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Meditation II

THE PRIMAL ACTUALISATION (continued): Genesis of Experience—Pure Feeling and Inchoate Subject—Rudimentary Consciousness: the Internal (Intra-organic) Other (Sensation)—The External Other: Way in which the Inner becomes aware of Externality—Attuition (Synopsis).

(1) PURE FEELING AND INCHOATE SUBJECT.

WHEN I speak of a conscious individual “entity” I mean that here, as a matter of fact, we have an individual, organic, one “being” which is capable of and exhibits consciousness. And no man (I submit) can take a single step in the explanation of Mind who does not affirm this to begin with, whether he is aware of his affirmation or not. As a postulate of rational psychology and of all mental life it must be granted, whatever explanation we may afterwards give of it and of its processes in the realisation of a world in and for itself.

What, now, is the primordial state of this conscious “entity”? It is Feeling. There is in its inmost life-movements no reference, apparently, to the “outer” or “other,” though that reference is certainly implicit. It is a vague indefinite diffused state of being which is yet living. Nothing is differentiated. The potential is only beginning to function itself into activity; mind is at the point at which difference and distinction begin to arise.

It will be objected: How can there be Feeling even of the vaguest kind unless there be a differentiation— an “other”? Strictly speaking, there cannot be. And yet it requires very little observation of the inner world to see that there are infinite degrees in elementary consciousness, and that we can follow back its manifestations down to a minimum of Feeling, at which point it vanishes into mere potentiality. At this minimum point Feeling is, as regards any content, vague and unshaped; but it has an object, i.e., a “Felt”; and that object is Being. Feeling and Being-universal are not in an identity, for there is already more than a promise and prediction of duality. There can, I would say, be no primordial Feeling save as inchoate “subject,” and there can be no subject without “object” of some sort. Pure Feeling has for its object universal Unconditioned Being.

Feeling lies at the basis of all possible intelligence-life, the most rudimentary and protozoic as well as the most lofty and abstract and universal. We feel even the Ego and self-consciousness (but this is not a datum to the conscious subject as other objects are, but first, as we shall, in the sequel, see, created by the activity of the subject and thereupon delivered to Feeling). Those feelings which have a qualitative difference from one another and arise from within us subrationally are data in the ordinary sense.

My claim for primordial Feeling may be questioned; but if you will cancel one determination after another in ordinary consciousness, you will leave nothing save an entity with the potentiality of feeling and re-flexion (reaction). But an entity which has the potentiality of consciousness and reason must (in Time) begin, somewhere and at some point, to feel. I have said that feeling is in the beginning an indefinite feeling of indefinite unconditioned Being, and in this Being the embryo subject is as yet lost. Perhaps I ought to say it is identical with it and not identical: it is Becoming. The two float into each other. Out of the vast undetermined, that which we afterwards call the “subject” is becoming a determinate that can feel “the other”. No determinate other is yet presented to it. It is asleep, but dreaming so to speak. In the “becoming” from sleep to the feeling of some determinate, the subject is already, in the region of feeling—the feeling of Being: it is already anticipating its future career as an active subject-entity within the Absolute Whole.

The subject, then, let us say, is a determinate being—an “in and for itself,” whose root-character and function is Feeling. And the primordial feeling is (I hold) of universal unconditioned Being of which and in which “subject” is itself a determinate. It cannot part all at once with the Universal from which it is being detached in the interests of its own finite life: and, indeed, it never parts from it. In the highest flights of supra-rational mystic vision it never parts from it. There indeed it intuites the indeterminate or unconditioned just as, in the beginning, it feels the indeterminate or unconditioned. In the initiation of subject as Feeling, accordingly, there is the feeling of the Universal; this we wrongly call a state of “indifference,” because difference is not yet distinctly proclaimed. Subject-feeling and Being-universal are as yet almost in identity, and yet the scission is effected and a germ-subject is there. In other words, Universal Being has now moved into the possibility of its own re-flexion in, and by a finite centre-point or nucleus of itself. Universal Being merely inwardises itself as feeling of Being in an individual point. This is the genesis of subject: “Becoming” has become a definite entity.

