All philosophy centres round Man. It purports to be the answer to the questions he alone can put. Its business is to interpret him and appoint him his place in the universe. And there are only two possible ultimate philosophies. That which brings man and all things under what is called the scientific conception—a one of causal process, mechanistic, irresistible, fateful; nor does it matter one straw whether the “stuff” of the whole is matter-stuff or mind-stuff, or whether its process be set forth in materialistic, mathematical, or dialectic terms. Pantheism and Pan-Hylism are, if strictly understood, ultimately the same. Idealism propounded under the scientific conception (e.g. Spinozism) is at root mechanism. The alternative philosophy is the philosophy of freedom, the philosophy of spirit. In this alone can the ideal, the ethical, the spiritual—nay, even God Himself, as other than an unconscious process, find a place; and in this alone is there satisfaction for the common consciousness and the sore needs of mankind.
(a) TRANSITION FROM ATTUITION TO KNOWLEDGE FROM THE REAL TO THE ACTUAL.
We have got the Real in so far as Feeling and Sense in its highest form can give it, and we have now to complete it for ourselves through the activity of pure Thought (the Dialectic).
The interpretation of Experience means, as we have seen, the interpretation of object as unfolding itself in subject. But Man has two experiences—the attuitional experience in which object is given to him as a synopsis, more or less clear, charged with Being; and the higher rational or dialectic experience in which the same object is affirmed not merely as a beënt thing of sense, but as holding all the implicates whereby it is finally known. This latter experience depends on the emergence of the Dialectic in the subject; by which name we mean Reason in its widest comprehension. So endowed, man grips the object, and, in gripping, reveals its essential characters, giving to the whole that coherence for knowledge which it already has as object in the Absolute.
There are planes of subjective mind—moments in the comprehension of experience; and, up to the stage of attuition inclusive, there is no “thought” in any strict sense of that word, and consequently no “knowledge”. The consciousness of Being and of the diverse shapes and motions of the external in space and time relations, more or less inexact, and the psychic interplay of these, suffice for the adaptation of each creature to its environment according to its degree in the scale of Being; and they constitute the whole mental record. All is reflected into and reflexed out of the entitative sentient potency, which is itself in and of the whole, and in continuity, phenomenal and ontological, with it. This entitative feeling-potency does not contain the “modes” of sense, save in the meaning that the object “becomes” for it as the object is in and for itself, in so far as mere sentience admits of the in itselfness (which is the for-itselfness) of the object being revealed. The object thus becomes the content or real of the subject; which subject again is not the object (any more than a tree is a stone), and yet is the object as regards its filling or content. Through and by means of identification with the object, subject grows to the fulness of its feeling-subjectivity, viz. Attuition.
We pass now from the Immediate in Attuition to Knowing—from the empirical subject to the transcendental synthesising Activity—from consciousness to self-consciousness in which Ego is involved. This transcendental activity is the Formal in experience. But it makes its appearance for the Real and as immanent in the Real, without which it would be only an abstract, and wholly in the air. I say it is immanent in the Real—a factual element in every object, without which the Real would be chaos. Just as a sentient experience is a continuing of the realitas-phenomenon into a subject capable of receiving it, and to the extent to which it is capable; so the dialectic or formal is a mere continuing of Objective Dialectic into the same subject with a view to complete the record of a true experience in the said subject. The dialectic does not come down on the attuitional record like a Deus ex machina: it emerges out of the attuitional subject for the purpose of subsuming it and revealing the truth of its content. The new movement carries the lower movement and all its content in its bosom. Attuition and the Dialectic have the same “object”: we cannot cut the mind of man into two; mind merely evolves itself into a higher plane: that which was passivo-active is now sublated into the activo-active. The Dialectic, already in the presented synopsis, now becomes alive in Man as the in and for itself of this new creature: that is all.
Now, the primal act (speaking logically) of the new movement, which is a Will movement, is the projection and seizing of the empirical or attuitional subject as object and, in the affirmation of that, affirming a consciousness of the conscious subject. This pure act yields the flash and fact of Ego. Thereby also it constitutes the total mind a duality; but not a dualism.
