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Lecture 2: Realism and Mysticism in the History of Thought

IN our opening lecture the general plan of these discussions was sketched. Of this former lecture we now need recall but a single feature. We are to found our view of the Philosophy of Religion upon a treatment of the most fundamental problems of the Theory of Being. Without a further apology for our plan, and without further preliminary statement of its prospects and methods, we now proceed directly to our task itself.


We express in language, by means of verbs, adjectives, and equivalent expressions, what, as to their qualities, things are, what they do, and in what relation they stand. But in addition to such expressions, by which we qualify, describe, compare, and distinguish the various objects that we observe and think about, we have certain other expressions by means of which we assert that given objects are, or are real, rather than are not, or are unreal. Now, in technical phrase, we shall hereafter call the expressions of the latter type the ontological vocabulary of our language. Hard as it is to grasp or to render articulate the conception of Being, the vocabulary used, at least in the language of the Indo-European family, for the purpose of asserting that a thing is, is so rich, so living, so flexible a vocabulary, as to remind us at every turn how familiar in the concrete is the idea of Real Being even to the most unlearned mind. Let us forthwith exemplify. It is for common sense one thing to have, as they say, an idea “in your head,” and quite another thing to believe steadfastly that this idea corresponds to a “real outer fact.” It is one thing to read a “rumor” in a current newspaper. It is quite another thing to be sure that, in truth, as they say, the rumor is “so.” Now, in all these cases, the contrast between any plan and its actual fulfilment, between the so-called “mere idea” and the same conceived object when believed in as a “real outer fact,” between the newspaper “rumor” and the same story if viewed as that which is “so,”—this contrast, I say, is precisely the contrast between what is not and what is. The contrast in question, as I insist, is thus extremely familiar, and of the utmost practical importance. You may observe of course at once that this contrast is closely related to the one made at the last time between the internal meaning of ideas, plans, and the like, and their external meaning, or their relation to that which fulfils or realizes them. In the grasping of just this contrast, and upon fidelity to this distinction, the whole of the everyday virtue of truthfulness appears, in the world of common sense, to depend. The liar is a man who deliberately misplaces his ontological predicates. He says the thing that is not. His internal meaning is one affair; his external expression of his meaning is another, and contradicts the internal meaning. Upon a similarly clear sense of this same contrast, the life of all our external volition seems to depend. A plan involves an idea of what some possible object may sometime be. The execution of the plan, the voluntary act of one charged with the fulfilment of the idea, involves a process whereby one can come truthfully to say: “The fact is accomplished: the plan is no longer a mere plan: that which was the object of the plan once was not, but now it is. The ’mere idea“ has turned into reality.”

All these are familiar distinctions of common sense. Our language is thus indeed full of expressions founded upon the contrast between what is and what is not. Our task is to make a beginning at grasping the precise sense of this contrast. And here you may already permit me a brief excursion into the realm of more technical language.

For the next remark which our study of even our popular vocabulary here suggests has already been implied in the foregoing words. Whatever the contrast between being and non-being ultimately involves, we all observe that we express the existence or reality of an object by saying that it is, while when we tell merely what a given object is, we do not, in so far, appear to throw any light upon the truth of the assertion that the object in question is real. Thus I can tell you what a fairy is; but in so far I do not yet tell you whether a fairy is in any given sense real or unreal. Now the distinction thus expressed is very naturally stated, in a familiar technical phrase, by calling it, as many metaphysicians do, the difference between the that and the what, or between the existence and the essence of a fairy. In this phraseology of the philosophers, the that refers to the assertion of the onto-logical predicate itself. The what, also sometimes called the essence, refers to the ideal description of the object of which we may later assert, or learn, whether it is or is not. Kant, who much insisted upon this abstraction of the what from the that, maintained the view that the predicate is, or is real, or exists, never, properly, makes any difference to the what of the object in question, or adds anything to the essence of this object. For a fairy, once fully conceived as a possible live creature, would change in no whit the what, the characterizing predicates which now belong to fairies, if such a fairy came, by a creative act, or by an evolutionary process, into real existence. Just so too, the what, to use Aristotle's favorite example, is common to the planned house, and to the real house later built in conformity to the plan. The that of the house is what the builder's work effects.

I give this most elementary of the metaphysical abstractions its place here at the outset of our discussions merely to remark, at once, first that, as said, the contrast in question corresponds to the contrast between the internal and external meaning of ideas, and then that we are not bound to suppose this abstraction final. As a fact, my own view of Being will in the end turn upon supplementing and transforming the abstraction, which is itself a mere stage on the way to insight. But for the first we borrow its phraseology from language, as the philosophers since Aristotle have done, and we make its true meaning our problem. The ontological predicate thus appears to us as, in Kant's phrase, no true predicate at all, since the ontological predicate shall make no difference whatever to the conceivable characters of the object to which it is applied. And, to add Kant's own famous example, a hundred real dollars, according to Kant, differ in no nameable essential or logical characters from a hundred ideal or possible dollars. It is my actual wealth that differs according as I do or do not own the real dollars. Yet, on the other hand, this so abstract ontological predicate, otherwise viewed, does indeed also appear as if it were the most momentous of all predicates, since precisely the is and the is not somehow are to express all the difference between the true story and the false rumor, between the sound witness and the liar, between waking life and dream, between history and myth,—yes, between the whole world and nothing at all.1

This fragmentary technical digression as to our terms thus ended, we return for a moment to popular speech.

Language, as commonly used, does not leave us altogether to the mercy of the perplexing separation of the ontological predicate from all the other, from what Kant called the true predicates of objects. The abstraction of the what and the that grew up slowly in men's minds: it is seldom even now consciously completed in the minds of any but technical thinkers. As a fact, very many words and phrases which have an obvious reference to the what have gradually come to be used, in the popular ontological vocabulary, as means of indicating that an object is real. Of these many popular ways of expressing reality, three classes, just here, especially interest us, because they are preliminary hints, so to speak, of our various more technical conceptions of Being.

And first, then, in various tongues, we find used for declaring the reality of objects certain, forms of speech whose notable feature lies in their telling us that their object is to be seen, or is at hand, or can be found, or is marked, or is plain, or stands out, or is there, or, as the Germans also say, is vorhanden; while the unreal has no standing, or is not at hand, or is not to be found, or is not there. These expressions bring the real being of an object into close relations with the sharpness, nearness, clearness, or mere presence, of our experience of this object. They accordingly often imply that the object seems more or less accidental. It haps, it chances,—these are phrases thus frequently employed as the means of telling that an object is. “You may think that there is no hereafter, but there happens to be one,”—so a preacher may say to a scoffer. The common feature of these popular expressions is that they lay stress upon what the philosophers call the immediacy of real facts, as the most marked sign of their reality. For the immediate, such as light or sound or pain, just happens to be found, or is given as a fact.