(2) RUDIMENTARY CONSCIOUSNESS—THE INTERNAL OR INTRA-ORGANIC OTHER (SENSATION).

To pass over successive and progressive steps of growing mind which elude our obtuse perceptivity, we reach the point where there is the beginning of the “particular” in Feeling: that is to say, the point at which events within the organism are experienced as different and as one after the other. And by this we mean that they are received, and received by that in the organism which constitutes it a “being that is conscious,” or has the potency of consciousness—a conscious entity. And without presented differences subject-feeling cannot possibly rise to the next stage of Mind, which we call sentience or sentient consciousness: it is through the “other” alone as particular differences that consciousness-proper (sentience) can emerge.

From the first secret stirring of differentiation within the organism of the mind-being there is a long road to the consciousness of an “other,” which other is the “outer” and is the proclaimed negation of the conscious entity. The individual being, as a potentially conscious being, is still blind and deaf and dumb: it is in a dark prison and trying to work itself out into the light of day. The heavings and commotions and dynamic interweavings which go on in it defy our calculus. These distinctive feelings must occur even in the foetus after a certain point of development.

It may be said, doubtless, that I have been affirming a conscious entity or “being” in the animal organism—abstracting a mere phenomenon of organic life from its wrappings and conditions, biological and other. This I certainly do, and I have justified it in so far as it can be justified at this stage of our inquiry. We have before us an organised individual whose differentia, “form” or “idea” is consciousness or the potency of consciousness, which is the same thing. The differentiations, even within its own total organic system of possibilities, energies or activities, cannot evoke it by inner stimulation without becoming, however vaguely and dimly, a negating “other” for it. A bean planted in the ground springs into life by slow degrees. It is neither external forces nor the forces of the food-stuff enveloping the embryo that make the bean, but a certain inner potency in the embryo, of a kind different from all other potencies, which is here straining after life by subtle movements within itself, and finding the life it seeks by the help of forces which are not itself, but which it subsumes. So, conscious subject—the “form” of the animal genus—is pushing itself into life out of mere vague Feeling by the help of the external stimuli or environment in which it finds itself placed, and by making these its own through response to stimulus, it grows and swells into real, out of potential, existence, and from being a bare potency it becomes finally a full reality.1

We have now evidently passed from Feeling in its large generic and fundamental sense—the pure feeling of unconditioned Being, which feeling may be almost said to be and not to be—to differentiated feeling within the organism; still, however, obscure and vague. What seems to be going on here at this stage? A mere absorption of stimuli feeding or building up a dead conscious subject into which, as into a reservoir, the non-subject is poured? It would appear quite otherwise. The native functional activity of the subject, in so far as it functions consciousness or the feeling of “the other,” receives the inner organic stimuli and itself converts them into its own pabulum for the building up of what may be called the concrete body of sentient mind. That is to say it receives stimuli and in the crisis of its own reflex action is dimly aware of them—in other words, it is sentient or conscious. In this reflex (passivo-active) act of consciousness the stimuli are appropriated by, and assimilated to, the conscious subject, and are the food whereby the body of conscious mind is nourished and built up. They, so far, constitute the “real” of mind as opposed to mere potency and process.

The conscious entity has evidently now taken a long step towards sensation in the full meaning of the word: rudimentary sensation has in fact appeared. For, in so far as it has (as the result of frequent repetitions of the same movement) reflexed a particular feeling into its locus—a part of its own body, it now feels a particular disturbance. There is, now, a duality towards which Pure Feeling was the initial step.

Now, the feeling of an object by a subject-being or entity and the re-flexion of it into its cosmic locus I call rudimentary sensing or sensation. In and through this, duality, if not dualism, makes its appearance; for the germ-subject is now stimulated into the clear sensing of object, and we have sensational consciousness.

