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IDEALISM


objective truth, but our apparent consciousness of a permanent self and object alike must be delusive.

It was these paradoxes that Kant sought to rebut by a more thoroughgoing criticism of the basis of knowledge the sub- stance of which is summed up in his celebrated Refutaann

tion of Ideal1sm,1 wherein he sought to undermine Hume's scepticism by carrying it one step further and demonstrating that not only is all knowledge of self or object excluded, but the consciousness of any series of impressions and ideas is itself impossible except in relation to some external permanent and universally accepted world of objects.

But Kant's refutation of subjective idealism and his 'vindication of the place of the object can be fully understood only L when we take into account the other defect in the eibnifz. ,

teaching of his predecessors that he sought in his Crilique to correct. In continental philosophy the reaction against mechanical and pantheistic explanations of the universe found even more definite utterance than in English psychological empiricism in the metaphysical system of Leibnitz, whose theory of self-determined monads can be understood only when taken in the light of the assertion of the rights of the subject against the substance of Spinoza and the atoms of the materialist. But Leibnitz also anticipated Kant in seeking to correct the empirical point of view of the 'English philosophers. True, sense-given material is necessary in order that we may have thought. “But by what means, ” he asks, “can experience and the senses give ideas? Has the soul windows? Is it like a writing tablet? Is it like wax? It is plain that all those who think thus of the soul make it at bottom corporeal. True, nothing is in the intellect which has not been in the senses, but we must add except the intellect itself. The soul contains the notions of being, substance, unity, identity, cause, perception, reasoning and many others which the senses cannot give ” (./'ozwctzitx essais, ii. 1). But Leibnitz's conception of the priority of spirit had too little foundation, and the different elements he sought to combine were too loosely related to one another to stand the strain of the two forces of empiricism and materialism that were opposed to his idealism. More particularly by the confusion in which he left the relation between the two logical principles of identity and of sufficient reason underlying respectively analytic and synthetic, deductive and inductive thought, he may be said to have undermined in another way the idealism he strove to establish. It was in seeking to close up the fissure in his system represented by this dualism that his successors succeeded only in adding weakness to weakness by reducing the principle of sufficient reason to that of formal identity (see WOLFF) and representing all thought as in essence analytic. From this it immediately followed that, so far as the connexion of our experiences of the external world does not show itself irreducible to that of formal identity, it must remain unintelligible. As empiricism had foundered on the difficulty of showing how our thoughts could be an objectof sense experience, so Leibnitzian formalism foundered on that of understanding how the material of sense could be an object of thought. On one view as on the other scientific demonstration was impossible. The extremity to which philosophy had been brought by empiricism on the one hand and formalism on the other was K Kant's opportunity. Leibnitz's principle of the “ nisi ant. , ,

intellect us ipse ” was expanded by him into demonstration the completest yet effected by philosophy of the part played by the subject not merely in the manipulation of the material of experience but in the actual constitution of the object that is known.i On the other hand he insisted on the synthetic character of this activity without which it was impossible to get beyond the circle of our own thoughts. The parts of the Crilique of Pure Reason, more particularly the “ Deduction of the Categories ” in which this theory is worked out, may be said to have laid the foundation of modern idealism-“ articulum stantis aut cadentis doctrine.” In spite of the defects of Kant's statement-to which it is necessary to return-the place of the concepts and ideals of the mind and the synthetic organizing Kritik d. reineu Vernunfl, p. 197 (ed. Hartenstein). activity which these involve was established with a trenchancy which has been acknowledged by all schools alike. The “ Copernican revolution ” which he claimed to have effected may be said to have become the starting-point of all modern philosophy. Yet the divergent uses that have been made of it witness to the ambiguity of his statement which is traceable to the fact that Kant was himself too deeply rooted in the thought of his predecessors and carried with him too much. of their spirit to be able entirely to free himself from their assumptions and abstractions. His philosophy was more like Michaelangelo's famous sculpture of the Dawn, a spirit yet encumbered with the stubble of the material from which it was hewn, than a clear cut figure with unmistakable outlines. Chief among these encumbering presuppositions was that of a fundamental distinction between perception and conception and consequent upon it between the synthetic and the analytic use of thought. It is upon this in the last resort that the distinction between the phenomenal World of our experience and a noumenal world beyond it is founded. Kant perceives that “ perception without conception is blind, conception without perception is empty, ” but if he goes so far ought he not to have gone still further and inquired whether there can be any perception at all withouta concept, any concept which does not presuppose a precept, and, if this is impossible, whether the distinction between a world of appearance which is known and a world of things-in-themselves which is not, is not illusory?

It was by asking precisely these questions that Hegel gave the finishing strokes to the Kantian philosophy. The starting point of all valid philosophy must be the perception H I that the essence of all conscious apprehension is the egg union of opposites—of which that of subject and object is the most fundamental and all-pervasive. True, before differences can be united they must have been separated, but this merely proves that differentiation or analysis is only one factor in a. single process. Equally fundamental is the element of synthesis. Nor is it possible at any point in knowledge to prove the existence of a merely given in whose construction the thinking subject has played no part nor a merely thinking subject in whose structure the object is not an organic factor. In coming, as at a certain point in its development it does, to the consciousness of an object, the mind does not find itself in the presence of an opponent, or of anything essentially alien to itself but of that which gives content and stability to its own existence. True, the stability it seems to find in it is incomplete. The object cannot rest in the form of its immediate appearance without involving us in contradiction. The sun does not “ rise, " the dew does not “ fall.” But this only means that the unity between subject and object to which the gift of consciousness ~ commits us is incompletely realized in that appearance: the apparent truth has to submit to correction and supplementation before it can be accepted as real truth. It does not mean that there is anywhere a mere fact which is not also an interpretation nor an interpreting mind whose ideas have no hold upon fact. From this it follows that ultimate or absolute reality is to be sought not beyond the region of experience, but in the fullest and most harmonious statement of the facts of our experience. True a completely harmonious world whether of theory or of practice remains an ideal. But the fact that we have already in part realized the ideal and that the degree in which we have realized it is the degree in which we may regard our experience as trustworthy, is proof that the ideal is no mere idea as Kant taught, but the very substance of reality.

Intelligible as this development of Kantian idealism seems in the light of subsequent philosophy, the first statement of it in Hegel was not free from obscurity. The unity of opposites translated into its most abstract terms gggzfks asthe “ identity of being and not-being, ” the principle in that the “ real is the rational, ” the apparent sub- H°3'°"“U stitution of “ bloodless ” categories for the substance of concrete reality gave it an air of paradox in the eyes of meta physicians while physicists were scandalized by the

premature attempts at a complete philosophy of nature and