A second class of expressions, however, in very strong contrast to the first class, declares that an object is real, not by virtue of its mere presence or obviousness, but in so far as it is deeper than what is visible, or in so far as it has foundation, solidity, permanence, interior constitution, profundity of meaning. Much of the language here in question takes the form of metaphors. What merely seems is a rind or husk; what is real is the core or kernel of things. “These but seem,” says Hamlet, “for these are tokens that a man might feign, but I have that within which passeth show.” Other metaphors, in ancient tongues of our Indo-European family, indentify to be with to breathe or to dwell. The real also in general lives; for it is internally self-sustaining, as, to a more primitive mind, natural life may seem to be. And breathing is a well-known token of life. So to breathe is to be. The unreal again is like a wanderer or a stranger. But the real abides in its own house. So to be real is to dwell. Or again the real is the result of principles, it is what has grown. It is the outcome and goal of processes. It is both necessary and abiding. All such notions are easy to illustrate by the ontological phraseology of various tongues.

A third type of popular expressions gives us still another view of what it is to be. According to this portion, as it were, of the mere folk-lore of being, to be real means above all to be genuine or to be true. One sees this meaning, by contrast, in the very many popular names for objects whose unreality and illusoriness has once been detected. Such an unreal object may be called, if it is better than the objects believed to be real, an Ideal; but most of the numerous appellatives for the unreal objects are terms of reproach: such an unreality is an appearance, a delusion, a sham, a myth, a fraud, a phantasm, an imitation, a lie. By contrast the real is what you can depend upon. It is genuine no mere imitation. It is true.


And thus we have indicated, although by no means exhausted, the scope of the ontological speech of the people. To be immediate, or, on the other hand, to be well founded in what is not immediate, and, thirdly, to be genuine and true,—these seem to be the three principal conceptions of what it is to be real in the popular ontology. Technical metaphysic, like all other learned enterprises, has its foundations in just such linguistic folk-lore, so to speak, as the foregoing; and one easily misapprehends the philosophers if one fails to observe whence they got their vocabulary. As Teichmüller, in the introduction to his own essay on metaphysics well says, the Aristotelian theory of Being is founded in part upon a series of grammatical and lexicographical comments upon the forms of speech used in Greek language. All the more philosophical conceptions of being are due, in part, to an attempt to take note of the same aspects of human experience which the three classes of popular ontological predicates have from an early stage recognized. And, as a fact, the ontological concepts are limited in their range of variation by a situation in which we all find ourselves, and of which the foregoing variations of the popular vocabulary have already reminded us. It is necessary, as we pass to the more technical realm, to sketch, in outline, what this familiar situation is. For the problem about Being is, like all other human problems, first of all a problem of experience, and of distinctly practical needs.

We all of us, from moment to moment, have experience. This experience comes to us, in part, as brute fact: light and shade, sound and silence, pain and grief and joy,—all these, in part, i.e. in one of their universal aspects, are just data of sense, of emotion, of inner life in general. These given facts flow by; and, were they all, our world would be too much of a blind problem for us even to be puzzled by its meaningless presence. Now, in so far, we have what is called merely immediate experience, that is, experience just present, apart from definition, articulation, and in general from any insight into its relationships. But that is not all. In addition, we all, when awake and thoughtful, find present what one might call more or less richly idealized experience, experience that, in addition to its mere presence, possesses Meaning. On this side of our lives we are aware of the series of mental processes called Ideas. These ideas have the character of presenting, in a more or less incomplete but never perfect way, what, at the last time, we called the fulfilment of purpose, the embodied inner meaning present to us at any instant. In so far as these ideas fill our moments, the life within is thus lighted up with meaning. But now, in any one of these our flying present moments, such meaning is never fully possessed. Whatever our business or our doctrine, we all endlessly war against the essential narrowness of our conscious field. We live looking for the whole of our meaning. And this looking constitutes the process called thinking.

In general, this process is involved in a curious conflict with these brute facts which constitute the mere immediacy aforesaid. These facts themselves, in so far as they remain merely immediate, are an obstacle to the idealizing process. We say that they confuse or puzzle us. On the other hand, these very facts, on occasion, may arise in consciousness only to fuse at once or very quickly with our ideas. This is, for instance, the case whenever we accomplish a voluntary act, and at the same time approvingly perceive, through our senses, the outer results of our act. It is also the case wherever we look for an expected object, and looking find the object. In such instances the realm of the ideal appears to us constantly to extend. We then say either that we control facts by our will, or else that we confirm our intellectual expectations as we go. Or again, we may succeed in recognizing and interpreting the immediate data in terms of our ideas. In such cases we feel at home in our world. But when the data, as so often happens, remain obdurate, decline to be recognized, disappoint expectations, or refuse our voluntary control, then, whatever our theory of the universe, and whatever our practical business may be, we have on our hands some instance of the endless finite conflict of mere experience and mere idea. These two aspects of our lives, the immediate aspect and the ideal aspect, then show themselves in sharp contrast. Ideal meditation and brute immediacy stand in opposition to each other. We then know our finitude, and we are inwardly disquieted thereby. Such disquietude is our almost normal experience as finite wanderers. The situation may be one of private toil or of public controversy, of practical struggle or of theoretical uncertainty; but in any such case, amid the endless variety of our lives, the conflict retains essentially and profoundly similar features,—purpose at war with fortune, idea with datum, meaning with chaos,—such is the life of our narrow flickering moments, and in so far as we are indeed finite, in so far as our will wins not yet its whole battle, our intellect grasps not the truth that it seeks.