This awareness of a particular non-subject is, I say, rudimentary sensation: all stimuli are, at the point at which they enter a conscious entity, we know not what. The subject is not conscious of “sensations” or “ideas”: this would be to say that it is conscious of consciousnesses or that it sensed sensation—an absurd statement. It is of objects and objects alone that subject is conscious. It has not yet got a clear outstanding object however. For subject and object which exist in the vague beginnings of the sensing of an internal “other,” emerge into clear consciousness only with the first clear differentiation of an object in space.

The inner stimulus, in the earlier stages of conscious life, touches the subject as, or along with, a feeling of pleasure or pain. The common use of the word “feeling,” indeed, is as of that which is pleasurable or painful: in other words, that which suits the constitution and needs of the organic conscious being or does not suit it; in other words, falls into identity or contradiction with it. But both pleasure and pain are indifferent, so far as consciousness qua consciousness is concerned. The consciousness of the stimulus (the object) is one thing, the pleasurable or painful in it is another. Abstraction is thus again necessary, if we are to be careful of the denotation of our terms. Consciousness qua consciousness, awareness qua awareness, knows nothing of pleasure or pain: it is, in this respect, in a state of feeling-indifference; a movement doubtless of some sort goes on, but not such as to excite feeling as pathic. Both pleasure and pain—the one suited to the conscious organism, the other not suited to it—are equally necessary to the building up of the body of mind in the multifarious world in which it is placed, and which it has to make its own and use. For, the world—i.e., all that is not the conscious being itself—is the true life of mind as merely conscious; and not yet self-conscious. In this central point of conscious “subject,” universal experience as “object” has to focus itself, there to find its own final significance and revelation. By appropriating the real, i.e., the universal “not-itself,” the empty conscious being grows into life and reality, and this precisely to the extent to which it appropriates it. On the other hand, the object may be metaphorically said to hasten to find in consciousness or mind its own final expression. It carries its own forms with it that they may be felt, reflexed and registered, and so serve as food—substance of subject-mind.

So far, however, as pleasure or pain is concerned (the colour or tone of the stimulus), consciousness purely as such is, I have said, indifferent; and “subject” merely uses these characteristics of its consciousness to steer its own way as one among many existences in a troubled world.2

When we speak of feeling, it is important to distinguish these two kinds of feeling—feeling in its primary differentiation from all else as mere Recipience of the object as stimulus; and pathic feeling. Recipient feeling, in short, is consciousness at the crisis of the reflex-activity which constitutes the stimulus an object. This crisis of objectivity is at the same time the crisis of appropriation and assimilation or absorption by the conscious subject: absorption of what? An idea? No, an object. The conscious “being” is now, as we saw, by virtue of the object, to be regarded as conscious “subject”. Prior to this event, it was simply a specific being struggling into vague feeling, but it attains to subject through the movement out of identity of feeling into duality by means of the stimulus of the “other” or object.

It would appear then that there are apparent, in the analysis of the primal intra-organic experience, three steps or stages after a stimulus has been presented, for which we have no better words than (1) Reflex activity proceeding from a dynamic point a within an organism, directed against a negating stimulus, b; (2) The thereby effected emergence of b as object and a as subject (“this here” and “that there”); (3) Appropriation or assimilation of b as reflexed by a, i.e., the return of b as now object, into a as now subject. But these three steps or moments, though they can be distinguished in thought, are not three events that can exist separately. There can be no recipient feeling or (so-called) impression which does not involve the two succeeding steps: so the second step cannot be thought save as containing the first and third, and the third cannot be thought without the first and second implicit in it. If this is correct, then here in the primary experience of a conscious subject we have a complex before us which is a “One” constituted by three mutually necessary elements. These elements are now, therefore, as distinguishable, though not separable to be called “moments” in a one movement. The rudimentary act of consciousness, then, in the infant animal is to be so described; and that even while the stimuli have, as yet it may be, their source within its own organism. All this becomes more evident when we are clearly conscious of externality.

