Mr. Bosanquet's 
admirable Logic, I., Chapter vi. 


difference falls outside our knowledge. But, if so, 
this unknown modification of our predicate may, in 
various degrees, destroy its special character. The 
content in fact might so be altered, be so redistrib- 
uted and blended, as utterly to be transformed. 
And, in brief, the predicate may, taken as such, be 
more or less completely untrue. Thus we really 
always have asserted subject to, and at the mercy 
of, the unknown. 1 And hence our judgment, always 
but to a varying extent, must in the end be called 

But with this we have arrived at the meeting- 
ground of error and truth. There will be no truth 
which is entirely true, just as there will be no error 
which is totally false. With all alike, if taken 
strictly, it will be a question of amount, and will be 
a matter of more or less. Our thoughts certainly, 
for some purposes, may be taken as wholly false, or 
again as quite accurate ; but truth and error, 
measured by the Absolute, must each be subject 
always to degree. Our judgments, in a word, can 
never reach as far as perfect truth, and must be 
content merely to enjoy more or less of Validity. I 
do not simply mean by this term that, for working 
purposes, our judgments are admissible and will 
pass. I mean that less or more they actually possess 
the character and type of absolute truth and reality. 
They can take the place of the Real to various ex- 
tents, because containing in themselves less or more 
of its nature. They are its representatives, worse 

1 Hence in the end we must be held to have asserted the un- 
known. It is however better not to call this the predication of an 
unknown quality {Principles of Logic, p. 87), since "quality" 
either adds nothing, or else adds what is false. The doctrine of 
the text seems seriously to affect the reciprocity of ground and 
consequence, of cause and effect. I certainly agree here that, if 
the judgments are pure, the relation holds both ways (Bosanquet. 
Logic, I., pp. 261-4). But, if in the end they remain impure, and 
must be qualified always by an unspecified background, that 
circumstance must be taken into consideration. 


or better, in proportion as they present us with truth 
affected by greater or less derangement. Our 
judgments hold good, in short, just so far as they 
agree with, and do not diverge from, the real stand- 
ard. We may put it otherwise by saying that truths 
are true, according as it would take ,less or more to 
convert them into reality. 

We have perceived, so far, that truth is relative 
and always imperfect. We have next to see that, 
though failing of perfection, all thought is to some 
degree true. On the one hand it falls short of, and, 
on the other hand at the same time, it realizes the 
standard. But we must begin by enquiring what 
this standard is. 

Perfection of truth and of reality has in the end 
the same character. It consists in positive, self-sub- 
sisting individuality ; and I have endeavoured to 
show, in Chapter xx., what individuality means. 
Assuming that the reader has recalled the main 
points of that discussion, I will point out the two 
ways in which individuality appears. Truth must 
exhibit the mark of internal harmony, or, again, the 
mark of expansion and all-inclusiveness. And these 
two characteristics are diverse aspects of a single 
principle. That which contradicts itself, in the first 
place, jars, because the whole, immanent within it, 
drives its parts into collision. And the way to find 
harmony, as we have seen, is to re-distribute these 
discrepancies in a wider arrangement. But, in the 
second place, harmony is incompatible with restric- 
tion and finitude. For that which is not all-inclus- 
ive must by virtue of its essence internally disagree ; 
and, if we reflect, the reason of this becomes plain. 
That which exists in a whole has external relations. 
Whatever it fails to include within its own nature, 
must be related to it by the whole, and related ex- 
ternally. Now these extrinsic relations, on the one 
hand, fall outside of itself, but, upon the other hand, 


cannot do so. For a relation must at both ends 
affect, and pass into, the being of its terms. And 
hence the inner essence of what is finite itself both 
is, and is not, the relations which limit it. Its nature 
is hence incurably relative, passing, that is, beyond 
itself, and importing, again, into its own core a mass 
of foreign connections. Thus to be defined from 
without is, in principle, to be distracted within. 
And, the smaller the element, the more wide is this 
dissipation of its essence — a dissipation too thorough 
to be deep, or to support the title of an intestine 
division. 1 But, on the contrary, the expansion of 
the element should increase harmony, for it should 
bring these external relations within the inner sub- 
stance. By growth the element becomes, more and 
more, a consistent individual, containing in itself its 
own nature ; and it forms, more and more, a whole 
inclusive of discrepancies and reducing them to sys- 
tem. The two aspects, of extension and harmony, 
are thus in principle one, though (as we shall see 
later) for our practice they in some degree fall apart 
And we must be content, for the present, to use them 

Hence to be more or less true, and to be more or 
less real, is to be separated by an interval, smaller 
or greater, from all-inclusiveness or self-consistency. 
Of two given appearances the one more wide, or 
more harmonious, is more real. It approaches 
nearer to a single, all-containing, individuality. To 
remedy its imperfections, in other words, we should 
have to make a smaller alteration. The truth and 
the fact, which, to be converted into the Absolute, 
would require less re-arrangement and addition, is 
more real and truer. And this is what we mean by 

1 It may seem a paradox to speak of the distraction, say, of a 
material particle. But try to state what that is t without bringing 
into it what it is not. Its distraction, of course, is not felt. But 
the point is that self-alienation is here too extreme for any feeling, 
or any self, to exist. 


degrees of reality and truth. To possess more the 
character of reality, and to contain within oneself a 
greater amount of the real, are two expressions for 
the same thing. 

And the principle on which false appearance can 
be converted into truth we have already set forth in 
our chapter on Error. The method consists, as we 
saw, in supplementation and in re-arrangement ; but 
I will not repeat here our former discussion. A 
total error would mean the attribution of a content 
to Reality, which, even when redistributed and dis- 
solved, could still not be assimilated. And no such 
extreme case seems possible. An error can be total 
only in this sense that, when it is turned into truth, 
its particular nature will have vanished, and its 
actual self be destroyed. But this we must allow, 
again, to happen with the lower kinds of truth. 
There cannot for metaphysics be, in short, any hard 
and absolute distinction between truths and false- 
hoods. With each assertion the question is, how 
much will be left of that assertion, if we suppose it 
to have been converted into ultimate truth ? Out 
of everything that makes its special nature as the 
predication of this adjective, how much, if anything, 
will survive ? And the amount of survival in each 
case, as we have already seen, gives the degree of 
reality and truth. 

But it may perhaps be objected that there are 
judgments without any real meaning, and that there 
are mere thoughts, which do not even pretend to 
attribute anything to Reality. And, with these, it 
will be urged that there can no longer remain the 
least degree of truth. They may, hence, be adjec- 
tives of the Real, but are not judgments about it. 
The discussion of this objection falls, perhaps, out- 
side the main scope of my work, but 1 should like 
briefly to point out that it rests on a mistake. In 
the first place every judgment, whether positive or 


negative, and however frivolous its character, makes 
an assertion about Reality. 1 And the content as- 
serted cannot, as we have seen, be altogether an 
error, though its ultimate truth may quite transform 
its original meaning. And, in the second place, 
every kind of thought implies a judgment, in this 
sense that it ideally qualifies Reality. To question, 
or to doubt, or to suggest, or to entertain a mere 
idea, is not explicitly to judge. So much is certain 
and obvious. But, when we enquire further into 
what these states necessarily imply, our conclusion 
must be otherwise. If we use judgment for the 
reference, however unconscious and indefinite, of 
thought to reality, then without exception to think 
must be, in some sense, to judge. Thought in its 
earliest stage immediately modifies a direct sensible 
presentation ; and, although, on one side, the qualifi- 
cation becomes conditional, and although the reality, 
on the other side, becomes partly non-sensuous, 
thought's main character is still preserved. The 
reference to reality may be, in various degrees, un- 
defined and at large. The ideal content may be 
applied subject to more or less transformation ; its 
struggling and conditional character may escape our 
notice, or may again be realized with less or more 
consciousness. But to hold a thought, so to speak, 
in the air, without a relation of any kind to the Real, 
in any of its aspects or spheres, we should find in 
the end to be impossible. 2 

This statement, I am aware, may seem largely 
paradoxical. The merely imaginary, I may be told, 
is not referred to reality. It may, on the contrary, 
be even with consciousness held apart. But, on 

1 I may refer the reader here to my Principles of Logic, or, 
rather, to Mr. Bosanquet's Logic, which is, in many points, a 
great advance on my own work. I have, to a slight extent, 
modified my views on Judgment. Cf. Mind, N.S., No. 60. 

2 See Mr. Bosanquet's Logic, Introduction, and the same 
author's Knowledge and Reality, pp. 148-155. 


further reflection, we should find that our general 
account will hold good. The imaginary always is 
regarded as an adjective of the real. But, in refer- 
ring it, (a) we distinguish, with more or less con- 
sciousness, the regions to which it is, and to which 
it is not, applicable. And (6) we are aware, in 
different degrees, of the amount of supplementation 
and re-arrangement, which our idea would require 
before it reached truth. These are two aspects 
of the same principle, and I will deal briefly with 

(a) With regard to the first point we must recall 
the want of unity in the world, as it comes within 
each of us. The universe we certainly feel is one, 
but that does not prevent it from appearing divided, 
and in separate spheres and regions. And between 
these diverse provinces of our life there may be no 
visible connection. In art, in morality and religion, 
in trade or politics, or again in some theoretical 
pursuit, it is a commonplace that the individual 
may have a world of his own. Or he may rather 
have several worlds without rational unity, con- 
joined merely by co-existence in his one personality. 
And this separation and disconnectedness (we may 
fail to observe) is, in some degree, normal. It 
would be impossible that any man should have a 
world, the various provinces of which were quite 
rationally connected, or appeared always in system. 
But, if so, no one, in accepting or rejecting ideas, 
can always know the precise sense in which he 
affirms or denies. He means, from time to time, by 
reality some one region of the Real, which habitually 
he fails to distinguish and define. And the attempt 
at distinction would but lead him to total bewilder- 
ment. The real world, perhaps consciously, may be 
identified with the spatial system which we con- 
struct. This is "actual fact," and everything else 
may be set apart as mere thought, or as mere imagi- 
nation or feeling, all equally unreal. But, if bo, 


against our wills these banished regions, neverthe- 
less, present themselves as the worlds of feeling, 
imagination, and thought. However little we desire 
it, these form, in effect, actual constituent factors in 
our real universe. And the ideas, belonging to 
these several fields, certainly cannot be entertained 
without an identification, however vague, of each 
with its department of the Real. We treat the 
imaginary as existing somehow in some world, or in 
some by- world, of the imagination. And, in spite of 
our denial, all such worlds are for us inevitably the 
appearances of that whole which we feel to be a 
single Reality. 1 

And, even when we consider the extreme cases of 
command and of wish, our conclusion is unshaken. 
A desire is not a judgment, but still in a sense it 
implies one. It might, indeed, appear that what is 
ordered or desired is, by its essence, divorced from 
all actual reality. But this first impression would 
be erroneous. All negation, we must remember, is 
relative. The idea, rejected by reality, is none the 
less predicable, when its subject is altered. And it 
is predicable again, when (what comes to the same 
thing) itself is modified. Neglecting this latter re- 
finement, we may point out how our account will 
hold good in the case of desire. The content 
wished for certainly in one sense is absent from 
reality ; and the idea, we must be able to say, does 
not exist. But real existence, on the other hand, 
has been taken here in a limited meaning. And 
hence, outside that region of fact which repels the 
idea, it can, at the same time, be affirmatively 
referred to reality. It is this reference indeed 
which, we may say, makes the contradiction of desire 
intolerable. That which I desire is not consciously 

1 The reader may compare here the discussion on the unity of 
nature in Chapter xxii. The want of unity in the self, a point 
established by general psychology, has been thrown into promi- 
nence by recent experiments in hypnotism. 


assumed to exist, but still vaguely, somehow and in 
some strange region, it is felt to be there ; and, 
because it is there, its non-appearance excites painful 
tension. Pursuing this subject we should find that, 
in every case in the end, to be thought of is to be 
entertained as, and so judged to be, real. 

(d) And this leads us to the second point. We 
have seen that every idea, however imaginary, is, 
in a sense, referred to reality. But we saw also 
that, with regard to the various meanings of the real 
subject, and the diverse provinces and regions in 
which it appears, we are all, more or less, uncon- 
scious. This same want of consciousness, in vary- 
ing amounts, is visible also in our way of applying 
the predicate. 1 Every idea can be made the true 
adjective of reality, but, on the other hand (as we 
have seen), every idea must be altered. More or 
less, they all require a supplementation and re- 
arrangement. But of this necessity, and of the 
amount of it, we may be totally unaware. We 
commonly use ideas with no clear notion as to how 
far they are conditional, and are incapable of being 
predicated downright of reality. To the supposi- 
tions implied in our statements we usually are blind; 
or the precise extent of them is, at all events, not 
distinctly realized. This is a subject upon which it 
might be interesting to enlarge, but I have perhaps 
already said enough to make good our result. 
However little it may appear so, to think is always, 

1 As was before remarked, these two points, in the end, are 
the same. Since the various worlds, in which reality appears, 
cannot each stand alone, but must condition one the other, 
hence that which is predicated categorically of one world, will 
none the less be conditional, when applied to the whole. And, 
from the other side, a conditional predicate of the whole will 
become categorical, if made the adjective of a subject which is 
limited and therefore is conditional. These ways of regarding 
the matter, in the end, are but one way. And, in the end. there 
is no difference between conditional and conditioned. On this 
point see farther Chapter xxvii. 

A. R B B 


in effect, to judge. And all judgments we have 
found to be more or less true, and in different 
degrees to depart from, and to realize, the standard. 
With this we may return from what has been, 
perhaps, to some extent a digression. 

Our single standard, as we saw above, wears 
various aspects, and I will now proceed briefly to 
exemplify its detail, {a) If we take, first, an ap- 
pearance in time, and desire to estimate the amount 
of its reality, we have, on one side, to consider its 
harmoniousness. We have to ask, that is, how far, 
before its contents can take their place as an adjec- 
tive of the Real, they would require re-arrangement. 
We have to enquire how far, in other words, these 
contents are, or are not, self- consistent and system- 
atic. And then, on the other side, we must have 
regard to the extent of time, or space, or both, 
which our appearance occupies. 1 Other things 
being equal, whatever spreads more widely in space, 
or again lasts longer in time, is therefore more 
real. But (5), beside events, it is necessary to take 
account of laws. These are more and less abstract 
or concrete, and here our standard in its application 
will once more diverge. The abstract truths, for 
example, of mathematics on one side, and, on the 
other side, the more concrete connections of life or 
mind, will each set up a varying claim. The first are 
more remote from fact, more empty and incapable 
of self-existence, and they are therefore less true. 
But the second, on the other hand, are narrower, 
and on this account more false, since clearly they 
pervade, and hold good over, a less extent of reality. 
Or, from the other side, the law which is more 
abstract contradicts itself more, because it is deter- 

1 The intensity of the appearance can be referred, I think, to 
two heads, (i.) that of extent, and (ii.) that of effectiveness. But 
the influence of a thing outside of its own limits will fall under an 
ispect to be mentioned lower down (p. 376). 


mined by exclusion from a wider area. Again the 
generalization nearer sense, being fuller of irre- 
levancy, will, looked at from this point of view, be 
more internally discordant. In brief, whether the 
system and the true individual is sought in temporal 
existence, or in the realm standing above events, 
the standard still is the same. And it is applied 
always under the double form of inclusiveness and 
harmony. To be deficient in either of these aspects 
is to fall short of perfection ; and, in the end, any 
deficiency implies failure in both aspects alike. 

And we shall find that our account still holds good 
when we pass on to consider higher appearances of 
the universe. It would be a poor world which con- 
sisted merely of phenomenal events, and of the laws 
that somehow reign above them. And in our every- 
day life we soon transcend this unnatural divorce 
between principle and fact, (c) We reckon an event 
to be important in proportion to its effectiveness, so 
far as its being, that is, spreads in influence beyond 
the area of its private limits. It is obvious that here 
the two features, of self-sufficiency and self-tran- 
scendence, are already discrepant. We reach a 
higher stage where some existence embodies, or in 
any way presents in itself, a law and a principle. 
However, in the mere example and instance of an 
universal truth, the fact and the law are still essen- 
tially alien to each other, and the defective character 
of their union is plainly visible. Our standard 
moves us on towards an individual with laws of its 
own, and to laws which form the vital substance of 
a single existence. And an imperfect appearance 
of this character we were compelled, in our last 
chapter, to recognize in the individual habits of the 
soul. Further in the beauty which presents us 
with a realized type, we find another form of the 
union of fact with principle. And, passing from this 
to conscious life, we are called on still for further 
uses and fresh applications of our standard. In the 

$*]2 REALITY. 

will of the individual, or of the community, so far as 
adequately carried out and expressing itself in out- 
ward fact, we have a new claim to harmonious and 
self-included reality. And we have to consider 
in each case the consistency, together with the range 
and area, of the principle, and the degree up to 
which it has mastered and passed into existence. 
And we should find ourselves led on from this, by 
partial defect, to higher levels of being. We should 
arrive at the personal relation of the individual to 
ends theoretical and practical, ends which call for 
realization, but which from their nature cannot be 
realized in a finite personality. And, once more 
here, our standard must be called in when we endea- 
vour, as we must, to form a comparative estimate. 
For, apart from the success or failure of the indi- 
vidual's will, these ideas of ultimate goodness and 
reality themselves possess, of course, very different 
values. And we have to measure the amount of 
discordancy and limitation, which fixes the place to 
be assigned, in each case, to these various appear- 
ances of the Absolute. 

To some of these provinces of life I shall have to 
return in later chapters. But there are several 
points to which, at present, I would draw attention. 
I would repeat, first, that I am not undertaking to 
set out completely the different aspects of the world ; 
nor am I trying to arrange these according to their 
comparative degrees of reality and truth. A serious 
attempt to perform this would have to be made by 
any rational system of first principles, but in this 
work I am dealing solely with some main features 
of things. However, in the second place, there is a 
consideration which I would urge on the reader. 
With any view of the world which confines known 
reality to existence in time, and which limits truth 
to the attempt to reproduce somehow the series of 
events — with any view for which merely a thing 


exists, or barely does not exist, and for which an 
idea is false, or else is true — how is it possible to be 
just to the various orders of appearance ? For, if 
•we are consistent, we shall send the mass of our 
chief human interests away to some unreal limbo of 
undistinguished degradation. And, if we are not 
consistent, yet how can we proceed rationally with- 
out an intellectual standard ? And I think we are 
driven to this alternative. We must either be incap- 
able of saying one word on the relative importance 
of things ; we can tell nothing of the comparative 
meaning, and place in the world, owned by art, 
science, religion, social life or morality ; we are 
wholly ignorant as to the degrees of truth and reality 
which these possess, and we cannot even say that 
for the universe any one of them has any signific- 
ance, makes any degree of difference, or matters at 
all. Either this, or else our one-sided view must 
be revolutionized. But, so far as I see, it can be 
revolutionized only in one of two ways. We may 
accept a view of truth and reality such as I have 
been endeavouring to indicate, or we must boldly 
subordinate everything to the test of feeling. I do 
not mean that, beside our former inadequate ideal 
of truth, we should set up, also and alongside, an 
independent standard of worth. For this expedient, 
first, would leave no clear sense to " degrees of 
truth" or "of reality"; and, in the second place, 
practically our two standards would tend everywhere 
to clash. They would collide hopelessly without 
appeal to any unity above them. Of some religious 
belief, for example, or of some aesthetic representa- 
tion, we might be compelled to exclaim, " How' 
wholly false, and yet how superior to truth, and how 
much more to us than any possible reality ! " And 
of some successful and wide-embracing theory we 
might remark that it was absolutely true and utterly 
despicable, or of some physical facts, perhaps, that 
they deserved no kind of attention. Such a separa- 


tion of worth from reality and truth would mutilate 
our nature, and could end only in irrational compro- 
mise or oscillation. But this shifting attitude, though 
common in life, seems here inadmissible ; and it was 
not this that I meant by a subordination to feeling. 
I pointed to something less possible, but very much 
more consistent. It would imply the setting up of 
feeling in some form as an absolute test, not only of 
value but also of truth and reality. Here, if we 
took feeling as our end, and identified it with plea- 
sure, we might assert of some fact, no matter how 
palpable, This is absolutely nothing ; or, because 
it makes for pain, it is even worse, and is therefore 
even less than nothing. Or because some truth, 
however obvious, seemed in our opinion not favour- 
able to the increase of pleasure, we should have to 
treat it at once as sheer falsehood and error. And 
by such an attitude, however impracticable, we 
should have at least tried to introduce some sort of 
unity and meaning into our world. 1 

But if to make mere feeling our one standard is in 
the end impossible, if we cannot rest in the intoler- 
able confusion of a double test and control, nor can re- 
lapse into the narrowness, and the inconsistency, 
of our old mutilated view — we must take courage to 
accept the other revolution. We must reject wholly 
the idea that known reality consists in a series of 
events, external or inward, and that truth merely is 
correspondence with such a form of existence. We 
must allow to every appearance alike its own degree 
of reality, if not also of truth, 2 and we must every- 

1 Such an attitude, beside being impracticable, would however 
still be internally inconsistent. It breaks down in the position 
which it gives to truth. The understanding, so far as used to 
judge of the tendencies of things, is still partly independent. We 
either then are forced back, as before, to a double standard, or we 
have to make mere feeling the judge also with regard to these ten- 
dencies. And this is clearly to end in mere momentary caprice, 
and in anarchy. 

2 Whether, and in what sense, every appearance of the Reality 
has truth, is a point taken up later in Chapter xxvi. 


where estimate this degree by the application of our 
single standard. I am not here attempting even 
(as I have said) to make this estimate in general ; 
and, in detail, I admit that we might find cases 
where rational comparison seems hopeless. But our 
failure in this respect would justify no doubt about 
our principle. It would be solely through our ignor- 
ance and our deficiency that the standard ever could 
be inapplicable. And, at the cost of repetition, I 
may be permitted to dwell briefly on this head. 

Our standard is Reality in the form of self-exist- 
ence ; and this, given plurality and relations, means 
an individual system. Now we have shown that 
no perfect system can possibly be finite, because any 
limitation from the outside infects the inner content 
with dependence on what is alien. And hence the 
marks of harmony and expansion are two aspects 
of one principle. With regard to harmony (other 
things remaining the same), that which has extended 
over and absorbed a greater area of the external, 
will internally be less divided. 1 And the more an 
element is consistent, the more ground, other things 
being equal, is it likely to cover. And if we forget 
this truth, in the case of what is either abstracted 
for thought or is isolated for sense, we can recall it 
by predicating these fragments, as such, of the Uni- 
verse. We are then forced to perceive both the in- 
consistency of our predicates, and the large extent of 
outer supplement which we must add, if we wish to 
make them true. Hence the amount of either wide- 
ness or consistency gives the degree of reality and 
also of truth. Or, regarding the same thing from 
the other side, you may estimate by what is lacking. 
You may measure the reality of anything by the 
relative amount of transformation, which would fol- 
low if its defects were made good. The more an 

1 The reader must not forget here that the inconsistency and 
distraction, which cannot be felt, is therefore the greatest (p. 364). 
Peeting is itself a unity and a solution, however incomplete. 


appearance, in being corrected, is transmuted and 
destroyed, the less reality can such an appearance 
contain ; or, to put it otherwise, the less genuinely 
does it represent the Real. And on this principle 
we succeeded in attaching a clear sense to that nebul- 
ous phrase " Validity. " 

And this standard, in principle at least, is applic- 
able to every kind of subject-matter. For everything, 
directly or indirectly, and with a greater or less 
preservation of its internal unity, has a relative space 
in Reality. For instance, the mere intensity of a 
pleasure or pain, beside its occupancy of conscious- 
ness, has also an outer sphere or halo of effects. 
And in some low sense these effects make a part of, 
or at least belong to, its being. And with facts of 
perception their extent both in time, and also in space, 
obviously gives us a point of comparison between 
them. If, again, we take an abstract truth, which, 
as such, nowhere has existence, we can consider the 
comparative area of its working influence. And, if 
we were inclined to feel a doubt as to the reality 
of such principles, we might correct ourselves thus. 
Imagine everything which they represent removed 
from the universe, and then attempt to maintain 
that this removal makes no real difference. And, 
as we proceed further, a social system, conscious in 
its personal members of a will carried out, submits 
itself naturally to our test. We must notice here 
the higher development of concrete internal unity. 
For we find an individuality, subordinating to itself 
outward fact, though not, as such, properly visible 
within it. This superiority to mere appearance in 
the temporal series is carried to a higher degree as 
we advance into the worlds of religion, speculation, 
and art. The inward principle may here become 
far wider, and have an intenser unity of its own ; but, 
on the side of temporal existence, it cannot possibly 
exhibit itself as such. The higher the principle, and 


the more vitally it, so to speak, possesses the soul 
of things, so much the wider in proportion must be 
that sphere of events which in the end it controls. 
But, just for this reason, such a principle cannot be 
handled or seen, nor is it in any way given to out- 
ward or inward perception. It is only the meaner 
realities which can ever be so revealed, and which 
are able to be verified as sensible facts. 

And it is only a standard such as ours which can 
assign its proper rank to sense-presentation. It is 
solely by accepting such a test that we are able to 
avoid two gross and opposite mistakes. There is 
a view which takes, or attempts to take, sense-per- 
ception as the one known reality. And there is 
a view which endeavours, on the other side, to con- 
sider appearance in time as something indifferent. 
It tries to find reality in the world of insensible 
thought. Both mistakes lead, in the end, to a like 
false result, and both imply, and are rooted in, the 
same principle of error. In the end each would 
force us to embrace as complete reality a meagre and 
mutilated fraction, which is therefore also, and in 
consequence, internally discrepant. And each is 
based upon one and the same error about the nature 
of things. We have seen that the separation of the 
real into idea and existence is a division admis- 
sible only within the world of appearance. In the 
Absolute every such distinction must be merged 
and disappears. But the disappearance of each 
aspect, we insisted also, meant the satisfaction of its 
claims in full. And hence, though how in detail we 
were unable to point out, either side must come 
together with its opposite in the Whole. There 
thought and sense alike find each its complement 
in the other. The principle that reality can wholly 
consist in one of these two sides of appearance, we 
therefore reject as a fundamental error. 

Let us consider more closely the two delusions 


which have branched from this stem. The first of 
these, perceiving that the series of events is essen- 
tial, concludes from this ground that mere sense, 
either outward or inward, is the one reality. Or, if 
it stops short of this, it still argues that to be real is 
to be, as such, perceptible. Because, that is, appear- 
ance in the temporal series is found necessary for 
reality * — a premise which is true — an unconscious 
passage is made, from this truth, to a vicious con- 
clusion. To appear is construed to imply appearance 
always, so to speak, in person. And nothing is 
allowed to be real, unless it can be given bodily, 
and can be revealed, within one piece of the series. 
But this conclusion is radically erroneous. No per- 
ception ever, as we have seen clearly, has a character 
contained within itself. In order to be fact at all, 
each presentation must exhibit ideality, or in other 
words transcendence of self; and that which ap- 
pears at any one moment, is, as such, self-contra- 
dictory. And, from the other side, the less a 
character is able, as such, to appear — the less its 
necessary manifestation can be narrowed in time or 
in space — so much the more is it capable of both 
expansion and inner harmony. But these two 
features, as we saw, are the marks of reality. 

And the second of the mistakes is like the first. 
Appearance, once more, is falsely identified with 
presentation, as such, to sense ; and a wrong con- 
clusion is, once more, drawn from this basis. But 
the error now proceeds in an opposite direction. 
Because the highest principles are, obviously and 
plainly, not perceptible by sense, they are taken to 
inhabit and to have their being in the world of pure 
thought. And this other region, with more or less 
consistency, is held to constitute the sole reality. 
But here, if excluded wholly from the serial flow of 
events, this world of thought is limited externally 

1 Compare here Chapters xix. and xxiii. 


and is internally discordant ; while, if, further, we 
attempt to qualify the universe by our mere ideal 
abstract, and to attach this content to the Reality 
which appears in perception, the confusion becomes 
more obvious. Since the sense-appearance has been 
given up, as alien to truth, it has been in conse- 
quence set free, and is entirely insubordinate. And 
its concrete character now evidently determines, and 
infects from the outside, whatever mere thought we 
are endeavouring to predicate of the Real. But the 
union in all perception of thought with sense, the 
co-presence everywhere in all appearances of fact 
with ideality — this is the one foundation of truth. 
And, when we add to this the saving distinction 
that to have existence need not mean to exist, and 
that to be realized in time is not always to be visible 
by any sense, we have made ourselves secure against 
the worst of errors. From this we are soon led to 
our principle of degrees in truth and reality. Our 
world and our life need then no longer be made up 
arbitrarily. They need not be compounded of the 
two hemispheres of fact and fancy. Nor need the 
Absolute reveal itself indiscriminately in a chaos 
where comparison and value are absent. We can 
assign a rational meaning to the distinctions of 
higher and lower. 1 And we have grown convinced 
that, while not to appear is to be unreal, and while 
the fuller appearance marks the fuller reality, our 
principle, with but so much, is only half stated. For 
comparative ability to exist, individually and as such, 
within the region of sense, is a sign everywhere, so 
far as it goes, of degradation in the scale of being. 