Practically, this conflict has other names; but viewing it theoretically, namely, with reference to the contents and relationships involved, we call this conflict the effort of Thought to comprehend Being. By Thought we here mean the sum total of the ideas, this whole life of inner meanings, in so far as it is precisely the effort to comprehend and interpret the data, the brute facts of immediacy, in terms of the ideas themselves—the effort to win over facts to ideas, or to adjust ideas to facts. Were the facts wholly interpreted, they would fuse with the ideas; and the conflict of Thought and Being would cease. But now,—Thought it is which attempts to recognize the given facts. Thought it is which goes on when, our present ideas failing to light up sufficiently the chaos of immediacy, we look for other ideas, in terms of which to interpret our problems. Thought it is which we may regard as possessing the countless ideal weapons, the storehouse of what we call memories of our past, the arsenal of what we call general principles for the interpretation of fact, the vast collection of traditional ideas with which our whole education has supplied us. Thought possesses,—nay, thought rather is, this whole collection of ideas taken as in contrast with facts. The ideas are our resources in the warfare with immediacy, just as from moment to moment they come to mind.

So much then, at this stage, for Thought. But what do we mean by Being? The effort to give answer to this question brings to light several possible alternatives. These we are even now trying to define more exactly. Yet all the alternatives involve a common character. Being, in this warfare, that which is real, as opposed and contrasted to that which just now is merely suggested to us by our momentary ideas as they fly, and which is not yet confirmed by facts,—Being, I say, always appears in the conflict and in the incompleteness of our human thinking, as that which we first regard as real in advance of more special definition, in so far as we call it Other than our merely transient and finite thinking of the moment. Our situation, as finite thinkers, is, as we just said, disquieting. We want some other situation in place of this one. Our ideas, while partial embodiments of meaning, are never complete embodiments. We are never quite at home with our world. The Other, then, which we seek, would involve, if completely found, a situation where thought and fact were no longer at war, as now they are, and where thought had finished its ideal task as now it is not finished. To define in advance this situation, we must then form some more or less precise notion as to the question: Wherein lies the defect of our present thoughts, both in themselves, and in their relation to facts?

It follows that, in defining this defect of our present situation, in predicting the character of the Other that we seek, of the needed supplement, whose presence, once observed, would end the now insistent conflict,—in thus defining and predicting, I say, we are limited, as to our choice of alternatives, by the exigencies of the finite conscious situation herewith summed up. We can define the Other, the true Being, as that which, if present to us in this moment, would end our conflict. In so far it seems something desirable and desired,—an object of longing. On the other hand, we may, and often do, regard Being as that in terms of which our ideas are to be controlled, set right, or, if necessary, wholly set aside as useless. In so far Being appears as a sort of fate, or perhaps as a supreme authority, which judges our ideas and which may thwart them. On this side, what is, is often the undesired, and may seem the hopelessly evil. Meanwhile, there remain many ways in which we can define Being either more in terms of Immediacy or else more in terms of Ideas. But Fact and Idea, Immediacy and Thought, these are the factors whose contrast and whose conflict must determine what notion we can form of what it is to be. Some conceived union of elements furnished by these two factors that enter into our finite conflict constitutes, for any theory, the notion of reality.

And now at last we are ready, having summarized the vaguer popular views, and having seen what situation determines the whole effort to define Being,—we are ready, I say, to pass directly to the alternative conceptions of what it is to be real which have appeared in the course of the history of philosophy.

I say, these fundamental conceptions, as they gradually become differentiated in the course of the history of thought, are four in number. In this lecture I shall at some length define two of them. The others I shall not expound until later lectures, after a critical study of the first two has prepared the way.

But first let me name all the four. The mere list will not be very enlightening, but it will serve to furnish titles for our immediately subsequent inquiries. The first conception I shall call the technically Realistic definition of what it is to be. The second I shall call the Mystical conception. The third I cannot so easily name. I shall sometimes call it the typical view of modern Critical Rationalism. Just now I prefer to name it by its formulation, the conception of the real as the Truth, or, in the present day, usually, as the Empirically verifiable Truth. The fourth I shall call the Synthetic, or the constructively Idealistic conception of what it is to be. For the first conception, that is real which is simply Independent of the mere ideas that relate or that may relate to it. For this view, what is, is not only external to our ideas of it, but absolutely and independently decides as to the validity of such ideas. It controls or determines the worth of ideas, and that wholly apart from their or our desire or will. What we “merely think” makes “no difference” to fact. For the second conception, that is real which is absolutely and finally Immediate, so that when it is found, i.e. felt, it altogether ends any effort at ideal definition, and in this sense satisfies ideas as well as constitutes the fact. For this view, therefore, Being is the longed-for goal of our desire. For the third conception, that is real which is purely and simply Valid or True. Above all, according to the modern form of this view, that is real which Experience, in verifying our ideas, shows to be valid about these ideas. Or the real is the valid “Possibility of Experience.” But for the fourth conception, that is real which finally presents in a completed experience the whole meaning of a System of Ideas.

I proceed at once to a statement of the first two conceptions. These two are the polar opposite each of the other. Their warfare is very ancient. The history of Theology has been, above all, determined by their conflict.


The first of the four is the best known of all. According to this conception, I repeat, to be real means to be independent of an idea or experience through which the real being is, from without, felt, or thought, or known. And this, I say, is the view best known as metaphysical Realism, the view which, recognizing independent beings as real, lays explicit stress upon their independence as the very essence of their reality.

To comprehend what this conception of Reality implies, I must first point out that, of all our four views, this first one most sharply and abstractly undertakes to distinguish the what from the that, in case of every real object, and to hold the two aspects asunder. What objects are in this sense real, the realistic definition does not undertake in the least to predetermine. But by virtue of the definition, you are to know, as far as that is knowable at all, wherein consists the determining feature that distinguishes real from unreal objects. Unreal objects, centaurs, or other fictions, ideals, delusions, may be what they please. Real objects may in their turn possess any what that experience or demonstration proves to belong to them. But the difference between real and unreal objects is an unique difference, and is not properly to be called a difference as to the what of the real and unreal objects themselves. This difference, relating wholly to the that, is a difference expressible by saying that fictitious objects are dependent wholly upon ideas, the hopes, dreams, and fancies, which conceive them; while realobjects are wholly independent of any ideas which may have them as objects, just in so far as these ideas are different from their objects.