In short, we now rise above that stage of conscious being in which man is a mere reflexive and recipient mind-entity—recipient and reflexive of the real of inner and outer Feeling, and ascend that Pisgah mount of mind, where man surveys his world-estate, and whence he advances to take possession of it and to bend it to his uses. Mind, at the summit of its attuitional moment, receives an ordered world as a “given”: it is a real-rational that is given; but the relations of things are merely a felt relation in Time and Space. Until reason or dialectic emerges, mind cannot “perceive” and “affirm” an ordered system. So far as the subject is concerned, things hang very loosely together in a mere synopsis of sense and imagination and association—all guaranteed as to their reality by the fact of immanent Being. Not knowledge, but only synopsis, is generated in attuition. There is, as yet, no thought and no knowledge. Reason—the subjective dialectic, now. appears and sists itself with much majesty in the High Court of Appeal, and illumines all by yielding the thought-implicates of all attuitional experience. (Note 3, p. 156.)
The “synthetic unity of apperception” by itself could not give us a caused or grounded, much less a teleological experience. It merely receives, and holds in one, various experiences—a unity which might, for that matter, be an inner discord. Unifying is the work, as will in the sequel be apparent, of the first moment only of the subjective Dialectic, viz., a synthesis which holds differences together. But the whole dialectic as a one movement goes further than this, and not only synthesises, but takes up, all experience as causal and teleological.
Whence do we get our conviction of the regularity of nature? First of all from custom and association, Hume would say, and then stops here. In so stopping, he stops, I consider, at the attuitional plane of mind. A dog will return to the lane where he has once found bones in the full expectation of finding them again. Why should he not? There is no reason why what has happened once should not happen again, nay always: it would be extraordinary if it did not. So “feels” the dog, and looks puzzled at the absence of the expected bones. A man in a similar relation to some unexpected change, asks, “What did this, and why?” So with the regularity of nature: things must always happen as they did at first, unless there be a cause or sufficient reason why not. This is on the presumption that man's way of unifying is a causal and teleological way. The teleologico-causal synthesis of experience is not merely a postulate or hypothesis: it is the very form of reason itself. Attuitional experience receives things, as already organised, in so far as a sentient subject can receive and assimilate them; but on the higher plane, it is I that think them, I that dialecticise them (as myself Dialectic); and yet, subjective dialectic is only the cosmic way whereby the dialectic of things reaches me: that is to say, through my own active dialectic. How else could it do it? And this dialectic yields the universal and necessary teleologico-causal Predicate: nay, it is itself in the totality of its movement precisely that.
Note.—By “subjective” dialectic I mean the subject as now having evolved the potency of the dialectic.
The Actual. To attuitional mind, then, all is given: by mind as will-reason all is taken. To what is given immediately in inner and outer sense we have assigned the term “Real”—Being and its modality; that is to say, Universal Being displaying itself in and through its phenomenal and dependent characters—all reflected into us, and re-flexed out of us in accordance with a cosmic law: but we have not yet got the Actual. It is the Actual, however, which, starting from the primary “actualisation” in a conscious subject, we are all the while in search of. We have frequently assumed it, because it has been impossible to avoid using the language of reason and anticipating its emergence, when speaking of the lower moments of subjective mind. The term has, however, been always employed by me (I believe) as denoting the concrete actualised resultant in a rational subject. Its distinction from the Real is now to be considered. My experience of an object as real (realitas-phenomenon) belongs to the sphere of attuition: I have now to search for the implicates of my experience of the object as it floats within the sphere of the next and highest moment of subjective mind.
In short, I am now asking what makes Knowledge, as distinct from Attuition, possible? And the answer is, Reason itself as a pure and simple one dialectic movement, evolved in and out of attuent subject as a new potency—out of Natura in which it already is: not at all descending on a confused manifold. The new movement is immanent in subject as attuent and carries the record of attuition with it. It emerges for the mere purpose of dealing with the attuent given, and revealing many things not patent to sense. Matter and Form are thus not relegated to different worlds. But in the evolution of finite mind, the Dialectic or Formal, always present, becomes a “for itself” in an individual only at a certain stage.