Or, dealing with the question somewhat less 
abstractly, we may attempt otherwise to indicate 
the true position of temporal existence. This, as we 
have seen, is not reality, but it is, on the other hand, 
in our experience one essential factor. And to 

1 The position which, in estimating value, is to be assigned to 
pleasure and pain will Ihj discussed in Chapter xxv. 


suppose that mere thought without facts could either 
be real, or could reach to truth, is evidently absurd. 
The series of events is, without doubt, necessary 
for our knowledge, 1 since this series supplies the one 
source of all ideal content. We may say, roughly 
and with sufficient accuracy, that there is nothing in 
thought, whether it be matter or relations, except 
that which is derived from perception. And, in the 
second place, it is only by starting from the pre- 
sented basis that we construct our system of phen- 
omena in space and time. We certainly perceived 
(Chapter xviii.) that any such constructed unity was 
but relative, imperfect, and partial. But, none the 
less, a building up of the sense-world from the 
ground of actual presentation is a condition of all 
our knowledge. It is not true that everything, even 
if temporal, has a place in our one " real " order of 
space or time. But, indirectly or directly, every 
known element must be connected with its sequence 
of events, and, at least in some sense, must show 
itself even there. The test of truth after all, we 
may say, lies in presented fact. 

We should here try to avoid a serious mistake. 
Without existence we have perceived that thought 
is incomplete ; but this does not mean that, without 
existence, mere thought in itself is complete fully, 
and that existence to this super-adds an alien but 
necessary completion. For we have found in 
principle that, if anything were perfect, it would not 
gain by an addition made from the outside. And, 
here in particular, thought's first object, in its pur- 
suit of actual fact, is precisely the enlarging and 
making harmonious of its own ideal content. And 
the reason for this, as soon as we consider it, is 
obvious. The dollar, merely thought of or imagined, 
is comparatively abstract and void of properties. 
But the dollar, verified in space, has got its place 

1 The series, in its proper character, is, of course, an ideal con- 
struction. But we may disregard that here. 


in, and is determined by, an enormous construction 
of things. And to suppose that the concrete con- 
text of these relations in no sense qualifies its inner 
content, or that this qualification is a matter of in- 
difference to thought, is quite indefensible. 

A mere thought would mean an ideal content 
held apart from existence. But (as we have learnt) 
to hold a thought is always somehow, even against 
our will, to refer it to the Real. Hence our mere 
idea, now standing in relation with the Real, is re- 
lated also to the phenomenal system of events in time. 
It is related to them, but without any connection 
with the internal order and arrangements of their sys- 
tem. But this means that our mere idea is determined 
by that system entirely from the outside. And it will 
therefore itself be permeated internally, and so de- 
stroyed, by the contingency forced into its content 
through these chaotic relations. Considered from 
this side, a thought, if it actually were bare, would 
stand at a level lower than the, so-called, chance 
facts of sense. For in the latter we have, at least, 
some internal connection with the context, and 
already a fixed relation of universals, however 

All reality must be revealed in the world of 
events ; and that is most real which, within such an 
order or orders, finds least foreign to itself. Hence, 
if other things remain equal, a definite place in, and 
connection with, the temporal system gives increase 
of reality. For thus the relations to other elements, 
which must in any case determine, determine, at 
least to some extent, internally. And thus the 
imaginary, so far, must be poorer than the percep- 
tible fact ; or, in other words, it is compulsorily 
qualified by a wider area of alien and destructive 
relations. I have emphasized " if other things re- 
main equal," for this restriction is important. There 
is imagination which is higher, and more true, and 
most emphatically more real, than any single fact 


of sense. And this brings us back to our old dis- 
tinction. Every truth must appear, and must subor- 
dinate existence ; but this appearance is not the 
same thing as to be present, properly and as such, 
within given limits of sense-perception. With the 
general principles of science we may perhaps See 
this at once. And again, with regard to the neces- 
sary appearances of art or religion, the same con- 
clusion is evident. The eternal experience, in every 
case, fails to enter into the series of space or of 
time ; or it enters that series improperly, and with 
a show which in various ways contradicts its essence. 
To be nearer the central heart of things is to domin- 
ate the extremities more widely; but it is not to 
appear there except incompletely and partially 
through a sign, an unsubstantial and a fugitive mode 
of expression. Nothing anywhere, not even the 
realized and solid moral "will, can either be quite 
real, as it exists in time, or can quite appear in its 
own essential character. But still the ultimate 
Reality, where all appearance as such is merged, is 
in the end the actual identity of idea and existence. 
And, throughout our world, whatever is individual 
is more real and true ; for it contains within its own 
limits a wider region of the Absolute, and it posses- 
ses more intensely the type of self-sufficiency. Or, 
to put it otherwise, the interval between such an 
element and the Absolute is smaller. We should 
require less alteration, less destruction of its own 
special nature, in order to make this higher element 
completely real. 

We may now pass from this general principle to 
notice various points of interest, and, in the first 
place, to consider some difficulties handed on to this 
chapter. The problems of unperceived Nature, of 
dispositions in the soul, and the meaning in general 
of " potential " existence, require our attention. 
And I must begin by calling attention to an error. 


We have seen that an idea is more true in propor- 
tion as it approaches Reality. And it approaches 
Reality in proportion as it grows internally more 
complete. And from this we possibly might con- 
clude that thought, if completed as such, would 
itself be real ; or that the ideal conditions, if fully 
there, would be the same as actual perfection. But 
such a conclusion would not hold ; for we have 
found that mere thought could never, as such, be 
completed ; and it therefore remains internally in- 
consistent and defective. And we have perceived, 
on the other side, that thought, completed, is forced 
to transcend itself. It has then to become one 
thing with sense and feeling. And, since these 
conditions of its perfection are partly alien to itself, 
we cannot say either that, by itself, it can arrive at 
completion, or that, when perfected, it, as such, any 
longer exists. 

And, with this, we may advance to the considera- 
tion of several questions. We found (Chapter xxii.) 
that parts of the physical world might exist, and 
yet might exist, for us, only in the shape of thought. 
But we realized also that in the Absolute, where the 
contents of all finite selves are fused, these thought- 
existences must, in some way, be re-combined with 
sense. And the same conclusion held good also 
with psychical dispositions (Chapter xxiii.). These, 
in their proper character, have no being except in 
the world of thought For they, as we saw, are con- 
ditional ; and the conditional, as such, has not actual 
existence. But once more here the ideas — how in 
detail we cannot say — must find their complement 
in the Whole. With the addition of this other side 
they will make part of the concrete Reality. 

Our present chapter, perhaps, may have helped 
us to see more clearly on these points. For we 
have found that ideal conditions, to be complete 
and in this way to become real, must transcend 
themselves. They have to pass beyond the world 


of mere thought. And we have seen, in the second 
place, that every idea must possess a certain amount 
both of truth and reality. The ideal content must 
appear in the region of existence ; and we have 
found that we have no right ever to regard it as 
unreal, because it is unable, as such, to show itself 
and to occupy a place there. We may now apply 
this principle both to the capacities of the soul, and 
to the unseen part of Nature. The former cannot 
properly exist, and the latter (so far as we saw) 
certainly need not do so. We may consider them 
each to be, as such, incapable of appearance. But 
this admission (we now have learnt) does not 
weaken, by itself, their claim to be real. And the 
amount of their reality, when our standard is applied, 
will depend on their importance, on the influence 
and bearing which each of them possesses in the 

Each of them will fall under the head of " poten- 
tial existence," and we may pass on to consider the 
meaning of this phrase. The words " potential," 
and " latent," and " nascent," and we may add " vir- 
tual " and " tendency," are employed too often. 
They are used in order to imply that a certain 
thing exists ; and this, although either we ought to 
know, or know, that the thing certainly does not 
exist. It would be hard to over-estimate the service 
rendered by these terms to some writers on philo- 
sophy. But that is not our business here. Potential 
existence means a set of conditions, one part of 
which is present at a certain point of space or time, 
while the other part remains ideal. It is used 
generally without any clear perception as to how 
much is wanted in order to make these conditions 
complete. And then the whole is spoken of, and is 
regarded, as existing at the point where actually 
but a portion of its factors are present. Such an 
abuse clearly is indefensible. 

" Potential existence " is fairly applicable in the 


following sense. We may mean by it that something 
somehow appears already in a given point of time, 
although it does not as yet appear fully or in its 
own proper character. I will try to show later the 
positive conditions required for this use, but it is 
better to begin by pointing out where it is quite 
inadmissible. We ought not to speak of potential 
existence where, if the existence were made actual, 
the fact given now would be quite gone. That part of 
the conditions which appears at present, must pro- 
duce causally the rest; and, in order for this to hap- 
pen, foreign matter must be added. But, if so much 
is added that the individuality of this first appear- 
ance is wholly destroyed, or is even overwhelmed 
and swamped — "potential existence" is inapplicable. 
Thus the death of a man may result from the lodg- 
ment of a cherry-stone ; but to speak of every 
cherry-stone as, therefore, the potential death of a 
man, and to talk of such a death as appearing 
already in any and every stone, would surely be 
extravagant. For so large an amount of foreign 
conditions must contribute to the result, that, in the 
end, the condition and the consequence are joined 
externally by chance. We may perhaps apprehend 
this more clearly by a grosser instance of misuse. 
A piece of bread, eaten by a poet, may be a condi- 
tion required for the production of a lyrical poem. 
But would any one place such a poem's existence 
already virtually in each piece of food, which may 
be considered likely by any chance to make its w T ay 
into a poet ? 

These absurdities may serve to suggest the pro 
per employment of our term. It is applicabl 
wherever the factor present is considered capable o 
producing the rest ; and it must effect this without 
the entire loss of its own existing character. The 
individuality, in other words, must throughout the 
process be continuous ; and the end must very 
largely be due to the beginning. And these are 

a. r. c c 


two aspects of one principle. For clearly, if more 
than a certain amount of external conditions are 
brought in, the ideal identity of the beginning and 
of the end is destroyed. And, if so, obviously the 
result itself was not there at the first, and could in 
no rational sense have already appeared there. The 
ordinary example of the egg, which itself later be- 
comes a fowl, is thus a legitimate application of 
potential existence. On the other hand to call every 
man, without distinction, a potential case of scarlet 
fever, would at least border on inaccuracy. While to 
assert that he now is already such products as can 
be produced only by his own disintegration, would be 
obviously absurd. Potential existence can, in brief, 
be used only where "development" or "evolution" 
retains its proper meaning. And by the meaning 
of evolution I do not understand that arbitrary mis- 
use of the term, which has been advocated by a 
so-called " System of Philosophy." 

Under certain conditions, then, the idea of poten- 
tial being may be employed. But I must add at 
once that it can be employed nowhere with complete 
truth and accuracy. For, in order for anything to 
evolve itself, outer conditions must come in ; and it 
is impossible in the end to assign a limit to the 
extent of this foreign matter. The genuine cause 
always must be the whole cause, and the whole 
cause never could be complete until it had taken in 
the universe. 1 This is no mere speculative refine- 
ment, but a difficulty experienced in working ; and 
we met it lately while enquiring into the body and 
soul (Chapter xxiii.). In strictness you can never 
assert that a thing will be, because of that which it 
is ; but, where you cannot assert this, potential 
existence is partly inaccurate. It must be applied 
more or less vaguely, and more or less on suffer- 
ance. We are, in brief, placed between two dangers. 
If, with anything finite, you refuse wholly to pre- 
1 And this is impossible. See Chapters vi. and xviii. 


dicate its relations — relations necessarily in part 
external, and in part, therefore, variable — then your 
account of this thing will fall short and be empty. 
But, otherwise, you will be affirming of the thing 
that which only it may be. 

And, once driven to enter on this course, you 
are hurried away beyond all landmarks. You are 
forced indefinitely to go on expanding the subject of 
your predicates, until at last it has disappeared into 
something quite different. And hence, in employ- 
ing potential existence, we are, so to speak, on an 
inclined plane. We start by saying, "A is such 
that, under probable conditions, its nature will de- 
velope into B ; and therefore, because of this, I 
venture already to call it £." And we end by 
claiming that, because A may possibly be made to 
pass into another result C, C may, therefore, on this 
account, be predicated already. And we have to 
hold to this, although C, to but a very small extent, 
has been produced by A, and although, in the result, 
A itself may have totally vanished. 

We must therefore admit that potential existence 
implies, to some extent, a compromise. Its use, in 
fact, cannot be defined upon a very strict principle. 
Still, by bearing in mind what the term endeavours 
to mean, and what it always must be taken more 
or less to involve, we may, in practice, succeed in 
employing it conveniently and safely. But it will 
remain, in the end, a wide-spread source of confu- 
sion and danger. The more a writer feels himself 
led naturally to have recourse to this phrase, the 
better cause he probably has for at least attempting 
to avoid it 

It may throw light on several problems, if we 
consider further the general nature of Possibility 
and Chance. 1 We touched on this subject above, 

1 On Possibility compare Chapter xxvii , and Principles of 
Logic, Book I., Chap. vii. 


when we enquired if complete possibility is the same 
as reality (p. 383). Our answer to that question 
may be summed up thus : Possibility implies the 
separation of thought from existence ; but, on the 
other hand, since these two extremes are essentially 
one, each, while divided from the other, is internally 
defective. Hence if the possible could be com- 
pleted as such, it would have passed into the real. 
But, in reaching this goal, it would have ceased 
altogether to be mere thought, and it would in con- 
sequence, therefore, be no longer possibility. 

The possible implies always the partial division 
of idea from reality. It is, properly, the conse- 
quence in thought from an ideal antecedent. It 
follows from a set of conditions, a system which is 
never complete in itself, and which is not taken to 
be real, as auch, except through part of its area. 
But this last qualification is necessary. The pos- 
sible, itself, is not real ; but its essence partly trans- 
cends ideas, and it has no meaning at all unless it 
is possible really. It must be developed from, and 
be relative to, a real basis. And, hence, there can 
be no such thing as unconditional possibility. The 
possible, in other words, is always relative. And, 
if it attempts to be free, it ceases to be itself. 

We shall understand this, perhaps, better, if we 
recall the nature of relative chance (Chapter xix.). 
Chance is the given fact which falls outside of some 
ideal whole or system. And any element, not in- 
cluded within such a universal, is, in relation to 
that universal, bare fact, and so relative chance. 
Chance, in other words, would not be actual chance, 
if it were not also more. It is viewed in negative 
relation to some idea, but it could not exist in 
relation unless in itself it were ideal already. And 
with relative possibility, again, we find a counterpart 
implication. The possible itself would not be 
possible, if it were not more, and if it were not 
partially real. There must be an actual basis in 


which a part of its conditions is realized, though, 
by and in the possible, this actual basis need not be 
expressed, but may be merely understood. And, 
since the conditions are manifold, and since the part 
which is taken as real is largely variable, possibility 
varies accordingly. Its way of completing itself, 
and in particular the actual basis which it implies, 
are both capable of diversity. Thus the possibility 
of an element is different, according as it is under- 
stood in these diverse relations. Possibility and 
chance, we may say, stand to one another thus. 
An actual fact more or less ignores the ideal com- 
plement which, within its own being, it involves. 
And hence, if you view it merely in relation to some 
system which falls outside itself, the actual fact is, 
so far, chance. The possible, on the other hand, 
explicitly isolates one part of the ideal complement, 
and, at the same time, implies, more or less vaguely, 
its real completion. It fluctuates, therefore, with 
the various conditions which are taken as neces- 
sary to complete it. But of these conditions 
part must have actual existence, or must, as such, 
be real. 

And this account still holds good, when we pass 
to the lowest grade of possibility. I take an idea, 
which, in the first place, I cannot call unmeaning. 
And this idea, secondly, I do not see to contradict 
itself or the Reality. I therefore assume that it has 
not this defect. And, merely on the strength of 
this, I go on to call such an idea possible. It might 
seem as if here we had passed from relative to 
unconditional possibility ; but that view would be 
erroneous. The possible here is still a consequence 
from conditions, part of which is actual. For, 
though of its special conditions we know nothing, 
we are not quite ignorant. We have assumed in it 
more or less of the general character, material and 
formal, which is owned by Reality. This character 
is its actual basis and real ground of possibility. 


And, without this, the idea would cease altogether 
to be possible. 

What are we to say then about the possibility, or 
about the chance, which is bare, and which is not 
relative, but absolute and unconditional ? We must 
say of either that it presents one aspect of the same 
fundamental error. Each expresses in a different 
way the same main self-contradiction ; and it may 
perhaps be worth while to exhibit this in detail. 
With mere possibility the given want of all con- 
nection with the Real is construed into a ground for 
positive predication. Bare chance, again, gives us 
as a fact, and gives us therefore in relation, an 
element which it still persists is unrelated. I will 
go on to explain this statement. 

I have an idea, and, because in my opinion I 
know nothing about it, I am to call it possible. 
Now, if the idea has a meaning, and is taken not 
to contradict itself, this (as we have seen) is, at 
once, a positive character in the idea. And this 
gives a known reason for, at once so far, regarding 
it as actual. And such a possibility, because in 
relation with an attribute of the Real, we have seen, 
is still but a relative possibility. In absolute possi- 
bility we are supposed to be without this knowledge. 
There, merely because I do not find any relation 
between my idea and the Reality, I am to assert, 
upon this, that my idea is compatible. And the 
assertion clearly is inconsistent. Compatible means 
that which in part is perceived to be true ; it means 
that which internally is connected with the Real. 
And this implies assimilation, and it involves pene- 
tration of the element by some quality or qualities 
of the Real. If the element is compatible it will be 
preserved, though with a greater or less destruction 
of its particular character. But in bare possibility 
I have perverted the sense of compatible. Because 
I find absence of incompatibility, because, that is, 


I am without a certain perception, I am to call my 
idea compatible. On the ground of my sheer ignor- 
ance, in other words, I am to know that my idea is 
assimilated, and that, to a greater or less extent, 
it will survive in Reality. But such a position is 

That which is unconditionally possible is viewed 
apart from, and is supposed to remain undetermined 
by, relation to the Real. There are no seen relations, 
and therefore none, and therefore no alien relations 
which can penetrate and dissolve our supposed 
idea. And we hold to this, even when the idea 
is applied to the Real. But a relation to the Real 
implies essentially a relation to what the Real pos- 
sesses, and hence to have no relations of one's own 
means to have them all from the outside. Bare 
possibility is therefore, against its will, one extreme 
of relatedness. For it is conjoined de facto with 
the Reality, as we have that in our minds ; and, 
since the conjunction is external, the relatedness is 
given by outer necessity. But necessary relation of 
an element to that which is outside means, as we 
know, the disruption of this element internally. 
The merely possible, if it could exist, would be, 
therefore, for all we know, sheer error. For it 
would, so far as we know, be an idea, which, in 
no way and to no extent, is accepted by Reality. 
But possibility, in this sense, has contradicted itself. 
Without an actual basis in, and without a positive 
connection with, Reality, the possible is, in short, not 
possible at all. 1 

1 It may be worth while to notice that Possibility, if you try to 
make it unconditional, is the same thing as one sense of Incon- 
ceivability or Impossibility. The Impossible really is that which 
contradicts positive knowledge (Chapter xxvii.). It is never that 
which you merely (ail to connect with Reality. But, if you wrong- 
ly took it in this sense, and if you based it on mere privation, 
it would unawares have turned round into the unconditionally 
possible. For that is actually incompatible with the Reality, as 
4e facto we have the Reality in our minds. Each of these ideas, 

39 2 REALITY. 

There is a like self-contradiction in absolute 
chance. The absolutely contingent would mean a 
fact which is given free from all internal connection 
with its context. It would have to stand without 
relation, or rather with all its relations outside. 
But, since a thing must be determined by the re- 
lations in which it stands, the absolutely contingent 
would thus be utterly determined from the outside. 
And so, by consequence, chance would involve com- 
plete internal dissipation. It would hence implicitly 
preclude the given existence which explicitly it 
postulates. Unless chance is more than mere 
chance, and thus consents to be relative, it fails to 
be itself. Relative chance implies inclusion within 
some ideal whole, and, on that basis, asserts an 
external relation to some other whole. But chance, 
made absolute, has to affirm a positive existence in 
relation, while insisting that all relations fall outside 
this existence. And such an idea contradicts itself. 

Or, again, we may bring out the same discrepancy 
thus. In the case of a given element we fail to see 
its connection with some system. We do not per- 
ceive in its content the internal relations to what is 
beyond it — relations which, because they are ideal, 
are necessary and eternal. Then, upon the ground 
of this failure, we go on to a denial, and we insist 
that no such internal relations are present. But 
every relation, as we have learnt, essentially pene- 
trates the being of its terms, and, in this sense, is 
intrinsical ; or, in other words, every relation must 
be a relation of content. And hence the element, 
deprived by bare chance of all ideal relations, is 
unrelated altogether. But, if unrelated and unde- 
termined, it is no longer any separate element at all. 
It cannot have the existence ascribed to it by 
absolute chance. 

Chance and possibility may be called two different 

in short, is viciously based on privation, and each is a different 
aspect of the same self-contradictory complex 


aspects of one complex. Relative chance stands for 
something which is, but is, in part, not connected 
and understood. It is therefore that which exists, 
but, in part, only somehow. The relatively possible 
is, on the other hand, what is understood incom- 
pletely, and yet is taken, more or less only somehow, 
to be real. Each is thus an imperfect way of 
representing reality. Or we may, if we please, 
repeat the distinction in another form. In bare 
chance something is to be given, and therefore given 
in a connection of outer relations ; and it yet is 
regarded as not intrinsically related. The abstractly 
possible, again, is the not-related ; but it is taken, 
at the same time, in relation with reality, and is, 
therefore, unawares given with external relations. 
Chance forgets, we may say, the essential connec- 
tion ; and possibility forgets its de facto relation to 
the Real, that is, its given external conjunction with 
context. Chance belongs to the world of existence 
and possibility to thought ; but each contains at 
bottom the same defect, and each, against its will, 
when taken bare, becomes external necessity. 1 If 
the possible could be given, it would be indifferently 
chance or fate. If chance is thought of, it is at 
once but merely possible ; for what is contingent 
has no complete connection with Reality. 

With this I will pass from a subject, on which J 
have dwelt perhaps too long. There is no such 
thing as absolute chance, or as mere external neces- 
sity, or as unconditional possibility. The possible 
must, in part, be really, and that means internally, 
necessary. And the same, again, is true of the 

1 The identity, in the end, of possibility with chance, and of 
chance with external or brute necessity, has instructive conse- 
quences. It would obviously give the proper ground for an 
estimate of that which vulgarly is termed Free Will. This doctrine 
may in philosophy be considered obsolete, though it will continue 
to flourish in popular Ethics. As soon as its meaning is appre- 
hended, it loses all plausibility. But the popular moralist will 
always exist by not knowing what he means. 


contingent. Each idea is relative, and each lays 
stress on an opposite aspect of the same complex. 
And hence each, forced to a one-sided extreme, 
disappears altogether. 

We are led from this to ask whether there are 
degrees of possibility and contingency, and our 
answer to this question must be affirmative. To be 
more or less possible, and to be more or less true, 
and intrinsically necessary, — and, from the other 
side, to be less or more contingent — are, in the end, 
all the same. And we may verify here, in passing, 
the twofold application of our standard. That 
which is more possible is either internally more 
harmonious and inclusive ; it is, in other words, 
nearer to a complete totality of content, such as 
would involve passage into, and unity with, the Real. 
Or the more possible is, on the other hand, partly 
realized in a larger number of ideal groups. Every 
contact, even with a point in the temporal series, 
means ideal connection with a concrete group of 
relations. Hence the more widely possible is that 
which finds a smaller amount of content lying wholly 
outside its own area. It is, in other words, the 
more individual, the truer, and more real. And, 
since it contains more connections, it has in itself 
more internal necessity. For a like reason, on the 
other side, increase of contingency means growth in 
falseness. That which, so far as it exists, has more 
external necessity — more conjunction from the out- 
side with intelligible systems — has, therefore, less 
connection with any. It is hence more empty, and, 
as we have seen, on that account less self-contained 
and harmonious. This brief account, however in- 
correct to the eye of common sense, may perhaps, 
as part of our main thesis, be found defensible. 

It will throw a light on that thesis, if we end by 
briefly considering the " ontological " proof. In 


Chapter xiv. we were forced to deal with this in 
one of its bearings, and here we may attempt to 
form an estimate of its general truth. As an argu- 
ment, it is a conclusion drawn from the presence 
of some thought to the reality of that which the 
thought contains. Now of course any one at a 
glance can see how futile this might be. If you 
identify reality with spatial or even temporal exist- 
ence, and understand by thought the idea of some 
distinct finite object, nothing seems more evident 
than that the idea may be merely " in my head." 
When, however, we turn from this to consider the 
general nature of error, then what seemed so evident 
becomes obscure and presents us with a puzzle. 
For what is " in my head " must, after all, be surely 
somewhere in the universe. And when an idea 
qualifies the universe, how can it be excluded from 
reality? The attempt to answer such a question 
leads to a distinction between reality and finite exist- 
ence. And, upon this, the ontological proof may 
perhaps seem better worth examining. 

Now a thought only " in my head," or a bare idea 
separated from all relation to the real world, is a 
false abstraction. For we have seen that to hold 
a thought is, more or less vaguely, to refer it to 
Reality. And hence an idea, wholly un-referred, 
would be a self-contradiction. This general result 
at once bears upon the ontological proof. Evidently 
the proof must start with an idea referred to and 
qualifying Reality, and with Reality present also 
and determined by the content of the idea. And 
the principle of the argument is simply this, that, 
standing on one side of such a whole, you find your- 
self moved necessarily towards the other side. 
Mere thought, because incomplete, suggests logically 
the other element already implied in it ; and that 
element is the Reality which appears in existence. 
On precisely the same principle, but beginning from 
the other end, the " Cosmological " proof may be 


said to argue to the character of the Real. Since 
Reality is qualified by thought, it therefore must 
possess whatever feature thought's essence involves. 
And the principle underlying these arguments — 
that, given one side of a connected whole, you can 
go from this to the other sides — is surely irrefrag- 

The real failure of the ontological proof lies else- 
where. For that proof does not urge merely that 
its idea must certainly somehow be real. It goes 
beyond this statement, and qualifies it by " real as 
such." And here the argument seems likely to 
deviate into error. For a general principle that 
every predicate, as such, is true of Reality, is evi- 
dently false. We have learnt, on the contrary, that 
truth and reality are matter of degree. A predicate, 
we may say, in no case is, as such, really true. All 
will be subject to addition, to qualification and re- 
arrangement. And its truth will be the degree up to 
which any predicate, when made real, preserves its 
own character. In Chapter xiv., when dealing 
with the idea of perfection, we partly saw how the 
ontological argument breaks down. And the 
general result of the present chapter should have 
cleared away difficulties. Any arrangement exist- 
ing in my head must qualify the absolute Reality. 
But, when the false abstraction of my private view 
is supplemented and made good, that arrangement 
may, as such, have completely disappeared. The 
ontological proof then should be merely another way 
of insisting on this doctrine. Not every idea will, 
as such, be real, or, as such, have existence. But 
the greater the perfection of a thought, and the 
more its possibility and its internal necessity are 
increased, so much more reality it possesses. 
And so much the more necessarily must it show 
itself, and appear somehow in existence. 

But the ontological argument, it will be rightly 
said, makes no pretence of being applicable to every 


finite matter. It is used of the Absolute, and, if 
confined to that, will be surely legitimate. We are, 
I think, bound to admit this claim. The idea of 
the Absolute, as an idea, is inconsistent with itself ; 
and we find that, to complete itself, it is internally 
driven to take in existence. But even here we are 
still compelled to keep up some protest against the 
addition of "as such." No idea in the end can, 
strictly as such, reach reality ; for, as an idea, it 
never includes the required totality of conditions. 
Reality is concrete, while the truest truth must still 
be more or less abstract. Or we may put the same 
thing otherwise by objecting to the form of the 
argument. The separation, postulated in the pre- 
mise, is destroyed by the conclusion ; and hence the 
premise itself could not have been true. This ob- 
jection is valid, and it is not less valid because it 
holds, in the end, of every possible argument. But 
the objection disappears when we recognise the 
genuine character of the process. This consists in 
the correction by the Whole of an attempted isolation 
on the part of its members. And, whether you 
begin from the side of Existence or of Thought, the 
process will remain essentially the same. There is 
a subject and a predicate, and there is the internal 
necessity, on each side, of identity with the other 
side. But, since in this consummation the division 
as such is transcended, neither the predicate nor 
the subject is able to survive. They are each 
preserved, but transmuted. 

There is another point on which, in conclusion, it 
is well to insist. If by reality we mean existence as 
a presented event, then to be real, in this sense, 
marks a low type of being. It needs no great 
advance in the scale of reality and truth, in order to 
make a thing too good for existence such as this. 
And I will illustrate my meaning by a kind of 
bastard use of the ontological proof. 1 livery idea 
1 Principles of Logic, pp. 67-9. 


it is certain, possesses a sensible side or aspect. 
Beside being a content, it, in other words, must be 
also an event. Now to describe the various exist- 
ences of ideas, as psychical events, is for the most 
part a task falling outside metaphysics. 1 But the 
question possesses a certain bearing here. The 
existence of an idea can be, to a greater or to a less 
degree, incongruous with its content ; and to predic- 
ate the second of the first would involve various 
amounts of inconsistency. The thought of a past 
idea, for example, is a present state of mind ; the 
idea of a virtue may be moral vice ; and the horse, 
as judged to exist, cannot live in the same field 
with the actual horse-image. 2 On the other hand, 
at least in most cases, to think of anger is, to how- 
ever slight an extent, to be angry ; and, usually, 
ideas of pleasures and pains are, as events, them- 
selves pleasures and pains in fact. Wherever the 
idea can be merely one aspect of a single presenta- 
tion, there we can say that the ideal content exists, 
and is an actual event. And it is possible, in such 
cases, to apply a semblance of the ontological proof. 
Because, that is, the existence of the fact is neces- 
sary, as a basis and as a condition, for the idea, we 
can go from the presence of the idea to the presence 
of the fact. The most striking instance would be 
supplied by the idea of " this " or " mine." Immed- 
iate contact with Reality can obviously, as a fact, 
never fail us ; and so, when we use the idea of this 
contact, we take it always from the fact as, in some 
form, that appears. It is therefore impossible that, 
given the idea, its existence should be lacking. 
But, when we consider such a case more closely, 

1 The question is one for psychology, and I may perhaps be 
permitted to remark that, with regard to abstract ideas, it seems 
still in a very unsatisfactory condition. To fall back on Language, 
after all, will not tell us precisely how much passes througli the 
mind, when abstract ideas are made use of. 