To countless and to endlessly various objects this first form of the ontological predicate has accordingly been applied by the thinkers who have used it. Both matter and mind have equally been called real in this first sense. Realism has, of course, no necessary tendency towards Materialism, although the materialists are realists. Since all here turns upon the ontological predicate, and not upon the what of the subject to which a given realistic philosopher applies this ontological predicate, you never know in advance but that a realist's world may prove to be full of minds. By way of illustration of the varieties of Realism, I may refer at once to typical entities of realistic type which have appeared in the course of the history of philosophy. The Eleatic One, and the Many of Empedocles or of Democritus; the Platonic Ideas, in the form in which Plato defines them in his most typical accounts of their supreme and absolute dignity as real beings; and the Aristotelian individual beings of all grades, from God to matter; the Stoic Nature and the Epicurean atoms; the whole world of created entities in the Scholastic theology, whenever viewed apart from its dependence upon God; the Substance of Spinoza; the Monads of Leibniz; the Things in Themselves of Kant; the Reals of Herbart; The Mind Stuff of Clifford; the Unknowable of Mr. Spencer; and even the moral agents of most modern ethical systems of metaphysics:—all these endlessly varied types of conceived objects, differing in value and in description almost without limit, have been declared real in what their authors have more or less clearly identified with this our first sense of the word real. All these thinkers were in so far realists.

Plainly, therefore, this idea of what it is to be real is not identical with any of the foregoing simpler and popular definitions of reality. The atoms, as we have now learned to define them, are invisible; the Eleatic One is only to be known by thinking; the Platonic Ideas are above all, incorporeal. On the other hand, a portion (although by no means all) of the ordinary realistic metaphysics which one meets with, in many text-books of special science, deals with visible and tangible objects. The Monads of Leibniz are Souls. Kant's Things in Themselves and Herbart's Reals, are as unknowable as the Power of which Mr. Spencer tells us. Yet to all these different sorts of objects, our first form of the ontological predicate has been applied by thinkers who have had it more or less clearly in mind. Hence neither visibility, nor any other of the forms in which the popular metaphysic conceives immediacy, is adequate to express the present conception. Yet it is true that real Being implies, for this our first notion, that what is real is in a certain sense given, and is so far a brute fact. Much nearer to the present notion is that second popular view, according to which to be real means to be the deeper basis, that furnishes the ground for what is given, or that is somehow beneath the surface of immediate presentation. In some measure, moreover, our present form of technical doctrine is a development out of the third of the foregoing popular conceptions, according to which whatever is real thereby renders ideas about itself either true or false. In brief, then, the present ontological definition is a Synthesis of the three popular conceptions, with stress laid upon the second, that is, upon the idea that the real, as such, is behind or beyond the merely immediate facts of our experience.

As to its relation to that warfare of thought and immediacy in our passing finite moments of consciousness, to that disquieting conflict of which I before spoke,—our present form of the ontological predicate defines the Other precisely as a realm wholly other than the inner states whereby we know it. What is, is thus independent of our inner conflict, just because this realm of true Being is wholly sundered from the defects of our imperfect apprehension. The Real is that which you would know if you should wholly escape from the limits imposed upon you by the merely inner life of your consciousness. As monks forsake the world to win an abstract peace, so Realism bids you forsake what depends upon your mere finite inner apprehension, if you want to get at the independent truth. As to the way of escape, as to how to forsake the inner conflict, and to find the independent reality,—that, indeed, is another matter. We are here concerned only with the realistic definition of the Real, not with the realistic Theory of Knowledge. A realist may or may not believe that he can thus escape. What interests us here is that he believes that he ought to escape if he is ever to know the final truth.

But I must still explain a little the sort of independence to which the realistic view refers. You have an idea or an experience,—say a perception. You declare that this experience or idea is cognitive, and that hereby you know something real. Now the first of our four conceptions of what it is to be real, essentially declares that if you thus know a real object, and if thereupon your knowledge vanishes from the world, that vanishing of your knowledge makes no difference, except by accident, or indirectly, to the real object that you know. For example, you look at a real mountain. You see it. That is a case of knowing something real. Now look away. Your seeing ceases; but the mountain, according to this view, remains just as real, and real in the very sense in which it before was real. This, I say, is what any genuinely realistic view presupposes. Now our first conception of reality asserts that just this independence of your knowing processes, and of all such knowing processes, as is your seeing, i.e. of all actual or possible external knowing processes whatever, is not only a universal character of real objects, but also constitutes the very definition of the reality of the known object itself, so that to be, is to be such that an external knower's knowledge, whether it occurs or does not occur, can make no difference, as mere knowledge, to the inner reality of the known object.

A real object, in this view, may then be a known or an unknown object, or it may be sometimes known, and sometimes unknown, or, above all, it may be known now by one person and again by another, the two knowing it simultaneously or separately. All that makes no sort of difference to the object, if, in this first sense, it is real. To use this supposed independence as a means of defining reality, is the essence of our first conception of being.

Let us look back for an instant at our three popular ontological predicates, and see for ourselves afresh how they are related to this new predicate. And first, Is the real, in this new sense, a given or immediate fact? The realistic philosopher answers that in a sense it is given, although he often answers that the way in which it is given may go far beyond anything that can be merely felt. The real, he says, is in one sense given, or immediate, just because no knowing process, in us who know the object, creates, affects, or otherwise mediates the known real object. There it is, the real. You may “struggle as you like.” It is a datum. In this sense of being mediated by nobody's knowing, the Platonic Ideas were given as real, although they could not be felt. Hence, they are so far as much realistic beings as were Herbart's Reals. Yet Realism often makes little of this given character of being, although some forms of realism dwell more upon it, especially when in controversy with sceptics and mystics. But secondly, Is the real, in our present sense, also deeper than what is merely immediate? Yes, in a sense it is, if you mean by the given, merely the felt, or the observed, facts of sense, or of other experience. The real, as the independent, is as careless of your immediate feelings as it is of the mediation of your thinking processes. It is beyond what you see, feel, touch. For seeing, feeling, touch, vanish; but reality remains when unseen, unfelt, untouched by any external observer. Now realists usually lay great stress upon the substantiality of the real, and the classic doctrine of substance was developed upon the basis of this notion of the independently real. And thirdly, Does the real make ideas true or false? Yes, answers the realist, because ideas, in trying to be true, in trying to shun falsity, seek to express what is independent of themselves, in other words seek to escape from the bondage of their own processes.