(3) THE EXTERNAL OTHER.

I have been trying to unveil for myself the genesis, and follow the history, of a conscious being relatively to its own inner organism; but, meanwhile, experience of an outer is being forced on it, and the fact of the outer supports, sometimes traverses, the development of sentience of the inner. The conscious being is enveloped in a concrete organism or body, and it early awakes to the awareness of other bodies outside its own.

First of all, it awakes to an indefinite diffusion or continuum of a non-subject which we call Space. Space is not given as a thing per se, but as Being spaced or extended without differentiation. Now it appears to me that this object is a thing, because it is not merely Being spread out; but Being spread out to sense—i.e., Being as phenomenon. The subject receives this and reflexes it as an indefinite extensity, and an “outer” springs into consciousness. This outer universal presentation or Object is quickly felt to break up into diverse extended and (now) qualified objects.

These feelings of Space and outer diverse presentations are felt as outer, and a question arises when we reflect on this fact. Mind cannot be aware of any stimulus except as within: how, then, does it affirm externality, space, locality? The process, so far as I can detect it, is precisely the same as that whereby the conscious subject became aware of the first vague intraorganic differentiation of an “other”. There is recipient feeling in the subject; a reflex-activity in which is found the note or character of the said feeling (a “moment” in the objectivising process); and the instantaneous return of the object, as so characterised, to the subject as now, and only now, conscious of it: that is to say, absorption or assimilation by subject of the matter of recipience. This appropriation involves a deposit which remains as a factor in the building up of mind as a substantial empirical reality. In other words, the object is not only appropriated but retained. Retention is the condition of Memory, and Memory (in an organism not as a faculty of an organism) is the condition of growth; for without this, mind would be a mere potentiality of recipience and reflex-activity, always beginning, never progressing.

But what does the reflex action of the conscious subject-entity here mean? It is no longer a placing of the content of the received stimulus in a vague and indeterminate way as somehow “not—a,” as in the case of inner rudimentary organic experiences, but the clear placing of the received stimulus outside itself in space as a positive and characterised object B and the return of the object so characterised to conscious mind to be there held; which last event is not to be distinguished from absorption and appropriation. This event is not to be called a pure “act”; it is a process, involving movement doubtless, but it is essentially passivo-active or reflexive. It is the same process which now localises, as that whereby stimuli from within the organism have been in the habit of being vaguely localised in different parts of the body.

Unless there were a reflex action placing outside what is always received and felt inside, it is manifest that there could be no spatialising or localising at all. There might be an outer world, but it could not be “sensed” as outer.

I said that, while the inner organic feelings were always pleasurable or painful more or less, yet so far as bare consciousness is concerned, they are neither pleasurable nor painful. This is more manifest when we become conscious of space and of spaced and localised things. There is, doubtless, a certain excitement when a new object comes within view; but this quality of a stimulus is not taken account of by consciousness qua consciousness. And even this “quality” soon disappears and the subject, as a consciousness, is quite indifferent to it. There is always, it is true, a certain sub-satisfaction in the healthy exercise of every life-function, but this is generic, and it is not dependent on the roundness or squareness or redness or blueness or hotness or coldness of the experience. Pleasure and pain may be involved in the thing as experienced, but they are not the experiencing.

The formerly experienced duality of subject and object is now emphasised by the felt externality of the latter and the felt internality of the former. The terms internality and externality can have no meaning until object and subject have clearly defined themselves as related oppositions or negations. Each separate presentation is a separate by negating all others, and it is “object” by virtue of negating the conscious subject.