* Compare Mind, xxxiv., pp. 286-90, and xliii., pp. 313-14. 


its spuriousness is manifest. For (a), in the first 
place, the ideal content is not moved from within. 
It does not of itself seek completion through exist- 
ence, and so imply that by internal necessity. 1 There 
is no intrinsic connection, there is but a mere found 
conjunction, between the two sides of idea and exist- 
ence. And hence the argument, to be valid here, 
must be based on the mediation of a third element, 
an element coexisting with, but of itself extraneous 
to, both sides. But with this the essence of the 
ontological argument is wanting. And (6), in the 
second place, the case we are considering exhibits 
another gross defect. The idea, which it predicates 
of the Real, possesses hardly any truth, and has not 
risen above the lowest level of worth and reality. 
I do not mean merely that the idea, as compared 
with its own existence, is abstract, and so false. 
For that objection, although valid, is relatively 
slight I mean that, though the argument starting 
from the idea may exhibit existence, it is not able to 
show either truth or reality. It proves on the other 
hand, contrary to its wish, a vital failure in both. 
Neither the subject, nor again the predicate, 
possesses really the nature assigned to it. The 
subject is taken as being merely a sensible event, and 
the predicate is taken as one feature included in that 
fact. And in each of these assumptions the argu- 
ment is grossly mistaken. For the genuine subject 
is Reality, while the genuine predicate asserts of 
this every character contained in the ostensible 
predicate and subject. The idea, qualified as exist- 
ing in a certain sensible event, is the predicate, in 
other words, which is affirmed of the Absolute. 
And since such a predicate is a poor abstraction, 
and since its essence, therefore, is determined by 
what falls outside its own being, it is, hence, incon- 
sistent with itself, and contradicts its proper subject. 

1 So far as it did this, it would have to expand itself to its own 


We have in brief, by considering the spurious onto- 
logical proof, been led once more to the conclusion 
that existence is not reality. 

Existence is not reality, and reality must exist. 
Each of these truths is essential to an understand- 
ing of the whole, and each of them, necessarily in 
the end, is implied in the other. Existence is, in 
other words, a form of the appearance of the Real. 
And we have seen that to appear, as such, in one 
or in many events, is to show therefore a limited 
and low type of development. But, on the other 
hand, not to appear at all in the series of time, not 
to exhibit one's nature in the field of existence, is 
to be false and unreal. And to be more true, and 
to be more real, is, in some way or other, to be 
more manifest outwardly. For the truer always is 
wider. There is a fair presumption that any truth, 
which cannot be exhibited at work, is for the most 
part untrue. And, with this understanding, we may 
take our leave of the ontological proof. Our in- 
spection of it, perhaps, has served to confirm us in 
the general doctrine arrived at in our chapter. It 
is only a view which asserts degrees of reality and 
truth, and which has a rational meaning for words 
such as " higher " and " lower " — it is only such a 
view which can do justice alike to the sides of idea 
and existence. 



In a former chapter I tried to show, briefly, that the 
existence of evil affords no good ground for an 
objection against our Absolute. Evil and good are 
not illusions, but they are most certainly appear- 
ances. They are one-sided aspects, each over-ruled 
and transmuted in the Whole. And, after the dis- 
cussions of our last chapter, we should be better 
able to appreciate their position and value. As 
with truth and error, so with good and bad, the 
opposition is not absolute. For, to some extent 
and in some manner, perfection is everywhere 
realized. And yet, upon the other hand, the 
distinction of degrees is no less vital. The interval 
which exists between, and which separates, the 
lower and the higher, is measured by the idea of 
perfect Reality. The lower is that which, to be 
made complete, would have to undergo a more total 
transformation of its nature. And viewed from the 
ground of what is higher — of what they fail to reach 
or even oppose — the lower truth and lower good- 
ness become sheer error and evil. The Absolute is 
perfect in all its detail, it is equally true and good 
throughout. But, upon the other side, each dis- 
tinction of better and more true, every degree and 
each comparative stage of reality is essential. They 
are made and justified by the all-pervasive action 
of one immanent perfection. 

And guided by this two fold principle we might 
approach without misgiving the diverse worlds of 

A. R. « 01 D D 


appearance. But in this work I am endeavouring 
merely to defend a general view. And so, both on 
the whole and here in particular with regard to 
goodness, I cannot attempt to deal fully with any 
aspect of the Absolute. It is mainly the common 
prejudice in favour of the ultimate truth of morality 
or religion, that has led me to give to them here a 
space which perhaps is undue. But, even with this, 
I can but touch on certain features of the subject ; 
and I must deal chiefly with those which are likely 
to be urged as objections to our doctrine. 1 

We may speak of the good, generally, as that 
which satisfies desire. It is that which we approve 
of, and in which we can rest with a feeling of con- 
tentment. Or we may describe it again, if we 
please, as being the same as worth. It contains 
those elements which, also, we find in truth. Truth 
and goodness are each the correspondence, or rather 
each the identity, of idea and existence. In truth 
we start with existence, as being the appearance of 
perfection, and we go on to complete ideally what 
really must be there. In goodness, on the other 
hand, we begin with an idea of what is perfect, and 
we then make, or else find, this same idea in what 
exists. And the idea also I take to be desired. 
Goodness is the verification in existence of a desired 
ideal content, and it thus implies the measurement 
of fact by a suggested idea. Hence both goodness 
and truth contain the separation of idea and exist- 
ence, and involve a process in time. And, there- 

1 My Ethical Studies, 1876, a book which in the main still 
expresses my opinions, contains a further discussion on many 
points. For my views on the nature of pleasure, desire, and voli- 
tion, I must refer to Mind, No. 49. My former volume would 
have been reprinted, had I not desired to rewrite it. But I feel 
that the appearance of other books, as well as the decay of those 
superstitions against which largely it was directed, has left me 
free to consult my own pleasure in this matter. 


fore, each is appearance, and but a one-sided asp 
of the Real. 1 

But the good (it may be objected) need involve 
no idea. Is not the pleasant, as such, good ? Is 
not at any rate any feeling in which we rest with 
satisfaction, at once good in itself? I answer these 
questions in the negative. Good, in the proper 
sense, implies the fulfilment of desire; at least, 
if you consider anything apart from the realization 
of a suggested idea, it is at a stage below goodness. 
Such an experience would be, but it would not, 
properly, have yet become either good or true. 
And on reflection, perhaps, we should not wish to 
make use of these terms. For, at our level of 
mental life, whatever satisfies and contents us can 
hardly fail to have some implication with desire. 
And, if we take it where as yet it suggests nothing, 
where we have no idea of what we feel, and where 
we do not realize, however dimly, that " it is this 
which is good " — then it is no paradox to refuse to 
such a stage the name of goodness. Such a feeling 
would become good, if for a moment I were so to 
regard it; for I then should possess the idea of 
what satisfies, and should find that idea given also 
in fact. But, where ideas are absent, we should 
not speak of anything as being actually good or 
true. Goodness and truth may be there potentially, 
but as yet neither of them is there. 

And that an idea is required for goodness seems 
fairly clear, but with regard to desire there is more 
room for doubt. I may approve, in the sense of 
finding a pleasant idea realized, and yet, in some 
cases, desire appears to be absent For, in some 
cases, existence does not oppose my idea, and there 

1 In the main, what is true is good, because the good has to 
satisfy desire, and, on the whole, we necessarily desire to find the 
more perfect What is good is true, in the main, because the 
idea desired, being, in general, more perfect, is more real. But 
on the relation of these aspects further see the next chapter. 


is, hence, no place open for the tension of desire. 
This assertion might be combated, but, for myself, 
I am prepared to admit it. And the inclusion of 
desire in the idea of good, to this extent I allow, 
may be called arbitrary. But it seems justifiable, 
because (as things are) desire must be developed. 
Approval without desire is but an extreme and a 
passing condition. There cannot fail to come a 
wavering, and so an opposition, in my state ; and 
with this at once we have the tension required for 
desire. Desire, I thus admit, may, for the moment, 
be absent from approval ; but, because it necessarily 
must ensue, I take it as essential. Still this point, 
in my opinion, has little importance. What is im- 
portant is to insist that the presence of an idea is 
essential to goodness. 

And for this reason we must not admit that the 
pleasant, as such, is good. The good is pleasant, 
and the better, also, is in proportion more pleasant. 
And we may add, again, that the pleasant is gener- 
ally good, if we will leave out " as such." Fo,r the 
pleasant will naturally become desired, and will 
therefore on the whole be good. But we must not 
assert that everything pleasant is the satisfaction 
of a desire, or even always must imply desire or 
approval. And hence, since an idea may be absent, 
the pleasant sometimes may be not properly good. 

And against the identification of bare pleasure, 
as such, with the good we may unhesitatingly pro- 
nounce. Such a view separates the aspect of 
pleasure, and then denies that anything else in the 
world is worth anything at all. If it merely asserted 
that the more pleasant and the better were one, its 
position would be altered. For, since pleasure goes 
with everything that is free from discord, or has 
merged discord in fuller harmony, naturally the 
higher degree of individuality will be therefore more 
pleasant. 1 And we have included pleasure as an 
1 I must refer here to Mind, No. 49. 


essential element in our idea of perfection (Chapter 
xx.). But it will hardly follow from this that 
nothing in the universe except pleasure is good, and 
that, taking this one aspect as the end, we may 
regard all else as mere means. Where everything 
is connected in one whole, you may abstract and 
so may isolate any one factor. And you may prove 
at your ease that, without this, all the rest are im- 
perfect and worthless ; and you may show how, this 
one being added, they all once more gain reality 
and worth. And hence of every one alike you may 
conclude that it is the end for the sake of which all 
the others exist. But from this to argue, absolutely 
and blindly, that some one single aspect of the 
world is the sole thing that is good, is most surely 
illogical. It is to narrow a point of view, which 
is permissible only so long as it is general, into a 
one-sided mistake. And thus, in its denial that 
anything else beside pleasure is good, Hedonism 
must be met by a decided rejection. 

Is a thing desired always, because it is first 
pleasant, or is it ever pleasant rather, on the other 
hand, because we desire it ? l And we may ask 
the same question as to the relation of the desired 
to the good. But, again, is anything true because 
I am led to think it, or am I rather led to think it 
because of its truth ? And, once more, is it right 
because / ought, or does the " because " only hold 
in the opposite direction ? And is an object beauti- 

1 The object of any idea has a tendency to become desired, if 
held over against fact, although, beforehand and otherwise, it has 
not been, and is not pleasant. Every idea, as the enlargement of 
self, is, in the abstract and so far, pleasant And the pleasant- 
ness of an idea, as my psychical state, can be transferred to its 
object We have to ask always what it is that fixes an idea 
against fact Is it there because its object has been pleasant or 
because it or its object is now pleasant ? And can we not say 
sometimes that it is pleasant only because it is there? The dis- 
cussion of these matters would lead to psychological subtleties, 
which here we may neglect 


ful because it affects me, or is, on the other hand, 
my emotion the result of its beauty ? In each of 
these cases we first have made a separation which 
is too rigid, and on this foundation are built ques- 
tions which threaten us with a dilemma. We set 
down upon each side, as a fact and as presupposed, 
what apart from the other side, at least sometimes, 
would have no existence. If good is the satisfaction 
of desire, you may take desire as being its con- 
dition ; but, on the other hand, you would desire 
hardly anything at all, unless in some sense it had 
given satisfaction already. Certainly the pleasant, 
as we have seen, may, for a time and at a low level, 
be not approved of or desired. But it is another 
thing to assert that goodness consists in, or is a 
mere result from, pleasure. 

That which consistent Hedonism would, at least 
by implication, deny, is the direction of desire in the 
end towards anything but pleasure. Something is 
pleasant as a fact, and solely for that cause it is 
desired ; and with this the whole question seems 
forthwith settled. But pleasure itself, like every 
other fact, cannot be something which just happens. 
Upon its side also, assuredly, it is not without a 
reason. And, when we ask, we find that pleasure 
co- exists always with what we call perfection or 
individuality. But, if so, then surely the "because" 
holds as firmly in one way as in the other. And, 
so far as I see, if we have a right to deny that a 
certain character is necessary for pleasure, we should 
have the same right to repudiate the connection be- 
tween pleasure and desire. If the one co-existence 
is mere accident and a conjunction which happens, 
then why not also, and as much, the other ? But, 
if we agree that the connection is two-sided, and 
that a degree of relative perfection is essential to 
pleasure, just as pleasure, on its side, is an element 
in perfection, then Hedonism, at once, is in principle 
refuted. The object of desire will never fail, as 


such, to contain more than pleasure; and the idea 
that either pleasure, or any other aspect, is the 
single End in the universe must be allowed to be 
untenable (Chapter xxvi.). I may perhaps put this 
otherwise by urging that, even if Hedonism were 
true, there would be no possible way in which its 
truth could be shown. 1 

Passing from this mistake I will notice another 
doctrine from which we must dissent. There is a 
temptation to identify goodness with the realization 
of the Will; and, on the strength of a certain assump- 
tion, this conclusion would, taken broadly, be right. 
But we shall see that this assumption is not tenable 
(Chapter xxvi.), and, without it, the conclusion 
cannot stand. We have noticed that the satisfac- 
tion of desire can be found as well as made by the 
individual. And where experienced existence is 
both pleasant and satisfies desire, I am unable to 
see how we can refuse to call it good. Nor, again, 
can pleasure be limited so as to be the feeling of the 
satisfied will, since it clearly seems to exist in the 
absence of volition. 2 

I may perhaps express our general view by say- 
ing that the good is co-extensive with approbation. 
But I should add that approbation is to be taken in 

1 I have noticed above (p. 374) the want of thoroughness 
displayed by Hedonism in its attitude towards the intellect. See 
more below, p. 434. For further criticism of details I may refer to 
my Ethical Studies, and again to a pamphlet that was called Mr. 
Sidgwicks Hedonism. Cp. Mind, 49, p. 36. 

8 I may add that in time it precedes the development of will. 
Will and thought, proper, imply the distinction of subject from 
object, and pain and pleasure seem prior to this distinction, and 
indeed largely to effect it. I may emphasize my dissent from 
certain views as to the dependence of pleasure on the Will, or the 
Self, or the Ego, by stating that I consider these to be products 
and subsequent to pleasure. To say that they are made solely 
by pleasure and pain would be incorrect. But it would be much 
more correct than to take the latter always as being a reaction 
from them. 


its widest sense. To approve is to have an idea in 
which we feel satisfaction, and to have or imagine the 
presence of this idea in existence. And against the 
existence which, actually or in imagination, fails to 
realize the idea, the idea becomes an " is to be," a 
" should " or an " ought." Nor is approbation in 
the least confined to the realm of morality proper, 
but is found just as much in the worlds of specula- 
tion or art. Wherever a result, external or inward, 
is measured by an idea which is pleasant, and is 
seen to correspond, we can, in a certain sense, be 
said to approve. And, where we approve, there 
certainly we can be said also to find the result 
good. 1 

The good, in general, is often identified with the 
desirable. This, I think, is misleading. For the 
desirable means that which is to be, or ought to be, 
desired. And it seems, hence, to imply that the good 

1 For the sake ot convenience I assume that approval implies 
desire, but in certain cases the assumption would hardly be cor- 
rect (p. 404). But approval always must imply that the idea is 
pleasant. Apart from, or in abstraction from, that feature, we 
should have mere recognition. And, though recognition tends 
always to become approval, yet in idea they are not the same ; 
and again in fact recognition, I think, is possible where approval 
is absent. 

We approve, of course, not always absolutely, but from some 
one point of view. Even where the result is most unwelcome we 
may still approve theoretically ; and to find what we are looking 
for, however bad, is an intellectual success, and may, so far, be 
approved of. It will then be good, so far as it is regarded solely 
from this one aspect. The real objection against making approval 
co-extensive with goodness is that approval implies usually a 
certain degree of reflection, and suggests the judging from an 
abstracted and impersonal point of view. In this way approba- 
tion may be found, for instance, to be, so far, incompatible with 
love, and so also with some goodness. But if approbation is 
taken at a low level of development, and is used to mean no 
more than the finding anything to be that which gives satisfaction, 
the objection disappears. The relation of practical to theo- 
retical approval will be touched on further in Chapter xxvi. 
Approval, of course, is practical where the idea is of something 
to be done. 


might be good, and yet not be desired, or, again, 
that something might be desired which is not good. 
And, if good is taken generally, these assertions 
at least are disputable. The term " desirable " 
belongs to the world of relative goods, and has a 
clear meaning only where we can speak of better 
and worse. But to good in general it seems not 
strictly applicable. A thing is desirable, when to 
desire it is better. It is not desirable, properly, 
when you can say no more than that to desire it is 
good. 1 

The good might be called desirable in the sense 
that it essentially has to be desired. For desire is 
not an external means, but is contained and involved 
in goodness, or at least follows from it necessarily. 
Goodness without desire, we might say, would not 
be itself, and it is hence desirable (p. 404). This 
use of " desirable " would call attention to an im- 
portant point, but, for the reason given above, would 
be misleading. At any rate it clearly separates for 
the moment desire from goodness. 

We have attempted now to fix generally the 
meaning of goodness, and we may proceed from 
this to lay stress on its contradictory character. 
The good is not the perfect, but is merely a one- 
sided aspect of perfection. It tends to pass beyond 
itself, and, if it were completed, it would forthwith 
cease properly to be good. I will exhibit its 
incompleteness first by asking what it is that is 
good, and will then go on briefly to point out the 
self-contradiction in its essence. 

1 If pleasure were the only thing that could be desired, it 
would, hence, not follow straight from this that pleasure is de- 
sirable at all, or that, further, it is the sole desirable. These 
conclusions might follow, but in any case not directly ; and the 
intermediate steps should be set out and discussed. The word 
"desirable" naturally lends itself to misuse, and has on this 
account been of service to some Hedonistic writers. It veils a 
covert transition from "is" to " is to be." 


If we seek to know what is goodness, we find 
it always as the adjective of something not itself. 
Beauty, truth, pleasure, and sensation are all things 
that are good. We desire them all, and all can 
serve as types or " norms " by which to guide our 
approbation. And hence, in a sense, they all will fall 
under and be included in goodness. But when we 
ask, on the other hand, if goodness exhausts all that 
lies in these regions, the answer must be different. 
For .we see at once that each possesses a character of 
its own ; and, in order to be good, the other aspects 
of the universe must also be themselves. The good 
then, as such, is obviously not so wide as the totality 
of things. And the same conclusion is at once 
forced on us, if we go on to examine the essence of 
goodness. For that is self- discrepant, and is there- 
fore appearance and not Reality. The good implies 
a distinction of idea from existence, and a division 
which, in the lapse of time, is perpetually healed up 
and re- made. 

And such a process is involved in the inmost 
being of the good. A satisfied desire is, in short, 
inconsistent with itself. For, so far as it is quite' 
satisfied, it is not a desire ; and, so far as it is a 
desire, it must remain at least partly unsatisfied. 
And where we are said to want nothing but what 
we have, and where approbation precludes desire, 
we have, first, an ideal continuance of character 
in conflict with change. But in any case, apart 
from this, there is implied the suggestion of an 
idea, distinct from the fact while identified with it. 
Each of these features is necessary, and each is 
inconsistent with the other. And the resolution 
of this difference between idea and existence is 
both demanded by the good, and yet remains 
unattainable. Its accomplishment, indeed, would 
destroy the proper essence of goodness, and the 
good is therefore in itself incomplete and self- 
transcendent. It moves towards an other and a 


higher character, in which, becoming perfect, it 
would be merged. 

Hence obviously the good is not the Whole, and 
the Whole, as such, is not good. And, viewed thus 
in relation to the Absolute, there is nothing either 
bad or good, there is not anything better or worse. 
For the Absolute is not its appearances. But (as 
we have seen throughout) such a truth is itself par- 
tial and false, since the Absolute appears in its 
phenomena and is real nowhere outside them. We 
indeed can only deny that it is any one, because it 
is all of them in unity. And so, regarded from this 
other side, the Absolute is good, and it manifests 
itself throughout in various degrees of goodness 
and badness. The destiny of goodness, in reaching 
which it must itself cease to be, is accomplished by 
the Whole. And, since in that consummation idea 
and existence are not lost but are brought into 
harmony, the Whole therefore is still good. And 
again, since reference to the perfect makes finite 
satisfactions all higher and lower, the Absolute is 
realized in all of them to different degrees. I will 
briefly deal with this latter point. 

We saw, in our last chapter, the genuine meaning 
of degrees in reality and truth. That is more per- 
fect which is separated from perfection by a smaller 
interval. And the interval is measured by the 
amount of re-arrangement and of addition required 
in order to turn an appearance into Reality. We 
found, again, that our one principle has a double 
aspect, as it meets two opposite defects in phen- 
omena. For an element is lower as being either 
more narrow or less harmonious. And we per- 
ceived, further, how and why these two defects are 
essentially connected. Passing now to goodness, 
we must content ourselves by observing in general 
that the same principle holds. The satisfaction 
which is more true and more real, is better. And 
we measure, here again, by the double aspect of 


extension and harmony. 1 Only the perfect and 
complete would, in the end, content our desires. 
And a satisfaction more consistent with itself, or 
again wider and fuller, approaches more nearly to 
that consummation in which we could rest. Further 
the divergence of these two aspects is itself but 
apparent, and consists merely in a one-sided 
confinement of our view. For a satisfaction de- 
termined from the outside cannot internally be 
harmonious, while on the other hand, if it became 
all-inclusive, it would have become also concordant. 
In its application this single principle tends natur- 
ally to fall apart into two different standards. Still, 
for all that, it remains in essence and at bottom the 
same, and it is everywhere an estimation by the 

In a sense, therefore, the Absolute is actually 
good, and throughout the world of goodness it is 
truly realized in different degrees of satisfaction. 
Since in ultimate Reality all existence, and all 
thought and feeling, become one, we may even say 
that every feature in the universe is thus absolutely 

I have now briefly laid down the general mean- 
ing and significance of goodness, and may go on to 
consider it in a more special and restricted sense. 
The good, we have seen, contains the sides of ex- 
istence and idea. And the existence, so far, has 
been found to be in accordance with the idea, but 
the idea itself, so far, has not necessarily produced 
or realized itself in the fact. When, however, we 
take goodness in its narrower meaning, this last 
feature is essential. The good, in short, will be- 
come the realized end or completed will. It is 
now an idea which not only has an answering con- 

1 In estimating pains and pleasures we consider not merely 
their degree and extent, but also their effects, and generally all 
those qualities with which they are inseparably connected. 


tent in fact, but, in addition also, has made, and has 
brought about, that correspondence. We may say 
that the idea has translated or has carried itself out 
into reality ; for the content on both sides is the 
same, and the existence has become what it is 
through the action of the idea. Goodness thus will 
be confined to the realm of ends or of self-realiza- 
tion. It will be restricted, in other words, to what 
is commonly called the sphere of morality. 

For we must here take self-realization to have no 
meaning except in finite souls ; and of course every 
soul is finite, though certainly not all are human. 
Will, implying a process in time, cannot belong, as 
such, to the Absolute ; and, on the other side, we 
cannot assume the existence of ends in the physical 
world. I shall return in the next chapter to this 
question of teleology in Nature, but, for the sake of 
convenience, we must here exclude it from our view. 
There is to be, in short, no self-realization except 
that of souls. 

Goodness then, at present, is the realization of its 
idea by a finite soul. It is not perfection simply, 
but perfection as carried out by a will. We must 
forget, on the one hand, that, as we have seen, 
approbation goes beyond morality ; and we must, as 
yet, be blind to that more restricted sense in which 
morality is inward. Goodness is, here, to be the 
carrying out by the individual of his idea of perfec- 
tion. And we must go on to show briefly how, in 
this sense also, the good is inconsistent. It is a 
point of view which is compelled perpetually to pass 
beyond itself. 

If we enquire, once more, " What is good ? " in the 
sense of asking for some element of content which 
is special, we must answer, as before, M There is 
nothing." Pleasure, we have seen, is by itself not 
the essence of goodness ; and, on the other hand, 
no feature of the world falls outside of what is good. 
Beauty, truth, feeling, and sensation, every imagin- 


able matter must go to constitute perfection. For 
perfection or individuality is a system, harmonious 
and thus inclusive of everything. And goodness 
we have now taken to be the willed reality of its 
perfection by a soul. And hence neither the form 
of system by itself, nor again, any one matter apart 
from the whole, is either perfect or good. 1 

But, as with truth and reality, so with goodness 
our one standard becomes double, and individuality 
falls apart into the aspects of harmony and extent. 
In principle, and actually in the end, these two fea- 
tures must coincide (Chapter xxiv.) ; but in judging 
of phenomena we are constantly forced to apply 
them separately. I propose to say nothing about 
the various concrete modes in which this two-fold 
perfection has been realized in fact. But, solely 
with a view to bring out the radical vice of all good- 
ness, I will proceed to lay stress on this divergence 
in application. The aspects of extent and of har- 
mony come together in the end, but no less certainly 
in that end goodness, as such, will have perished. 

I am about, in other words, to invite attention to 
what is called self-sacrifice. Goodness is the realiza- 
tion by an individual of his own perfection, and that 
perfection consists, as we have seen, in both har- 
mony and extent. And provisionally these two 
features will not quite coincide. To reduce the raw 
material of one's nature to the highest degree of 
system, and to use every element from whatever 
source as a subordinate means to this object, is 
certainly one genuine view of goodness. On the 
other hand to widen as far as possible the end to 
be pursued, and to realize this through the distrac- 
tion or the dissipation of one's own individuality, is 
certainly also good. An individual system, aimed 
at in one's self, and again the subordination of one's 
own development to a wide-embracing end, are each 

1 This applies emphatically to any specific feeling of goodness 
or morality. 


an aspect of the moral principle. So far as they 
are discrepant, these two pursuits may be called, 
the one, self-assertion, and the other, self-sacrifice. 
And, however much these must diverge, each is 
morally good ; and, taken in the abstract, you can- 
not say that one is better than the other. 

I am far from suggesting that in morality we are 
forced throughout to make a choice between such 
incompatible ideals. For this is not the case, and, 
if it were so, life could hardly be lived. To a very 
large extent by taking no thought about his indi- 
vidual perfection, and by aiming at that which seems 
to promise no personal advantage, a man secures 
his private welfare. We may, perhaps, even say 
that in the main there is no collision between self- 
sacrifice and self-assertion, and that on the whole 
neither of these, in the proper sense, exists for 
morality. But, while admitting or asserting to the 
full the general identity of these aspects, I am here 
insisting on the fact of their partial divergence. 
And that, at least in some respects and with some 
persons, these two ideals seem hostile no sane 
observer can deny. 

In other words we must admit that two great 
divergent forms of moral goodness exist. In order 
to realize the idea of a perfect self a man may have 
to choose between two partially conflicting methods. 
Morality, in short, may dictate either self-sacrifice 
or self-assertion, and it is important to clear our 
ideas as to the meaning of each. A common mis- 
take is to identify the first with the living for others, 
and the second with living for oneself. Virtue upon 
this view is social, either directly or indirectly, either 
visibly or invisibly. The development of the indi- 
vidual, that is, unless it reacts to increase the welfare 
of society, can certainly not be moral. This doctrine 
I am still forced to consider as a truth which has 
been exaggerated and perverted into error. 1 There 

1 See Ethical Studies, pp. 200 -203. And compare here below, 
p. 431, and p. 529. 

41 6 REALITY. 

are intellectual and other accomplishments, to which 
I at least cannot refuse the title of virtue. But I 
cannot assume that, without exception, these must 
all somehow add to what is called social welfare ; 
nor, again, do I see how to make a social organism 
the subject which directly possesses them. But, if 
so, it is impossible for me to admit that all virtue is 
essentially or primarily social. On the contrary, the 
neglect of social good, for the sake of pursuing other 
ends, may not only be moral self-assertion, but again, 
equally under other conditions, it may be moral self- 
sacrifice. We can even say that the living " for 
others," rather than living " for myself," may be 
immoral and selfish. 

And you can hardly make the difference between 
self-sacrifice and self-assertion consist in this, that 
the idea pursued, in one case, falls beyond the indi- 
vidual and, in the other case, fails to do so. Or, 
rather, such a phrase, left undefined, can scarcely be 
said to have a meaning. Every permanent end of 
every kind will go beyond the individual, if the in- 
dividual is taken in his lowest sense. And, passing 
that by, obviously the content realized in an indi- 
vidual's perfection must be also above him and be- 
yond him. His perfection is not one thing apart 
from the rest of the universe, and he gains it only 
by appropriating, and by reducing to a special har- 
mony, the common substance of all. It is obvious 
that his private welfare, so far as he is social, must 
include to some extent the welfare of others. And 
his intellectual, aesthetic, and moral development, in 
short the whole ideal side of his nature, is clearly 
built up out of elements which he shares with other 
souls. Hence the individual's end in self- advance- 
ment must always transcend his private being. In 
fact, the difference between self-assertion and self- 
sacrifice does not lie in the contents which are used, 
but in the diverse uses which are made of them ; 
and I will attempt to explain this. 