So, then, Realism is, as we said, a synthesis of the three popular ontological predicates, although, as history shows, with a preference for the second predicate. Realism is fond of substances, of “inner” or of “deeper” fundamental facts, and of inaccessible universes. Yet sometimes it loves an ostentatious, although never a very thoroughgoing empiricism. As to many other matters, however, Realism, as an ontological doctrine about what it is to be, is neutral. Almost any content you please might belong, as we have already said, to an object real in this first sense. Real in this sense might be, for instance, even a state of feeling, or even the very act of knowledge itself, if only one asserted that this state of feeling, or this act of knowledge, could be anyhow externally known, as an object, by another knowing process. For even an act of knowing would then be independent of the external knowing that knew this act. In this sense, most psychologists prefer, in their usual discussions, realistic views as to the Being of mental processes. These processes are then viewed as knowable, but are also viewed as independent of the knowledge that is supposed to be able to know them, so that it makes no direct difference to them whether they are known from without or not. Hence the objects of realistic ontology are objects not necessarily outside of any knowledge whatever, but only independent of any knowing that is external to themselves. A world of conscious monads might be, in this sense, independently real. Nevertheless, any realistic world must contain some objects that are outside of any knowing process whatever, since the relations between the various knowing processes and their objects, even in a world of conscious minds, would have to be external relations, in order to save the realistic type of independence. Hence no realistic world can be through and through a conscious world. It must have some aspects lying outside of any possible knowledge.

As to the relation which Realism assumes between knowledge and its real object, this is a curious relation,—a relation whose obviously practical import at once tends to throw light on the meaning of the whole situation. It is a relation that shall make “no difference” whatever to one of the related terms, namely, to the real object, which is totally indifferent to being known or not known; although this same relation, while inevitably leaving the other term of the relation, namely, the knowing consciousness, itself a fact independently existing, makes all the difference possible to the value of this other term, namely, to the truth or accuracy of the knowing consciousness, since a knowledge without a real object, independent of it, is supposed by the hypothesis to be utterly vain. The real object, in its independence, is not even related to the truth or value of the poor knowing process, as is the sedate big dog to the little dog when the latter barks. For the big dog at least presumably hears the barking. The realistic relation of the knowing being to its object is more like the relation of a horse to a hitching post, only that even here the horse can strain at the post when he pulls, while realistic knowing is absolutely naught to its object. By doctrines about the Will, to be sure, the more ethical amongst the realists generally try to correct the externality of the relation between knower and object. Knowledge, they say, moves will, or sets it moving itself, and hereupon will often alters independent object. But these volitional relations are another story, although, as I may add, they are fatal to the consistency of the realistic conception.


And now for some hint of the historical fortunes of Realism. I have pointed out how wide-spread is this realistic conception of Being in the history of philosophy. I may now add that I think that this conception has never been held wholly alone, and apart from other conceptions of reality, by any first-rate thinker. The general rule is that any great system of philosophy has some objects in it which are earnestly insisted upon as real, but which are yet obviously, even explicitly, not real in the realistic sense, or which have a reality only in part definable in a realistic sense. Thus Aristotle's God, as viewed from the side of the world, looks at first like another real object, whose reality is wholly of the independent type. Yet if you examine closer the self-centred purity of Being that Aristotle's lonely God possesses, you find that, although in regard to formal truth omniscient, and thus fully knowing what reality is, the God of Aristotle cannot regard his own reality as of any independent type. For if he did so regard himself, he would then have to observe that his reality is independent of our knowledge of him; and in that case he would be taking account of us, and would view our world as another than himself. But such views, according to Aristotle, would be unworthy of God. So God, who is formally omniscient, still knows of no reality that is independent of the knowledge which refers to this reality. For God, as Aristotle says, knows only himself. Just so Plato's Ideas, although for us now independent realities, were once, in our previous state of being, according to a half true myth, immediately and fully known by a direct intuition. And this character of the ideal world, if consistently developed at the expense of the other characters, transforms the reality of the Ideas of Plato into the form which the doctrine later assumed in Plotinus; but that is in part a mystical form. Nor are there lacking other tendencies, in Plato, to ascribe to the Ideas a Being that is not of the realistic type. Kant was a realist; but he invented, in the world of Mögliche Erfahrung, a new realm of objects which he regards as real, and yet as not at all possessed of the independent type of reality. Spinoza's Substance is not only an independent reality, but is also a mystical Absolute. Notoriously, it keeps two sets of accounts, or even an infinite number. And hence it is like a defaulting cashier. You never quite know with what sort of realityyou are dealing when you consult its books. Herbart'a world has in it, in addition to its independent Reals, “ Zufällige Ansichten” and forms of “Zusammen” without number. These are for our knowledge “wirklich” but they have no realistic, that is, for Herbart, no ultimate, no simply independent being. I regard this series of episodes in the history of Realism as profoundly instructive. Any realistic world, if well thought out, contains objects that either are not real in the realist's sense, or else are real, not only in that sense, but also in quite another sense. This is what a student easily overlooks. But it is a fact extremely ominous for Realism.

As to the historical and practical significance of realistic metaphysics in the history of life and of religion, one must say at once that, like all human conceptions, these various fundamental metaphysical conceptions also are, in one aspect, distinctly active and practical attitudes towards that Other which finite thought seeks. For Realism, the true meaning of our ideas is to be wholly external. Yet the internal meaning of the ideas stubbornly remains. The realist actually believes his doctrine because he finds it simple, or rational, or otherwise contenting to his inner interests. We never think without also acting, or tending to act. When we think we will. We have then internal meanings. So far as we have ideas really present to us, they embody purposes. Accordingly we shall find that all of our four various definitions of the ontological predicate are expressions of distinctly universal and human interests in life and the universe. Man confesses his practical ideals when he defines his philosophical notions.

And so, in particular, Realism, in addition to being an effort to meet the general problem of Being, is also the product and expression of essentially Social motives and interests. It is socially convenient, for purely practical reasons, to regard my fellow as a being whose mind shall be wholly independent, as to its inner being, of my own knowledge about my fellow. This view of the social relation is indeed suggested by well-known experiences, but in its ideally extreme forms, it is warranted by no experience, and is actually contradicted by every case of the communication of mind with mind. But we also find it socially convenient to view the common objects of our human and social knowledge as independent both of my fellow and myself, even while we still view these objects as the same for both of us, and for all other actual and possible human observers. And so, in the end, we conceive these common objects, abstractly, as independent of all knowing processes whatever. When, to these social motives, we add that interest in escape from our private and finite disquietude of incomplete insight of which we before spoke, the special motives for the more abstract forms of Realism are in substance stated. It is true that there is a deeper and a very general motive at the heart of Realism,—a motive which we shall only later learn to appreciate. This is the interest in viewing the Real as the absolutely and finally Determinate or Individual fact. But this motive is present for Realism in a very abstract and problematic form. And even this motive, as we shall later see, is a practical one. We believe in the determinate individuality of things because we need and love individuality. We can justifythis belief, in the end, only upon other than realistic grounds.