The moments where-through subjective mind advances to the fulness of its being are also the moments in the object wherein and whereby it advances to its completion as a thing known. They are all in the Object. Knowing and being coalesce in the highest synthesis which is the Truth. To speak of their identity is misleading; but yet they are truly an identity in difference held within a universal One of Being and Dialectic.
The Dialectic is not generated out of an abstract Ego: Ego is itself generated (as I have said)1 by the Dialectic—the new transcendental movement— Will-reason: and this dialectic, all the while, has been immanent in attuition. I have not to grope about for the Category of Substance; mind already has it in Feeling, and now mind on the higher plane perceives and affirms it: nor have I to search for a Category of Ground or of End or of Organism. This Will-Dialectic will itself be found to be a one organic movement, yet holding all the (so-called) a priori categories in its own form.
The subjective “dialectic” is no more constitutive of the form of things than subjective “sense” is of the realitas-phenomenon. The tide of universal Being and Dialectic flows into the mind of man and becomes “for him” as an individual. And he finds the truth of the Real and Actual only in so far as he is a true re-flexion of the Universal. All is in the Object: God is there revealing Himself. But the finite mind can grasp the given of sense and of reason, i.e., Reason in the matter of Sense, only in successive movements or steps.
The above is an anticipation of our argument. I will now enter into more detail, and I cannot do better than quote from a previous book.
(b) WILL AND THE RUDIMENTARY ACT OF THE SUBJECTIVE DIALECTIC, VIZ., PERCIPIENCE.2
Individuality, indeed, is as yet crushed by the weight of the external object, so to speak: the animal is little more than a machine set in motion by the outer or inner sense—a more or less clear mirror, it is true, of phenomenal nature, yet itself also a part, though a conscious part, of the system of nature. Will or Freewill are, at this stage, notions wholly inapplicable. We have reflex action and Conation, but not Will.
Note.—The manifestations of consciousness would seem to grow with the growing physical basis of life and consciousness, and to degenerate and die with it. This physical basis, be it nerve or something of which nerve itself is merely the body or vehicle, would appear to be the condition of the existence of consciousness and limits its quantity and quality. The case of ants and other insects, however, seems to show that the range and character of attuitional intelligence does not depend on the quantity, but on the quality, complexity, and adaptation of this physical basis.
We thus at once see that the essence or essential differentiation of Reason from animal consciousness is Spontaneity, Freedom, independence of all else.
Animal Conation is determined by the desire dominant for the time-being.
In animal Conation the subject is being dragged towards the satisfaction of desire in some object. It has a terminus of movement, but not an “End”. Although we have in such Conation a prediction and analogue of what is characteristic of the higher plane of mind, a willed purpose is not even implicit in it. Herein lies the distinction which makes a spiritual philosophy possible.
(c) The form of percipience is the form of the SUBJECTIVE DIALECTIC.
What is the specific way of procedure to the End?
Percipience has this datum of attuition [which I call the sensate] to deal with ready to hand, and its Form of procedure is this: (1) Kinetic movement of Will against a presentate (already in attuition as not the subject, i.e., as an object). (2) This presentate is either A, B, C, or D, etc. (3) It is not B, C, or D. (4) Therefore. (5) A is A. This conclusion as to the being and identity of A is the satisfaction of the pure empty Form of End, which is in the bosom of the conscious-subject when it evolves or functions Will; and that end is, as we see, a Percept. The object is already in antagonism with the subject, and, now, in accordance with the above process, it is at once prehended and subsumed under it, that is, it is known or perceived; and instantaneously thereafter, or rather we should say, therein affirmed.