In moral self-assertion the materials used may be 
drawn from any source, and they may belong to any 
world. They may, and they must, largely realize 
ends which visibly transcend my life. But it is self- 
assertion when, in applying these elements, I am 
guided by the idea of the greatest system in myself. 
If the standard used in measuring and selecting my 
material is, in other words, the development of my 
individual perfection, then my conduct is palpably 
not self-sacrifice, and may be opposed to it. It is 
self-sacrifice when I pursue an end by which my 
individuality suffers loss. In the attainment of this 
object my self is distracted, or is diminished, or even 
dissipated. I may, for social purposes, give up my 
welfare for the sake of other persons ; or again I 
may devote myself to some impersonal pursuit, by 
which the health and harmony of my self is injured. 
Wherever the moral end followed is followed to the 
loss of individual well-being, then that is self-sacri- 
fice, whether I am living "for others" or not. 1 But 
self-sacrifice is also, and on the other hand, a form 
of self-realization. The wider end, which is aimed 
at, is, visibly or invisibly, reached ; and in that pur- 
suit and that attainment I find my personal good. 

It is the essential nature of my self, as finite, 
equally to assert and, at the same time, to pass be- 
yond itself; and hence the objects of self-sacrifice 
and of self- advancement are each equally mine. If 
we are willing to push a metaphor far beyond its 
true and natural limits, we may perhaps state the 
contrast thus. In self-assertion the organ considers 
first its own development, and for that purpose it 
draws material from the common life of all organs. 
But in self-sacrifice the organ aims at realizing some 
feature of the life larger than its own, and is ready 
to do this at the cost of injury to its own existence. 
It has foregone the idea of a perfection, individual, 

1 I am, for the present purpose, taking no account of immor- 
ality or of the self-sacrifice which seems failure. 

A. R. E E 

41 8 REALITY. 

rounded, and concrete. It is willing to see itself 
abstract and mutilated, over-specialized, or stunted, 
or even destroyed. But this actual defect it can 
make up ideally, by an expansion beyond its special 
limits, and by an identification of its will with a 
wider reality. Certainly the two pursuits, thus de- 
scribed, must in the main coincide and be one. The 
whole is furthered most by the self-seeking of its 
parts, for in these alone the whole can appear and 
be real. And the part again is individually bettered 
by its action for the whole, since thus it gains the 
supply of that common substance which is necessary 
to fill it. But, on the other hand, this general coin- 
cidence is only general, and assuredly there are 
points at which it ceases. And here self-assertion 
and self-sacrifice begin to diverge, and each to 
acquire its distinctive character. 

Each of these modes of action realizes the self, 
and realizes that which is higher; and (I must re- 
peat this) they are equally virtuous and right. To 
what then should the individual have any duty, if 
he has none to himself? Or is it, again, really 
supposed that in his perfection the whole is not per- 
fected, and that he is somewhere enjoying his own 
advantage and holding it apart from the universe ? 
But we have seen that such a separation between 
the Absolute and finite beings is meaningless. Or 
shall we be assured, upon the other side, that for a 
thing to sacrifice itself is contrary to reason ? But 
we have found that the very essence of finite beings 
is self-contradictory, that their own nature includes 
relation to others, and that they are already each 
outside of its own existence. And, if so, surely it 
would be impossible, and most contrary to reason, 
that the finite, realizing itself, should not also tran- 
scend its own limits. If a finite individual really is 
not self- discrepant, then let that be argued and 
shown. But, otherwise, that he should be compelled 
to follow two ideals of perfection which diverge, 


appears natural and necessary. And each of these 
pursuits, in general and in the abstract, is equally 
good. It is only the particular conditions which in 
each case can decide between them. 

Now that this divergence ceases, and is brought 
together in the end, is most certain. For nothing 
is outside the Absolute, and in the Absolute there 
is nothing imperfect. And an unaccomplished 
object, implying discrepancy between idea and 
existence, is most surely imperfection. In the 
Absolute everything finite attains the perfection 
which it seeks ; but, upon the other hand, it cannot 
gain perfection precisely as it seeks it. For, as we 
have seen throughout, the finite is more or less 
transmuted, and, as such, disappears in being 
accomplished. This common destiny is assuredly 
the end of the Good. The ends sought by self- 
assertion and self-sacrifice are, each alike, unattain- 
able. The individual never can in himself become 
an harmonious system. And in the wider ideal to 
which he devotes himself, no matter how thoroughly, 
he never can find complete self-realization. For, 
even if we take that ideal to be perfect and to be 
somehow completely fulfilled, yet, after all, he him- 
self is not totally absorbed in it. If his discordant 
element is for faith swallowed up, yet faith, no less, 
means that a jarring appearance remains. And, in 
the complete gift and dissipation of his personality, 
lie y as such, must vanish ; and, with that, the good 
is, as such, transcended and submerged. This 
result is but the conclusion with which our chapter 
began. Goodness is an appearance, it is pheno- 
menal, and therefore self-contradictory. And there- 
fore, as was the case with degrees of truth and 
reality, it shows two forms of one standard which will 
not wholly coincide. In the end, where every 
discord is brought to harmony, every idea is also 
realized. But there, where nothing can be lost, 
everything, by addition and by re-arrangement. 


more or less changes its character. And most 
emphatically no self-assertion nor any self-sacrifice, 
nor any goodness or morality, has, as such, any 
reality in the Absolute. Goodness is a subordinate 
and, therefore, a self-contradictory aspect of the 

And, with this, it is full time that we went 
forward ; but, for the sake of some readers, I will 
dwell longer on the relative character of the Good. 
Too many English moralists assume blindly that 
goodness is ultimate and absolute. For as regards 
metaphysics they are incompetent, and that in the 
religion which probably they profess or at least 
esteem, morality, as such, is subordinate — such a 
fact suggests to them nothing. They are ignorant 
of the view for which all things finite in different 
degrees are real and true, and for which, at the 
same time, not one of them is ultimate. And they 
cannot understand that the Whole may be consistent, 
when the appearances which qualify it conflict with 
one another. For holding on to each separate 
appearance, as a thing absolute and not relative, 
they fix these each in that partial character which 
is unreal and untrue. And such one-sided abstrac- 
tions, which in coming together are essentially 
transformed, they consider to be ultimate and 
fundamental facts. Thus in goodness the ends of 
self-assertion and of self-sacrifice are inconsistent, 
each with itself and each with the other. They are 
fragmentary truths, neither of which is, as such, 
ultimately true. But it is just these relative aspects 
which the popular moralist holds to, each as real 
by itself; and hence ensues a blind tangle of be- 
wilderment and error. To follow this in detail is 
not my task, and still less my desire, but it may be 
instructive, perhaps, briefly to consider it further. 

There is first one point which should be obvious, 
but which seems often forgotten. In asking 


whether goodness can, in the end, be self-consistent 
and be real, we are not concerned merely with the 
relation between virtue and selfishness. For sup- 
pose that there is no difference between these two, 
except merely for our blindness, yet, possessing 
this first crown of our wishes, we have still not 
solved the main problem. It will certainly now be 
worth my while to seek the good of my neighbour, 
since by no other course can I do any better for 
myself, and since what is called self-sacrifice, or 
benevolent action, is in fact the only possible way 
to secure my advantage. But then, upon the other 
hand, a mere balance of advantage, however satis- 
factory the means by which I come to possess it, is 
most assuredly not the fulfilment of my desire. For 
the desire of human beings (this is surely a common- 
place) has no limit. Goodness, in other words, 
must imply an attempt to reach perfection, and it is 
.the nature of the finite to seek for that which 
nothing finite can satisfy. But, if so, with a mere 
balance of advantage I have not realized my good. 
And, however much virtue may be nothing in the 
world but a refined form of self-seeking, yet, with 
this, virtue is not one whit the less a pursuit of 
what is inconsistent and therefore impossible. And 
goodness, or the attainment of such an impossible 
end, is still self- contradictory. 

Further, since it seems necessary for me not to 
be ashamed of platitude, let me call the attention 
of the reader to some evident truths. No existing 
social organism secures to its individuals any more 
than an imperfect good, and in all of them self- 
sacrifice marks the fact of a failure in principle. But 
even in an imaginary society, such as is foretold to 
us in the New Jerusalem of Mr. Spencer, it is only 
for thoughtless credulity that evil has vanished. 
For it is not easy to forget that finite beings are 
physically subject to accident, or easy to believe 
that this their natural essence is somehow to be 

42 2 REALITY. 

removed. And, even so and in any case, the members 
of an organism must of necessity be sacrificed more 
or less to the whole. For they must more or less 
be made special in their function, and that means 
rendered, to some extent, one-sided and narrow. 
And, if so, the harmony of their individual being 
must inevitably in some degree suffer. And it 
must suffer again, if the individual devotes himself 
to some aesthetic or intellectual pursuit. On the 
other side, even within the New Jerusalem, if a 
person aims merely at his own good, he, none the 
less, is fore-doomed to imperfection and failure. 
For on a defective and shifting natural basis he 
tries to build a harmonious system ; and his task, 
hopeless for this reason, is for another reason more 
hopeless. He strives within finite limits to construct 
a concordant whole, when the materials which he is 
forced to use have no natural endings, but extend 
themselves indefinitely beyond himself into an end- 
less world of relations. And, if so, once more we 
have been brought back to the familiar truth, that 
there is no such possibility as human perfection. 
But, if so, then goodness, since it must needs pur- 
sue the perfect, is in its essence self-discrepant, and 
in the end is unreal. It is an appearance one-sided 
and relative, and not an ultimate reality. 

But to this idea of relativity, both in the case 
of goodness and every other order of phenomena, 
popular philosophy remains blind. Everything, 
for it, is either a delusion, and so nothing at all, or 
is on the other hand a fact, and, because it exists, 
therefore, as such, real. That reality can appear 
nowhere except in a system of relative unrealities ; 
that, taken apart from this system, the several 
appearances are in contradiction with one another 
and each within itself; that, nevertheless, outside of 
this field of jarring elements there neither is nor can 
be anything ; and that, if appearances were not 
irremediably self-discrepant, they could not possibly 


be the appearances of the Real — all this to popular 
thought remains meaningless. Common sense 
openly revolts against the idea of a fact which is 
not a reality ; or again, as sober criticism, it plumes 
itself on suggesting cautious questions, doubts 
which dogmatically assume the truth of its coarsest 
prejudices. Nowhere are these infirmities illus- 
trated better than by popular Ethics, in the attitude 
it takes towards the necessary discrepancies of 
goodness. That these discrepancies exist because 
goodness is not absolute, and that their solution 
is not possible until goodness is degraded to an 
appearance — such a view is blindly ignored. Nor 
is it asked if these opposites, self-assertion and 
self-sacrifice, are not each internally inconsistent 
and so irrational. But the procedure is, first, 
tacitly to assume that each opposite is fixed, and 
will not pass beyond itself. And then, from this 
basis, one of the extremes is rejected as an illusion ; 
or else, both being absolute and solid, an attempt 
is made to combine them externally or to show that 
somehow they coincide. I will add a few words on 
these developments. 

(i.) The good may be identified with self-sacrifice, 
and self-assertion may, therefore, be totally ex- 
cluded. But the good, as self-sacrifice, is clearly in 
collision with itself. For an act of self-denial is, no 
less, in some sense a self-realization, and it inevit- 
ably includes an aspect of self-assertion. And 
hence the good, as the mere attainment of self- 
sacrifice, is really unmeaning. For it is in finite 
selves, after all, that the good must be realized. 
And, further, to say that perfection must be always 
the perfection of something else, appears quite in- 
consistent For it will mean either that on the 
whole the good is nothing whatever, or else that it 
consists in that which each does or may enjoy, yet 
not as good, but as a something extraneously added 
unto him. The good, in other words, in this case 


will be not good ; and in the former case it will be 
nothing positive, and therefore nothing. That each 
should pursue the general perfection, should act for 
the advantage of a whole in which his self is in- 
cluded, or should add to a collection in which he may 
share — is certainly not pure self-sacrifice. And a 
maxim that each should aim purely at his neigh- 
bour's welfare in separation from his own, we have 
seen is self-inconsistent. It can hardly be ultimate 
or reasonable, when its meaning seems to end in 
nonsense. 1 

(ii.) Or, rejecting all self-transcendence as an idle 
word, popular Ethics may set up pure self-assertion 
as all that is good. It may perhaps desire to add 
that by the self-seeking of each the advantage of all 
is best secured, but this addition clearly is not 
contained in self-assertion, and cannot properly be 
included. For by such an addition, if it were 
necessary, the end at once would have been 
essentially modified. It was self-assertion pure, 
and not qualified, which was adopted as goodness ; 
and it is this alone which we must now consider. 
And we perceive first (as we saw above) that such a 
good is unattainable, since perfection cannot be 
realized in a finite being. Not only is the physical 
basis too shifting, but the contents too essentially 
belong to a world outside the self ; and hence it is 
impossible that they should be brought to completion 
and to harmony within it. One may indeed seek 
to approach nearer to the unattainable. Aiming at 
a system within oneself, one may forcibly abstract 
from the necessary connections of the material used. 
We may consider this and strive to apply it one- 
sidedly, and in but a single portion of its essential 
aspects. But the other aspect inseparably against 

1 It may be as well perhaps to add that, neither in this sense 
nor in any other, can the good be defined negatively. At that 
point, in any definition, where a negative term is introduced, the 
reader should specially look for a defect. 


our will is brought in, and it stamps our effort with 
inconsistency. Thus even to pursue imperfectly 
one's own advantage by itself is unreasonable, for 
by itself and purely it has no existence at all. It 
was a trait characteristic of critical Common Sense 
when it sought for the individual's moral end by 
first supposing him isolated. For a dogmatic as- 
sumption that the individual remains what he is 
when you have cut off his relations, is very much 
what the vulgar understand by criticism. But, 
when such a question is discussed, it must be 
answered quite otherwise. The contents, asserted 
in the individual's self-seeking, necessarily extend 
beyond his private limits. A maxim, therefore, 
merely to pursue one's own advantage is, taken 
strictly, inconsistent And a principle which contra- 
dicts itself is, once more, not reasonable. 1 

(iii.) In the third place, admitting self-assertion 
and self-denial as equally good, popular thought 
attempts to bring them together from outside. 
Goodness will now consist in the coincidence of 
these independent goods. The two are not to be 
absorbed by and resolved into a third. Each, on 
the other hand, is to retain unaltered the character 
which it has, and the two, remaining two, are some- 
how to be conjoined. And this, as we have seen 
throughout our work, is quite impossible. If two 
conflicting finite elements are anywhere to be 
harmonized, the first condition is that each should 
forego and should transcend its private character. 
Each, in other words, working out the discrepancy 

1 The same conclusion holds if for " advantage " one writes 
"pleasure." For pleasure is necessarily connected with other 
content, and is not isolated, or again conjoined hap-hazard and 
accidentally. One may of course pursue " merely one's own n 
pleasure, in the sense that one tries to aim at and to consider 
this partial end by itself. But, if you assert that this end has not 
another aspect which contradicts " merely one's own," the asser- 
tion is false. And it is, I presume, a moral platitude that selfish 
action always must concern more than the actor. 


already within itself, passes beyond itself and unites 
with its opposite in a product higher than either. 
But such a transcendence can have n.j meaning to 
popular Ethics. That has assumed without examin- 
ation that each finite end, taken by itself, is reason- 
able ; and it therefore demands that each, as such, 
should together be satisfied. And, blind to theory, 
it is blind also to the practical refutation of its 
dogmas by everyday life. There a man can seek 
the general welfare in his own, and can find his own 
end accomplished in the general ; for goodness there 
already is the transcendence and solution of one- 
sided elements. The good is already there, not the 
external conjunction, but the substantial identity of 
these opposites. They are not coincident with, but 
each is in, and makes one aspect of, the other. In 
short, already within goodness that work is imper- 
fectly begun, which, when completed, must take us 
beyond goodness altogether. But for popular Ethics, 
as we saw, not only goodness itself, but each of its 
one-sided features is fixed as absolute. And, these 
having been so fixed in irrational independence, an 
effort is made to find the good in their external 

Goodness is apparently now to be the coincidence 
of two ultimate goods, but it is hard to see how 
such an end can be ultimate or reasonable. That 
two elements should necessarily come together, and, 
at the same time, that neither should be qualified 
by this relation, or again that a relation in the end 
should not imply a whole, which subordinates and 
qualifies the two terms — all this in the end seems 
unintelligible. But, again, if the relation and the 
whole are to qualify the terms, one does not under- 
stand how either by itself could ever have been 
ultimate. 1 In short, the bare conjunction of inde- 

1 The same difficulty will appear if an attempt is made to state 
the general maxim. Both ends are to remain and to be ultimate, 
and hence neither is to be qualified by the other or the whole. 


pendent reais is an idea which contradicts itself. 
But of this naturally Common Sense has no know- 
ledge at all, and it therefore blindly proceeds with 
its impossible task. 

That task is to defend the absolute character of 
goodness by showing that the discrepancies which 
it presents disappear in the end, and that these 
discrepant features, none the less, survive each in its 
own character. But by popular Ethics this task 
usually is not understood. It directs itself there- 
fore to prove the coincidence of self-seeking and 
benevolence, or to show, in other words, that self- 
sacrifice, if moral, is impossible. And with this 
conclusion reached, in its opinion, the main problem 
would be solved. Now I will not ask how far in 
such a consummation its ultimate ends would, one 
or both, have been subordinated ; for by its conclu- 
sion, in any case, the main problem is not touched. 
We have already seen that our desires, whether for 
ourselves or for others, do not stop short of perfec- 
tion. But where each individual can say no more 
than this, that it has been made worth his while to 
regard others interests, perfection surely may be 
absent. And where the good aimed at is absent, to 
affirm that we have got rid of the puzzle offered by 
goodness seems really thoughtless. It is, however, 
a thoughtlessness which, as we have perceived, is 
characteristic ; and let us pass to the external means 
employed to produce moral harmony. 

Little need here be said. We may find, thrust 
forward or indicated feebly, a well-worn contrivance. 
This is of course the deus ex machina, an idea which 
no serious student of first principles is called on to 
consider. A God which has to make things what 
otherwise, and by their own nature, they are not, 

for to be so qualified is to be transcended. I may add that a 
negative form of statement, here as everywhere, serves no purpose 
but to obscure the problem. This is, however, a (tSMti why it 
may be instinctively selected. 


may summarily be dismissed as an exploded ab- 
surdity. And that perfection should exist in the 
finite, as such, we have seen to be even directly 
contrary to the nature of things. A supposition 
that it may be made worth my while to be benevol- 
ent — especially when an indefinite prolongation of 
my life is imagined — cannot, in itself and for our 
knowledge, be called impossible. But then, upon 
the other hand, we have remarked that such an 
imagined improvement is not a solution of the 
actual main problem. The belief may possibly add 
much to our comfort by assuring us that virtue is 
the best, and is the only true, selfishness. But such 
a truth, if true, would not imply that both or either 
of our genuine ends is, as such, realized. And, 
failing this, the wider discrepancy has certainly not 
been removed from goodness. We may say, in a 
word, that the deus ex machina refuses to work. 
Little can be brought in by this venerable artifice 
except a fresh source of additional collision and 
perplexity. And, giving up this embarrassing 
agency, popular Ethics may prefer to make an 
appeal to " Reason." For, if its two moral ends are 
each reasonable, then, if somehow they do not 
coincide, the nature of things must be unreasonable. 
But we have shown, on the other hand, that neither 
end by itself is reasonable ; and, if the nature of 
things were to bring together elements discordant 
within themselves and conflicting with one another, 
and were to attempt, without transforming their 
character, to make these coincide, — the nature of 
things would have revealed itself as an apotheosis 
of unreason or of popular Ethics. And, baffled by 
its failure to find its dogmas realized in the universe, 
this way of thinking at last may threaten us with 
total scepticism. But here, once more, it is but 
speaking of that of which it knows really nothing ; 
for an honest scepticism is a thing outside its com- 
prehension. An honest and truth-seeking sceptic- 


ism pushes questions to the end, and knows that 
the end lies hid in that which is assumed at the 
beginning. But the scepticism (so-called) of Com- 
mon Sense from first to last is dogmatic. It takes 
for granted, first, without examination that certain 
doctrines are true ; it then demands that this collec- 
tion of dogmas should come to an agreement ; and, 
when its demand is rejected by the universe, it none 
the less persists in reiterating its old assumptions. 
And this dogmatism, simply because it is baffled 
and perplexed, gets the name of scepticism. But a 
sincere scepticism, attacking without fear each parti- 
cular prejudice, finds that every finite view, when 
taken by itself, becomes inconsistent. And borne 
on this inconsistency, which in each case means a 
self- transcendence, such a scepticism is lifted to see 
a whole in which all finites blend and are resolved. 
But when each fact and end has foregone its claim, 
as such, to be ultimate or reasonable, then reason 
and harmony in the highest sense have begun to 
appear. And scepticism in the end survives as a 
mere aspect of constructive metaphysics. With 
this we may leave the irrational dogmas of popular 

The discussion of these has been wearisome, but 
perhaps not uninstructive. It should have confirmed 
us in our general conclusion as to the nature of the 
good. Goodness is not absolute or ultimate ; it is 
but one side, one partial aspect, of the nature of 
things. And it manifests its relativity by incon- 
sistency, by a self-contradiction in principle, and 
by a tendency shown towards separation in that 
principle's working, an attempted division, which 
again is inconsistent and cannot rest in itself. 
Goodness, as such, is but appearance which is 
transcended in the Absolute. But, upon the other 
hand, since in that Absolute no appearance is lost, 
the good is a main and essential factor in the 


universe. By accepting its transmutation it both 
realizes its own destiny and survives in the result. 

We might reach the same conclusion briefly, per- 
haps, by considering the collision of ends. In the 
Whole every idea must be realized ; but, on the 
other hand, the conflict of ends is such that to 
combine them mechanically is quite impossible. It 
will follow then that, in their attainment, their charac- 
ters must be transmuted. We may say at once that 
none of them, and yet that each of them, is good. 
And among these ends must be included what we 
rightly condemn as Evil (Chapter xvii.). That posi- 
tive object which is followed in opposition to the 
good, will unite with, and will conduce to, the ulti- 
mate goal. And the conduct which seems merely 
bad, which appears to pursue no positive content 
and to exhibit no system, will in the same way be- 
come good. Both by its assertion and its negation 
it will subserve an over-ruling end. Good and evil 
reproduce that main result which we found in our 
examination of truth and error. The opposition in 
the end is unreal, but it is, for all that, emphatically 
actual and valid. Error and evil are facts, and 
most assuredly there are degrees of each ; and 
whether anything is better or worse, does without 
any doubt make a difference to the Absolute. And 
certainly the better anything is, the less totally in 
the end is its being over-ruled. But nothing, how- 
ever good, can in the end be real precisely as it 
appears. Evil and good, in short, are not ultimate ; 
they are relative factors which cannot retain their 
special characters in the Whole. And we may 
perhaps now venture to consider this position 

But, bearing in mind the unsatisfactory state of 
current thought on these topics, I think it well to 
follow the enquiry into further detail. There is a 
more refined sense in which we have not yet dealt 


with goodness. 1 The good, we may be informed, is 
morality, and morality is inward. It does not con- 
sist in the attainment of a mere result, either outside 
the self or even within it. For a result must de- 
pend on, and be conditioned by, what is naturally 
given, and for natural defects or advantages a man 
is not responsible. And therefore, so far as regards 
true morality, any realized product is chance ; for it 
must be infected and modified, less or more, by non- 
moral conditions. It is, in short, only that which 
comes out of the man himself which can justify or 
condemn him, and his disposition and circumstances 
do not come from himself. Morality is the identi- 
fication of the individual's will with his own idea of 
perfection. The moral man is the man who tries 
to do the best which he knows. If the best he 
knows is not the best, that is, speaking morally, 

1 This view of morality is of course a late development, but I 
do not propose to say anything on its origin. With regard to 
the origin of morality, in general, I will only say this, that one 
may lay too much stress on its directly social aspect. Certainly 
to isolate the individual is quite indefensible. But, upon the 
other hand, it is wrong to make the sole root of morality consist 
in the direct identification of the individual with the social will. 
Morality, as we have remarked, is not confined to that in its end ; 
and in the same way, we must add, it is not merely that in its 
beginning. I am referring here to the facts of self-esteem and 
self-disapprobation, or the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of a crea- 
ture with itself. This feeling must begin when that creature is 
able to form an idea of itself, as doing or enjoying something 
desired, and can bring that idea into relation with its own actual 
success or failure. The dissatisfied brooding of an animal that 
tor example, missed its prey, is, we may be sure, not yet 
moral. But it will none the less contain in rudiment that judg- 
ment of one's self which is a most important factor of morality. 
And this feeling attaches itself indifferently to the idea of every 
sort of action or performance, success in which is desired. If I 
feel or consider myself to correspond with such an idea, I am at 
once pleased with myself; and, even if it is only for luck at cards, 
I approve of and esteem myself. For approbation, as we saw, is 
not all moral ; nor is it, even in its origin, all directly social. 
But this subject deserves treatment at a length which here is 


beside the question. If he fails to accomplish it, 
and ends in an attempt, that is once more morally 
irrelevant. And hence (we may add) it will be 
hard to find a proper sense in which different 
epochs can be morally compared, or in which the 
morality of one time or person stands above that of 
others. For the intensity of a volitional identifica- 
tion with whatever seems best appears to contain 
and to exhaust the strict essence of goodness. On 
this alone are based moral responsibility and desert, 
and on this, perhaps, we are enabled to build our 
one hope of immortality. 

This is a view towards which morality seems 
driven irresistibly. That a man is to be judged 
solely by his inner will seems in the end undeniable. 
And, if such a doctrine contradicts itself and is in- 
consistent with the very notion of goodness, that 
will be another indication that the good is but ap- 
pearance. We may even say that the present view 
takes a pride in its own discrepancies. It might, 
we must allow, contradict itself more openly. For 
it might make morality consist in the direct denial 
of that very element of existence, without which it 
actually is nothing. 1 But the same inconsistency, 
if more veiled, is still inherent in our doctrine. For 
a will, after all, must do something and must be 
characterized by what it does ; while, on the other 
hand, this very character of what it does must de- 
pend on that which is "given " to it. And we shall 
have to choose between two fatal results ; for either 
it will not matter what one does, or else something 
beyond and beside the bare " will " must be ad- 
mitted to be good. 

I will begin by saying a few words on what is 
called " moral desert." If this phrase implies that 
for either good or bad there is any reward beyond 
themselves, it is at once inconsistent. For, if be- 

1 Ethical Studies, Essay IV. 


tween virtue and happiness there is an essential 
connection, then virtue must be re-defined so as to 
take in all its essence. But if, on the other hand, 
the connection is but external, then in what proper 
sense are we to call it moral ? We must either give 
up or alter the idea of desert, or else must seriously 
modify our extreme conception of moral goodness. 
And with this I will proceed to show how in its 
working that conception breaks down. 

It is, first, in flat contradiction with ordinary 
morality. I am not referring to the fact that in 
common life we approve of all human qualities 
which to us seem desirable. Beauty, riches, strength, 
health and fortune — everything, and, perhaps, more 
than everything, which could be called a human ex- 
cellence — we find admirable and approve of. But 
such approbations, together with their counterpart 
disapprovals, we should probably find ourselves 
unwilling to justify morally. And, passing this point 
by for the present, let us attend solely to those 
excellencies which would by all be called moraL 
These, the common virtues of life by which indi- 
viduals are estimated, obviously depend to a large 
extent on disposition and bringing up. And to 
discard them utterly, because, or in so far as, you 
cannot attribute them to the individual's will, is a 
violent paradox. Even if that is correct, it is at 
least opposed to every-day morality. 

And this doctrine, when we examine it further, is 
found to end in nothing. Its idea is to credit a man 
merely with what comes out of his will, and that in 
fine is not anything. For in the result from the 
will there is no material which is not derived from 
a " natural " source ; and the whole result, whether 
in its origin, its actual happening, or its end, is 
throughout conditioned and qualified by " natural " 
factors. The moral man is allowed not to be 
omnipotent or omniscient. He is morally perfect, 
if only he will but do what he knows. But how 

A. R. F F 


can he do it when weakness and disease, either 
bodily or mental, opposes his effort ? And how 
can he even make the effort, except on the 
strength of some " natural " gift ? Such an idea is 
psychologically absurd. And, if we take two 
different individuals, one dowered with advantages 
external and inward, and the other loaded with 
corresponding drawbacks, and if, in judging these, 
we refuse to make the very smallest allowance — in 
what have we ended ? But to make an allowance 
would be to give up the essence of our doctrine, for 
the moral man no longer would be barely the man 
who wills what he knows. The result then is that 
we are unable to judge morally at all, for, otherwise, 
we shall be crediting morality with a foreign gift or 
allowance. Nor, again, do we find a less difficulty, 
when we turn to consider moral knowledge. For 
one man by education or nature will know better 
than another, and certainly no one can possibly 
know always the best. 1 But, once more, we cannot 
allow for this, and must insist that it is morally 
irrelevant. In short, it matters nothing what any 
one knows, and we have just seen that it matters as 
little what any one does. The distinction between 
evil and good has in fact disappeared. And to fall 
back on the intensity of the moral struggle will not 
help us. 2 For that intensity is determined, in the 
first place, by natural conditions, and, in the next 
place, goodness would be taken to consist in a 
struggle with itself. To make a man better you 
would in some cases have to add to his badness, in 
order to increase the division and the morality within 
him. Goodness, in short, meant at the beginning 

1 On the common Hedonistic view we may say that he never 
can hope to do this, or know when he has done it. What it 
would call " objective Tightness " seems in the end to be not 
ascertainable humanly, or else to be the opinion of the subject, 
however wrong that may be. But an intelligent view of the 
connection between goodness and truth is not a thing which we 
need expect from common Hedonism (p. 407). 