In consequence we may say that Realism is, in its special contrast with other views, an interpretation of the folk-lore of being in the interests of a social conservatism. Accordingly, in the history of thought, Realism is the metaphysic of the party of good order, when good order is viewed merely as something to be preserved. Hence the typical conservatives, the extreme Right wing of any elaborate social order, will generally be realistic in their metaphysics. So too are the conservative theologians, so long as they teach the people. Amongst themselves, these conservatives, if deeply religious souls, may use quite other, namely, mystical speech. Realistic, too, are those plain men, whose only metaphysic is the blind belief in “established facts.” Realistic also are the tyrants. Realism has lighted the fires for the martyrs, and has set up the scaffolds for the reformers. As to its most familiar cases of real objects, Realism is fond of socially important objects. Property in general, technical objects, money, mechanism, instruments, whatever can be passed from hand to hand, the solid earth on which we all alike appear to walk,—these are the typical and exemplary instances of realistic metaphysics. If you question Realism, the realist asks you whether you do not believe in these objects, as facts independent of your ideas. With these instances, then, the realist is ready to confute the objector. The realist is fond of insisting upon the “sanity” of his views. By sanity he means social convenience. Now reflective thinking is often socially inconvenient. When it is, the realist loves to talk of “wholesome” belief in reality, and to hurl pathological epithets at opponents. It is thus often amusing to find the same thinker who declares that reality is quite independent of all merely human or mental interests, in the next breath offering as proof of his thesis the practical and interesting “wholesomeness ” of this very conviction.

But you will ask, Have no realists then been reformers, liberals, atheists? Yes, I answer, the pure materialists have been realists. But these more unorthodox realists are still what Kant called Dogmatists, partisans of a tradition preached as authoritative,—conservatives as to certain conceptions of a distinctly social, even if unorthodox origin.

Yet Realism, if indeed strictly sane, as sanity goes amongst us men, is a view as falsely abstract as it is convenient. This sundering of external and internal meaning is precisely what our later study will show to be impossible. As a shorthand statement of the situation of the finite being, Realism, laying stress as it does upon our vast and disquieting inadequacy to win union with the Other that we seek, is a good beginning of metaphysics. As an effort to define determinateness and finality, it is a stage on the way to a true conception of Individuality and of Individual Beings. As a summary indication of the nature of our social consciousness, and of our social world, Realism is indeed the bulwark of good order. For good order, in us men, practically depends, from moment to moment, upon abstractions, since we have at any one instant to think narrowly in order to act vigorously. But viewed as an ultimate and complete metaphysical doctrine, and not as a convenient half-truth, Realism, as we shall find hereafter, upon a closer examination, needs indeed no external opposition. It rends its own world to pieces even as it creates it. It contradicts its own conceptions in uttering them. It asserts the mutual dependence of knowing and of Being in the very act of declaring Being independent. In brief, realism never opens its mouth without expounding an antinomy.

Its central technical difficulty, as we shall later more particularly see, and as Aristotle's Metaphysics already laboriously shows you, is that wondrous problem of the nature of individuality and as to the meaning of universals. The independent realities must be individuals, for they are fixed data, finished and unique in advance of any knowing. And in a realistic world, as we shall find, there must be at least two individuals, independent of each other. But there cannot be such individuals; for the individuals of a realistic world are essentially Noumena, objects defined, even for the realist, by a thinking process. And mere thinking, when taken as in opposition to facts, merely abstract thinking, as Plato well and irrefutably observed,—can define only universals, and only linked systems of fact. Herein lies the doom of Realism. Its laws, as universals, contradict its facts, which have to be independent individuals. Whatever is said to be true of its reals is a conceived, and hence an universal truth, linking many in one. But its reals are not universal, and are not to be linked. Their essence excludes universality, and demands mutual independence. Hence, in the end, nothing whatever proves to be true of them. History shows many examples of this consequence. The troubled darkness of the Herbartian realm of the Reals is one such historical example. In Herbart's world, in an uncanny and impossible way, these Reals, which can have nothing to do with one another, still, according to the philosopher come “Zusammen”; and while nothing can happen to them, they preserve themselves changeless amidst unreal disturbances, by crawling, as it were, like worms, and so producing a “wirkliches Geschehen.”2 Well, this strange metaphysical scene, in the distracted globe of Herbart's system, is only one instance of the sort of thing that has to be found in any realistic world, if one confesses the truth, as Herbart nobly confessed it.


But we must leave this great problem of the Realistic Ontology for a later and more detailed study. I must proceed, as I close the present lecture, to a sketch of the second of our four forms of the ontological predicate. Realism, despite its prevalence, has long had a very ancient historical foe. This foe was originally not Idealism, in its modern form, but something very different, namely, Mysticism. And so the second conception of what it is to be real is characteristic of that most remarkable group of teachers, the philosophical Mystics. Mysticism as a mere doctrine for edification, is indeed no philosophy. Yet a philosophy has been based upon it.

While this second conception appears to me to have been very generally misunderstood by most of the critics of philosophical Mysticism, its historical significance, as I must insist, is of the very greatest. Again and again it appears, as marking a transition stage in human civilization. It has had an enormous influence on literature. It has been responsible for a very large share in the development of all the great religions. You cannot understand the history of religion, without appreciating the mystical definition of Being.

As to the history of Mysticism, it began in India, with the Upanishads and the Vedânta. It early passed to Europe, and perhaps was independently rediscovered there. Even Plato's dialogues contain some hints of its spirit. Even Aristotle's account of God's inner life has relation to its motives. In a marvellous combination with realistic and even with more concretely idealistic conceptions, it forms an element in the doctrine of Plotinus. Through the Neo-Platonic school it passed over into Christian theology. Throughout the Middle Ages it formed a motive in the speculations of the philosophers of the School. St. Thomas Aquinas sought to deal justly with its merits, without endangering the interests of orthodoxy. Meister Eckhart, who was by training a follower of St. Thomas, but who gradually grew more independent of the master as he taught, helped to introduce mystic conceptions into German thinking. The German mystics deeply influenced later Protestant theology. The favorite devotional books of all the churches, and some of the best known of the religious poets and hymns, have continued to extend the mystical influence amongst the laity even until to-day. The unorthodox forms of Mysticism are almost countless. Schopenhaueiis a marked modern instance in a part of his doctrine, of one result of mystical influence.