The conscious subject may now be regarded as having transcended the indeterminateness of pure feeling, and as introduced to the whole diversity of objects which constitute Nature, or, let me rather say, sentient experience. Individual mind as Pure Feeling, whose object is unconditioned Being, evolving itself into the higher potency of sentience finds itself reflexing and appropriating Being as now conditioned and differenced. Inner sense and outer sense henceforth provide the sentient subject with all possible raw material of its specific life. This material is pressed on it from all sides and gladly accepted, not with a view to knowledge (for to this the merely conscious or sentient subject is indifferent), but merely with a view blindly to correlate what it receives with its own instinctive needs and its capacities of pleasure and pain as an organism. This correlation involves reflexive-activity in the sentient subject: as a dynamic centre, it reacts and feels its way to the satisfaction of its wants. This, I presume, is what is meant by adaptation to environment under the instinctive impulse of an organism to preserve and conserve itself. And “instinct” is reason in and for the sentient creature, but not by it: it is an impulse and act accomplished without the prior image of the act. Hence it is that acts which have become in us automatic are often called instinctive. They are rational, but not, after a certain amount of repetition, self-consciously rational.

It is only a small part of the vast and various Object—the universe of things, that each conscious existence ever appropriates. Each is determined from within, i.e., by the inner necessity of its own peculiar nature to select what suits the continuance of its life as a matter and mind organism, and turns that into itself. All else is to it a vain show. The intellection of an animal is determined, I say, by its inner needs or necessities: hay has no interest for a fish nor roast beef for a cow. The record of the inner needs of each conscious organism would yield its fundamental psychology, reveal its potentialities and forecast its experience. In all living things there is an inner straining towards something or other, apart from those movements which are the result of mechanical automatic processes. This straining (which we may call Desire) is the bare potentiality of activity, which becomes a reality of activity when the fit occasion or object presents itself. But activity, either in general or as specifically directing itself, is not, qua activity, caused or generated by occasion, although its direction at any one time may be determined by occasion. Seemingly purposeless straining has purpose implicit in it; in other words has “object” immanent in it, and finds its opportunity to live and be actual in the occasion. Hunger, thirst, and all that comes under the head of Appetite illustrate this straining towards activity which appropriates as much of the universal “other” as satisfies it.

When we call such strainings “instinctive” we mean that they are immanent in the specific being we are considering—implicit in it. They are its connate potentialities and properties. The said “being” appropriates what it needs and leaves the rest. The satisfaction of these connate instinctive or implicit impulses is associated with pleasure or pain in varying degrees. As occasion arises, we also find an implicit power of resistance, or of evasion, with a view to save the individual life (and this in plants as well as animals); and, further, sympathy which is a feeling of pleasure in other beings of a like kind and a pleasure in being an object of pleasure to them—these feelings reaching their maximum of intensity on the emergence of sexual desire and in the presence of offspring. All those feelings that involve other objects are inherent in the constitution of the “being,” only awaiting occasion to become factual. They create its “positive relations” to the world; or within The Absolute Whole.

Note that the first two moments of the process that issues in the consciousness of an object in sensation are below consciousness. Consciousness—the awareness or feeling of an object as such, is in the crisis of the final moment only—the moment of the return of the charactered object to the subject.

In this animal, or purely sentient, experience of an object, Is there judgment? It seems to me that it would be a loose use of words to say that there is. The sentient awareness of an object is not in itself judgment. There can be no judgment where there is no affirmation. Doubtless animals act as if they had “judged”; for that sparrow outside my window does not pick up a seed mistaking it for an insect or anything else. It may be said therefore to have “judged” that the seed is a seed and not anything else. But this awareness of identity and difference is not judgment—a mental affirmation yielding a proposition. To call it “judgment” is to confound the various subtle moments which go to the constituting of the final act of “Knowing”. Such sentient awareness is simply the pre-condition of judgment—it is judgment “becoming”—implicit judgment: the object in sentience is on its way to being judged by a subject which can judge. (See note at end of Meditation.)

Man as sentient, it would now appear, is not merely receptive. There is activity on the presentation of the datum; but it is a reflex activity, and further, an associating and automatic activity—associating activity, however, in this sense that experiences associate themselves with one another so as to yield a record of the external as given (passivo-active).

(4) ATTUITION (SYNOPSIS).