2 Cp. Ethical Studies, pp. 213-217. 

goodness. 435 

that one does what one can, and it has come now 
to mean merely that one does what one does. Or 
rather, whatever one does and whatever one wills, 
it is all alike infected by nature and morally indiffer- 
ent There is, in plain words, no difference left 
between goodness and badness. 

But such a conclusion, we may possibly yet be 
told, is quite mistaken. For, though all the matter 
of goodness must be drawn from outside, yet the 
self, or the will, has a power of appropriation. By 
its formal act it works up and transforms that given 
matter, and it so makes its own, and makes moral, 
the crude natural stuff. Still, on the other side, 
we must insist that every act is a resultant from 
psychical conditions. 1 A formal act which is not 
determined by its matter, is nonsense, whether 
you consider that act in its origin or in its out- 
come. And, again, if the act is not morally charac- 
terized and judged by its matter, will there in the 
end be a difference between the good and the bad ? 
Whether you look at its psychical genesis or at its 
essential character, the act, if it is to be possible, 
cannot be merely formal, and it will therefore vitally 
depend on that which has been called non-moral. 

A form independent of matter is certainly nothing, 
and, as certainly therefore, it cannot be morality. 
It can at most be offered as such, and asserted to 
be so, by a chance content which fills it and pro- 
fesses to be moral. Morality has degenerated into 

1 This would be denied by what is vulgarly called Free Will. 
That attempts to make the self or will, in abstraction from con- 
crete conditions, the responsible source of conduct As however, 
taken in that abstraction, the self or will is nothing, " Free Will " 
can merely mean chance. If it is not that, its advocates are at 
least incapable of saying what else it is ; and how chance can 
assist us towards being responsible, they naturally shrink from 
discussing (see Ethical Studies, Essay I., and Mr. Stephen's 
Science of Ethics, pp. 282-3). Considered either theoretically 
or practically, " Free Will " is, in short, a mere lingering chimera. 
Certainly no writer, who respects himself, can be called on any 
longer to treat it seriously (p. 393). 


self-approbation which only is formal, and which 
therefore is false. It has become the hollow con- 
science for which acts are good because they 
happen to be its own, or merely because somehow 
it happens to like them. Between the assertion 
and the fact there is here no genuine connection. 
It is empty self-will and self-assurance, which, 
swollen with private sentiment or chance desire, 
wears the mask of goodness. And hence that 
which professes itself moral would be the same as 
mere badness, if it did not differ, even for the worse, 
by the addition of hypocrisy. 1 For the bad, which 
admits not only that others but that itself is not 
good, has, in principle at least, condemned vain self- 
sufficiency and self-will. The common confession 
that the self in itself is worthless, has opened that 
self to receive worth from a good which transcends 
it. Morality has been driven to allow that goodness 
and badness do not wholly depend on ourselves, 
and, with this admission, it has now finally passed 
beyond itself. We must at last have come to the 
end, when it has been proclaimed a moral duty to 
be non-moral. 

That it is a moral duty not to be moral wears the 
form of a paradox, but it is the expression of a 
principle which has been active and has shown itself 
throughout. Every separate aspect of the universe, 
if you insist on it, goes on to demand something 
higher than itself. And, like every other appearance, 
goodness implies that which, when carried out, must 
absorb it Yet goodness cannot go back ; for to 
identify itself, once more, with the earlier stage of 
its development would be, once more, to be driven 
forward to the point we have reached. The pro- 
blem can be solved only when the various stages 

1 We may note here that our country, the chosen land of 
Moral Philosophy, has the reputation abroad of being the chief 
home of hypocrisy and cant 

goodness. 437 

and appearances of morality are all included and 
subordinated in a higher form of being. In other 
words the end, sought for by morality, is above it 
and is super-moral. Let us gain a general view of 
the moral demands which call for satisfaction. 

The first of these is the suppression of the 
divorce between morality and goodness. We have 
seen that every kind of human excellence, beauty, 
strength, and even luck, are all undeniably good. It 
is idle pretence if we assert that such gifts are not 
desired, and are not also approved of. And it is a 
moral instinct after all for which beauty counts as 
virtue. For, if we attempt to deny this and to con- 
fine virtue to what is commonly called moral con- 
duct, our position is untenable. We are at once 
hurried forward by our admitted principle into 
further denials, and virtue recedes from the world 
until it ceases to be virtue. It seeks an inward 
centre not vitiated by any connection with the ex- 
ternal, or, in other words, as we have seen, it pur- 
sues the unmeaning. For the excellence which 
barely is inner is nothing at all. We must either 
allow then that physical excellences are good, or 
we must be content to find virtue not realized any- 
where. 1 Hence there will be virtues more or less 
outward, and less or more inward and spiritual. We 
must admit kinds and degrees and different levels 
of virtue. And morality must be distinguished as 
a special form of the general goodness. It will be 
now one excellence among others, neither including 
them all, nor yet capable of a divorced and inde- 
pendent existence. Morality has proved unreal 
unless it stands on, and vitally consists in, gifts 
naturally good. And thus we have been forced to 

1 If we take such a virtue as courage, and deny its moral 
goodness where it is only physical, we shall be forced in the end 
to dony its goodness everywhere. We may see, again, how there 
may be virtues which, in a sense, rise above mere goodness. 
This from the view of morality proper is of course impossible. 


acknowledge that morality is a gift ; since, if the 
goodness of the physical virtues is denied, there is 
left, at last, no goodness at all. Morality, in short, 
finds it essential that every excellence should be 
good, and it is destroyed by a division between its 
own world and that of goodness. 

It is a moral demand then that every human 
excellence should genuinely be good, while at the 
same time a high rank should be reserved for the 
inner life. And it is a moral demand also that the 
good should be victorious throughout. The defects 
and the contradiction in every self must be removed, 
and must be succeeded by perfect harmony. And, 
of course, all evil must be overruled and so turned 
into goodness. But the demand of morality has 
also a different side. For, if goodness as such is 
to remain, the contradiction cannot quite cease, 
since a discord, we saw, was essential to goodness. 
Thus, if there is to be morality, there cannot 
altogether be an end of evil. And, so again, the 
two aspects of self-assertion and of self-sacrifice will 
remain. They must be subordinated, and yet they 
must not have entirely lost their distinctive characters. 
Morality in brief calls for an unattainable unity of 
its aspects, and, in its search for this, it naturally is 
led beyond itself into a higher form of goodness. 
It ends in what we may call religion. 1 

1 The origin of religion is a question which does not concern 
us here. Religion appears to have two roots, fear and admiration 
or approval. The latter need not be taken as having a high or 
moral sense. Wonder or curiosity seems not to be religious, 
unless it is in the service of these other feelings. And, of the 
two main roots of religion, one will be more active at one time 
and place, and the other at another. The feelings also will 
attach themselves naturally to a variety of objects. To enquire 
about the origin of religion as if that origin must always be one, 
seems fundamentally erroneous. 

It concerns us more to know what religion now means among 
ourselves. I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to 
answer this question, unless we realize that religion, in the end, 
has more meanings than one. Part of this variety rests no doubt 

goodness. 439 

In this higher mode of consciousness I am not 
suggesting that a full solution is found. For religion 

on mere misunderstanding. That which is mainly intellectual, 
or mainly aesthetic, would probably be admitted in the end to fall 
outside religion. But we come at last, I should say, to a stub- 
born discrepancy. There are those who would call religious any 
kind of practical relation to the "other world," or to the super- 
sensible generally. The question, for instance, as to life after 
death, or as to the possibility of communication with what are 
called " spirits," seems to some essentially religious. And they 
might deny that religious feeling can exist at all towards an object 
in u our world." Another set of minds would insist that, in order 
to have religion, you must have a relation of a special and par- 
ticular kind. And they would add that, where you have this 
relation, whether towards an object of the " other world " or not, 
you have got religion. The question as to life after death, or as 
to the possibility of spirit-rapping or witchcraft, is really not in 
itself in the very least religious. And it is only, they would urge, 
because per aecidtns our feelings to the unseen are generally (not 
always) religious, that religion has been partly narrowed and 
partly extended without just cause. I consider this latter party 
to be wholly right, and I shall disregard from this point forward 
the opposing view. 

What then in general is religion ? I take it to be a fixed 
feeling of fear, resignation, admiration or approval, no matter 
what may be the object, provided only that this feeling reaches 
a certain strength, and is qualified by a certain degree of reflec- 
tion. But I should add, at once, that in religion fear and approval 
to some extent must always combine. We must in religion try 
to please, or at least to submit our wills to, the object which is 
feared. That conduct towards the object is approved of, and 
that approbation tends again to qualify the object. On the other 
side in religion approval implies devotion, and devotion seems 
hardly possible, unless there is some fear, if only the fear of 

But in what degree must such a feeling be present, if we are to 
call it religion ? Can the point be fixed exactly ? I think we 
must admit that it cannot be. But it lies generally there where 
we feel that our proper selves, in comparison, are quite powerless 
or worthless. The object, over against which we find ourselves to 
be of no account, tends to inspire us with religion. If there are 
many such objects, we are polytheists. But if, in comparison 
with one only, all the rest have no weight, we have arrived at 

Hence any object, in regard to which we feel a supreme fear or 
Approval, will engage our devotion, and be for us a Deity. And 
this object, most emphatically, in no other sense need possess 

44-0 REALITY. 

is practical, and therefore still is dominated by the 
idea of the Good ; and in the essence of this idea is 
contained an unsolved contradiction. Religion is still 
forced to maintain unreduced aspects, which, as such, 
cannot be united ; and it exists in short by a kind 
of perpetual oscillation and compromise. Let us 
however see the manner in which it rises above 
bare morality. 

For religion all is the perfect expression of a 
supreme will, 1 and all things therefore are good. 
Everything imperfect and evil, the conscious bad 
will itself, is taken up into and subserves this absol- 
ute end. Both goodness and badness are therefore 
good, just as in the end falsehood and truth were 
each found to be true. They are good alike, but 
on the other hand they are not good equally. That 
which is evil is transmuted and, as such, is de- 
stroyed, while the good in various degrees can still 
preserve its own character. Goodness, like truth, 
we saw was supplemented rather than wholly over- 
ruled. And, in measuring degrees of goodness, we 
must bear in mind the double aspect of appearance, 
and the ultimate identity of intenseness and extent. 
But in religion, further, the finite self does attain its 

divinity. It is a common phrase in life that one may make a God 
of this or that person, object, or pursuit ; and in such a case our 
attitude, it seems to me, must be called religious. This is the case 
often, for example, in sexual or in parental lftve. But to fix the 
exact point at which religion begins, and where it ends, would 
hardly be possible. 

In this chapter I am taking religion only in its highest sense. 
I am using it for devotion to the one perfect object which is 
utterly good. Incomplete forms of religion, such as the devotion 
to a woman or to a pursuit, can exist side by side. But in this 
highest sense of religion there can be but one object. And again, 
when religion is fully developed, this object must be good. For 
towards anything else, although we feared it, we should now enter- 
tain feelings of revolt, of dislike, and even of contempt There 
would not any longer be that moral prostration which is implied 
in all religion. 

1 As to the ultimate truth of this belief, see the following 


perfection, and the separation of these two aspects is 
superseded and overcome. The finite self is perfect, 
not merely when it is viewed as an essential organ 
of the perfect Whole, but it also realizes for itself 
and is aware of perfection. The belief that its evil 
is overruled and its good supplemented, the identity 
in knowledge and in desire with the one overmaster- 
ing perfection, this for the finite being is self-con- 
sciousness of itself as perfect. And in the others it 
finds once more the same perfection realized. For 
where a whole is complete in finite beings, which 
know themselves to be elements and members of its 
system, this is the consciousness in such individuals 
of their own completeness. Their perfection is a 
gift without doubt, but there is no reality outside 
the giver, and the separate receiver of the gift is but 
a false appearance. 

But, on the other hand, religion must not pass 
wholly beyond goodness, and it therefore still main- 
tains the opposition required for practice. Only by 
doing one's best, only by the union of one's will with 
the Good, can one attain to perfection. In so far as 
this union is absent, the evil remains ; and to re- 
main evil is to be overruled, and, as such, to perish 
utterly. Hence the ideal perfection of the self serves 
to increase its hostility towards its own imperfection 
and evil. The self at once struggles to be perfect, 
and knows at the same time that its consummation 
is already worked out. The moral relation survives 
as a subordinate but an effective aspect. 

The moral duty not to be moral is, in short, the 
duty to be religious. Every human excellence for 
religion is good, since it is a manifestation of the 
reality of the supreme Will. Only evil, as such, is 
not good, since in its evil character it is absorbed ; 
and in that character it really is, we may say, some- 
thing else. Evil assuredly contributes to the good 
of the whole, but it contributes something which in 
that whole is quite transformed from its own nature. 


And while in badness itself there are, in one sense, 
no degrees, there are, in another sense, certainly de- 
grees in that which is bad. In the same way religion 
preserves intact degrees and differences in goodness. 
Every individual, in so far as he is good, is perfect. 
But he is better, first in proportion to his contribu- 
tion to existing excellence, and he is better, again, 
according as more intensely he identifies his will 
with all-perfecting goodness. 

I have set out, baldly and in defective outline, the 
claim of religion to have removed contradiction from 
the Good. And we must consider now to what 
extent such a claim can be justified. Religion seems 
to have included and reduced to harmony every 
aspect of life. It appears to be a whole which has 
embraced, and which pervades, every detail. But 
in the end we are forced to admit that the contradic- 
tion remains. For, if the whole is still good, it is 
not harmonious ; and, if it has gone beyond good- 
ness, it has carried us also beyond religion. The 
whole is at once actually to be good, and, at the 
same time, is actually to make itself good. Neither 
its perfect goodness, nor yet its struggle, may be 
degraded to an appearance. But, on the other hand, 
to unite these two aspects consistently is impossible. 
And, even if the object of religion is taken to be 
imperfect and finite, the contradiction will remain. 
For if the end desired by devotion were thoroughly 
accomplished, the need for devotion and, therefore, 
its reality would have ceased. In short, a self other 
than the object must, and must not, survive, a vital 
discrepancy to be found again in intense sexual love. 
Every form of the good is impelled from within to 
pass beyond its own essence. It is an appearance, 
the stability of which is maintained by oscillation, 
and the acceptance of which depends largely on 

The central point of religion lies in what is called 

goodness. 443 

faith. The whole and the individual are perfect and 
good for faith only. Now faith is not mere holding 
a general truth, which in detail is not verified ; for 
that attitude, of course, also belongs to theory. Faith 
is practical, and it is, in short, a making believe ; but, 
because it is practical, it is at the same time a making, 
none the less, as if one did not believe. Its maxim 
is, Be sure that opposition to the good is overcome, 
and nevertheless act as if it were there ; or, Because 
it is not really there, have more courage to attack it 
And such a maxim, most assuredly, is not consistent 
with itself; for either of its sides, if taken too seriously, 
is fatal to the other side. This inner discrepancy 
however pervades the whole field of religion. We 
are tempted to exemplify it, once again, by the 
sexual passion. A man may believe in his mistress, 
may feel that without that faith he could not live, and 
may find it natural, at the same time, unceasingly to 
watch her. Or, again, when he does not believe in 
her or perhaps even in himself, then he may desire 
all the more to utter, and to listen to, repeated pro- 
fessions. The same form of self-deception plays its 
part in the ceremonies of religion. 

This criticism might naturally be pursued into in- 
definite detail, but it is sufficient for us here to have 
established the main principle. The religious con- 
sciousness rests on the felt unity of unreduced oppos- 
ites ; and either to combine these consistently, or 
upon the other hand to transform them is impossible 
for religion. And hence self-contradiction in theory, 
and oscillation in sentiment, is inseparable from its 
essence. Its dogmas must end in one-sided error, 
or else in senseless compromise. And, even in its 
practice, it is beset with two imminent dangers, and 
it has without clear vision to balance itself between 
rival abysses. Religion may dwell too intently on 
the discord in the world or in the self. In the 
former case it foregoes its perfection and peace, 
while, at the same time, it may none the less 


forget the difference between its private will and 
the Good. And, on the other side, if it emphas- 
izes this latter difference, it is then threatened 
with a lapse into bare morality. But again if, fly- 
ing from the discord, religion keeps its thought fixed 
on harmony, it tends to suffer once more. For, 
finding that all is already good both in the self and 
in the world, it may cease to be moral at all, and 
becomes at once, therefore, irreligious. The truth 
that devotion even to a finite object may lift us above 
moral laws, seduces religion into false and immoral 
perversions. Because, for it, all reality is, in one 
sense, good alike, every action may become com- 
pletely indifferent. It idly dreams its life away in 
the quiet world of divine inanity, or, forced into ac- 
tion by chance desire, it may hallow every practice, 
however corrupt, by its empty spirit of devotion. 
And here we find reproduced in a direr form the 
monstrous births of moral hypocrisy. But we need 
not enter into the pathology of the religious con- 
sciousness. The man who has passed, however 
little, behind the scenes of the religious life, must 
have had his moments of revolt. He must have 
been forced to doubt if the bloody source of so many 
open crimes, the parent of such inward pollution can 
possibly be good. 

But if religion is, as we have seen, a necessity, 
such a doubt may be dismissed. There would be in 
the end, perhaps, no sense in the enquiry if religion 
has, on the whole, done more harm than good. My 
object has been to point out that, like morality, re- 
ligion is not ultimate. It is a mere appearance, and 
is therefore inconsistent with itself. And it is hence 
liable on every side to shift beyond its own limits. 
But when religion, balancing itself between extremes, 
has lost its balance on either hand, it becomes irre- 
ligious. If it was a moral duty to find more than 
morality in religion, it is, even more emphatically, a 
religious duty still to be moral. But each of these is 


a mode and an expression at a different stage of the 
good ; and the good, as we have found, is a self- 
contradictory appearance of the Absolute. 

It may be instructive to bring out the same incon- 
sistency from another point of view. Religion 
naturally implies a relation between Man and God. 
Now a relation always (we have seen throughout) is 
self- contradictory. It implies always two terms 
which are finite and which claim independence. On 
the other hand a relation is unmeaning, unless both 
itself and the relateds are the adjectives of a whole. 
And to find a solution of this discrepancy would be 
to pass entirely beyond the relational point of view. 
This general conclusion may at once be verified in 
the sphere of religion. 

Man is on the one hand a finite subject, who is 
over against God, and merely "standing in relation." 
And yet, upon the other hand, apart from God man 
is merely an abstraction. And religion perceives 
this truth, and it affirms that man is good and real 
only through grace, or that again, attempting to be 
independent, he perishes through wrath. He does 
not merely " stand in relation," but is moved inly 
by his opposite, and indeed, apart from that inward 
working, couid not stand at all. God again is a 
finite object, standing above and apart from man, 
and is something independent of all relation to his 
will and intelligence. Hence God, if taken as a 
thinking and feeling being, has a private personality. 
But, sundered from those relations which qualify 
him, God is inconsistent emptiness ; and, qualified 
by his relation to an Other, he is distracted finitude. 
God is therefore taken, again, as transcending this 
external relation. He wills and knows himself, and 
he finds his reality and self-consciousness, in union 
with man. Religion is therefore a process with 
inseparable factors, each appearing on either side. 
It is the unity of man and God, which, in various 

44 6 REALITY. 

stages and forms, wills and knows itself throughout. 
It parts itself into opposite terms with a relation be- 
tween them ; but in the same breath it denies this 
provisional sundering, and it asserts and feels in 
either term the inward presence of the other. And 
so religion consists in a practical oscillation, and ex- 
presses itself only by the means of theoretical com- 
promise. It would shrink perhaps from the statement 
that God loves and enjoys himself in human emo- 
tion, and it would recoil once more from the assertion 
that love can be where God is not, and, striving to 
hug both shores at once, it wavers bewildered. And 
sin is the hostility of a rebel against a wrathful Ruler. 
And yet this whole relation too must feel and hate 
itself in the sinner's heart, while the Ruler also is 
torn and troubled by conflicting emotions. But to 
say that sin is a necessary element in the Divine 
self-consciousness — an element, however, emerging 
but to be forthwith absorbed, and never liberated as 
such — this would probably appear to be either non- 
sense or blasphemy. Religion prefers to put forth 
statements which it feels are untenable, and to cor- 
rect them at once by counter-statements which it 
finds are no better. It is then driven forwards and 
back between both, like a dog which seeks to follow 
two masters. A discrepancy worth our notice is the 
position of God in the universe. We may say that 
in religion God tends always to pass beyond him- 
self. He is necessarily led to end in the Absolute, 
which for religion is not God. God, whether a 
" person " or not, is, on the one hand, a finite being 
and an object to man. On the other hand, the con- 
summation, sought by the religious consciousness, is 
the perfect unity of these terms. And, if so, nothing 
would in the end fall outside God. But to take 
God as the ceaseless oscillation and changing move- 
ment of the process, is out of the question. On the 
other side the harmony of all these discords demands, 
as we have shown, the alteration of their finite char- 

goodness. 447 

acter. The unity implies a complete suppression of 
the relation, as such ; but, with that suppression, re- 
ligion and the good have altogether, as such, dis- 
appeared. If you identify the Absolute with God, 
that is not the God of religion. If again you separ- 
ate them, God becomes a finite factor in the Whole. 
And the effort of religion is to put an end to, and 
break down, this relation — a relation which, none the 
less, it essentially presupposes. Hence, short of the 
Absolute, God cannot rest, and, having reached that 
goal, he is lost and religion with him. It is this 
difficulty which appears in the problem of the reli- 
gious self-consciousness. God must certainly be con- 
scious of himself in religion, but such self-conscious- 
ness is most imperfect. 1 For if the external relation 

1 The two extremes in the human-divine self-consciousness 
cannot wholly unite in one concordant self. It is interesting 
to compare such expressions as — 




" I am the eye with which the Universe 
Beholds itself and knows itself divine," 

" They reckon ill who leave me out ; 
When me they fly, I am the wings ; 
I am the doubter and the doubt, 
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings," 

" Die Sehnsucht du, und was sie stillt," 

Ne suis-je pas un faux accord 
Dans la divine symphonie, 
Grace a la vorace Ironie 
Qui me secoue et qui me mord ? 

Elle est dans ma voix, la criarde I 
Cest tout mon sang, ce poison noir 1 
Je suis le sinistre miroir 
Oil la megere se regarde 1 

Je suis la plaie et le couteau 1 
Je suis le soufflet et la joue 1 
Je suis les membres et la roue, 
Kt la victime et le bourreau ! 


between God and man were entirely absorbed, the 
separation of subject and object would, as such, have 
gone with it. But if again the self, which is con- 
scious, still contains in its essence a relation between 
two unreduced terms, where is the unity of its self- 
ness ? In short, God, as the highest expression of 
the realized good, shows the contradiction which we 
found to be inherent in that principle. The falling 
apart of idea and existence is at once essential to 
goodness and negated by Reality. And the process, 
which moves within Reality, is not Reality itself. We 
may say that God is not God, till he has become all 
in all, and that a God which is all in all is not the 
God of religion. God is but an aspect, and that 
must mean but an appearance, of the Absolute. 

Through the remainder of this chapter I will try 
to remove some misunderstandings. The first I 
have to notice is the old confusion as to matter of 
fact ; and I will here partly repeat the conclusions 
of our foregoing chapters. If religion is appearance, 
then the self and God, I shall be told, are illusions, 
since they will not be facts. This is the prejudice 
which everywhere Common Sense opposes to philo- 
sophy. Common Sense is persuaded that the first 
rude w r ay, in which it interprets phenomena, is 
ultimate truth ; and neither reasoning, nor the cease- 
less protests of its own daily experience, can shake 
its assurance. But we have seen that this persuasion 
rests on barbarous error. Certainly a man knows 
and experiences everywhere the ultimate Reality, 
and indeed is able to know and experience nothing 
else. But to know it or experience it, fully and as 
such, is a thing utterly impossible. For the whole 
of finite being and knowledge consists vitally in 
appearance, in the alienation of the two aspects of 
existence and content. So that, if facts are to be 
ultimate and real, there are no facts anywhere or at 
all. There will be one single fact, which is the 

goodness. 449 

Absolute. But if, on the other hand, facts are to 
stand for actual finite events, or for things the essence 
of which is to be confined to a here or a now — facts 
are then the lowest, and the most untrue, form of 
appearance. And in the commonest business of our 
lives we rise above this low level. Hence it is 
facts themselves which, in this sense, should be called 

In the religious consciousness, especially, we are 
not concerned with such facts as these. Its facts, if 
pure inward experiences, are surcharged with a 
content which is obviously incapable of confinement 
within a here or a now. And, in the seeming con- 
centration within one moment of all Hell or all 
Heaven, the incompatibility of our " fact " with its 
own existence is forced on our view. The same 
truth holds of all external religious events. These 
are not religious until they have a significance which 
transcends their sensible finitude. And the general 
question is not whether the relation of God to man 
is an appearance, since there is no relation, nor any 
fact, which can possibly be more. The question is, 
where in the world of appearance is such a fact to 
be ranked What, in other words, is the degree of 
its reality and truth ? 

To enter fully into such an enquiry is impossible 
here. If however we apply the criterion gained in 
the preceding chapter, we can see at once that there 
is nothing more real than what comes in religion. 
To compare facts such as these with what is given 
to us in outward existence, would be to trifle with 
the subject. The man, who demands a reality 
more solid than that of the religious consciousness, 
seeks he does not know what. Dissatisfied with the 
reality of man and God as he finds them there in 
experience, he may be invited to state intelligibly 
what in the end would content him. For God and 
man, as two sensible existences, would be degraded 
past recognition. We may say that the God which 

A.R. G G 


could exist, would most assuredly be no God. And 
man and God as two realities, individual and ultim- 
ate, " standing " one cannot tell where, and with 
a relation " between " them — this conjunction, we 
have seen, is self-contradictory, and is therefore ap 
pearance. It is a confused attempt to seize and hold 
in religion that Absolute, which, if it really were 
attained, would destroy religion. 1 And this attempt, 
by its own inconsistency, and its own failure and 
unrest, reveals to us once more that religion is not 
final and ultimate. 

But, if so, what, I may be asked, is the result in 
practice ? That, I reply at once, is not my business; 
and insistence on such a question would rest on a 
hurtful prejudice. The task of the metaphysician 
is to enquire into ultimate truth, and he cannot be 
called on to consider anything else, however im- 
portant it may be. We have but little notion in 
England of freedom either in art or in science. 
Irrelevant appeals to practical results are allowed to 
make themselves heard. And in certain regions of art 
and science this sin brings its own punishment ; for 
we fail through timidity and through a want of single- 
ness and sincerity. That a man should treat of God 
and religion in order merely to understand them, and 
apart from the influence of some other consideration 
and inducement, is to many of us in part unintelligible, 
and in part also shocking. And hence English 
thought on these subjects, where it has not studied in 
a foreign school, is theoretically worthless. On my 
own mind the effect of this prejudice is personally 
deterrent. If to show theoretical interest in morality 
and religion is taken as the setting oneself up as a 
teacher or preacher, I would rather leave these sub- 

1 It leads to the dilemma, If God is, I am not, and, if I am, 
God is not. We have not reached a true view until the opposite 
of this becomes self-evident. Then without hesitation we answer 
that God is not himself, unless I also am, and that, if God were 
not, I certainly should be nothing. 


jects to whoever feels that such a character suits hitn. 
And, if I have touched on them here, it was because 
I could not help it. 

And, having said so much, perhaps it would be 
better if I said no more. But with regard to the 
practical question, since I refuse altogether to answer 
it, I may perhaps safely try to point out what this 
question is. It is clear that religion must have some 
doctrine, however little that may be, and it is clear 
again that such doctrine will not be ultimate truth. 
And by many it is apparently denied that anything 
less can suffice. If however we consider the sciences 
we find them too in a similar position. For their 
first principles, as we have seen, are in the end self- 
contradictory. Their principles are but partially 
true, and yet are valid, because they will work. And 
why then, we may ask, are such working ideas not 
enough for religion ? There are several serious 
difficulties, but the main difficulty appears to be this. 
In the sciences we know, for the most part, the end 
which we aim at ; and, knowing this end, we are 
able to test and to measure the means. But in 
religion it is precisely the chief end upon which we 
are not clear. And, on the basis of this confused 
disagreement, a rational discussion is not possible. 
We want to get some idea as to the doctrines really 
requisite for religion ; and we begin without having 
examined the end for which the doctrines are required, 
and by which obviously, therefore, they must be 
judged From time to time this or that man finds 
that a certain belief, or set of beliefs, seems to 
lie next his heart. And on this at once he cries 
aloud that, if these particular doctrines are not 
true, all religion is at an end. And this is what 
the public admires, and what it calls a defence of 

But if the problem is to be, I do not say solved, 
but discussed rationally at all, we must begin by an 
enquiry into the essence and end of religion. And 


to that enquiry, I presume, there are two things 
indispensable. We must get some consistent view 
as to the general nature of reality, goodness, and 
truth, and we must not shut our eyes to the historical 
facts of religion. We must come, first, to some con- 
clusion about the purpose of religious truths. Do 
they exist for the sake of understanding, or do they 
subserve and are ancillary to some other object ? 
And, if the latter is true, what precisely is this end 
and object, which we have to use as their criterion ? 
If we can settle this point we can then decide that 
religious truths, which go beyond and which fall 
short of their end, possess no title to existence. 
If, in the second place again, we are not clear 
about the nature of scientific truth, can we rationally 
deal with any alleged collision between religion 
and science? We shall, in fact, be unable to say 
whether there is any collision or none ; or again, 
supposing a conflict to exist, we shall be entirely at 
a loss how to estimate its importance. And our 
result so far is this. If English theologians decline to 
be in earnest with metaphysics, they must obviously 
speak on some topics, I will not say ignorantly, but 
at least without having made a serious attempt to 
gain knowledge. But to be in earnest with meta- 
physics is not the affair of perhaps one or two years; 
nor did any one ever do anything with such a subject 
without giving himself up to it. And, lastly, I will 
explain what I mean by attention to history. If 
religion is a practical matter, it would be absurd 
wholly to disregard the force of continuous occupancy 
and possession. But history, on the other hand, 
supplies teachings of a different order. If, in the 
past and the present, we find religion appearing to 
flourish in the absence of certain particular doctrines, 
it is not a light step to proclaim these doctrines as 
essential to religion. And to do this without dis- 
cussion and dogmatically, and to begin one's work 
by some bald assumption, perhaps about the necessity 

goodness. 453 

of a " personal " God, is to tritle indecently with a 
subject which deserves some respect. 