Any fair-minded student ought, therefore, to want to comprehend what philosophical Mysticism has meant to those who have held it, and especially how it stands opposed to Realism. But the mystical conception of Being is one peculiarly liable to be misunderstood. It is usually not rightly distinguished from the realistic view of Being. A student often, after a brief study of this or that mystical treatise, accordingly comes away displeased. “Mere sentimentality,” such a student often says. “This mystical view seems to hold that the only real object is some voiceless and incomprehensible Absolute, and further, that when you feel uncommonly entranced or enraptured, you get some strange revelation as to the nature of the real, and so become one with the Absolute. Now it is plain,” he continues, “that such views have nothing to do with common sense, or with the physical world, or with matter, or with the facts of daily life. For can one say that this wall, and yonder stars, and my neighbors, and even my own daily self, are the Atmân of the Hindoos, or are the Mystic Absolute, or are anything else that you feel when you are in a trance? Now these objects yonder are well known to be real. Reality means for everybody a character that they possess. Hence the mystic needs no further notice. He substitutes his feelings for the solid facts. He is simply a man who prefers not to think about reality, but merely to revel in his own feelings.”

This criticism is obvious, but it is the external view of a realistic metaphysic. It leaves the matter uncomprehended. And nobody, I must hold, can understand a large part of human nature without understanding Mysticism. The true historical importance of Mysticism lies not in the subject to which it applied the predicate real, but in the view it holds of the fundamental meaning of that very ontological predicate itself. No matter what subject the mystic seems to call real. That might be from your point of view any subject you please; yourself, or God, or the wall. The interest of Mysticism lies wholly in the predicate. Mysticism consists in asserting that to be means, simply and wholly, to be immediate, as what we call pure color, pure sound, pure emotion, are already in us partly and imperfectly immediate. Mysticism asserts that this aspect of Being, which common sense already, as we have seen, recognizes and names in the popular ontological vocabulary, must be kept quite pure, must be wholly and abstractly isolated from all other aspects, must be exclusively emphasized. And the mystic further holds that your eternal salvation depends on just such an abstract purifying of your ontological predicate. Purer than color or than music or the purest love must the absolute immediate be. Now why the mystic says this, is a matter for further study. But this is what he says. He certainly does not assert, if you are an ordinary realist, that his Absolute is real in your sense, say real as money is real. The true issue for him is whether the fundamental ontological predicate, reality, ought not itself to be altered, altered namely by a certain purification, so as to be another predicate than what ordinary metaphysic confusedly takes it to be. That the mystic is dealing with experience, and trying to get experience quite pure and then to make it the means of defining the real, is what we need to observe. That meanwhile the mystic is a very abstract sort of person, I well admit. But he is usually a keen thinker. Only he uses his thinking sceptically, to make naught of other thinkers. He gets his reality not by thinking, but by consulting the data of experience. He is not stupid. And he is trying, very skilfully, to be a pure empiricist. Indeed, I should maintain that the mystics are the only thoroughgoing empiricists in the history of philosophy.

In its origin, and in its greatest representatives, Mysticism appears in history as the conception of men whose piety has been won after long conflict, whose thoughts have been dissected by a very keen inner scepticism, whose single-minded devotion to an abstraction has resulted from a vast experience of the painful complications of life, and whose utter empiricism is the outcome of a severe discipline, whereby they have learned to distrust ideas. The technical philosophical mystics are the men who, in general, began by being realists. They learned to doubt. They have doubted through and through. Whenever they choose to appear as discursive thinkers, they are keen and merciless dialecticians. Their thinking as such is negative. What they discover is that Realism is infected, so to speak, by profound contradictions. Hereby they are led to a new view of what it is to be. This view asserts, first, that of course the real is what makes ideas true or false. But, as the mystic continues, owing to certain essential defects of the process of ideation, experience shows that explicit ideas, of human, perhaps of any type, are always profoundly false, just in so far as they are always partial, fleeting, contradictory, dialectical, disunited. The thinking process, just because it looks to another as its guide, is always a dissatisfied process,—like the finite search for happiness. And now, secondly, the mystics admit that true Being is something deeper than what usually is seen or felt or thought by men. But they add that this is just because ordinary thinking, like Realism, like money getting, like pleasure seeking, like mortal love making, always looks beyond the truly complete immediate, looks to false ideas, to fleeting states that die as they pass, and so indeed looks to what the mystic regards as the contradictory and consequently superficial aspect of experience. “Look deeper,” he says, “but not deeper into illusory ideas. Look deeper into the interior of experience itself. There, if you only look deeper than all ordinary and partial immediacy, deeper than colors and sounds, and deeper than mortal love, then when once rightly prepared, you shall find a fact, an immediate and ineffable fact, such that it wholly satisfies every longing, answers every inquiry, and fulfils the aim of every thought. And this it will do for you just because it will be at last the pure immediate, with no beyond to be sought. You talk of reality as fact. Well,” insists the mystic, “here shall be your fact, your datum, an absolutely pure datum. As pure it will fulfil the purpose of thinking, which always desires its own Other, or in other words always really desires just the cessation of all its strife in peace. Only in the immediate that has no beyond, is such peace. Now that is the Reality, that is the Soul. Or, to repeat the Hindoo phrase: That art thou. That is the World. That is the Absolute. That, as Meister Eckhart loved to say, is the “stille Wüste der Gottheit.”

Now the essence of this view of the mystic is that to be real means to be felt as the absolute goal and consequent quietus of all thinking, and so of all striving. Or in other words, Reality is that which you immediately feel when, thought satisfied, you cease to think. The mystic is, as I said before, the only thoroughgoing empiricist. We owe to him an illustration of what an absolutely pure empiricism, devoid of conventions, and alone with immediacy, would mean. Ordinary empiricism only half loves the facts of experience, as facts; for it no sooner gets them than, it gets outside of them, makes endless hypotheses about them, restlessly tries to explain them by ideal constructions, and, if realistic, forsakes them altogether to talk of independent beings. The mystic loves the simple fact, just so far as it is simple and unmediated, the absolute datum, with no questions to be asked. That alone, for him, is worthy of the name real. If it takes a trance to find such a fact, that is the fault of our human ignorance and baseness. The fact in question is always in you, is under your eyes. The ineffably immediate is always present. Only, in your blindness, you refuse to look at it, and prefer to think instead of illusions. The ineffably immediate is also, if you like, far above knowledge, but that is because knowledge ordinarily means contamination with ideas.