Feeling and Sensing alike are common to man and all sentient creatures, but in the lowest organisms it might perhaps be distinguished as sensibility, i.e., the feeling of a single quality or point, and rises gradually to the highest form of sensation which I would call Attuition. “Attuition” is a sense-synopsis of a given complex. This plane of conscious life (the attuitional) which yields the matter of all reality, the philosopher must, I submit, be prepared to dwell on long and patiently. If we, in our pride of reason—which, at the stage of attuition, has not yet emerged—“scorn the base degrees by which we do ascend,” we wilfully fling away a key which opens many doors: for, in the contrasts and similarities of the sentient or attuitional movement and the subsequent reason or dialectic movement, we find, it seems to me, the solution of many questions which arise in the criticism of knowing, and see a possible explanation of some of the contradictions of knowledge.

Anyhow, whether or not a feeling subject can feel universal unconditioned Being in which and of which it is, prior to any discrimination of determinates or particulars —this is the Real, viz., Being and all that we truly receive as the differentiations and predicates of Being, whether of inner or outer sense, whether simple or complex—stones, stars, men, things, affections, emotions, relations and acts. Thus, even in the rudimentary movements of feeling and sentience, we are driven from the phenomenal presentation to the noumenal basis of reality, from the Many into the arms of the all-embracing all-sustaining One of Being, from the finite and conditioned to the non-finite and unconditioned. Such, I hold to be the record of experience. And what can Philosophy ever be in the last resort, but an exhibition of experience in its truth; which truth, however, must comprehend the unseen implicates of that experience?

A few words more on the independence of the object: Is the object-thing of which we have been speaking truly external to me and independent? I say that as a negation of subject and as given in the mode of externality, it is independent of finite conscious subject. Apart from that in which it realises itself, viz., a conscious subject, the external is an abstraction it is said. Of course; but I submit that the said same conscious subject affirms the independence of the object—in what sense we shall see hereafter. I must take all that the object delivers to me or none. It delivers externality and its own independence in the primal actualisation, and I have analysed the process whereby this is accomplished. As Schelling said, “not because there is thought (or sentience) is there existence, but because there is existence there is thought”.

The “attuitional” subject, of which we are now speaking, naively accepts the object at its own value. It is very simple-minded: to it there are no contradictions. It receives, reflexes and recovers the object into itself and is therewith content. The infinite of space and time, infinite duration, the unreality of floating predicates, cause and freedom, have no meaning to it. Nor does the ethical contradiction of Will and achievement, of the existence of Evil, or the biological contradiction of life and death disturb the equanimity of the non-rational. It seeks no interpretation, no God. It is out of the next movement of mind—the dialectic or reason-movement—that all contradictions arise; and we should primâ facie expect that Reason is bound to provide a solution of its own self-sprung contradictions.

When I say that subject and object are separate entities constituting a synthesis which we call Consciousness, I mean that they are separate just as the plurals that fill the world of experience are separate one from the other. That is to say, they are all separate one from another, but there is a common One of Being. Each is not a self-existent, but only an existent of a specific kind functioning itself within the universal scheme of things.

If this be not so, then subject and object are only moments in the one event, viz., experience; and consequently there is neither subject nor object, but only a consciousness of a resultant of two moments or factors which, for convenience, we call subject and object. And this, again, is to say that consciousness of an object as an external is impossible, and that we are never conscious of anything save the resultant of a relation of two unknowable factors—not the object, but a tertium quid. And note this: if “subject-object” be alone the true object, then we must have another underlying subject to be conscious of this subject-object, and so on for ever. And yet, it is always subject-object that we have in presentation.

If we ask, further, Is the subject a per se and the object a per se, the answer must be No; but if we ask, Is the object-reality a per se and the subject-reality a per se, the answer is Yes, in the same sense as the expression per se (by or for itself) is to be applied to all the infinite plurals that exist. So you are not merely an object to or in my subject, but you are an “in and for itself” just as I am, although to you I am also an object. Do you doubt this? Or do you think your existence (not for me but for yourself and cosmically) is dependent on your being an object to my subject? What is true of you is true of every other “object”.