The vocal or other sign of affirmation carries with it (as itself an externalisation of the inner of consciousness) not merely the affirmation of the being of A, and of A as equal to itself, but further the being of A as external to me: A is there, as opposed to me who am here. The original consciousness of a “somewhat” opposed to, or set over against, my consciousness at the stage of attuition, forced into relief my own separate “hereness” as a “feeling”; and now finally, in the last moment of percipience—subsumption into the one of consciousness—the subject affirms (what, however, has been already sensed in attuition) the externality and independence of the percept: for the thought-affirmation is not merely “A is A,” but “A is A” there, not here (which “here” is me).
- (1) The Kinetic initiating movement which we call pure Will. (a) Formal (empty) End lies implicit in this initiation of movement.
Modus of the Reason-Movement: Mediation or Ground.
- (2) The moment or form of the Excluded Middle.
- (3) The moment or form of Negation or Contradiction.
- (4) The moment or form of Sufficient Reason.
- (a) Implicit in this mediating process is (real) End. The mediating process is thus in its totality teleologico-causal.
- (5) Prehending, and relating the content of the issue of the preceding moments to the unity of conscious subject: subsumption.
- (6) The affirmation of the Being of the object as a determined somewhat: “A determined so and not otherwise”.
- (a) The law of Identity is in this act yielded.
- (7) The affirmation of the externality and independence of the object as not only “that,” but also “there”.
These moments constitute the fabric of Reason: they are all implicit in the prime and primal activity of mind which we call Percipience; Sense is impotent to yield them.3
Note (1).—If I sometimes speak of Will as Reason it will be understood that I use the initiatory moment of the whole for the whole. Reason is Will-potency plus the form of its process. The issue of the process relatively to the individual subject is Ego. There is no such thing as an abstract entity called Will. The correct name is Will-reason.
Note (2).—The word “thing” is inapplicable to the determination of universal Being which we call conscious entity, much more to that conscious entity when evolved into a self-conscious entity. As we shall see in the sequel, “thing” as a term can be applied only to the concrete determinate—the idea in its phenomenal garb. None the less is there an “entity” which is not one of its own fleeting series of phenomena. The idea is the “form” or “soul” of the organic body and is a reality. If not, let some prophet say, in intelligible terms, what it is. Universal Mind is determined into a definite sentient and active “somewhat”; and this individual mind contains in itself its own possibility of relations to the Universal object.
Note (3).—We are sometimes told that “thought” enters into the deliverances of mere sense as such. If so, it would seem to follow that thought as such is merely a higher form of Sense. If pure thought be the characteristic of mind, only when it evolves itself into a subjective dialectic, it cannot prior to this “mould” the record of sense. But recognising, as we do, planes of mind and continuity in all creation, we ipso facto recognise even in Feeling and still more in Sensation those beginnings which predict the pure activity of Thought. In the sensation of “blue” there is no thought, but in the perception of it there is the whole of the dialectic. The process of percipience is, however, foreshadowed in Sense; for in sensing the difference of blue from red, sentience may appear to affirm a universal, viz., Colour, and to affirm moreover differences and oppositions in Sensates. But, in truth, Sense neither discriminates, distinguishes, nor affirms: it only feels and reflexes difference forced on it by objects, and in so far as there is a universal, it is a dim, vague and merely felt universal. It is in this way and to this extent that Sense predicts and anticipates the pure activity of the dialectic. And, accordingly, it is not incorrect to say that the dialectic (or thought) is immanent in Sense in its highest mode of Attuition.
I would refer here specially to the analysis in the concluding Meditation on Death and Immortality.
Quoted from Metaphysica Nova et Vetusta, 2nd ed., p. 33.
Thus the independent being of plurals yielded on the plane of Attuition is now affirmed in the first act of the Dialectic.
Let me say here that I am not speaking of the units in attuition which constitute the matter of a simple percept, but with the resultant percept itself—a colour or total figure, etc. Of the units, we, as yet, know nothing: in so far as it is possible to know anything, it can only be by means of a subsequent and purposed analysis.
The quotation from a former treatise ends here. If any reader really cares to understand the argument of this book, he will not, I hope, resent repetitions, if they help me to a lucid exposition.