What is necessary, in short, is to begin by looking 
at the question disinterestedly and looking at it all 
round. In this way we might certainly expect to 
arrive at a rational discussion, but I do not feel any 
right to assume that we should ever arrive at more. 
Perhaps the separation of the accidental from the 
essential in religion can be accomplished only by a 
longer and a ruder process. It must be left, perhaps, 
to the blind competition of rival errors, and to the 
coarse struggle for existence between hostile sects. 
But such a conclusion, once more, should not be 
accepted without a serious trial. And this is all 
that I intend to say on the practical problem of 

I will end this chapter with a word of warning 
against a dangerous mistake. We have seen that 
religion is but appearance, and that it cannot be 
ultimate. And from this it may be concluded, 
perhaps, that the completion of religion is philosophy, 
and that in metaphysics we reach the goal in which 
it finds its consummation. Now, if religion essenti 
ally were knowledge, this conclusion would hold. 
And, so far as religion involves knowledge, we are 
again bound to accept it. Obviously the business of 
metaphysics is to deal with ultimate truth, and in this 
respect, obviously, it must be allowed to stand higher 
than religion. But, on the other side, we have found 
that the essence of religion is not knowledge. And 
this certainly does not mean that its essence consists 
barely in feeling. Religion is rather the attempt to 
express the complete reality of goodness through 
every aspect of our being. And, so far as this goes, 
it is at once something more, and therefore some- 
thing higher, than philosophy. 

Philosophy, as we shall find in our next chapter, 
is itself but appearance. It is but one appearance 


among others, and, if it rises higher in one respect, 
in other ways it certainly stands lower. And its 
weakness lies, of course, in the fact that it is barely 
theoretical. Philosophy may be made more un- 
doubtedly, and incidentally it is more ; but its 
essence clearly must be confined to intellectual 
activity. It is therefore but a one-sided and in- 
consistent appearance of the Absolute. And, so far 
as philosophy is religious, to that extent we must 
allow that it has passed into religion, and has ceased, 
as such, any longer to be philosophy. I do not 
suggest to those who, dissatisfied with religious 
beliefs, may have turned seriously to metaphysics, 
that they will not find there what they seek. But 
they will not find it there, or anywhere else, unless 
they have brought it with them. Metaphysics has 
no special connection with genuine religion, and 
neither of these two appearances can be regarded 
as the perfection of the other. The completion 
of each is not to be found except in the Absolute. 



We have seen now that Goodness, like Truth, is a 
one-sided appearance. Each of these aspects, when 
we insist on it, transcends itself. By its own move- 
ment each developes itself beyond its own limits and 
is merged in a higher and all-embracing Reality. 
It is time that we endeavoured to close our work 
by explaining more fully the character of this real 
unity. We have certainly not attempted to do 
justice to the various spheres of phenomena. The 
account which we have given of truth and goodness 
is but a barren outline, and this was the case before 
with physical Nature, and with the problem of the 
soul. But to such defects we must resign ourselves. 
For the object of this volume is to state merely a 
general view about Reality, and to defend this view 
against more obvious and prominent objections. 
The full and proper defence would be a systematic 
account of all the regions of appearance, for it is 
only the completed system which in metaphysics is 
the genuine proof of the principle. But, unable to 
enter on such an undertaking, I must none the less 
endeavour to justify further our conclusion about 
the Absolute. 

There is but one Reality, and its being consists 
in experience. In this one whole all appearances 
come together, and in coming together they in 
various degrees lose their distinctive natures. The 
essence of reality lies in the union and agreement of 
existence and content, and, on the other side, ip 

45 6 REALITV. 

pearance consists in the discrepancy between these 
two aspects. And reality in the end belongs to 
nothing but the single Real. For take anything, no 
matter what it is, which is less than the Absolute, 
and the inner discrepancy at once proclaims that 
what you have taken is appearance. The alleged 
reality divides itself and falls apart into two jarring 
factors. The " what " and the " that " are plainly 
two sides which turn out not to be the same, and 
this difference inherent in every finite fact entails its 
disruption. As long as the content stands for some- 
thing other than its own intent and meaning, as long 
as the existence actually is less or more than what 
it essentially must imply, so long we are concerned 
with mere appearance, and not with genuine reality. 
And we have found in every region that this dis- 
crepancy of aspects prevails. The internal being of 
everything finite depends on that which is beyond 
it. Hence everywhere, insisting on a so-called fact, 
we have found ourselves led by its inner character 
into something outside itself. And this self-contra- 
diction, this unrest and ideality of all things existing 
is a clear proof that, though such things are, their 
being is but appearance. 

But, upon the other hand, in the Absolute no ap- 
pearance can be lost. Each one contributes and is 
essential to the unity of the whole. And hence we 
have observed (Chapter xxv.) that any one aspect, 
when viewed by itself, may be regarded as the end 
for which the others exist. Deprived of any one 
aspect or element the Absolute may be called worth- 
less. And" thus, while you take your stand on some 
one valuable factor, the others appear to you to be 
means which subserve its existence. Certainly your 
position in such an attitude is one-sided and unstable. 
The other factors are not external means to, but are 
implied in, the first, and your attitude, therefore, is 
but provisional and in the end untrue. It may how- 
ever have served to indicate that truth which we 


have here to insist on. There is nothing in the 
Absolute which is barely contingent or merely 
accessory. Every element, however subordinate, 
is preserved in that relative whole in which its 
character is taken up and merged. There are main 
aspects of the universe of which none can be resolved 
into the rest. Hence from this ground we can- 
not say of these main aspects that one is higher 
in rank or better than another. They are factors 
not independent, since each of itself implies and 
calls in something else to complete its defects, and 
since all are over-ruled in that final whole which 
perfects them. But these factors, if not equal, are I 
not subordinate the one to the other, and in relation 
to the Absolute they are all alike essential and 

In the present chapter, returning to the idea of 
the Absolute as a whole of experience, I will from 
this point of view survey briefly its main aspects. 
Of the attitudes possible in experience I will try to 
show that none has supremacy. There is not one 
mode to which the others belong as its adjectives, 
or into which they can be resolved. And how 
these various modes can come together into a single 
unity must remain unintelligible. Reserving to the 
next chapter a final discussion on the positive nature 
of this Unity, I will lay stress here on another side. 
The Absolute is present in, and, in a sense, it is 
alike each of its special appearances ; though present 
everywhere again in different values and degrees. 
I shall attempt in passing to clear up some ques- 
tions with regard to Nature, and I will end the 
chapter with a brief enquiry as to the meaning of 
Progress, and as to the possibility of a continuance? 
of personal life after death. 

Everything is experience, and also experience is 
'one. In the next chapter I shall once more con- 
sider if it is possible to doubt this, but for the pre- 


sent I shall assume it as a truth which has held good. 
Under what main aspects then, let us ask, is ex- 
perience found ? We may say, speaking broadly, 
that there are two great modes, perception and 
thought on the one side, and will and desire on the 
other side. Then there is the aesthetic attitude, 
which will not fall entirely under either of these 
heads ; and again there is pleasure and pain which 
seem something distinct from both. Further we 
have feeling, a term which we must take in two 
senses. It is first the general state of the total soul 
not yet at all differentiated into any of the preceding 
special aspects. And again it is any particular state 
so far as internally that has undistinguished unity. 
Now of these psychical modes not any one is re- 
solvable into the others, nor can the unity of the 
Whole consist in one or another portion of them. 
Each of them is incomplete and one-sided, and calls 
for assistance from without. We have had to per- 
ceive this in great part already through former dis- 
cussions, but I will briefly resume and in some 
points supplement that evidence here. I am about 
to deal with the appearances of the Absolute mainly 
from their psychical side, but a full psychological 
discussion is impossible, and is hardly required. I 
would ask the reader, whose views in certain ways 
may be divergent from mine, not to dwell on diver- 
gencies except so far as they affect the main result. 

(i) If we consider first of all the aspect of plea- 
sure and pain, it is evident that this cannot be the 
substance or foundation of Reality. For we cannot 
regard the other elements as adjectives of, or de- 
pendents on, this one ; nor again can we, in any 
way or in any sense, resolve them into it. Pleasure 
and pain, it is obvious, are not the one thing real. 
But are they real at all, as such, and independently of 
the rest ? Even this we are compelled to deny. 
For pleasure and pain are antagonistic ; and when 
in the Whole they have come together with a balance 


of pleasure, can we be even sure that this result will 
be pleasure as such ? ' There is however a far 
more serious objection to the reality of pleasure and 
pain. For these are mere abstractions which we 
separate from the pleasant and the painful ; and to 
suppose that they are not connected with those 
states and processes, with which they are always 
conjoined, would be plainly irrational. Indeed 
pleasure and pain, as things by themselves, would 
contradict their known character. But, if so, clearly 
they cannot be real in themselves, and their reality 
and essence will in part fall beyond their own 
limits. They are but appearances and one-sided 
adjectives of the universe, and they are real only 
when taken up into and merged in that totality. 

(2) From mere pleasure and pain we may pass on 
to feeling, and I take feeling in the sense of the im- 
mediate unity of a finite psychical centre. It means i 
for me, first, the general condition before distinc- 
tions and relations have been developed, and where \ 
as yet neither any subject nor object exists. And 
it means, in the second place, anything which is 
present at any stage of mental life, in so far as that 
is only present and simply is. 2 In this latter sense 
we may say that everything actual, no matter what, 
must be felt ; but we do not call it feeling except so 
far as we take it as failing to be more. Now, in 
either of these senses, is it possible to consider feel- 
ing as real, or as a consistent aspect of reality ? We 
must reply in the negative. 

Feeling has a content, and this content is not 
consistent within itself, and such a discrepancy tends 
to destroy and to break up the stage of feeling. 
The matter may be briefly put thus — the finite con- 

1 See above Chapter xvii. and below Chapter xxvii. 

1 Compare Chapters ix., xix., xx. and xxvii., and Mind % N. S. 6. 
I had hoped elsewhere to write something on the position to be 
given to Feeling in psychology. But for the purpose of this 
volume I trust, on the whole, to have said enough. 


tent is irreconcilable with the immediacy of its 
existence. For the finite content is necessarily 
determined from the outside ; its external relations 
(however negative they may desire to remain) pene- 
trate its essence, and so carry that beyond its own 
being. And hence, since the "what" of all feeling 
is discordant with its " that," it is appearance, and, 
as such, it cannot be real. This fleeting and un- 
true character is perpetually forced on our notice by 
the hard fact of change. And, both from within 
and from without, feeling is compelled to pass off 
into the relational consciousness. It is the ground 
and foundation of further developments, but it is a 
foundation that bears them only by a ceaseless lapse 
from itself. Hence we could not, in any proper 
sense, call these products its adjectives. For their 
life consists in the diremption of feeling's unity, and 
this unity is not again restored and made good ex- 
cept in the Absolute. 

(3) We may pass next to the perceptional or 
theoretic, and again, on the other side, to the practic- 
al aspect. Each of these differs from the two fore- 
going by implying distinction, and, in the first place, 
a distinction between subject and object. 1 The per- 
ceptional side has at the outset, of course, no special 
existence ; for it is given at first in union with the 
practical side, and is but slowly differentiated. But 
what we are concerned with here is to attempt to 
apprehend its specific nature. One or more ele- 
ments are separated from the confused mass of feel- 
ing, and stand apparently by themselves and over 
against this. And the distinctive character of 
such an object is that it seems simply to be. If it 
appeared to influence the mass which it confronts, so 
as to lead that to act on it and alter it, and if such 
a relation qualified its nature, the attitude would be 

1 This distinction, I have no doubt, is developed in time (Mind, 
No. 47) ; but, even if we suppose it to be original, the further 
conclusion is in no way affected. 


practical. But the perceptional relation is supposed 
to fall wholly outside the essence of the object. It 
is in short disregarded, or else is dismissed as a 
something accidental and irrelevant For the reality, 
as thought of or as perceived, in itself simply is. It 
may be given, or again sought for, discovered or 
reflected on, but all this — however much there may 
be of it — is nothing to it. For the object only 
stands in relation, and emphatically in no sense is 
the relation in which it stands. 

This is the vital inconsistency of the real as per- 
ception or thought. Its essence depends on quali- 
fication by a relation which it attempts to ignore. 
And this one inconsistency soon exhibits itself from 
two points of view. The felt background, from 
which the theoretic object stands out, is supposed in 
no way to contribute to its being. But, even at the 
stage of perception or sensation, this hypothesis 
breaks down. And, when we advance to reflective 
thinking, such a position clearly is untenable. The 
world can hardly stand there to be found, when its 
essence appears to be inseparable from the process 
of finding, and when assuredly it would not be the 
whole world unless it included within itself both the 
finding and the finder. But, this last perfection 
once reached, the object no longer could stand in 
any relation at all ; and, with this, its proper being 
would be at once both completed and destroyed. 
The perceptional attitude would entirely have passed 
beyond itself. 

We may bring out again the same contradiction 
if we begin from the other side. As perceived or 
thought of the reality is, and it is also itself. But 
its self obviously, on the other hand, includes rela- 
tion to others, and it is determined inwardly by 
those others from which it is distinguished. Its 
content therefore slides beyond its existence, its 
" what " spreads out beyond its " that." It thus no 
longer is, but has become something ideal in which 

462 REALITY. - 

the Reality appears. And, since this appearance is 
not identical with reality, it cannot wholly be true. 
Hence it must be corrected, until finally in its 
content it has ceased to be false. But, in the first 
place, this correction is merely ideal. It consists in 
a process throughout which content is separated 
from existence. Hence, if truth were complete, it 
would not be truth, because that is only appearance ; 
and in the second place, while truth remains appear- 
ance, it cannot possibly be complete. The theoretic 
object moves towards a consummation in which all 
distinction and all ideality must be suppressed. But, 
when that is reached, the theoretic attitude has been, 
as such, swallowed up. It throughout on one hand 
presupposes a relation, and on the other hand it 
asserts an independence ; and, if these jarring aspects 
are removed or are harmonized, its proper character 
is gone. Hence perception and thought must either 
attempt to fall back into the immediacy of feeling, 
or else, confessing themselves to be one-sided and 
false, they must seek completion beyond themselves 
in a supplement and counterpart. 

(4) With this we are naturally led to consider the 
practical aspect of things. Here, as before, we must 
have an object, a something distinct from, and over 
against, the central mass of feeling. But in this case 
the relation shows itself as essential, and is felt as 
opposition. An ideal alteration of the object is 
suggested, and the suggestion is not rejected by the 
feeling centre ; and the process is completed by this 
ideal qualification, in me, itself altering, and so itself 
becoming, the object. Such is, taken roughly, the 
main essence of the practical attitude, and its one- 
sidedness and insufficiency are evident at once. For 
it consists in the healing up of a division which it 
has no power to create, and which, once healed up, 
is the entire removal of the practical attitude. Will 
certainly produces, not mere ideas, but actual exist- 
ence. But it depends on ideality and mere appear- 


ance for its starting-point and essence ; and the 
harmony which it makes is for ever finite, and hence 
incomplete and unstable. And if this were not so, 
and if the ideal and the existing were made one, the 
relation between them would have disappeared, and 
will, as such, must have vanished. Thus the atti- 
tude of practice, like all the rest, is not reality but is 
appearance. 1 And with this result we may pass 
onwards, leaving to a later place the consideration 
of certain mistakes about the will. For since the 
will implies and presupposes the distinction made in 
perception and idea, we need hardly ask if it possesses 
more reality than these. 

(5) In the aesthetic attitude we may seem at last 
to have transcended the opposition of idea to exist- 
ence, and to have at last surmounted and risen 
beyond the relational consciousness. For the aes- 

1 In the foregoing chapter we have already dealt with the con- 
tradictions of Goodness. For the nature of Desire and Volition 
see Mind, No. 49. Compare also No. 43, where I have said 
something on the meaning of Resolve. There are, indeed, 
instances where the idea does not properly pass into existence, 
and where yet we are justified in speaking of will, and not merely 
of resolve. Such are the cases where I will something to take 
place after my death, or where again, as we say, I will now to do 
something which I am incapable of performing. The process 
here is certainly incomplete, but still can be rightly called voli- 
tion, because the movement of the idea towards existence has 
actually begun. It has started on its course, external or inward, 
so as already to be past recall. In the same way when the 
trigger is pressed, and the hammer has also perhaps fallen, a 
miss-fire leaves the act incomplete, but we still may be said to 
have fired. In mere Resolve, on the other hand, the incompati- 
bility of the idea with any present realization of its content is 
recognised. And hence Resolve not aiming straight at present 
fact, but satisfied with an ideal filling-out of its idea, should not 
be called volition. The process is not only incomplete, but it 
also knowingly holds back and diverges from the direct road to 
existence. Resolve may be taken as a case of internal volition, if 
you consider it as the bringing about of a certain state of mind. 
But the production of the resolve, and not the resolve itself, is, in 
this case, will. 


thetic attitude seems to retain the immediacy of 
feeling. And it has also an object with a certain 
character, but yet an object self-existent and not 
merely ideal. This aspect of the world satisfies us 
in a way unattainable by theory or practice, and it 
plainly cannot be reduced and resolved into either. 
However, when we consider it more narrowly, its 
defects become patent. It is no solution of our 
problems, since it fails to satisfy either the claims of 
reality or even its own. 

That which is aesthetic may generally be defined 
as the self-existent emotional. It can hardly all fall 
properly under the two heads of the beautiful and 
ugly, but for my present purpose it will be convenient 
to regard it as doing so. And since in the Absolute 
ugliness, like error and evil, must be overpowered 
and absorbed, we may here confine our attention 
entirely to beauty. 

Beauty is the self-existent pleasant. It is cer- 
tainly not the self-existent which enjoys its own 
pleasure, for that, so far as one sees, need not be 
beautiful at all. But the beautiful must be self- 
existent, and its being must be independent as such. 
Hence it must exist as an individual and not merely 
in idea. Thoughts, or even thought-processes, may 
be beautiful, but only so if they appear, as it were, 
self-contained, and, in a manner, for sense. But the 
beautiful, once more, must be an object. It must 
stand in relation to my mind, and again it must 
possess a distinguished ideal content. We cannot 
say that mere feeling is beautiful, though in a com- 
plex whole we may find at once the blended aspects 
of feeling and of beauty. And the beautiful, last of 
all, must be actually pleasant. But, if so, then once 
more it must be pleasant for some one. 1 

Such an union of characters is inconsistent, and 

1 The possibility of some margin of pleasure falling outside all 
finite centres, seems very slight (Chapter xxvii.). So far as that 
pleasure is an object, the relation is certainly essential. 


we require no great space to point out its discre- 
pancy. Let us first abstract from the pleasantness 
and from the relation to me, and let us suppose that 
the beautiful exists independently. Yet even here 
we shall find it in contradiction with itself. For the 
sides of existence and of content must be concor- 
dant and at one ; but, on the other hand, because 
the object is finite, such an agreement is impossible. 
And thus, as was the case with truth and goodness, 
there is a partial divergence of the two aspects of 
extension and harmony. The expression is imper- 
fect, or again that which is expressed is too narrow. 
And in both ways alike in the end there is want of 
harmoniousness, there is an inner discrepancy and 
a failure in reality. For the content — itself in any 
case always finite, and so always inconsistent with 
itself — may even visibly go beyond its actual ex- 
pression, and be merely ideal. And, on the other 
side, the existing expression must in various ways 
and degrees fall short of reality. For, taken at its 
strongest, it after all must be finite fact. It is 
determined from the outside, and so must inter- 
nally be in discord with itself. Thus the beautiful 
object, viewed as independent, is no more than 
appearance. 1 

But to take beauty as an independent existence 
is impossible. For pleasure belongs to its essence, 
and to suppose pleasure, or any emotion, standing 
apart from some self seems out of the question. 
The beautiful, therefore, will be determined by a 
quality in me. And in any case, because (as we 
have seen) it is an object for perception, the relation 
involved in perception must be essential to its being. 
Either then, both as perceived and as emotional, 
beauty will be characterized internally by what falls 
outside itself; and obviously in this case it will 

1 The question of degrees in beauty, like that of degrees in 
truth and goodness, would be interesting. But it is hardly neces- 
sary for us to enter on it here. 

A. R. H H 



have turned out to be appearance. Or, on the 
other hand, it must include within its own limits 
this external condition of its life. But, with that 
total absorption of the percipient and sentient self, 
the whole relation, and with it beauty as such, will 
have vanished. 

The various aspects, brought together in the 
aesthetic object, have been seen to fall apart. 
Beauty is not really immediate, or independent, or 
harmonious in itself. And, attempting to satisfy 
these requirements, it must pass beyond its own 
character. Like all the other aspects this also has 
been shown to be appearance. 

We have now surveyed the different regions of 
experience, and have found each to be imperfect. 
We certainly cannot say that the Absolute is any 
one of them. On the other hand each can be seen 
to be insufficient and inconsistent, because it is not 
also, and as well, the rest. Each aspect to a certain 
extent, already in fact, implies the others in its 
existence, and in order to become Reality would 
have to go on to include them wholly. And hence 
Reality seems contained in the totality of these its 
diverse provinces, and they on their side each to be 
a partial appearance of the universe. Let us once 
more briefly pass them in review. 

With pleasure or pain we can perceive at once 
that its nature is adjectival. We certainly cannot, 
starting with what we know of pleasure and pain, 
show that this directly implies the remaining aspects 
of the world. We must be satisfied with the know- 
ledge that pain and pleasure are adjectives, adjec- 
tives, so far as we see, attached to every other 
aspect of experience. A complete insight into the 
conditions of these adjectives is not attainable ; but, 
if we could get it, it doubtless would include every 
side of the universe. But, passing from pleasure 
and pain to Feeling, we can verifv there at once the 


principle uf discord and development in its essence. 
The sides of content and existence already strive to 
diverge. And hence feeling changes not merely 
through outer force but through internal defect. 
The theoretical, the practical, and the aesthetic 
aspect of things are attempts to work out and make 
good this divergence of existence and idea. Each 
must thus be regarded as a one-sided and special 
growth from feeling. And feeling still remains in 
the background as the unity of these differences, 
a unity that cannot find its complete expression in 
any or in all of them. Defect is obvious at once 
in the aesthetic attitude. Beauty both attempts and 
fails to arrive at immediate reality. For, even if 
you take it as real apart from relation to a per- 
cipient, there is never entire accordance between its 
two demands for completeness and harmony. That 
which is expressed in fact remains too narrow, and 
that which is wider remains imperfectly expressed. 
And hence, to be entirely beautiful, the object would 
have also to be completely good and wholly true. 
Its idea would require to be self-contained, and so 
all-embracing, and to be carried out in an existence 
no less self-sufficient. But, if so, the distinctive 
characters of truth and goodness and beauty would 
have vanished. We reach again the same result if 
we turn to the theoretical aspect of the world. Per- 
ception or theory, if it were but true, must also be 
good. For the fact would have to be so taken that 
it exhibited no difference from the thought. But 
such a concord of idea and existence would certainly 
also be goodness. And again, being individual, it 
would as certainly no less be beautiful. But on the 
other hand, since all these divergences would have 
been absorbed, truth, beauty and goodness, as such, 
would no longer exist. We arrive at the same 
conclusion when we begin from the practical side. 
Nothing would content us finally but the complete 
union of harmony and extent. A reality that sug- 


gested any idea not existing actually within its limits, 
would not be perfectly good. Perfect goodness 
would thus imply the entire and absolute presence 
of the ideal aspect. But this, if present, would be 
perfect and absolute truth. And it would be 
beautiful also, since it would entail the individual 
harmony of existence with content. But, once 
again, since the distinctive differences would now 
have disappeared, we should have gone beyond 
beauty or goodness or truth altogether. 1 

We have seen that the various aspects of expe- 
rience imply one another, and that all point to a 
unity which comprehends and perfects them. And 
I would urge next that the unity of these aspects is 
unknown. By this I certainly do not mean to deny 
that it essentially is experience, but it is an exper- 
ience of which, as such, we have no direct know- 
ledge. We never have, or are, a state which is the 
perfect unity of all aspects ; and we must admit that 
in their special natures they remain inexplicable. 
An explanation would be the reduction of their 
plurality to unity, in such a way that the relation 
between the unity and the variety was understood. 
And everywhere an explanation of this kind in the 
end is beyond us. If we abstract one or more of 
the aspects of experience, and use this known ele- 
ment as a ground to which the others are referred, 
our failure is evident. For if the rest could be 
developed from this ground, as really they cannot 
be, they with their differences can yet not be predic- 

1 I have not thought it necessary here to point out how in their 
actual existence these aspects are implicated with one another. 
All the other aspects are more or less the objects of, and pro- 
duced by, will ; and will itself, together with the rest, is an object 
to thought. Thought again depends on all for its material, and 
will on all for its ideas. And the same psychical state may be 
indifferently will or thought, according to the side from which 
you view it (p. 474). Every state again to some extent may be 
considered and taken as feeling. 


ated of it. But, if so, in the end the whole diver- 
sity must be attributed as adjectives to a unity 
which is not known. Thus no separate aspect can 
possibly serve as an explanation of the others. And 
again, as we have found, no separate aspect is by 
itself intelligible. For each is inconsistent with 
itself, and so is forced to take in others. Hence 
to explain would be possible only when the whole, 
as such, was comprehended. And such an actual 
and detailed comprehension we have seen is not 

Resting then on this general conclusion we might 
go forward at once. We might assume that any 
reduction of the Absolute to one or two of the special 
modes of experience is out of the question, and we 
might forthwith attempt a final discussion of its 
nature and unity. It may however be instructive 
to consider more closely a proposed reduction of 
this kind. Let us ask then if Reality can be rightly 
explained as the identity of Thought and Will. But 
first we may remind ourselves of some of those points 
which a full explanation must include. 

In order to understand the universe we should 
require to know how the special matter of sense 
stands everywhere to its relations and forms, and 
again how pleasure and pain are connected with 
these forms and these qualities. We should have 
to comprehend further the entire essence of the 
relational consciousness, and the connection between 
its unity and its plurality of distinguished terms. 
We should have to know why everything (or all but 
everything) comes in finite centres of immediate 
feeling, and how these centres with regard to one 
another are not directly pervious. Then there is 
process in time with its perpetual shifting of content 
from existence, a happening which seems certainly 
not all included under will and thought. The 
physical world again suggests some problems. Are 
there really ideas and ends that work in Nature ? 


And why is it that, within us and without us, there 
is a knowable arrangement, an order such that 
existence answers to thought, and that personal 
identity and a communication between souls is pos- 
sible ? We have, in short, on one side a diversity 
and finitude, and on the other side we have a unity. 
And, unless we know throughout the universe how 
these aspects stand the one to the other, the universe 
is not explained. 

But a partial explanation, I may here be reminded, 
is better than none. That in the present case, I reply, 
would be a serious error. You take from the whole 
of experience some element or elements as a principle, 
and you admit, I presume, that in the whole there 
remains some aspect unexplained and outstanding. 
Now such an aspect belongs to the universe, and 
must, therefore, be predicated of a unity not con- 
tained in your elements. But, if so, your elements 
are at once degraded, for they become adjectives 
of this unknown unity. Hence the objection is not 
that your explanation is incomplete, but that its very 
principle is unsound. You have offered as ultimate 
what in its working proclaims itself appearance. And 
the partial explanation has implied in fact a false 
pretence of knowledge. 

We may verify this result at once in the proposed 
reduction of the other aspects of the world to intellig- 
ence and will. Before we see anything of this in 
detail we may state beforehand its necessary and 
main defect. Suppose that every feature of the 
universe has been fairly brought under, and included 
in these two aspects, the universe still remains un- 
explained. For the two aspects, however much one 
implies and indeed is the other, must in some sense 
still be two. And unless we comprehend how their 
plurality, where they are diverse, stands to their unity, 
where they are at one, we have ended in failure. Our 
principles after all will not be ultimate, but will them- 
selves be the twofold appearance of a unity left un- 


explained. It may however repay us to examine 
further the proposed reduction. 