Let us say, then, that a non-sentient reality passes immediately into the sphere of a sentient reality where it completes itself as a “felt,” and constitutes, just as it exists in the cosmic Whole (and to the extent of the capacity of the subject), the real or content of the subject, building it up out of empty sentience to full reality.

To trace the secret processes whereby a sentient subject rises to meet the stimulus and reflexes it and appropriates it seems to be beyond our powers; and no less beyond us are the processes of retention and those whereby the appropriated object is subsequently cast up into consciousness as a re-presentation. Could we realise the subtle movements whereby subject-object effects itself as a consciousness, we should see a wonderful sight, and find ourselves perchance at the open door of the mysteries of Being. Stimulus, Recipience, Re—flexion and Appropriation are merely a rough summary of what takes place.

At a higher stage of mind, when the dialectic emerges in the subject-reality, the “real” of Attuition, which is only a synopsis, is built up into what we call an Actual or known. Or, if you choose to put it so, the object-reality, which has fulfilled itself as a “real” in attuition through passive activity of sentience, now further completes itself in the subject as an “actual” through the active-activity of the Dialectic. All the while the said object-reality is an object-actuality; but it can be this only for a conscious subject which has evolved the dialectic in itself. All the while too, and at all stages of mind, it is the infinite Object-actuality which is seeking the reflection of itself into a finite subject, not only in order that thereby the subject may grow to its full stature and dimensions, but that the object may grow into that full stature and dimension in and for finite mind which it already occupies in infinite Being and Mind in which and by which all things exist that do exist.

And yet, not only is the object in attuitional synopsis incomplete and inadequate to itself, as, on the advent of reason or the dialectic, quickly appears; but even for finite reason the object is inadequate to itself. For, if finite reason dialectic, when it emerges, is forced by its essential nature to contemplate all actual and possible experience as a vast organised whole which is a One containing all differences, it is manifest that there can be nothing which can adequately explain any one experience except this Whole itself. We may call it “The Absolute” if we like; but in any case, from the moment that the conception of “The Whole” as a system finds a place for itself in rational consciousness (and it must find a place there), it requires no laboured argument to demonstrate that the part cannot resolve its own contradictions and inadequacies save in and through the Whole. The proposition is manifestly an identical one, and it is mere tautology to insist on it. There is nothing which the universe of things offers to man which is down to its roots and away out to its infinite relations knowable. For myself, I am simply trying to find what Experience is—what it yields me, as I humbly follow the gradual building up of the Object in Subject; which is the whole doctrine of Knowing.

Note.—And what is judgment, when does it appear? It is a self-conscious discrimination (i.e., a discrimination possible only to a self-conscious subject) of a as not other things, but itself—its own identity. It is an activo-active not a passivo-active process, and is Percipience. In actually distinguishing and perceiving a, we affirm its identity with itself and this is the primary act of judging, viz., a = a; and involves the laws of Identity and Contradiction. Up to and inclusive of the moment of attuition or sentient awareness, there is not even the beginning of knowledge as knowledge; nor consequently of thinking. The first act of the self-conscious subject in the sphere of knowledge-proper is (as we shall see) percipience, and the result is the raising of the “sensate” into a “percept”. In the presentations to sense there is, of course, thought—thought objective and universal, just as in the working of the consciousness of the attuitional subject there is thought-universal. But there is nothing in the conscious subject as sensing which we can call knowledge or thought, without landing ourselves in inextricable and wilful confusion.

We have been in these words forecasting “knowledge”: let us return to Sentience in its highest form of Attuition.

  • 1.

    In what sense the sentient entity is not a tabula rasa will appear hereafter.

  • 2.

    If at any time I should fall into language which seems to indicate that a sentient subject receives “impressions” like soft clay, or mirrors impressions as if it were a looking-glass, this will be due merely to the exigencies of expression.