So much for the mystic's conceptions of what it is to be. If you ask what to think of this conception, in comparison with the first, I answer at once that, as a more detailed study will show us, it is precisely as much and precisely as little a logically defensible conception as the former conception, that of Realism. Both are abstractions; both, if analyzed, go to pieces upon their own inner contradictions; both have had a long history; both express a fragment of the whole truth about Being; both stand for perfectly human and common-sense tendencies, merely pushed to technical extremes. Both can only be judged by means of their dialectic. No Theory of Knowledge can prove either of them sound or unsound except by undertaking directly an ontological analysis and criticism of what each one of them means. Our present purpose, however, is simply to understand their general drift and their historical importance.

The realistic predicate, independence of any external knowing process, could be applied to very various conceived objects, to souls, to matter, to God, etc. On the contrary, the mystic meaning of what it is to be implies the absolute and immediate inner finality and simplicity of the object to which the predicate real can be directly given. Yet, on the other hand, this reality of the mystic, if viewed from without and taken as a subject, to which this predicate is given (in other words, if viewed in a way that the mystic himself calls a false way)—this reality appears to you, while you look on, to be only this or that state of the mystic's mind, his sensations when he fasts or takes ether, his feelings in a trance, or the feelings that be usually has towards God, or towards life. Hence, as you, from without, view the mystics, and their faiths and feelings, they seem diverse enough. And what the mystics talk about as the Absolute, the subjects to which they apply their predicate real, will appear to you, thus seen from without, as very various facts, named in many tongues. Hence the mystics may be of any human creed. Their doctrine passes “Like night from land to land” and “has strange power of speech.” It says, like the Ancient Mariner: —

“The moment that his face I see,

I know the man that must hear me:

To him my tale I teach.”

And the mystic always thus appeals, in the ordinary world, to the individual man. Hence, in history, the mystics have been great awakeners of the very spirit that they have most condemned, namely of individuality. The great and stormy individuals, like St. Augustine, or like Luther, have loved them, and have learned from them, although in a sense that indeed soon transformed the mystic conception of Being, for such men, into quite another. Mysticism has been the ferment of the faiths, the forerunner of spiritual liberty, the inaccessible refuge of the nobler heretics, the inspirer, through poetry, of countless youth who know no metaphysics, the teacher, through the devotional books, of the despairing, the comforter of those who are weary of finitude. It has determined, directly or indirectly, more than half of the technical theology of the Church. The scholastic philosophy endeavored in vain to give it a subordinate place. In the doctrine of St. Thomas, the faithful, in this life, are permitted only a moderate though respectful use of mystical notions. Yet it is plain that the God of St. Thomas's theology is himself a mystic, and even a pantheistic mystic, since the Being of the world, although for us real in the formal or realistic sense, makes absolutely no real difference to God, who was just as complete before he created it as afterwards. And God's perfection is, for himself, a perfectly immediate fact.

So much, then, for a preliminary glance at the meaning of the mystical conception of reality.

And thus, after a discussion, at the outset of the present lecture, of the general nature of the ontological predicate, we have proceeded, first, to sketch three different meanings that the popular use of language seems to have especially had in mind in asserting that any object is real. We have seen, of course, that these three meanings were fragmentary, and more or less conflicting. We have turned from popular usage to study the more elaborate efforts of the philosophers to purify or to harmonize the ontological concepts. Of the four resulting forms of the ontological predicate which, as we asserted, are prominent in the history of philosophy, we have now briefly outlined two. As a result, we have before us definitions of Being which are the polar opposites of each other. These are the realistic and the mystical definitions. Realism defines Real Being as a total Independence of any idea whose external object any given Being is. Mysticism defines Real Being as wholly within Immediate Feeling. These two concepts, both of them, as I must hold, false abstractions, are still both of them fragmentary views, as I also hold, of the truth,—hints towards a final definition of the Other, of that fulfilment which our finite thinking restlessly seeks. But any fair criticism of either of the two conceptions so far before us, demands a separate lecture; and the third and fourth conceptions of Real Being will be considered only after these two have first been examined.

In the present discussion I have tried, then, merely to open the way towards the point where we shall for the first time rightly see how profoundly a definition of Being must influence, and in fact predetermine, the issues of life, and, in particular, of Religion.

  • 1. Human thought must first sunder, in order perhaps later to reunite. One historical result of the present mode of abstractly contrasting the ontological predicate with all the other predicates of objects, was that first, Aristotle, and later the scholastic text-books, sometimes attempted a sort of external union, under one abstractly common name, of the very aspects thus first so carefully divided. In consequence the term “Being” often gets a usage that in passing I have merely to mention. The scholastic text-books, namely, as for instance the Disputations of Suarez, employ our terms much as follows. Being (ens), taken quite in the abstract, such writers said, is a word that shall equally apply both to the what and to the that. Thus if I speak of the being of a man, I may, according to this usage, mean either the ideal nature of a man, apart from man's existence, or the existence of a man. The term “Being” is so far indifferent to both of the sharply sundered senses. In this sense Being may be viewed as of two sorts. As the what it means the Essence of things, or the Esse Essentiœ. In this sense, by the Being of a man, you mean simply the definition of what a man as an idea means. As the that, Being means the Existent Being, or Esse Existentiœ. The Esse Existentiaœ of a man, or its existent being, would be what it would possess only if it existed. And so the scholastic writers in question always have to point out whether by the term Ens, or Being, they in any particular passage are referring to the what or to the that, to the Esse Essentiæ or to the Esse Existentiæ. On occasion, Scholastic usage also distinguishes Reality from Existence, by saying that the essence of a not yet existing, but genuine future fact can be called in some sense Real, apart from Existence, and that in general one can distinguish Real Essences from mere figments.

    But I have to mention this technical usage only to say at once that we ourselves shall be little troubled by it. In these lectures I shall always mean by Being the Real Being of things, the that. Nor shall I try to make any systematic difference in usage between Reality and Existence, or the adjectives real and existent. So long as the what and the that remain abstractly sundered in our investigation we shall call the what the essence, or again, the idea taken abstractly in its internal meaning. By contrast, the that, the Real Being of things, will at this stage appear to us as corresponding to what we at the last time called the External Meaning of our ideas. But by and by we shall indeed learn that this whole sundering of the what and the that is a false abstraction,—a mere necessary stage on the way to insight. We shall also find that objects can be Real in various degrees; but we shall not try, as many writers do, to speak only of certain grades of Reality as Existent. We shall use the latter terms interchangeably.
  • 2.

    See Mr. Bradley's observation in Appearance and Reality, p. 30.