The plausibility of this consists very largely in 
vagueness, and its strength lies in the uncertain sense 
given to will and intelligence. We seem to know 
these terms so well that we run no risk in applying 
them, and then imperceptibly we pass into an applic- 
ation where their meaning is changed. We have to 
explain the world, and what we find there is a process 
with two aspects. There is a constant loosening of 
idea from fact, and a making- good once more in a 
new existence of this recurring discrepancy. We 
find nowhere substances fixed and rigid. They are 
relative wholes of ideal content, standing on a cease- 
lessly renewed basis of two-sided change. Identity, 
permanence, and continuity, are everywhere ideal ; 
they are unities for ever created and destroyed by 
the constant flux of existence, a flux which they 
provoke, and which supports them and is essential 
to their life. Now, looking at the universe so, we 
may choose to speak of thought wherever the idea 
becomes loose from its existence in fact ; and we 
may speak of will wherever this unity is once more 
made good. And, with this introduction of what 
seems self-evident, the two main aspects of the 
world appear to have found an explanation. Or we 
possibly might help ourselves to this result by a 
further vagueness. For everything, at all events, 
either is, or else happens in time. We might say 
then that, so far as it happens, it is produced by will, 
and that, so far as it is, it is an object for perception 
or thought. But, passing this by without considera- 
tion, let us regard the process of the world as 
presenting two aspects. Thought must then be 
taken as the idealizing side of this process, and will, 
on the other hand, must be viewed as the side which 
makes ideas to be real. And let us, for the present, 
also suppose that will and thought are in themselves 
more or less self-evident. 

47 2 REALITY. 

Now it is plain, first, that such a view compels us 
to postulate very much more than we observe. For 
ideality certainly does not appear to be all produced 
by thought, and actual existence, as certainly, does 
not all appear as the effect of will. The latter is 
obvious whether in our own selves, or in the course 
of Nature, or again in any other of the selves that 
we know. And, with regard to ideality or the 
loosening of content from fact, this is everywhere 
the common mark of appearance. It does not seem 
exclusively confined to or distinctive of thinking. 
Thought does not seem co-extensive in general with 
me relational form, and it must be said to accept, as 
well as to create, ideal distinctions. Ideality appears, 
in short, often as the result of psychical changes and 
processes which do not seem, in the proper sense, to 
\ imply any thinking. These are difficulties, but still 
they may perhaps be dealt with. For, just as we 
could set no limits to the possible existences of souls, 
so we can fix no bounds to the possible working of 
thought and will. Our mere failure to discover them 
here or there, and whether within ourselves or again 
outside us, does not anywhere disprove their exist- 
ence. And as souls to an unknown extent can have 
their life and world in common, so the effects of will 
and thought may show themselves there where the 
actual process is not experienced. That which comes 
to me as a mechanical occurrence, or again as an ideal 
distinction which I have never made, may none the 
less, also and essentially, be will and thought. And 
it may be experienced as such, completely or partly, 
outside me. My reason and my plan to other finite 
centres may only be chance, and their intelligible 
functions may strike on me as a dark necessity. But 
for a higher unity our blind entanglement is lucid 
order. The world discordant, half- completed,and accid- 
ental for each one, is in the Whole a compensated 
system of conspiring particulars. Everything there 
is the joint result of two functions which in their 


working are one, and every least detail is still the 
outcome of intelligence and will. Certainly such a 
doctrine is a postulate, in so far as its particulars 
cannot be verified. But taken in general it may be 
urged also as a legitimate inference and a necessary 

Still in the way of this conclusion, which I have 
tried to set out, we find other difficulties as yet 
unremoved. There is pleasure and pain, and again 
the facts of feeling and of the aesthetic consciousness. 
Now, if thought and will fail to explain these, and 
they, along with thought and will, have to be pre- 
dicated unexplained of the Unity, the Unity after 
all is unknown. Feeling, in the first place, cannot 
be regarded as the indifferent ground of perception 
and will ; for, if so, this ground itself offers a new 
fact which requires explanation. Feeling therefore 
must be taken as a sort of confusion, and as a nebula 
which would grow distinct on closer scrutiny. And 
the aesthetic attitude, perhaps, may be regarded as 
the perceived equilibrium of both our functions. 
It must be admitted certainly that such an attitude 
if the unity alike of thought and will, remains a source 
of embarrassment. For it seems hardly derivable 
from both as diverse ; and, taken as their unity, it, 
upon the other side, certainly fails to contain or 
account for either. And, if we pass from this to 
pleasure and pain, we do but gain another difficulty. 
For the connection of these adjectives with our two 
functions seems in the end inexplicable, while, on 
the other hand, I do not perceive that this connec- 
tion is self-evident We seem in fact drifting towards 
the admission that there are other aspects of the 
world, which must be referred as adjectives to our 
identity of will and thought, while their inclusion 
within will or thought remains- uncertain. But 
this is virtually to allow that thought and will are 
not the essence of the universe. 


Let us go on to consider internal difficulties. 
Will and understanding- are to be each self-evident, 
but on the other hand each evidently, apart from 
the other, has lost its special being. For will pre- 
supposes the distinction of idea from fact — a distinc- 
tion made actual by a process, and presumably itself 
due to will. And thought has to start from the exist- 
ence which only will can make. Hence it presupposes, 
and again as an existing process seems created by, 
will, although will on its side is dependent on thought. 
We must, I presume, try to meet this objection by 
laying stress on the aspect of unity. Our two 
functions really are inseparable, and it therefore 
is natural that one should imply and should pre- 
suppose the other. Certainly hitherto we have 
found everywhere that an unresting circle of this 
kind is the mark of appearance, but let us here be 
content to pass on. Will and thought everywhere 
then are implicated the one with the other. W r ill 
without an idea, and thought that did not depend 
upon will, would neither be itself. To a certain 
extent, then, will essentially is thought ; and, just as 
essentially, all thought is will. Again the existence 
of thought is an end which will calls into being, and 
will is an object for the reflections and constructions 
of theory. They are not, then, two clear functions 
in unity, but each function, taken by itself, is still 
the identity of both. And each can hardly be 
itself, and not the other, as being a mere prepon- 
derance of itself ; for there seems to be no portion 
of either which can claim to be, if unsupported and 
alone. Will and thought then differ only as we 
abstract and consider aspects onesidedly ; or, to 
speak plainly, their diversity is barely appearance. 

If however thought and will really are not dif- 
ferent, they are no longer two elements or principles. 
They are not two known diversities which serve to 
explain the variety of the world. For, if their 
difference is appearance, still that very appearance 


is what we have most to explain. We are not to go 
outside will and thought, in order to seek our ex- 
planation ; and yet, keeping within them, we seem 
unable to find any. The identity of both is no 
solution, unless that identity explains their difference; 
for this difference is the very problem required to 
be solved. We have given us a process of happen- 
ing and finitude, and in this process we are able to 
point out two main aspects. To explain such a 
process is to say why and how it possesses and 
supports this known diversity. But by the proposed 
reduction to will and thought we have done little 
more than give two names to two unexplained 
aspects. For, ignore every other difficulty, and you 
have still on your hands the main question, Why is 
it that thought and will diverge or appear to diverge? 
It is in this real or apparent divergence that the 
actual world of finite things consists. 

Or examine the question from another side. Will 
and thought may be appealed to in order to explain 
the given process in time, and certainly each of them 
contains in its nature a temporal succession. Now 
a process in time is appearance, and not, as such, 
holding of the Absolute. And, if we urge that 
thought and will are twin processes reciprocal and 
compensating, that leaves us where we were. For, 
as such, neither can be a predicate of the real unity, 
and the nature of that unity, with its diversity of 
appearance, is left unexplained. And to place the 
whole succession in time on the side of mere percep- 
tion, and to plead that will, taken by itself, is not 
really a process, would hardly serve to assist us. 
For if will has a content, then that content is per- 
ceptible and must imply temporal lapse, and will, 
after all, surely can stand no higher than that which 
it wills. And, without an ideal content, will is 
nothing but a blind appeal to the unknown. It is 
itself unknown, and of this unknown something we 
arc forced now to predicate as an adjective the un- 


47 6 REALITY. 

explained world of perception. Thus, in the end, 
will and thought are two names for two kinds of 
appearance. Neither, as such, can belong to the 
final Reality, and, in the end, both their unity and 
their diversity remains inexplicable. They may be 
offered as partial and as relative, but not as ultimate 

But if their unity is thus unknown, should we call 
it their unity ? Have they any right to arrogate to 
themselves the whole field of appearance ? If we 
are to postulate thought and will where they are not 
observed, we should at least have an inducement. 
And, if after all they fail to explain our world, the 
inducement seems gone. Why should we strain 
ourselves to bring all phenomena under two heads, 
if, when we have forced them there, these heads, 
with the phenomena, remain unexplained? It would 
be surely better to admit that appearances are of 
more kinds, and have more aspects, than only two, 
and to allow that their unity is a mode of experience 
not directly accessible. And this result is confirmed 
when we recall some preceding difficulties. Pleasure 
and pain, feeling, and the aesthetic consciousness 
would hardly fall under any mere unity of intellig- 
ence and will ; and again the relation of sensible 
qualities to their arrangements, the connection of 
matter with form, remained entirely inexplicable. 
In short, even if the unity of thought and will were 
by itself self-evident, yet the various aspects of the 
world can hardly be reduced to it. And, on the 
other side, even if this reduction were accomplished, 
the identity of will and thought, and their diversity, 
are still not understood. If finitude and process in 
time is reduced to their divergence, how is it they 
come to diverge ? The reduction cannot be final, 
so long as the answer to such a question falls some- 
where outside it. 

The world cannot be explained as the appearance 


of two counterpart functions, and with this result we 
might be contented to pass on. But, in any case, 
such functions could not be identified with what we 
know as intelligence and will ; and it may be better 
perhaps for a little to dwell on this point. We 
assumed above that will and thought were by them- 
selves self-evident. We saw that there was a doubt 
as to how much ground these two functions covered. 
Still the existence of an idealizing and of a realizing i 
function, each independent and primary, we took for) 
granted. But now, if we consider the facts given 
to us in thinking and willing, we shall have to admit 
that the powers required are not to be found. For, 
apart from the question of range, will and thought 
are nowhere self-evident or primary. Each in its 
working depends on antecedent connections, connec- 
tions which remain always in a sense external and 
borrowed. I will endeavour briefly to explain this. 
Thought and will certainly contain transitions, 
and these transitions were taken above as self- 
evident. They were regarded as something natur- 
ally involved in the very essence of these functions, 
and we hence did not admit a further question about 
their grounds. But, if we turn to thought and will 
in our experience, such an assumption is refuted. 
For in actual thinking we depend upon particular 
connections, and, apart from this given matter, we 
should be surely unable to think. These connections 
cannot be taken all as inherent in the mere essence 
of thought, for most of them at least seem to be 
empirical and supplied from outside. And I am 
entirely unable to see how they can be regarded as 
self-evident This result is confirmed when we con- 
sider the making of distinctions. For, in the first 
place, distinctions largely seem to grow up apart 
lrom our thinking, in the proper sense ; and, next, 
a distinguishing power of thought, where it exists, 
appears to rest on, and to work from, prior differenc e. 
It is thus a result due to acquired and empirical rela- 


tions. 1 The actual transitions of thinking are, in 
short, not self-evident, or, to use another phrase, 
they cannot be taken as immanent in thought. Nor, 
if we pass to volition, do we find its processes in any 
better case ; for our actions neither are self-evident 
nor are they immanent in will. Let us abstract from 
the events in Nature and in our selves with which 
our will seems not concerned. Let us confine our 
attention wholly to the cases where our idea seems 
to make its existence in fact. But is the transi- 
tion here a thing- so clear that it demands no ex- 
planation ? An idea desired in one case remains 
merely desired, in another case it turns into actual 
existence. Why then the one, we enquire, and not 
also the other ? " Because in the second place," 
you may reply, " there is an action of will, and it is 
this act which explains and accounts for the transi- 
tion." Now I will not answer here that it is the 
transition which, on the other hand, is the act. I 
will for the moment accept the existence of your 
preposterous faculty. But I repeat the question, 
why is one thing willed and not also the other ? 
Is this difference self-evident, and self-luminous, and 
a feature immediately revealed in the plain essence 
of will ? For, if it is not so, it is certainly also not 
explained by volition. It will be something external 
to the function, and given from outside. And 
thus, with will and thought alike, we must accept 
this same conclusion. There is no willing or think- 
ing apart from the particular acts, and these parti- 
cular acts, as will and thought, are clearly not self- 
evident. They involve in their essences a connec- 
tion supplied from without. And will and thought 
therefore, even where without doubt they exist, 
are dependent and secondary. Nothing can be 
explained in the end by a reduction to either of 
these functions. 

1 On this point see Mind y No. 47. 


Tills conclusion, not dependent on psychoid 
finds itself supported and confirmed there. For 
will and thought, in the sense in which we know 
them, clearly are not primary. They are developed 
from a basis which is not yet either, and which 
never can fully become so. Their existence is due 
to psychical events and ways of happening, which 
are not distinctive of thought or will. And this 
basis is never, so to speak, quite absorbed by either. 
They are differentiations whose peculiar characters 
never quite specialize all their contents. In other 
words will and thought throughout depend on what 
is not essentially either, and, without these psychical 
elements which remain external, their processes 
would cease. There is, in brief, a common sub- 
stance with common laws ; and of this material will 
and thought are one-sided applications. Far from 
exhausting this life, they are contained within it as 
subordinate functions. They are included in it as 
dependent and partial developments. 

Fully to work out this truth would be the 
business of psychology, and I must content myself 
here with a brief notice of some leading points. 
Thought is a development from a ground of pre- 
ceding ideality. The division of content from 
existence is not created but grows. The laws of 
Association and Blending already in themselves 
imply the working of ideal elements ; and on these 
laws thought stands and derives from them its 
actual processes. It is the blind pressure and the 
struggle of changed sensations, which, working 
together with these laws, first begins to loosen ideal 
content from psychical fact. And hence we may 
say that thought proper is the outcome, and not the 
creator, of idealizing functions. I do not mean that 
the development of thought can be fully explained, 
since that would imply a clear insight into the 
general origin of the relational form. And I doubt 
if we can follow ard retrace in detail the transition 


to this from the stage of mere feeling. But I would 
insist, none the less, that some distinguishing is 
prior to thought proper. Synthesis and analysis, 
each alike, begin as psychical growths ; each pre- 
cedes and then is specialized and organized into 
thinking. But, if so, thought is not ultimate. It 
cannot for one moment claim to be the sole parent 
and source of ideality. 1 

And if thought is taken as a function primary, 
and from the first implied in distinction and 
synthesis, even on this mistaken basis its dependent 
character is plain. For the connections and dis- 
tinctions, the ideal relations, in which thought has 
its being — from where do they come ? As parti- 
cular they consist at least partly in what is special 
to each, and these special natures, at least partly, 
can be derived from no possible faculty of thinking. 
Thought's relations therefore still must depend on 
what is empirical. They are in part the result of 
perception and mere psychical process. Therefore 
(as we saw above) thought must rest on these 
foreign materials ; and, however much we take it as 
primary and original, it is still not independent. 
For it never in any case can absorb its materials 
into essential functions. Its connections may be 
familiar and unnoticed, and its sequences may 
glide without a break. Nay even upon reflection 
we may feel convinced that our special arrange- 
ment is true system, and may be sure that somehow 
its connections are not based on mere conjunction. 
But if we ask, on the other hand, if this ideal 
system can come out of bare thought, or can be 
made to consist in it, the answer must be different. 
Why connections in particular are just so, and not 
more or less otherwise — this can be explained in the 
end by no faculty of thinking. And thus, if thought 
in its origin is not secondary, its essence remains so. 
In its ideal matter it is a result from mere psychical 
1 With the above compare, again, Mind^ No. 47. 


growth, its ideal connections in part will through- 
out be pre-supposed and not made by itself. And 
a connection, supposed to be made, would even be 
disowned as a fiction. Hence, on any psycho- 
logical view, these connections are not inherent and 
essential. But for the truer view, we have seen 
above, thought altogether is developed. It grows 
from, and still it consists in, processes not depend- 
ent on itself. And the result may be summed up 
thus ; certainly all relations are ideal, and as cer- 
tainly not all relations are products of thinking. 1 

If we turn to volition, psychology makes clear 
that this is developed and secondary. An idea, 
barely of itself, possesses no power of passing over 
into fact, nor is there any faculty whose office it is 
to carry out this passage. Or, for the sake of 
argument, suppose that such a faculty exists, yet 
some ideas require (as we saw) an extraneous assist- 
ance. The faculty is no function, in short, unless 
specially provoked. But that which makes will, or 
at least makes it behave as itself, is surely a con- 
dition on which the being of will is dependent. 
Will, in brief, is based on associations, psychical 
and physical at once, or, again, upon mere physio- 
logical connections. It pre-supposes these, and 
throughout its working it also implies them, and we 
are hence compelled to consider them as part of its 
essence. I am quite aware that on the nature of 
will there is a great diversity of doctrine, but there 
are some views which I feel justified in not consider- 
ing seriously. For any sane psychology will must 
pre-suppose, and must rest on, junctions physical 
and psychical, junctions which certainly are not 
will. Nor is there any stage of its growth at which 
will has absorbed into a special essence these pre- 

1 I low what seems a faculty of analysis can be developed I 
have endeavoured to point out in the article above referred to. 
A- R. II 


supposed workings. But, if so, assuredly will can- 
not be taken as primary. 1 


The universe as a whole may be called intelli- 
gible. It may be known to come together in such a 
way as to realize, throughout and thoroughly, the 
complete demands of a perfect intellect. And every 
single element, again, in the world is intelligible, 
because it is taken up into and absorbed in a whole of 
this character. 1 But the universe is not intelligible in 
the sense that it can throughout be understood : nor, 
starting from the mere intellect, could you anticipate 
its features in detail For, in answering the de- 
mands of the intellect the Whole supplements and 
makes good its characteristic defects, so that the 
perfected intellect, with these, has lost its own special 
nature. And this conclusion holds again of every 
other aspect of things. None of them is intelligible, 
as such, because, when become intelligible, they have 
ceased also, as such, to be. Hence no single aspect 
of the world can in the end be explained, nor can 
the world be explained as the result either of any or 
all of them. \Ve have verified this truth above in 
the instance of thought and of will. Thought is 
not intelligible because its particular functions are 
not self-evident, and because, again, they cannot be 
derived from, or shown to be parts immanent in 
itself. And the same defect once more belongs also 
to wilL I do not mean merely that will's special 
passages are not intellectual I mean that they are 
not intelligible, nor by themselves luminous, nor in 
any sense self-evident. They are occurrences 
familiar more or less, but never containing each in 
itself its own essence and warrant That essence, 

1 I have left out of the account those cases where what works 
is mainly Blending. Obviously the same condnsion follows 

1 It is inrrnigiMe also, I hare remarked above in Chapter m , 
in the sense of besn 


as we have seen, remains a fact whkfa is conditioned 
from without, and it therefore remains everywhere 
partly alien. It is futile to explain the whole as the 
unity of two or more factors, when none of these 
can by itself be taken as evident, and when the way, 
in which their variety is brought together, remains 
in detail unintelligible. 

With this result it is time that we went forward, bat 
I feel compelled, in passing, to remark on the alleged 
supremacy of WAX In the first place, if wiE is 
Reality, it is incumbent on us to show how appear- 
ance is related to this ground. And, on our failure, 
we have an unknown unity behind this relation, and 
win itself must take the place of a partial appearance 
But, when we consider wills character, the same 
conclusion is in any case plain. What we know as 
will implies relation and a process, and an unsolved 
discrepancy of elements. And the same remark 
holds of energy or activity, or of anything else of 
the kind. Indeed, 1 have dwelt so often on this 
head that I must consider it disposed of I may, 
however, be told perhaps that this complexity is but 
the appearance of will, and that will itself the real 
and supreme, is something other and different. But. 
if so, the relation of appearance to this reality is once 
more on our hands. And, even apart from that, 
such an appeal to Will-in-itself is futile. For what 
we know as will contains the process, and what we 
do not know as will has no right to the name. It 
may be a mere physical happening, or may imply a 
metaphysical Reality, and in either case we have 
already dealt with it so tar as is required. In short, 
an appeal to wul, either in metaphysics or in psycho- 
logy, is an uncritical attempt to make play with the 
unknown. It ts the pretence of a ground or an 
explanation, where the ground is not understood or 
the explanation d isco ver e d. And, so tar as meta- 
physics is concerned, one can perhaps account for 


such a barren self-deception. The mere intellect 
has shown itself incompetent to explain all pheno- 
mena, and so naturally recourse is had to the other 
side of things. And this unknown reality, called in 
thus to supply the defects of mere intellect, is blindly 
identified with the aspect which appears most op- 
posed. But an unknown Reality, more than intellect, 
a something which appears in will and all appearance, 
and even in intellect itself — such a reality is not will 
or any other partial aspect of things. We really 
have appealed to the complete and all- inclusive 
totality, free from one-sidedness and all defect. And 
we have called this will, because in will we do not 
find one defect of a particular kind. But such a 
procedure is not rational. 

An attempt may perhaps be made from another 
side to defend the primacy of will. It may be urged 
that all principles and axioms in the end must be 
practical, and must accordingly be called the expres- 
sion of will. But such an assertion would be mis- 
taken. Axioms and principles are the expression of 
diverse sides of our nature, and they most certainly 
cannot all be considered as practical. In our various 
attitudes, intellectual, aesthetic, and practical, there 
are certain modes of experience which satisfy. In 
these modes we can repose, while, again, their ab- 
sence brings pain, and unrest, and desire. And we 
can of course distinguish these characters and set 
them up as ideals, and we can also make them our 
ends and the objects of will. But such a relation to 
will is, except in the moral end, not inherent in their 
nature. Indeed the reply that principles are willed 
because they are, would be truer than the assertion 
that principles are just because they are willed. 
And the possible objection that after all these things 
are objects to will, has been anticipated above (p. 474). 
The same line of argument obviously would prove 
that the intelligence is paramount, since it reflects 
on will and on every other aspect of the world. 


With this hurried notice, I must dismiss finally the 
alleged pre-eminence of will. This must remain 
always a muddy refuge for the troubled in philo- 
sophy. But its claims appear plausible so long 
only as darkness obscures them. They are plainly 
absurd where they do not prefer to be merely unin- 

We have found that no one aspect of experience, 
as such, is real. None is primary, or can serve to 
explain the others or the whole. They are all alike 
appearances, all one-sided, and passing away beyond 
themselves. But I may be asked why, admitting 
this, we should call them appearances. For such a 
term belongs solely of right to the perceptional side 
of things, and the perceptional side, we agreed, was 
but one aspect among others. To appear, we may \ 
be told, is not possible except to a percipient, and an \ 
appearance also implies both judgment and rejection. ! 
I might certainly, on the other side, enquire whether 
all implied metaphors are to be pressed, and if so, how 
many phrases and terms would be left us. But in the 
case of appearance I admit at once that the objec- 
tion has force. I think the term implies without 
doubt an aspect of perceiving and judging, and such 
an aspect, I quite agree, does not everywhere exist. 
For, even if we conclude that all phenomena pass 
through psychical centres, yet in those centres most 
assuredly all is not perception. And to assume 
that somehow in the Whole all phenomena are 
judged of, would be again indefensible. We must, in. 
short, admit that some appearances really do not! 
appear, and that hence a license is involved in our | 
use of the term. 

Our attitude, however, in metaphysics must be 
theoretical. It is our business here to measure and 
to judge the various aspects of things. And hence 
for us anything which comes short when compared j 
with Reality, gets the name of appearance. But we 


do not suggest that the thing always itself is an 
appearance. We mean its character is such that it 
becomes one, as soon as we judge it. And this 
character, we have seen throughout our work, is 
ideality. Appearance consists in the looseness of 
content from existence ; and, because of this self- 
estrangement, every finite aspect is called an appear- 
ance. And we have found that everywhere through- 
out the world such ideality prevails. Anything less 
than the Whole has turned out to be not self-con- 
tained. Its being involves in its very essence a 
relation to the outside, and it is thus inwardly infected 
by externality. Everywhere the finite is self-trans- 
cendent, alienated from itself, and passing away from 
itself towards another existence. Hence the finite 
is appearance because, on the one side, it is an adjec- 
tive of Reality, and because, on the other side, it is 
an adjective which itself is not real. When the 
term is thus defined, its employment seems certainly 

We have in this Chapter been mainly, so far, con- 
cerned with a denial. All is appearance, and no 
appearance, nor any combination of these, is the same 
as Reality. This is half the truth, and by itself it 
is a dangerous error. We must turn at once to 
correct it by adding its counterpart and supplement. 
The Absolute is its appearances, it really is all and 
every one of them. That is the other half-truth 
which we have already insisted on, and which we 
must urge once more here. And we may remind 
ourselves at this point of a fatal mistake. If you 
take appearances, singly or all together, and assert 
barely that the Absolute is either one of them or all 
— the position is hopeless. Having first set these 
down as appearance, you now proclaim them as the 
very opposite ; for that which is identified with the 
Absolute is no appearance but is utter reality. But 
we have seen the solution of this puzzle, and we 


know the sense and meaning in which these half- 
truths come together into one. The Absolute is each 
appearance, and is all, but it is not any one as such. (■ 
And it is not all equally, but one appearance is more 
real than another. In short the doctrine of degrees 
in reality and truth is the fundamental answer to our 
problem. Everything is essential, and yet one thing 
is worthless in comparison with others. Nothing is 
perfect, as such, and yet everything in some degree 
contains a vital function of Perfection. Every atti- 
tude of experience, every sphere or level of the 
world, is a necessary factor in the Absolute. Each 
in its own way satisfies, until compared with that 
which is more than itself. Hence appearance is 
error, if you will, but not every error is illusion. 1 
At each stage is involved the principle of that which 
is higher, and every stage (it is therefore true) is 
already inconsistent. But on the other hand, taken 
for itself and measured by its own ideas, every level 
has truth. It meets, we may say, its own claims, 
and it proves false only when tried by that which is 
already beyond it And thus the Absolute is im- 
manent alike through every region of appearances. 
There are degrees and ranks, but, one and all, they 
are alike indispensable. 

We can find no province of the world so low but the . 
Absolute inhabits it Nowhere is there even a single 
fact so fragmentary and so poor that to the universe 
it does not matter. There is truth in every idea 
however false, there is reality in every existence how- 
ever slight ; and, where we can point to reality or 
truth, there is the one undivided life of the Abso- 
lute. Appearance without reality would be impos- 
sible, for what then could appear ? And reality 
without appearance would be nothing, for there cer- 
tainly is nothing outside appearances. But on the 
other hand Reality (we must repeat this) is not the 

1 On the difference between these see Chapter xxvii. 


sum of things. It is the unity in which all things, 
coming together, are transmuted, in which they are 
changed all alike, though not changed equally. And, 
as we have perceived, in this unity relations of isola- 
tion and hostility are affirmed and absorbed. These 
also are harmonious in the Whole, though not of 
course harmonious as such, and while severally con- 
fined to their natures as separate. Hence it would 
show blindness to urge, as an objection against our 
view, the opposition found in ugliness and in 
conscious evil. The extreme of hostility implies an 
intenser relation, and this relation falls within the 
Whole and enriches its unity. The apparent discord- 
ance and distraction is overruled into harmony, and 
it is but the condition of fuller and more individual 
development. But we can hardly speak of the Ab- 
solute itself as either ugly or evil. The Absolute is 
indeed evil in a sense and it is ugly and false, but 
the sense, in which these predicates can be applied, 
is too forced and unnatural. Used of the Whole 
each predicate would be the result of an indefensible 
division, and each would be a fragment isolated and 
by itself without consistent meaning. Ugliness, 
evil, and error, in their several spheres, are subor- 
dinate aspects. They imply distinctions falling, in 
each case, within one subject province of the Abso- 
lute's kingdom ; and they involve a relation, in each 
case, of some struggling element to its superior, 
though limited, whole. Within these minor wholes 
the opposition draws its life from, and is overpowered 
by the system which supports it. The predicates 
evil, ugly, and false must therefore stamp whatever 
they qualify, as a mere subordinate aspect, an aspect 
belonging to the province of beauty or goodness or 
truth. And to assign such a position to the sove- 
reign Absolute would be plainly absurd. You may 
affirm that the Absolute has ugliness and error and 
evil, since it owns the provinces in which these 
features are partial elements. But to assert that it 


is one of its own fragmentary and dependent details 
would be inadmissible. 

It is only by a licence that the subject- systems, 
even when we regard them as wholes, can be made 
qualities of Reality. It is always under correction 
and on sufferance that we term the universe either 
beautiful or moral or true. And to venture further 
would be both useless and dangerous at once. 

If you view the Absolute morally at all, then the 
Absolute is good. It cannot be one factor con- 
tained within and overpowered by goodness. In 
the same way, viewed logically or aesthetically, the 
Absolute can only be true or beautiful. It is 
merely when you have so termed it, and while 
you still continue to insist on these preponderant 
characters, that you can introduce at all the ideas of 
falsehood and ugliness. And, so introduced, their 
direct application to the Absolute is impossible. 
Thus to identify the supreme universe with a partial 
system may, for some end, be admissible. But to 
take it as a single character within this system, and 
as a feature which is already overruled, and which 
as such is suppressed there, would, we have seen, be 
quite unwarranted. Ugliness, error, and evil, all 
are owned by, and all essentially contribute to the 
wealth of the Absolute. The Absolute, we may 
say in general, has no assets beyond appearances ; 
and again, with appearances alone to its credit, the 
Absolute would be bankrupt. All of these are 
worthless alike apart from transmutation. But, on 
the other hand once more, since the amount of 
change is different in each case, appearances differ 
widely in their degrees of truth and reality. There 
are predicates which, in comparison with others, are 
false and unreal 

To survey the field of appearances, to measure 
each by the idea of perfect individuality, and to 
arrange them in an order and in a system of reality 
and merit — would be the task of metaphysics. This 


task (I may repeat) is not attempted in these pages. 
I have however endeavoured here, as above, to 
explain and to insist on the fundamental principle. 
And, passing from that, I will now proceed to re- 
mark on some points of interest. There are certain 
questions which at this stage we may hope to dis- 
pose of. 

Let us turn our attention once more to Nature or 
the physical world. Are we to affirm that ideas are 
forces, and that ends operate and move there ? 
And, again, is Nature beautiful and an object of 
possible worship ? On this latter point, which I 
will consider first, I find serious confusion. Nature, 
as we have seen, can be taken in various senses 
(Chapter xxii.). We may understand by it the 
whole universe, or again merely the world in space, 
or again we may restrict it to a very much narrower 
meaning. We may first remove everything which 
in our opinion is only psychical, and the abstract 
residue — the primary qualities — we may then iden- 
tify with Nature. These will be the essence, while 
all the rest is accessory adjective, and, in the fullest 
sense, is immaterial. Now we have found that 
Nature, so understood, has but little reality. It is an 
ideal construction required by science, and it is a 
necessary working fiction. And we may add that 
reduction to a result, and to a particular instance, of 
this fiction, is what is meant by a strictly physical 
explanation. But in this way there grows up a great 
confusion. For the object of natural science is the 
full world in all its sensible glory, while the essence 
of Nature lies in this poor fiction of primary 
qualities, a fiction believed not to be idea but solid 
fact Nature then, while unexplained, is still left in 
its sensuous splendour, while Nature, if explained, 
would be reduced to this paltry abstraction. On 
one side is set up the essence — the final reality — in 
the shape of a bare skeleton of primary qualities ; 


on the other side remains the boundless profusion of 
life which everywhere opens endlessly before our 
view. And these extremes then are confused, or 
are conjoined, by sheer obscurity or else by blind 
mental oscillation. If explanation reduces facts to be 
adjectives of something which they do not qualify 
at all, the whole connection seems irrational, and the 
process robs us of the facts. But if the primary 
essence after all is qualified, then its character is 
transformed. The explanation, in reducing the 
concrete, will now also have enriched and have indi- 
vidualized the abstract, and we shall have started on 
our way towards philosophy and truth. But of this 
latter result in the present case there can be no 
question. And therefore we must end in oscillation 
with no attempt at an intelligent unity of view. 
Nature is, on the one hand, that show whose reality 
lies barely in primary qualities. It is, on the other 
hand, that endless world of sensible life which 
appeals to our sympathy and extorts our wonder. 
It is the object loved and lived in by the poet and 
by the observing naturalist. And, when we speak 
of Nature, we have often no idea which of these 
extremes, or indeed what at all, is to be understood. 
We in fact pass, as suits the occasion, from one 
extreme unconsciously to the other. 

I will briefly apply this result to the question 
before us. Whether Nature is beautiful and ador- 
able will depend entirely on the sense in which 
Nature is taken. If the genuine reality of Nature 
is bare primary qualities, then I cannot think that 
such a question needs serious discussion. In a 
word Nature will be dead. It could possess at the 
most a kind of symmetry ; and again by its extent, 
or by its practical relation to our weaknesses or 
needs, it might excite in us feelings of a certain 
kind. But these feelings, in the first place, would 
fall absolutely within ourselves. They could not 
rationally be applied to, nor in the very least could 


they qualify Nature. And, in the second place, 
these feelings would in our minds hardly take the 
form of worship. Hence when Nature, as the object 
of natural science, is either asserted to be beautiful, 
or is set up before us as divine, we may make our 
answer at once. If the reality of the object is to be 
restricted to primary qualities, then surely no one 
would advocate the claims we have mentioned. If 
again the whole perceptible world and the glory of 
it is to be genuinely real, and if this splendour and 
this life are of the very essence of Nature, then a 
difficulty will arise in two directions. In the first 
place this claim has to get itself admitted by phys- 
ical science. The psychical has to be adopted as at 
least co-equal in reality with matter. The relation 
to the organism and to the soul has to be included 
in the vital being of a physical object. And the 
first difficulty will consist in advancing to this point. 
Then the second difficulty will appear at once 
when this point has been reached. For, having 
gone so far, we have to justify our refusal to go 
further. For why is Nature to be confined to the 
perceptible world ? If the psychical and the " sub- 
jective " is in any degree to make part of its reality, 
then upon what principle can you shut out the 
highest and most spiritual experience ? Why is 
Nature viewed and created by the painter, the poet, 
and the seer, not essentially real ? But in this way 
Nature will tend to become the total universe of 
both spirit and matter. And our main conclusion 
so far must be this. It is evidently useless to raise 
such questions about the object of natural science, 
when you have not settled in your mind what that 
object is, and when you supply no principle on 
which we can decide in what its reality consists. 

But turning from this confusion, and once more 
approaching the question from, I trust, a more 
rational ground, I will try to make a brief answer. 
Into the special features and limits of the beautiful in 


Nature I cannot enter. And I cannot discuss how 
far, and in what sense, the physical world is in- 
cluded in the true object of religion. These are 
special enquiries which fall without the scope of my 
volume. But whether Nature is beautiful or ador- 
able at all, and whether it possesses such attributes 
really and in truth, — to the question, asked thus in 
general, we may answer, Yes. We have seen that • 
Nature, regarded as bare matter, is a mere con- 
venient abstraction (Chapter xxii.). The addition of 
secondary qualities, the included relation to a body 
and to a soul, in making Nature more concrete makes 
it thereby more real. 1 The sensible life, the warmth 
and colour, the odour and the tones, without these 
Nature is a mere intellectual fiction. The primary 
qualities are a construction demanded by science, 
but, while divorced from the secondary, they have 
no life as facts. Science has a Hades from which it 
returns to interpret the world, but the inhabitants 
of its Hades are merely shades. And, when the 
secondary qualities are added, Nature, though more 
real, is still incomplete. The joys and sorrows of 
her children, their affections and their thoughts — 
how are we to say that these have no part in the 
reality of Nature ? Unless to a mind restricted by 
a principle the limitation would be absurd, and our 
main principle on the other hand insists that Nature, 
when more full, is more real. And this same prin- 
ciple will carry us on to a further conclusion. The 
emotions, excited by Nature in the considering soul, 
must at least in part be referred to, and must be 
taken as attributes of Nature. If there is no beauty 
there, and if the sense of that is to fall somewhere 
outside, why in the end should there be any qualities 
in Nature at all ? And. if no emotional tone is to 
qualify Nature, how and on what principle are we to 

1 I do not think it necessary to restate any qualification re- 
quired here by parts of Natim: taken as not perceived. I have 
dealt with this sufficiently in Chapters xxii. and xxiv. 


attribute to it anything else whatever ? Everything 
there without exception is " subjective," if we are 
to regard the matter so ; and an emotional tone 
cannot, solely on this account, be excluded from 
Nature. And, otherwise, why should it not have 
reality there as a genuine quality ? For myself I 
must follow the same principle and can accept the 
fresh consequence. The Nature that we have lived 
in, and that we love, is really Nature. Its beauty 
and its terror and its majesty are no illusion, but 
qualify it essentially. And hence that in which at 
our best moments we all are forced to believe, is the 
literal truth. 

This result however needs some qualification from 
another side. It is certain that everything is deter- 
mined by the relations in which it stands. It is 
certain that, with increase of determinateness, a 
thing becomes more and more real. On the other 
hand anything, fully determined, would be the Ab- 
solute itself. There is a point where increase of 
reality implies passage beyond self. A thing by 
enlargement becomes a mere factor in the whole 
next above it ; and, in the end, all provinces and 
all relative wholes cease to keep their separate 
characters. We must not forget this while consider- 
ing the reality of Nature. By gradual increase of 
that reality you reach a stage at which Nature, as 
such, is absorbed. Or, as you reflect on Nature, 
your object identifies itself gradually with the uni- 
verse or Absolute. And the question arises at what 
point, when we begin to add psychical life or to 
attribute spiritual attributes to Nature, we have 
ceased to deal with Nature in any proper sense of 
that term. Where do we pass from Nature, as an 
outlying province in the kingdom of things, to 
Nature as a suppressed element in a higher unity ? 
These enquiries are demanded by philosophy, and 
their result would lead to clearer conclusions about 
the qualities of Nature. I can do no more than 


allude to them here, and the conclusion, on which 
I insist, can in the main be urged independently. 
Nothing is lost to the Absolute, and all appearances 
have reality. The Nature studied by the observer 
and by the poet and painter, is in all its sensible 
and emotional fulness a very real Nature. It is in 
most respects more real than the strict object of 
physical science. For Nature, as the world whose 
real essence lies in primary qualities, has not a high 
degree of reality and truth. It is a mere abstrac- 
tion made and required for a certain purpose. And 
the object of natural science may either mean this 
skeleton, or it may mean the skeleton made real 
by blood and flesh of secondary qualities. Hence, 
before we dwell on the feelings Nature calls for 
from us, it would be better to know in what sense we 
are using the term. But the boundary of Nature 
can hardly be drawn even at secondary qualities. 
Or, if we draw it there, we must draw it arbitrarily, 
and to suit our convenience. Only on this ground 
can psychical life be excluded from Nature, while, 
regarded otherwise, the exclusion would not be 
tenable. And to deny aesthetic qualities in Nature, 
or to refuse it those which inspire us with fear or 
devotion, would once more surely be arbitrary. It 
would be a division introduced for a mere work- 
ing theoretical purpose. Our principle, that the 
abstract is the unreal, moves us steadily upward. 
It forces us first to rejection of bare primary 
qualities, and it compels us in the end to credit 
Nature with our higher emotions. That process 
can cease only where Nature is quite absorbed into 
spirit, and at every stage of the process we find 
increase in reality. 

And this higher interpretation, and this eventual 
transcendence of Nature lead us to the discussion 
of another point which we mentioned above. Ex- 
cept in finite souls and except in volition may we 

49 6 REALITY. 

suppose that Ends operate in Nature, and is ideality, 
in any other sense, a working force there ? How 
far such a point of view may be permitted in 
aesthetics or in the philosophy of religion, I shall 
not enquire. But considering the physical world 
as a mere system of appearances in space, are we 
on metaphysical grounds to urge the insufficiency 
of the mechanical view ? In what form (if in any) are 
we to advocate a philosophy of Nature ? On this 
difficult subject I will very briefly remark in passing. 
The mechanical view plainly is absurd as a 
full statement of truth. Nature so regarded has 
not ceased at all (we may say) to be ideal, but its 
ideality throughout falls somewhere outside itself 
(Chapters xxii. and xxiii.). And that even for work- 
ing purposes this view can everywhere be rigidly 
maintained, I am unable to assert. But upon one 
subject I have no doubts. Every special science 
must be left at liberty to follow its own methods, 
and, if the natural sciences reject every way of ex- 
planation which is not mechanical, that is not the 
affair of metaphysics. For myself, in other ways 
ignorant, I venture to assume that these sciences 
understand their own business. But where, quite 
beyond the scope of any special science, assertions 
are made, the metaphysician may protest. He may 
insist that abstractions are not realities, and that 
working fictions are never more than useful frag- 
ments of truth. And on another point also he may 
claim a hearing. To adopt one sole principle of 
valid explanation, and to urge that, if phenomena 
are to be explicable, they must be explained by one 
method — this is of course competent to any science. 
But it is another thing to proclaim phenomena as 
already explained, or as explicable, where in certain 
aspects or in certain provinces they clearly are not 
explained, and where, perhaps, not even- the first 
beginning of an explanation has been made. In 
these lapses or excursions beyond its own limits 


natural science has no rights. But within its bound- 
aries I think every wise man will consider it sacred. 
And this question of the operation of Ends in 
Nature is one which, in my judgment, metaphysics 
should leave untouched. 

Is there then no positive task which is left to 
metaphysics, the accomplishment of which might be 
called a philosophy of Nature ? I will briefly point 
out the field which seems to call for occupation. 
All appearances for metaphysics have degrees of 
reality. We have an idea of perfection or of in- 
dividuality ; and, as we find that any form of exist- 
ence more completely realizes this idea, we assign 
to it its position in the scale of being. And in this 
scale (as we have seen) the lower, as its defects are 
made good, passes beyond itself into the higher. 
The end, or the absolute individuality, is also the 
principle. Present from the first it supplies the test 
of its inferior stages, and, as these are included in 
fuller wholes, the principle grows in reality. Meta- \ 
physics in short can assign a meaning to perfection 
and progress. And hence, if it were to accept from \ 
the sciences the various kinds of natural phenomena, 
if it were to set out these kinds in an order of merit 
and rank, if it could point out how within each 
higher grade the defects of the lower are made 
good, and how the principle of the lower grade is 
carried out in the higher — metaphysics surely would 
have contributed to the interpretation of Nature. 
And, while myself totally incapable of even assist- 
ing in such a work, I cannot see how or on what 
ground it should be considered unscientific. It is 
doubtless absurd to wear the airs of systematic 
omniscience. It is worse than absurd to pour scorn 
on the detail and on the narrowness of devoted 
specialism. But to try to give system from time to 
time to the results of the sciences, and to attempt 
to arrange these on what seems a true principle 
of worth, can be hardly irrational. 

K K 


Such a philosophy of Nature, if at least it were 
true to itself, could not intrude on the province of 
physical science. For it would, in short, abstain 
wholly and in every form from speculation on gene- 
sis. How the various stages of progress come to 
happen in time, in what order or orders they follow, 
and in each case from what causes, these enquiries 
would, as such, be no concern of philosophy. Its 
idea of evolution and progress in a word should not 
be temporal. And hence a conflict with the sciences 
upon any question of development or of order could 
not properly arise. " Higher " and " lower," terms 
which imply always a standard and end, would in 
philosophy be applied solely to designate rank. 
Natural science would still be free, as now, to use, 
or even to abuse, such terms at its pleasure, and to 
allow them any degree of meaning which is found 
convenient. Progress for philosophy would never 
have any temporal sense, and it could matter nothing 
if the word elsewhere seemed to bear little or no 
other. With these brief remarks I must leave a 
subject which deserves serious attention. 

In a complete philosophy the whole world of 
appearance would be set out as a progress. It 
would show a development of principle though not 
a succession in time. Every sphere of experience 
would be measured by the absolute standard, and 
would be given a rank answering to its own relative 
merits and defects. On this scale pure Spirit would 
mark the extreme most removed from lifeless Na- 
ture. And, at each rising degree of this scale, we 
should find more of the first character with less of 
the second. The ideal of spirit, we may say, is 
directly opposite to mechanism. Spirit is a unity 
of the manifold in which the externality of the mani- 
fold has utterly ceased. The universal here is im- 
manent in the parts, and its system does not lie some- 
where outside and in the relations between them. 
It is above the relational form and has absorbed it 


in a higher unity, a whole in which there is no 
division between elements and laws. And, since 
this principle shows itself from the first in the in- 
consistencies of bare mechanism, 1 we may say that 
Nature at once is realized and transmuted by spirit. 
But each of these extremes, we must add, has no 
existence as fact The sphere of dead mechanism 
is set apart by an act of abstraction, and in that 
abstraction alone it essentially consists. And, on 
the other hand, pure spirit is not realized except in 
the Absolute. It can never appear as such and 
with its full character in the scale of existence. 
Perfection and individuality belong only to that 
Whole in which all degrees alike are at once present 
and absorbed. This one Reality of existence can, 
as such, nowhere exist among phenomena. And it 
enters into, but is itself incapable of, evolution and 

It may repay us to discuss the truth of this last 
statement Is there, in the end and on the whole, 
any progress in the universe ? Is the Absolute 
better or worse at one time than at another ? It is 
clear that we must answer in the negative, since 
progress and decay are alike incompatible with per- 
fection. There is of course progress in the world, 
and there is also retrogression, but we cannot think 
that the Whole either moves on or backwards. 
The Absolute has no history of its own, though it 
contains histories without number. These, with 
their tale of progress or decline, are constructions 
starting from and based on some one given piece 
of finitude. They are but partial aspects in the re- 
gion of temporal appearance. Their truth and 
reality may vary much in extent and in importance, 
but in the end it can never be more than relative. 

1 The defect and the partial supersession of mere mechanical 
tew has been touched on in Chapters xxii. and xxiii. It would be 
possible to add a good deal more on this head. 


And the question whether the history of a man or a 
world is going forwards or back, does not belong to 
metaphysics. For nothing perfect, nothing genuinely 
real, can move. The Absolute has no seasons, but 
all at once bears its leaves, fruit, and blossoms. 1 
Like our globe it always, and it never, has summer 
and winter. 

Such a point of view, if it disheartens us, has 
been misunderstood. It is only by our mistake that 
it collides with practical belief. If into the world of 
goodness, possessing its own relative truth, you will 
directly thrust in ideas which apply only to the 
Whole, the fault surely is yours. The Absolute's 
character, as such, cannot hold of the relative, but 
the relative, unshaken for all that, holds its place in 
the Absolute. Or again, shutting yourself up in 
the region of practice, will you insist upon applying 
its standards to the universe ? We want for our 
practice, of course, both a happening in time and a 
personal finitude. We require a capacity for be- 
coming better, and, I suppose too, for becoming 
worse. And if these features, as such, are to qualify 
the whole of things, and if they are to apply to ulti- 
mate reality, then the main conclusions of this work 
are naturally erroneous. But I cannot adopt others 
until at least I see an attempt made to set them out 
in a rational form. And I can not profess respect 
for views which seem to me in many cases insincere. 
If progress is to be more than relative, and is some- 
thing beyond a mere partial phenomenon, then the 
religion professed most commonly among us has 
been abandoned. You cannot be a Christian if you 
maintain that progress is final and ultimate and the 
last truth about things. And I urge this considera- 
tion, of course not as an argument from my mouth, 
but as a way of bringing home perhaps to some 
persons their inconsistency. Make the moral point 
of view absolute, and then realize your position. 
1 This image is, I believe, borrowed from Strauss. 


You have become not merely irrational, but you 
have also, I presume, broken with every consider- 
able religion. And you have been brought to this 
by following the merest prejudice. 

Philosophy, I agree, has to justify the various 
sides of our life ; but this is impossible, I would 
urge, if any side is made absolute. Our attitudes in 
life give place ceaselessly the one to the other, and 
life is satisfied if each in its own field is allowed 
supremacy. Now to deny progress of the universe 
surely leaves morality where it was. A man has 
his self or his world, about to make an advance (he 
may hope) through his personal effort, or in any 
case (he knows well) to be made the best of. The 
universe is, so far, worse through his failure ; it is 
better, so far, through his success. And if, not con- 
tent with this, he demands to alter the universe at 
large, he should at least invoke neither reason nor 
religion nor morality. For the improvement or 
decay of the universe seems nonsense, unmeaning 
or blasphemous. While, on the other hand, faith in 
the progress or persistence of those who inhabit 
our planet has nothing to do with metaphysics. 
And I may perhaps add that it has little more to do 
with morality. Such faith can not alter our duties ; 
and to the mood in which we approach them, the 
difference, which it makes, may not be wholly an 
advantage. If we can be weakened by despondence, 
we can, no less, be hurried away by stupid en- 
thusiasm and by pernicious cant. But this is no 
place for the discussion of such matters, and we may 
be content here to know that we cannot attribute 
any progress to the Absolute. 

I will end this chapter with a few remarks on a 
subject which lies near. I refer to that which is 
commonly called the Immortality of the Soul. This 
is a topic on which for several reasons I would 
rather keep silence, but I think that silence here 


might fairly be misunderstood. It is not easy, in 
the first place, to say exactly what a future life 
means. The period of personal continuance ob- 
viously need not be taken as endless. And again 
precisely in what sense, and how far, the survival 
must be personal is not easy to lay down. I shall 
assume here that what is meant is an existence after 
death which is conscious of its identity with our life 
here and now. And the duration of this must be 
taken as sufficient to remove any idea of unwilling 
extinction or of premature decease. Now we seem 
to desire continuance (if we do desire it) for a 
variety of reasons, and it might be interesting else- 
where to set these out and to clear away confusions. 1 
I must however pass at once to the question of 

There is one sense in which the immortality of 
souls seems impossible. We must remember that 
the universe is incapable of increase. And to sup- 
pose a constant supply of new souls, none of which 
ever perished, would clearly land us in the end in 
an insoluble difficulty. But it is quite unnecessary, I 
presume, to hold the doctrine in this sense. And, 
if we take the question generally, then to deny the 
possibility of a life after death would be quite 
ridiculous. There is no way of proving, first, that a 
body is required for a soul (Chapter xxiii.). And 
though a soul, when bodiless, might (for all we 
know) be even more subject to mortality, yet ob- 
viously here we have passed into a region of ignor- 
ance. And to say that in this region a personal 

1 The so-called fear of extinction seems to rest on a confusion, 
and I do not believe that, in a proper form, it exists at all. It is 
really mere shrinking from defeat and from injury and pain. For 
we can think of our own total surcease, but we cannot imagine it. 
Against our will, and perhaps unconsciously, there creeps in the 
idea of a reluctant and struggling self, or of a self disappointed, 
or wearied, or in some way discontented. And this is certainly 
not a self completely extinguished. There is no fear of death at 
all, we may say, except either incidentally or through an illusion. 


continuance could not be, appears simply irrational. 
And the same result holds, even if we take a body 
as essential to every soul, and, even if we insist also 
(as we cannot) that this body must be made of our 
everyday substance. A future life is possible even 
on the ground of common crude Materialism. 1 After 
an interval, no matter how long, another nervous 
system sufficiently like our own might be developed ; 
and in this case memory and a personal identity 
must arise. The event may be as improbable as 
you please, but I at least can find no reason for 
calling it impossible. And we may even go a step 
further still. It is conceivable that an indefinite 
number of such bodies should exist, not in succes- 
sion merely, but all together and all at once. But, 
if so, we might gain a personal continuance not 
single but multiform, and might secure a destiny on 
which it would be idle to enlarge. In ways like the 
above it is clear that a future life is possible, but, 
on the other hand, such possibilities are not worth 

A thing is impossible absolutely when it contra- 
dicts the known nature of Reality. 8 It is impossible 
relatively when it collides with some idea which we 
have found good cause to take as real. A thing is 
possible, first, as long as it is not quite meaningless. 
It must contain some positive quality belonging to 
the universe ; and it must not at the same time 
remove this and itself by some destructive addition. 
A thing is possible further, according as its mean- 
ing contains without discrepancy more and more of 
what is held to be real. We, in other words, con- 
sider anything more possible as it grows in proba- 

1 I have attempted to show this in an article on the Evidences 
of Spiritualism, Fortnightly Review, December, 1885. It may 
perhaps be worth while to add here that apparently even a high 
organism is possible, which apart from accidents would never die. 
Apparently this could not be termed impossible in principle, at 
least within our present knowledge. 

8 See, above, Chapter xxiv., and, below, Chapter xxvii. 


bility. And " Probability," we are rightly told, " is 
the guide of life." We want to know, in short, not 
whether a thing is merely and barely possible, but 
how much ground we have for expecting it and not 
something else. 

In a case like the present, we cannot, of course, 
hope to set out the chances, for we have to do with 
elements the value of which is not known. And 
for probability the unknown is of different kinds. 
There is first the unknown utterly, which is not 
possible at all ; and this is discounted and treated as 
nothing. There is next something possible, the full 
nature of which is hidden, but the extent and value 
of which, as against some other " events," is clear. 
And so far all is straightforward. But we have 
still to deal with the unknown in two more trouble- 
some senses. It may stand for a mere possibility 
about which we know nothing further, and for 
entertaining which we can find no further ground. 
Or again, the unknown may cover a region where 
we can specify no details, but which still we can 
judge to contain a great diversity of possible 

We shall soon find the importance of these dry 
distinctions. A bodiless soul is possible because it 
is not meaningless, or in any way known to be im- 
possible. But I fail to find any further and addi- 
tional reason in its favour. And, next, would a 
bodiless soul be immortal ? And, again, why after 
death should we, in particular, have any bodiless 
continuance ? The original slight probability of a 
future life seems not much increased by these con- 
siderations. Again, if we take body to be essential 
— a body, that is, consisting of matter either fami- 
liar or strange — what, on this ground, is our 
chance of personal continuance after death ? You 
may here appeal to the unknown, and, where our 
knowledge seems nothing, you may perhaps urge, 
u Why not this event, just as much as its contrary 


and opposite ? " But the question would rest on a 
fallacy, and I must insist on the distinction which 
above we laid down. In this unknown field we cer- 
tainly cannot particularize and set out the chances, 
but in another sense the field is not quite unknown. 1 
We cannot say that, of the combinations possible 
there, one half is, for all we know, favourable to a 
life after death. For, to judge by actual experience, 
the combinations seem mostly unfavourable. And, 
though the character of what falls outside our ex- 
perience may be very different, yet our judgment as 
to this must be affected by what we do know. But, 
if so, while the whole variety of combinations must 
be taken as very large, the portion judged favour- 
able to continued life, whether multiform or simple, 
must be set down as small. Such will have to be 
our conclusion if we deal with this unknown field. 
But, if we may not deal with it, the possibility of a 
future life is, on this ground, quite unknown ; and, 
if so, we have no right to consider it at all. And 
the general result to my mind is briefly this. When 
you add together the chances of a life after death — 
a life taken as bodiless, and again as diversely em- 
bodied — the amount is not great. The balance of 
hostile probability seems so large that the fraction 
on the other side to my mind is not considerable. 
And we may repeat, and may sum up our conclu- 
sion thus. If we appeal to blank ignorance, then a 
future life may even have no meaning, and may fail 
wholly to be possible. Or if we avoid this worst 
extreme, a future life may be but barely possible. 

1 The probability of an unknown event is rightly taken as one 
half. But, in applying this abstract truth, we must be on our 
guard against error. In the case of an event in time our igno- 
rance can hardly be entire. We know, for example, that at each 
moment Nature produces a diversity of changed events. The 
abstract chance then, say of the repetition of a certain occur- 
rence in a certain place, must be therefore much less than one 
half. On the other side again considerations of another kind 
will come in, and may raise the value indefinitely. 


But a possibility, in this sense, stands unsupported 
face to face with an indefinite universe. And its 
value, so far, can hardly be called worth counting. 
If, on the other hand, we allow ourselves to use 
what knowledge we possess, and if we judge fairly 
of future life by all the grounds we have for judg- 
ing, the result is not much modified. Among those 
grounds we certainly find a part which favours con- 
tinuance ; but, taken at its highest, that part appears 
to be small. Hence a future life must be taken as 
decidedly improbable. 

But in this way, it will be objected, the question 
is not properly dealt with. " On the grounds you 
have stated," it will be urged, " future life may be 
improbable ; but then those grounds really lie out- 
side the main point. The positive evidence for a 
future life is what weighs with our minds ; and this 
is independent of discussions as to what, in the ab- 
stract, is probable." The objection is fair, and my 
reply to it is plain and simple. I have ignored the 
positive evidence because for me it has really no 
value. Direct arguments to show that a future life 
is, not merely possible, but real, seem to me unavail- 
ing. The addition to general probability, which 
they make, is to my mind trifling ; and, without 
examining these arguments in detail, I will add a 
few remarks. 1 

1 The argument based on apparitions and necromancy I have 
discussed in the article cited above, p. 503. There, on the 
hypothesis that extra-human intelligences had been proved, I 
attempted to show that the conclusions of Spiritualism were still 
baseless. I had no space there to urge that the hypothesis itself 
is ridiculously untrue. The spiritualist appears to think that 
anything which is not in the usual course of things goes to prove 
his special conclusion. He seems not to perceive any difference 
between the possible and the actual. As if to open a wide field 
of indefinite possibilities were the same thing as the exclusion of 
all others but one. Against the spiritualist, open or covert, it is 
most important to insist that all the facts shall be dealt with, 
whether in man alone or, perhaps also, in the lower animals. 


Philosophy, I repeat, has to justify all sides of 
our nature ; and this means, I agree, that our main 
cravings must find satisfaction. But that every de- 
sire of every kind must, as such, be gratified — this 
is quite a different demand, and it is surely ir- 
rational. At all events it is opposed to the results 
of our preceding discussions. The destiny of the 
finite, we saw everywhere, is to reach consumma- 
tion, but never wholly as such, never quite in its 
own way. And as to this desire for a future life, 
what is there in it so sacred ? How can its attain- 
ment be implied in the very principles of our 
nature ? Nay, is there in it, taken by itself, any- 
thing moral in the least or religious at all ? I desire 
to have no pain, but always pleasure, and to con- 
tinue so indefinitely. But the literal fulfilment of 
my wish is incompatible with my place in the uni- 
verse. It is irreconcileable with my own nature, 
and I have to be content therefore with that mea- 
sure of satisfaction which my nature permits. And 
am I, on this account, to proclaim philosophy insol- 
vent, because it will not listen to demands really 
based on nothing ? 

But the demand for future life, I shall be told, is 
a genuine postulate, and its satisfaction is implicated 
in the very essence of our nature. Now, if this 
means that our religion and our morality will not 
work without it — so much the worse, I reply, for 
our morality and our religion. The remedy lies in 
the correction of our mistaken and immoral notions 

The unbroken continuity of the phenomena is fatal to Spiritual- 
ism. The more that abnormal human perception and action is 
verified, the more hopeless it becomes to get to non-human 
beings. The more fully the monstrous results of modern seances 
are accepted, the m